The iconic bounty hunting FPS, Hunt: Showdown, has graced our PCs for five years this year, growing and evolving along with its fanbase. Many of the basic elements of the game have stayed the same – it’s a tense, match-based shooter that puts you in the shoes of creature-hunters – but just as many elements have changed for the better.
Over the last five years, fans have been treated to an ever-improving gameplay experience, with new modes, ideas, and features that have kept things fresh out there in the Wild West. With every update, further reasons to play have been injected into its code, as more and more people download and experience Hunt: Showdown for themselves.
We’ve interviewed some of the folk behind the game as we zone in on its fifth anniversary, getting a behind-the-scenes look at Hunt: Showdown’s development history and what keeps fans coming back for more five years in.
The development loop for Hunt: Showdown is one where the devs and players coexist in perpetual excitement for what’s coming next. This bubbling feeling comes to the surface when certain new features come into play, like the launch of a new map, weapon, or enemy.
Rick Taylor, Hunt: Showdown senior community manager, says that seeing these moments where fans and creator come together is a source of immense pride. “I think my favourite reaction was the introduction of Scrapbeak,” he reveals, referring to the formidable boss enemy who appears dressed as a twisted plague doctor. “No one had any idea what to expect when we were bringing a new boss into the game, so when the community got their first look at all the hard work the devs put into making something so unique, yet so fitting to Hunt – it was just incredible.”
“It was amazing to have such a positive reaction, it was a very proud moment to see all the hard work paying off.”
Updates and upgrades
The updates have come thick and fast for fans of Hunt: Showdown, and lead game designer Dennis Schwarz says the development team feel as connected to these new features as the fans do, keeping the two learning from each other in tandem. These updates bring bigger and better ways to play, keeping the game fresh and relevant to new and old audiences alike.
“Some of the main new pieces of content have been in the form of Custom Ammo, for example, which mean players could adapt their weapons to their playstyle,” he says. “Players can choose between poison ammo, explosive ammo and flammable ammo, to name a few, and it gives more ways to take on your enemies and this was huge in changing up gameplay.
“Another big thing was bringing in a new map, De Salle, so players can choose between three maps which each have 16 compounds. The addition of De Salle brought players the ability to traverse through a map which connects two towns and features saloons, banks… even an abandoned mansion, all within an eerie environment.
“Equally important was bringing the game to consoles as well as introducing teams of three, updated legendary content as well as the Live Events that happen throughout the year,” adds Schwarz. “With Live Events we can really bring brand new content and test it out for the events’ duration and see what player feedback is like and from that we can see what to implement in future.”
Hunt: Showdown now looks slicker than ever, with a wide range of grotesque enemies, along with rival bounty hunters that you must avoid and take down. The gear options, as well as the bounties, just keep getting bigger.
Taking challenges as they come
Live service games, those that are constantly updated with new content and features, face a unique bundle of challenges in 2023, and Hunt: Showdown is not exempt. From keeping players engaged over a long period of time, to connecting with their community in a meaningful and sustained way, the Crytek team has to navigate these issues successfully, all the while creating a game full of thrills and match-based action.
David Fifield, the general manager of Hunt: Showdown, says that “the market has seen a constant shift of large franchises and renowned developers either shifting from premium releases to service models, or launching massive service offerings in parallel to their premium tent pole products. The big challenge we are mindful of is making sure we don’t push too far across genres or platforms too quickly as a franchise.””
This approach has seen countless powerhouse franchises retreating back to their base platforms and focusing on continued success there, so Crytek are keen to heed this warning and continue focusing on surprising and rewarding the existing user base they have, alongside any new players these updates can draw in.
Beyond the fifth year
The developers have no intention of slowing down, even with the sheer scope of the game in its current form. “For now,” says Fifield of the team’s priorities, “we’re deeply focused on Hunt: Showdown and making it everything it needs to be as an online serviced based extraction shooter for PC and consoles.”
Celebrating Year Five of Hunt: Showdown, the team have announced various activities and rewards for players, including giveaways and exclusive music releases. “We’re celebrating five years of Hunt by giving back to the community via our Twitch Drops campaign,” reveals Apoorva Gandhi, lead brand and marketing manager, “where users can watch their favourite streamers and earn brand new rewards including a new Hunter, the Kill Buyer.
“We’re also doing a game show called Hunt: Showdown Bounty Bash, where we’ve asked streamers to take part in various games and quizzes, winning big prizes for their communities, which have been provided by our hardware partners. We’ll be releasing a vinyl from our in-house band Port Sulphur, as well, who do the whole soundtrack to Hunt.”