Review

Predator: Hunting Grounds Review - Muddied Up

  • First Released Apr 24, 2020
    released
  • PS4

Predator: Hunting Grounds' lack of variety and shallow gameplay make it difficult to stick with beyond a handful of rounds.

Predator, the 1987 film, is defined by its cheesy dialogue, testosterone-filled cast, and tense cat-and-mouse action between its platoon of soldiers and a crafty alien hunter. Predator: Hunting Grounds seems to, at first, hit all of those notes. There are cringe-worthy one-liners that are initially worth a chuckle, a host of customization options to make your gun-toting hero as ridiculous as you like, and streamlined gameplay that lets you play both sides of the hunt with ease. The problem isn't with the initial impression Hunting Grounds makes, but rather how quickly it loses its appeal.

Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, pitting a team of four human soldiers against a single roaming Predator across three almost indistinguishable maps set in dense jungle environments. When you're playing as part of the human fireteam, you have a string of objectives to complete before a timer expires, shuffling you from one AI enemy-filled camp to another. When you're the Predator, your objective is even simpler: Hunt down the fireteam and take them all out before they're able to complete their mission and extract, while avoiding confrontation with AI enemies and using the chaos they create to your advantage.

Playing as the titular Predator is the most appealing part, and while its mechanics often allow for smooth, fun, and engaging moments, Hunting Grounds' framework doesn't adequately support them. The brutish assassin is as fast and nimble as you'd expect, with an easy-to-use parkour system letting you effortlessly navigate the twisting mazes that the canopy of trees create. A single button press sends you scampering up a tree, after which you can automatically move between branches and adjacent trees by moving in any direction. It lets you focus on hunting your prey instead of having to focus on intricate navigation, while also making you feel empowered through the sheer speed at which you're able to traverse the map. The press and release mechanic for the Predator's leap is less elegant, however, and tricky to use when you really need to get some distance between you and your enemies.

Because most of the Predator's abilities and weapons are governed by energy, you have to constantly manage your energy bar. Cloaking, for example, drains the resource as you move, while your shoulder-mounted Plasma Cannon will require a significant chunk of it with each shot. Energy replenishes quickly when not in use, but also leaves you entirely vulnerable at the same time. It's satisfying to juggle this resource while on the hunt, choosing opportune times to remain hidden and ensuring you're safe to move around uncloaked so that you can be ready for your next attack.

The sum of the Predator's parts work well together, but it's frustrating that the nuances aren't adequately explained in Hunting Grounds' brief and mostly useless tutorial. Beyond explaining what buttons to press for some of the Predator's basic functions, the tutorial doesn't prepare you for how you're meant to play against other human players. Instead it lets you run rampant on AI enemies that don't react convincingly to your movements or pose a credible enough threat to you to help you understand your limitations. Whole gameplay mechanics for both the Predator and human characters aren't tutorialized, and instead only found in separate text descriptions buried in the game's options menu. If you happen to miss those, you're left with having to learn crucial mechanics through online play alone, which is especially difficult as the Predator.

The problem isn't necessarily having to learn how to play the Predator effectively, but instead how few opportunities you have to do so. Hunting Grounds lets you search for a match with a team preference--either as part of the human fireteam or as the Predator. As you might expect, searching for the latter increases your wait time for a game exponentially. I personally waited close to 15 minutes for a game as the Predator on a few occasions, and I sometimes ended up in empty lobbies with no hopes of starting a match. It makes your initial games that much more frustrating. Not only did you have to wait a long while to even have the chance to play as the Predator, but it takes numerous attempts to finally get the hang of the character's flow. And by the time I started feeling comfortable with it all, I was just about ready to not play again.

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Playing as a part of the human fireteam is far less exciting in comparison to the Predator. Here, gameplay follows a routine first-person shooter template, with a small pool of weapons to choose from and lightly customize with attachments. The gunplay overall is serviceable--it's not overtly bad but doesn't ever feel snappy and as accurate as you'd want it to be. It's not helped by the cannon-fodder AI enemies you're mostly shooting at in camps scattered across each map. These foes only pose a challenge in large numbers, and they never react intelligently to your squad's actions. At their worst they feel broken at times, taking a long time to react to you at all and routinely getting stuck running into walls or appearing out of nowhere in front of you.

