There are few things as terrifying as a giant, venom-spewing spider. That is probably why such enormous arachnids have been a staple of videogames for decades. But they are rarely as terrifying as the one Crytek have made for Hunt: Showdown. It is one of two major foes currently available to track down and kill in the co-op shooter. Battling with it makes for one of the game’s most intense moments, which is a shame, given that it is better to outright ignore the eight-legged freak than to risk fighting the thing.
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The idea in Hunt: Showdown is for you and a grizzled pal to wade through the swamps of Louisiana, where monsters lurk, killing a beast with a bounty on its head, and then escape with your life so you can collect the reward. The catch is there are other teams of players who can kill you and take the bounty from your poor dead hands - it doesn’t matter how you obtain the bounty, only that your team survives with it.
This setup lends itself to plenty of tension at the end of matches as players duke it out, but it also reinforces a specific style of play. Instead of risking your life - of which you have only one - it is far safer to wait for another team to kill the hideous target and then hunt them with intent to steal. Doing so allows your two-person squad to save valuable resources and remove the risk of being mauled to death. Even though you earn XP for killing and banishing a boss, the incentives - at least in the game’s alpha - are simply not good enough.
Experience does allow you to unlock new weapons and materials but these can only be purchased with in-game cash. And since you lose everything when you die - your character and their experience gone forever - money is the most important commodity in Hunt: Showdown. Everything is obtained via cash so you are encouraged to purchase new hunters to outfit with the latest gear. In-game cash is not earned from slaying or banishing the monsters so why risk losing your investment to a pig-headed butcher?
I have experienced multiple matches where teams sit around the boss spawn and wait for someone to kill the beast so they can go after them instead. The best way to play the game, then, is boring, and robs it of the great PvPvE dynamic that separates Crytek’s effort from other online shooters. Crytek need to offer better incentives for hunters to actually kill the creatures they have created instead of rewarding them for playing the waiting game.
The most obvious change would be to give a significant sum of money to those who deliver the killing blow to a monster. Since a new hunter roughly costs between $60 to $90, a boss should at least cover the price for a new character. This should be enough of a reward to balance the risk of being the attacking party since you could restock on the funds gained for the next match. However, if Crytek are worried about teams swooping in and snatching a big kill from another who did all the work to weaken the monster then the money could be earned by damage dealt to the boss - not the kill.
Another concept that could help would be to take influence from Monster Hunter and make it so that specific weapons and devices can only be acquired by killing a boss. Not only would this would reinforce the game’s theme of hunting prey, it would allow Crytek to craft plenty of supernatural tools, making room for expansions in the future. Being able to obtain a special melee weapon from The Butcher, for example, would certainly shake things up.
There could also be challenges tied to slaying the bosses that unlock special cosmetics or additional lore-related content - killing bosses in a certain time limit, or in a certain way, to name a couple. Going forward, Crytek should look to encourage hunters to go after the beasts within their world rather than just each other.