What Predator: Hunting Grounds needs to succeed

Predator: Hunting Grounds is an engaging multiplayer game except when it’s not. The thrill of hunting and being hunted is high yet is matched by the lows that permeate throughout the whole experience. But it has a ton of potential that shouldn’t be squandered by a less-than-stellar launch. So what does this game need to survive and collect its trophies?

A better set of tutorials

What Predator: Hunting Grounds needs to succeed

Predator: Hunting Grounds currently has a tutorial, but it’s unhelpful and zooms past most of the Predator’s mechanics. The Fireteam doesn’t even have a tutorial at all so good luck figuring out how to parry!

Given how this is a different kind of experience, it needs to teach people what it’s about and how to play or it risks losing them forever. Both factions should have more detailed, playable tutorials that walk players through the general strategy of the game and each of its mechanics. For the Fireteam, this starts with instructing players how to mud up and use their spotting marker and progresses into telling them about general strategies like staying together and being quiet.

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This has to be more aggressive for the Predator since it can’t be as easily compared to a first-person shooter. Players should be more explicitly told to tread carefully and will need more detailed tutorials explaining each of the Predator’s gadgets and mechanics. There should also be a practice range so everyone can try out the hunter’s cavalcade of vaguely described alien weaponry in a low-stakes area.

This is partly why people have been saying that the Predator is underpowered. Hunting Grounds does little to prepare them for how to play and just tosses them in the fire without much teaching beforehand. People won’t stay on board if you can’t properly onboard them.

Rework the progression system

What Predator: Hunting Grounds needs to succeed

Weapons and gameplay modifications simply should not be locked behind levels. It’s limiting to have such an abbreviated loadout and puts newer players at an even more egregious disadvantage.

This is especially true for the Predator as a leveled up Yautja has a significantly better shot at winning than a new one purely from a gear standpoint. High-leveled Predators have the Combistick, bow and arrow, a whole host of game-changing perks, two other classes, and more while new Predators have to scrape by with the objectively worse default gear. Again, this is partially why people think the Predator is underpowered: you need to put in more time to be a viable threat since you just don’t have the proper tools.

Soldiers aren’t as negatively impacted, but they still have to rank up to get the good stuff. This is most easily showcased with the minigun as the game keeps you from using it until you get to level 68 (unless you pre-ordered, which is a whole other problem). There are plenty of cosmetics to drip feed to the player so it shouldn’t also slowly dole out gameplay benefits in an attempt to keep users engaged. Choosing your loadout should come from what you need or want and not what you are limited to.

Better crossplay support and crossplay parties

Is Predator: Hunting Grounds crossplay?

Predator: Hunting Grounds has crossplay between PS4 and PC users, but it still has some ways to go because of how restrictive it is. Crossplay party invites are a huge part of this and were promised to come at launch but they’re still not here almost a week later and Illfonic hasn’t talked much about it since.

Getting matched against random players on the other system could use more filtering options, too. Like Modern Warfare, players should be able to choose what input method it matches them, not just the platform. Mouse and keyboard users are going to have an advantage so it should be possible to avoid them if you want without also forgoing PC players who use controllers.

Illfonic would be wise to go a step further and allow players to pick what faction can use crossplay. After all, it’s understandable to want to play as the Fireteam with more accurate PC players but not against them as the Predator.

Buff Predator, but mainly with quality-of-life changes

What Predator: Hunting Grounds needs to succeed

A good Predator can rip spines out faster than Sub-Zero and while a few tweaks here or there wouldn’t hurt, the fanged hunter would be better served with a suite of more friendly design choices. Tree movement should be more fluid as Predators should be able to start climbing a tree in the middle of a leap and not just when it is standing at its trunk. More edible boars would make life a little easier, especially since the relatively swine-free maps make the healing kit a necessity (which in turn makes the other options less appealing).

The plasma cannon would also be more effective if it didn’t get stopped by every branch and mosquito in its path. Being able to click in the stick and switch aiming shoulders would be such a small but noticeable remedy for this problem and would generally make aiming less tedious. Detailed stat breakdowns of the melee weapons would also be quite helpful since it’s hard to tell how the compare to each other.

Buffing the Predator also means making the Fireteam’s job a little more difficult. Respawning is the biggest symbol of this power imbalance. Someone runs off, talks to a radio for a few seconds, and the dead teammates warp back right there almost instantly with a full set of gear, risking almost nothing. This is a game-changing tool that’s far too simple and easy to execute.

Respawning should still be possible, but more involved and take slightly longer. Calling in the radio should summon a helicopter where the teammates have to rappel down instead of appearing out of thin air (which is the worst and most unfair part about the current spawning system). Seeing newly respawned humans rappel out of a chopper is clearer than suddenly materializing and more evenly distributes the risk to both parties. It’s loud and obvious enough to attract the Predator’s attention, but yields a huge reward if the humans can hold the beast off. The Predator also has to weigh trying to take out the survivors before the others land.

Make the post-Predator parts more intense

What Predator: Hunting Grounds needs to succeed

You did it. You killed the Predator and now have to defend its corpse. Instead of being a white-knuckle climax to the mission, it’s dry and boring as the game hardly sends more than a handful of goons at you at a time. They’re dumb as hell, which somewhat makes sense when the Predator is there, but the low IQ AI is just insulting when the beast’s lifeless body is resting mere feet away. This part isn’t nearly as gripping as the game wants you to think it is and more difficult enemies during this bit would be exponentially more engaging.

This mindset could also apply to a possible optional mission after the Predator blows up. Instead of instantly ending the match, players could have the option to do one more objective with smarter, tougher AI soldiers for a sizable reward. Balancing risk and reward is inherently intriguing and players should be given that choice.

Improve the technical performance

Predator: Hunting Grounds Review | One OK-looking motherf****r

Hunting Grounds is one buggy motherfucker. While many of them disproportionately affect the Predator, no one can escape the amount of glitches in this game. From persistent blaring gunfire to getting caught in the environment, Illfonic has to focus on these issues as they can suck the player out of the moment in the most frustrating way. Glitches can make a game all too easy to drop.

All of this also applies to its shaky overall performance. The frame rate doesn’t always hold up, especially when the Predator starts attacking, making it even more difficult to shoot the evasive bastard. It’s unfair and is likely the sharpest thorn in the game’s side because of how it negatively impacts gameplay.

Prep up for the PS5

Sony PS5 Controller DualSense Front 2

Image Source: Sony/PlayStation Blog

Of course, moving to the PS5 would hopefully solve a lot of these performance problems. Console launches are often fairly dry so the game would benefit from a soft relaunch in the fall as it could reinvigorate existing players and entice new console owners. Ideally, a PS5 port would have a consistent frame rate with better visuals on top of the content Illfonic is promising to add in the coming months.

Sony published Hunting Grounds so its interest lies in keeping this game alive. It’s also interested in having a killer launch lineup. Merging the two goals would make the most sense.