Matches present you with a string of objectives you need to complete before being able to call in a helicopter and extract, with each having a thin and entirely inconsequential narrative tied to them. The brief story beats only serve to lightly contextualize your actions, but mechanically they all amount to the same thing. Most of the time you'll be moving to a camp to either interact with a marked objective, destroy some marked environmental objects, or protect an area for a limited time. The goal of these objectives is two-fold. It gives you a chance to always have something to do when playing as part of the fireteam, while also forcing you to create chaos that a good Predator player can exploit. The objectives themselves are repetitive and mundane, and your overall enjoyment of each match is largely dependent on the skill level of the Predator hunting you.

Without a player who understands how to utilize the Predator's weapons and attributes, many of Hunting Grounds' matches fall flat. It becomes far too easy to rush through missions and end a match with an extraction when playing against a Predator that’s unable to find you, and it's just as easy to turn the tables and actively hunt the alien player when they're not skilled enough to pose a credible threat. Matches where you're playing against someone who has clearly spent time understanding the intricacies of the Predator are rare, but they are an exhilarating treat when you happen upon them. I found that the majority of my favorite matches were played with a full group of five players, where we took turns being the Predator player. Playing alone online is much more inconsistent, especially given how shallow gameplay feels when you're not playing an even match.

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It also doesn't help that Predator: Hunting Grounds lacks any real variety to each match. There's a single mode to play, and each match doesn't last much longer than 10 minutes at a time. Without changing objectives or the variety of alternative modes, the shallowness of Hunting Grounds' gameplay loop quickly becomes apparent. Levelling up grants you access to more weapons, perks, and equipment for both the Predator and human characters, but without any changes to the matches that you use them in they provide little more than momentary reprieve from the same routine. None of Predator's higher-tier weapons necessitate certain strategies from human players, and similarly the loadouts of the fireteam don't influence the strategies a successful Predator needs to employ to win, both of which make victories and losses feels equally inconsequential.

Predator: Hunting Grounds also suffers from poor performance and technical issues all around. Playing on a PS4 Pro, I routinely encountered momentary freezes every time the Predator attacked or when engaging large numbers of AI foes. Textures often take longer to load in, and the frame rate is inconsistent enough to make first-person gameplay stutter. Outside of gameplay, my loadout configurations often didn't save between sessions and my characters had been reset to their default appearances, both of which were annoying.

It's difficult to come to terms with Predator: Hunting Grounds being nothing more than a single game mode with shallow gameplay and abundant technical issues. It works when you're navigating the tree line as the Predator and hunting down a team of players, but these moments are fleeting. For the most part, you're going to be running through the same types of missions as one of four human players, with unskilled Predator players not providing the ample tension required to make the undertaking worthwhile. And even if you do find yourself playing enough to be matched against some of Hunting Grounds' best players, there's not enough depth to sustain it for much longer.

Back To Top
The Good
The Predator feels great to control, with a streamlined parkour system that makes stalking your prey feel empowering
The Bad
Matches are largely dependent on a good Predator player, with tension severely diminished without it
Brief tutorial doesn't adequately prepare you for Predator play, and challenges finding a match as the character make it difficult to learn without frustration
Mission objectives as human players are mundane and repetitive, with serviceable gunplay making skirmishes with AI unexciting
A lack of variety and shallow gameplay depth makes it tough to stick with for long
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alessandro got to the chopper numerous times during 10 hours with Predator: Hunting Grounds. He also discovered that Predators love to scream when they heal. Code was provided by the publisher.
34 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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DETfaninATL

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Edited By DETfaninATL

This game's not nearly as bad as many make it seem. Yes, it's a tad shallow on content. Yes, it's not a COD or Battlefield quality of shooter. But if you enjoy playing shooters and / or The Predator franchise, this game is definitely worth picking up at some point, maybe after a price drop (??). Granted, a decent bit of what this review has to say isn't entirely off the mark. But some of the issues have been addressed since release and it's a far more balanced experience now. Myself, I'm over 100+ matches in and still quite enjoying it very much. After all, isn't that really the measure of how good a game is? How much fun you have with it?

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Just1MoHr

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Now I am ok with it being exclusive to PS4 & not XB1. Do you think it will ever come to XB, as if it will then I will wait for a $10 sale.

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linomartin88

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nice game

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sghrzzshghgszdrgyhargzrdgzhd

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Better Asymetrical games exist. this one is poo poo. Deathgarden Bloodharvest was one of the best of these kinds of games

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off3nc3

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After playing the beta for almost 20 hours i got my A V P fix , didn't pre-order it because the game was very buggy and the que times we're ridiculous.

