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.