Our CEO Charles Brungardt was just on stage with Geoff Keighley with our first gameplay trailer. In case you missed it, I’m here to give you a recap of what we are showing off at gamescom and a little look at the process of making this game.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical online multiplayer shooter*. We found this was the best way to deliver on our main vision for the project: to recreate the raw dread of being hunted by something faster and more powerful than you, and the thrill of being the one doing the hunting. That’s right: Predator: Hunting Grounds will be 1v4, and yes, you’ll be able to play as the Predator! Everyone else in the match will be part of an elite 4-person Fire Team, the best and baddest soldiers to face such a threat.
This is the first gameplay we are showing from the game, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We’re early in development—this was all captured from a pre-alpha build, but it still gives you an idea of our vision for this project. You get to see how we want our missions to start, where the Fire Team is being brought in on the helicopter to the jungle. Did anyone recognize the song? That is a nod to ‘87 for sure! Anyway, you drop down into the map and the Fire Team heads out to accomplish the mission goals they’ve been given, taking out AI and so on. We want playing as the Fire Team to feel like it’s almost its own game: there are AI combatants to face, objects to collect or destroy, and most importantly, getting the heck out of there when the job is done.
It’s that duality that makes things particularly interesting when the game takes a turn and the Predator enters into play. You never know what will happen… Will the Predator hunt down the Fire Team and take his trophies, or will the Fire Team accomplish their mission and hunt down the Predator? It keeps the gameplay intense and fast paced, something we tried to convey in the trailer.
ESRB: Rating Pending
The jungle scene in the demo is lush and full of danger. With the amount of foliage to blend in with, threats can come from anywhere. In particular, unlike many games, you HAVE to remember to look up. The jungle is a playground for the Predator, with all the tree trunks to climb and branches to leap across. We really wanted to capture that element of surprise and anticipation of what is behind that bush, or tree, or stone as you approach it. The Fire Team should feel like badasses against the human enemies yet feel afraid of the true danger in the map: the Predator.
We used Predator ‘87 for a majority of our inspiration for the game. Which we hope the gamers can see from the jungle environment, but also in the lengths we went to behind the scenes. We researched the original weapons and actually recorded them being fired in heavily wooded areas to make sure the sound and reverberation of bounding around trees and leaves was as accurate as possible in-game. We of course take ‘87 and evolve with current day weapons and technology; we want the Fire Team to be able to be at the top of their game against the universe’s deadliest hunter. In addition, we actually tracked down the synthesizers used in the original score. These are just a few examples of the level of detail the team is aiming for as we create Predator: Hunting Grounds. It’s been a childhood dream to work on a Predator game. The little kid in me that would play Predator in the woods with friends is beyond stoked!
When we looked at this IP, it was really important to us that we stayed true to the canon already created in the Predator universe, but to also move it forward. It has been really great having everyone at Fox on hand to answer questions and riff and run things by. Especially since we have been given the unique opportunity that everything we make in this game becomes a part of the official Predator lore.
We have taken our inspiration from the 87 Predator over the other films because we believe it’s the true crown jewel of the IP. We hope that fans of the films will see this game as a bit of a love letter to the film. That being said our game takes place a few decades in the future, so we needed to incorporate all the films into the story. Gamers will see this in little reveals. For example, we have tied Stargazer from the most recent film, then added some interesting backstory between the two factions. We cannot wait for the community to get into the game and see how we have brought it all together!
Predators hunt in hot locations full of strife and combat. They also use paths that are less accessible: trees, rooflines and other tall positions to gain the upper hand. So our maps are designed to have two mapping paths within them. The ground that the humans (Fire Team and enemies) operate on and the “Predkour” map that the Predator primarily uses. The Predator can of course use both paths of travel, but with the Predkour it’s just so much more fun to be running through the trees stalking your prey.
The Predator can quickly run and jump from tree to tree or jump down to and up from the ground while moving around the map. The Predator is a monster that should come out of nowhere always keeping the Fire Team on their toes. It gives the game that tension / horror the Predator IP is known for.
We created a system for the Predator that we call “Predkour” in the studios; think parkour meets Predator. The Predator has the ability to attack from above as well as on the ground, just like in the films. This meant we needed to create a system for the Predator to climb into the trees and move limb from limb, or structure. The Predkour system has really been the most challenging element to the game. We wanted the Predator’s movement from tree-to-tree to feel effortless and make you feel inhuman with your ability to bound around the map.
This also lends to why the Predator is in third person, versus the Fire Team’s first person. The third person view for Predator really allows the player to see not only the Predator, but also the paths available for the Predator to take; as well as hunt at the same time.
The Predator being the namesake of the game should feel powerful and inhuman yet balanced against the Fire Team. The Fire Team is in first person, we feel the camera changes give the game the feel of two games. It’s been harder to make, but the experience is well worth the effort. First person gives the player better frontal awareness, but because of the tunnel vision of an FPS it can also be more terrifying when you know a Predator is hunting you.
ESRB: Rating Pending
As the Fire Team being hunted, they won’t be powerless by any means. The Predator is powerful, but not invincible. “It bleeds so you can kill it.” It’s all about combat awareness; the Predator is not fully invisible and you can see it as it moves around the world, even when cloaked it’ll give away its location from its own clicks and movement in the trees and the ground.
When the original idea (before even talking to our partners) came up, we wanted to make a game that could stand alone if you have a bad/no show enemy. We love co-op shooters, so the idea of making a fun team-based shooter that has a player-controlled enemy that eventually shows up to the party really got us excited. When presenting to our partners they all understood what we wanted to do and quickly got on board. This kind of game style hasn’t been done to death, but adding enemy AI changes the whole game type to be even more interesting and fresh each time. We think we’ve pulled off mission structure and pacing that, even if you took the Predator out of it, would be a fun and exciting co-op MP shooter to play with your friends.
ESRB: Rating Pending
The Predator is known for a ton of different weapons but the most well-known weaponry the Predator uses is its wrist blades and plasma caster. These make the Predator extremely dangerous. These are the weapons we see in the demo. The combination of the two makes the Predator an extremely formidable foe.
Balance in Hunting Grounds is key and is ever-changing. A good Fire Team that stays together and communicates, tags, and tracks their enemies can be more effective than a team that runs around without any teamwork. A Predator that stalks their prey and waits for the opportunity to attack can be more dangerous against a single combatant, rather than jumping in the middle of a Fire Team to try to take them all on at once. It’s a true game of cat and mouse and sometimes the cat might become the mouse.
As we continue development we cannot wait to show everyone more of the game and are extremely proud of what we have been creating. As we get closer to launch and show more we believe fans of the Predator films and gamers alike will be as excited as we are.
*Internet connection and PlayStation®Plus membership (sold separately) required for online multiplayer.