Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, a genre that’s been growing more popular lately. Established franchises have been putting their own spin on the multiplayer experience that’s been built up by smaller attempts which were backed themselves by big licenses and memorable characters, usually horror-oriented ones. IllFonic, the developer of Predator: Hunting Grounds, is no stranger to the genre with learnings from past projects incorporated into the new game. With that experience, some innovative features, and the massive Predator name behind the game in mind, ComicBook.com spoke to IllFonic to learn more about how the developer hopes to differentiate the game from those like it.
Hunting Grounds consists of one person playing as a specialized Predator while four others play as human soldiers known as the Fireteam. The two sides are then sent into the jungle where the Predator attempts to wipe the Fireteam while the soldiers must either escape or kill the Predator themselves. The basic formula is similar to games like Friday the 13th: The Game – IllFonic developed the Friday the 13th game alongside Gun Media and also worked on Evolve – and we’ve seen variations of it in newer games like Resident Evil: Resistance and even DOOM Eternal’s multiplayer.
But through new ideas, Hunting Grounds doesn’t feel like a reskinned version of this system. One idea is having the Fireteam complete a set of objectives unrelated to the Predator before they can escape with each of those tasks involving AI enemies hostile to both the Fireteam and the Predator. Jordan Mathewson, the lead designer on Hunting Grounds, said the inclusion of an AI threat was important to capturing the feeling of the Predator movie.
“We really wanted to stay true to the first movie, and the first movie was not just about them finding and killing the Predator,” Mathewson said. “It was about them doing something else and then getting surprised by the Predator and kind of having to deal with those two different aspects. So we felt, to be able to add that true back and forth, we needed to be able to add that secondary element, because there's a lot of games that just focus on the back and forth between the two asymmetric teams, whereas giving the Fireteam something else to do, and something else to be aware of, is very important to how the gameplay loop is formed.”
Playing as a Predator also isn’t quite the same as playing as an original character or someone a bit less mobile like Jason Voorhees. Predators have powerful arsenals and agile tactics established by the movies which means players have expectations for them. From dueling to covering themselves in mud, humans – the Fireteam, in this case – also must exhibit certain behaviours like listening for the Predator's clicking noises and other cues from the movies.
“Pretty much everything about the Predator had to come down to what we thought the Predator was going to feel like if you played him out of the first movie, which goes into sound design, which goes into music, all sorts of things,” Mathewson said about making sure Hunting Grounds felt right. “Then, of course, the biggest thing I can mention on the Fireteam side would be the muddying up mechanic. Being able to cover yourself up in mud to help camouflage you from the Predator's infrared. Of course, the biggest part of the Predator, the movement, the Predkour system, being able to run through the trees, those were all really big elements in making sure that we nailed the feel of the first movie.”
Aside from some balance adjustments needed based on feedback from the Hunting Grounds trial, players seemed to think IllFonic nailed the Predator vs. Fireteam experience and has something to build on. So long as the game is fun, gameplay comes first, and it plays like Predator fans expect is should, Mathewson said he feels it’ll set itself apart from other asymmetrical games.0comments
“We want to focus on making our games as fun as possible,” Mathewson said. “We go to great lengths to make sure that if we're not making something, we're finding fun, we're pivoting to make sure that we do everything in our power to make it the best product we possibly can. As long as we're having fun, and gameplay is coming first, then we feel like we're setting ourselves apart from a lot of other games out there.”
Predator: Hunting Grounds releases for the PlayStation 4 and PC platforms on April 24th.