So this past Friday I was finally able to play Predator: Hunting Grounds, a game I have been looking forward to for months. Created by developer IllFonic, Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetric multiplayer game where four people play as human commandos and one person plays as the ultimate alien hunter, the Predator.
During gameplay, the human players will attempt to complete objectives against an AI opponent (the rebels from the first film), while the Predator wants to hunt down and kill the four player characters before they can “get to da choppa!” and exit the level.
Despite being from a different franchise, Predator: Hunting Grounds is in many ways a sequel to the Friday the 13th game, which launched several years ago and which I also had a ton of fun with. There really is no one who can blend gameplay with fan service like IllFonic, well – at least when it when it comes to 1980s cult classics.
That said, it’s difficult to compare Predator: Hunting Grounds to games like Friday the 13th or Dead by Daylight, mostly because Predator: Hunting Grounds is so new. It’s fresh out of development and ready for the wide world. It is likely (I hope) that Predator: Hunting Grounds will receive a fair amount of downloadable content (DLC) to further extend its longevity and transform it into the perfect Predator experience in video game form.
So, with that in mind, here is what I would like to see come to Predator: Hunting Grounds. Note: I’m for the most part not going to talk about basic things like new maps and more customization options – not because I don’t want them but because I’m shooting for grander scale items. This is my fantasy after all, I’m not settling for just a different colored bandanna.
The LA Predator 2 Level
Okay, remember when I just said I wouldn’t talk about new maps? Well, that was more than a little bit of a lie. What I should have written was “I will not talk about new maps on the scale of jungle variants.” Predator: Hunting Grounds is, at the moment, really all about the the first film. As such, everything is jungle – and jungle is cool. It’s full of tall tries, lots of mud and streams, and scattered enemy compounds.
That said, I would love a little more “concrete” in my jungle. Predator 2 ditched the dense forests and plentiful shrubs for numerous garbage cans and smug-covered skies. Yes, I’m talking about Los Angeles in the year 1997.
It’s hard to envision a future where IllFonic doesn’t at least try to create a new level set out of Predator 2‘s LA. Many of the systems they’ve created for the jungle can be easily transitioned.
The AI rebels for instance can become gang members (I really want to hear someone shouting “f*cking voodoo magic man!” at least once). Instead of commandos, you would play as a team of police investigating the area. You’d still take orders from a remote voice, only difference is now it would be a cop instead of some Black Forest-type.
Even the Predator’s movement could be reused – although that would be more difficult. Buildings don’t have massive branches the way jungle trees do. The Predator would have to settle for fire escapes, telephone poles, and maybe busting through walls.
A good counter-balance would be to reduce the effectiveness of the human weaponry on the LA levels. After all, cops shouldn’t have mini-guns or grenades.
That said, I’m sure the developers would want to keep things as simple as possible – and who could blame them. Creating a whole new “Predator 2 mode” sounds like a hassle and a good way to split your active player audience.
If this happens, they will have to reconcile a way that makes the two modes more connected so that players can load into jungles or LA streets with relative ease and little in the way of layout switching. Can it be done? Sure – but maybe not with the same level of devoted fan service consistency that they want.
Will it work? Who knows – but I’m very confident they will at least try to make it so.
A Predators Game Mode
Now this one I honestly see working more, even though it would have to be its own mode. In Predators, the human protagonists were not part of a cohesive team. Instead, each was their own agent. Sure, they banded together to fight a common enemy, but it was always an uneasy truce. More than once, they tried to kill each other.
This is the Predators game mode: Six human players (up from four) are scattered across a huge map. They can see each other on the mini-map (maybe with an option to hide).
Instead of the objective-based gameplay of the current mode, it is only a death match. Either the humans kill the Predators and take their ship or the Predators kill the people.
You read that right: Predators – the AI based team in this mode will be three “normal” predators. Yeah, I know it breaks from the movie but it’s better to have good gameplay than fan service in this case (sorry to all 12 of the diehard Predators fans out there).
I don’t pretend to have this all worked out (I started writing notes and immediately realized it was more effort than I cared to for this blog post) but I am convinced a mode like this could work.
I think it would be vital that the human players distrust each other (maybe turn off friendly fire and give one player a traitor objective set) and that all three teams be in constant battle. The AI predators should be a challenge but have limited weapons and the inability to heal. This should stop them from being too much of a force.
As an added bonus, the alien planet level (or a smaller version of it) could also be incorporated into normal gameplay, just replace the alien life with pigs again and there you go: map variant.
Alien vs. Predator Mode
To continue with my whole “I don’t want just new levels but here’s a whole bunch of level ideas” post, I want the pyramid from 2004’s Alien vs. Predator movie. That said, here’s another mode idea: Alien vs. Predator mode.
This one is actually pretty straight forward. 3 teams, same as normal – the AI are the people, one player is a predator, and four players are aliens. It’s a race to see who can win. Will the Predator kill the four aliens or will the four aliens slaughter everyone?
The aliens would be much weaker than the player but would have limited respawns. They could become facehuggers and try to corrupt the AI humans – turning them into new aliens. Should someone actually be able to face-hug the predator, well then that should be considered a win for the aliens.
The predator could also take out the human AI to cut off the alien respawn supply chain, but doing so would require prioritizing hunting relatively harmless AI over dealing with the serious threat of four aliens.
Better trick: The pyramid is constantly shifting so no one can get too familiar with the map.
For the record, I could see this easily becoming a normal Predator mode (sans aliens) with the humans researching the pyramid, trying to dodge the predator, and making back to the surface. There’s no AI team in this version – but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The Return of Chad
Okay, enough with the pipe dreams. Here is something that needs to happen. Chad needs to come back. Who is Chad, you may ask? Glad to answer, this is Chad:
Chad is a playable character in the Friday the 13th game and is classified only as “a dick.” He is the perfect personality of a self-servicing, overly aggressive, toxic masculine rich jerk and is so much fun to kill. Whenever players do anything selfish in the game, they are referred to as Chads (there is even an achievement that reflects this).
The legal battle around Jason Voorhees is hell but Chad is not part of it. I want to be able to play as Commando Chad and I want to be able to kill Chad as a Predator. He can become IllFonic’s unofficial mascot.
Bring him back and let the carnage continue.
So yeah, those are my thoughts. I hope some of them happen but really, I trust the developers to do what’s best. I just hope they charge a little more for DLC this time so that Predator: Hunting Grounds can remain playable for years to come.
Oh, also cross-platform support with the PS5 and the ability to transfer accounts – that will really do wonders.