Illfonic has set their sights on another 80’s icon with the recent announcement of Predator: Hunting Grounds.
The studio achieved cult success when they co-developed Friday the 13th back in 2017.
Confirmed details are limited but the Predator looks as though he’ll be having the same asymmetric treatment as Jason. Pitting a group of elite soldiers against the elusive alien in a PvP mode.
If the project gets the same level of care as Friday the 13th there are plenty of reasons to be excited. But the news is worth taking with a pinch of salt. Safe to say, the studio doesn’t have the best track record.
Pre-Friday the 13th Period
Illfonic first emerged on the scene with Xbox 360 exclusive Nexuiz. A team-based arena shooter that was a redesigned mod from cult classic Quake. The game ran well but suffered from a lack of community.
The game was online-only and failed to draw the audience required to keep it thriving. Servers were shut down just a year after launch.
From there Illfonic assisted on development of Sonic Boom: The Rise of Lyric. A game considered by many to be an all-time low for the much-maligned series that also contains the practically unplayable Sonic 06.
Designed as a tie in for the Sonic Boom animated series, The Rise of Lyric replaced traditional gameplay with clunky action-adventure platforming.
Following Sonic Boom, Illfonic became one of several developers tied into Star Citizen. The infamous crowdfunded massive multiplayer project that has been in development for eight years. Missing multiple release deadlines despite raising over $250m towards development.
Can you spot a trend?
The Polarizing Friday the 13th
Then, of course, came the studio’s recent breakout hit, Friday the 13th.
A great deal of care and attention was utilised in the construction of maps and playable characters.
Staying true to its iconic roots, Friday the 13th was arguably one of the best film-to-game adaptations of all time. Even the unique gameplay was reminiscent of the popular series.
Pitting eight camp counsellors against the supernatural fiend, creating a real sense of dread and tension. Friday the 13th did a great job balancing Jason’s power, maintaining his advantage over counsellors, even when controlled by less skilled players.
But criticisms were levied against the game for its’ near-endless game-breaking bugs. Glitches and crashes were commonplace making the game unplayable at times. Occasionally, players would simply be booted from the server entirely at random.
A number of updates did improve gameplay but production on the game was unfortunately forcibly halted. A legal dispute over the rights of the franchise meant the project was indefinitely put on hold.
Illfonic has now acquired the rights to another horror icon and intends to build on this model for Predator: Hunting Ground.
Predator: Hunting Ground
A reveal trailer was released for the PlayStation exclusive earlier this year with a predicted 2020 release date. The cinematic trailer shows four soldiers walking through a jungle, armed to the teeth.
The camera pulls out to reveal the Predator in active camouflage stalking his prey from the treetops. The game is planned to be another asymmetric multiplayer title with presumably one player controlling the Predator.
In keeping with the film franchise, the trailer seems to hint that stealth will play a crucial role for the Predator character. It’s unconfirmed whether the other players can kill the Predator at the stage or how closely it will borrow to the Jason model.
In Friday the 13th, it was possible to kill Jason provided all players worked together and completed a specific checklist of challenges. One heavy attack to freeze him, another to stun him, and then only a specific character (Tommy Jarvis) may deliver the killing blow.
But even then it was likely Jason would tear his way through the counsellors during the attempted set-up of this kill. The character is near invincible.
In Predator: Hunting Grounds, the counsellors are now highly trained and well-equipped soldiers. We would expect this would balance the playing field in a game style more akin to Evolve.
With the Predator having the benefit of camouflage, the aim is to segregate players and pick them off with traps and high tech weaponry. It is also yet to be confirmed whether the game will work like a deathmatch. Or whether soldiers will have additional objectives as with Friday the 13th.
When Can We Expect to See Predator: Hunting Ground?
The game is slated for a 2020 release and is believed to be in development for the PS4 as opposed to the next-gen console. At an optimistic projection, we predict we might see it in the first quarter of next year.
Sony Interactive Entertainment is also significantly involved in the development, which is a huge boost for potential. The game was revealed as a part of Sony’s State of Play announcement so they could be targeting it as a significant exclusive to tide fans over until the next generation.
For now, we’re remaining cautiously optimistic that this could finally be the game where Illfonic successfully masters a unique shooter experience. Everything from the mutators in Nexiuz to the zombies in Dead Alliance has oozed missed potential.
Here’s hoping the studio has finally got the balance of quality and innovation right for Predator: Hunting Ground.