Unfortunately they carried over to the final release aswell , having to wait up to 15 mins to play as a predator is just a buzz kill. Besides the balancing issue and repetitive tasks , this game needed more map variety.

All in all it deserves the score of 4/10 , glad I didn't rush in to buy it like I did with Death Stranding and im still regretting it.

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naruto945

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Yeah there's someone currently on my friends list swearing to me this game is super fun and i should buy it. I think I will just unfriend them lol

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amichalski81

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i watched a few gameplay videos online and this game looks boring. not sure how some game studios put out games like this, technically incomplete and boring games. i guess they need to just churn them out to stay head above water?

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5tu88sy

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I'm just not quite sure how the entire Predator franchise was butchered so badly.

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aross2004

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I'll whip out my Atari Jaguar and play Alien vs. Predator instead.

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GalvatronType_R

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Wow, the streak of 10 rated games comes to a screeching halt.

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madsnakehhh

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I really think this games has a ton of potential ... and i hope they can tweak the game enough to make it an enjoyable experience ... another thing i hope they can address in the near future is to have characters from the movies ... not saying they should buy Arnold's image, but maybe get a character named Dutch with special abilities so you could have a blast playing with the original squad ... no doubt the idea has potential ... but there is a lot to tweak.

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Cherub1000

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Well all this game and review has done has make me wanna blow the dust off my very old gaming pc and ay the AVP games haha, that lithtech engine, good memories!

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Mansell098

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serio eu estava pensando em pegar esse jogo

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DefunktJunk

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I had a feeling it was gonna be bad, but not this bad.

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dmblum1799

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That film was so bad, so cheesey. My favorite part in the movie is where Ahnold and Carl Weathers shake hands and it's a sweaty bicep flexing contest.

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deactivated-5ed5ff7933d88

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@dmblum1799: https://thumbs.gfycat.com/ObviousEnragedFlamingo-size_restricted.gif

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lonewolf1044

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I was really thinking about getting this but I will guess I will wait until Sony offer it in Plus. Saved myself some money.

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robertbyronz

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well this is a big disappointment. I was really looking forward to this. :(

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illegal_peanut

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Man, how many 80s classics are these clowns going to screw up?

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JimAbadon

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No surprise at all.

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XBgyManX

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I hear you, but the game is fun.

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Barighm

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Edited By Barighm

When I played the game felt woefully unbalanced. The predator would just walk into our group and two shot every player. Meanwhile, I'm unloading magazine after magazine into the predator and only chip off about 25% of its health bar. He would take out the whole team in seconds. Every match became like that after about an hour.

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ivory_soul

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I figured this would be no good. The only good Predator game is AVP2, nothing tops it. Predator: Concrete Jungle was also good back in the day.

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Cherub1000

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@ivory_soul: AVP2, heck yes sir! Sooo much fun.

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gamingdevil800

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It's kinda funny that the one positive for this review is a negative for me. Hated the predator controls in the beta.

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illegal_peanut

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@gamingdevil800: I mean it may have changed since the beta.

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Richmaester6907

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BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA KEEP IT SONY!

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ivory_soul

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@Richmaester6907: Sony? It's on all platforms

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xavier141524

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Edited By xavier141524

@ivory_soul: it's only on PlayStation and epic game store/PC and it was published by Sony.

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ivory_soul

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@xavier141524: He's still wrong either way

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Edited By Sablicious

Were the grunt players playable in RE style, over-the-shoulder THIRD-person (peripheral vision is still limited enough to leave players vulnerable to sneak attacks), as distinct from only the nauseating floaty-hands perspective, I'd have given this a try. Were Predators playable in co-op -- say, two or three of them, well outnumbered by grunts -- and had they included fully fleshed-out bot support for said co-op game mode/s, it would have elevated it to "instant buy" status.

However, with the game being wholly multiplayer-centric (an effective MMO), and everyone certainly wanting to play as the titular hunter (thus, mostly unable to -- as proofed by this review, as well as other feedback), the game's community will be dead in a few weeks, and the game itself unplayable. Couple that with the aforementioned peeves, and it's another case of a good license, idea and opportunity, spurned.

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GleenCross

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The game sucks, but the sound design is pretty good... So, this is Call of Duty?

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Predator: Hunting Grounds

First Released Apr 24, 2020
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4

4
Poor

Average Rating

12 Rating(s)

6
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language