Maneater is a great game, giving the survival genre a twist by making you the monster, pitting you against squishy little humans in a race to survive. Now, while the tutorial does a good job of explaining what you need to do, and the game is pretty easy to pick, here are a few little tips that I wish I’d known when I started playing. These should be pretty spoiler free, so don’t stress too much if you haven’t finished the game yet, but they’ll certainly help you out as you brave the darkest of depths…
So, if you’re new to Maneater, or are just looking for some tips and tricks to help you get a better understanding of what it takes to be an all-consuming monster, these are the results of the time I’ve spent with this game; the things I wish I’d known at the start. I did spend a lot of time dying in researching these tips, so hopefully my many deaths won’t have been in vain.
But how about you out there in the waters? Do you have any top tips to share with your fellow sharks? Let us know in the comments!
1. Eat ALL the Things
This is pretty much a no-brainer, but here we go.
Every fish, turtle, alligator and whale that you eat gives you experience points, or XP. It is this which helps your little shark to grow from a Pup, to a Teen, and then through an Elder shark right up to a Mega. As you grow, you get stronger, and thus become able to eat more things in order to stay alive longer.
When you go back to earlier levels as a buff Elder, the little alligators that used to be the bane of your existence as a baby shark are no longer a problem.
Another good skill to get into the swing of is the “Thrash” move: as you grab larger prey items (like the aforementioned alligators or other sharks) you’ll see a prompt appear on the screen saying “Thrash!”. When this appears, wiggle the right stick like it’s going out of fashion, and you’ll do a ton more damage to the prey item you currently have in your mouth.
This helps enormously when fighting the Hunted and Apex targets.
2. Visit the Grotto Regularly
The grottos in Maneater are a valuable resource, acting as not only fast travel points to save wear and tear on your tail fin (caudal if we want to be absolutely correct), but these are also the only places where your shark can not only evolve, but also have evolutionary traits fitted to it.
Think of it like a shark MOT centre and you won’t be far wrong.
Now, when you reach certain milestones in levels, your shark will grow to the next stage of its body shape, and this can only happen at the grotto. So, having marauded around the seas, terrifying people and eating anything that moves, going back to your grotto will let your shark change from teen to adult, for example; obviously we need to grow in order to survive.
As we grow, and as we find things and eat bounty hunters, we will unlock new traits – new sharky superpowers if you will. The first of these, “Sonar”, is vital, showing you not only where prey and hunters are but it is also able to pinpoint any collectibles that you have missed so far. As you progress, new fins, bodies, teeth and even other organs will become available, so keeping an eye on what you’ve unlocked by visiting the grotto is always a good idea.
3. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
With the wise words of Uncle Ben (no, not the rice dude) ringing in our ears, we have to consider the powers that we have been given.
As we grow, we get different abilities, with each not only coming with various levels, but with different effects.
Let’s take teeth as an example. In my initial playthrough, I unlocked bio-electric teeth and bone teeth fairly close together, and choosing the right set for the task you have in mind helps a lot. The bio-electric teeth can stun your prey if you bite them enough, especially when powered up, and as you can imagine this comes in handy when facing the bosses of the various areas. They can’t hurt you if they can’t move, right? The bone teeth do more damage to the hulls of boats, so they will help you take out the pesky hunters who always turn up whenever you snack upon a few too many swimmers. So, if you are intent on luring out the next bounty hunter on the list, and swimming up the wanted table, those glorious bone teeth will sink boats faster, letting you summon them more quickly.
And this is just one category: when you add in head, body, fins and tail, not counting the internal organs, you can see that very quickly you can make your shark a swimming weapon; a category 5 Sharknado.
The powers can also be upgraded, giving stronger effects and chaining them together. The bio-electric body, for instance, turns your dodge move into a lightning teleport kind of action, stunning anything unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. One top tip I will give is this: upgrade the sonar as far and as fast as you can. Each power needs certain resources to upgrade, and a powered up sonar will not only show where prey items are, but will also show what resources you will get from eating them, whether that be fat, protein or whatever. See what you need to get to the next level of the power you want, swim out, ping the sonar and then harvest what you need.
4. Collect ALL the Things As Well
Maneater has a ton of collectibles to find and collect, in a range of challenging locations.
These are split into three basic types: firstly there are licence plates to find and grab, based on the many tales of sharks being caught, and when their stomach contents were examined they had all kinds of indigestible nonsense in them. There are also landmarks to find, and not only are these usually amusing tableaus to behold, like the pile of golf clubs at the bottom of a water hazard, or a rollercoaster still with skeletons holding on tight, the voice-over usually has some pithy comment to make, making these an amusing distraction.
It’s worth mentioning that collecting all the licence plates and locations in an area will also award you with additional evolutions, such as the shadow set which uses the power of poison to deal damage, so it’s well worth spending the time to track them down.
The final type of collectible is the caches of nutrients, which not only give you a hefty chunk of XP for finding, but also give you the mutagens needed to power up your evolutions. All in all, with the amount of fun it is just swimming about in the world, finding these things is not only a good idea for your personal growth as a shark, it’s also bloody good fun, if you’ll pardon the pun!
It’s worth mentioning that you need to bite the location markers, a yellow diamond on a pole to collect them, and the licence plates require similar treatment. As you progress, you’ll find licence plates in very inconvenient locations, such as on a bridge too high over the water for you to grab. In this case, why not equip the “Amphibious” evolution and wiggle your way along the bridge from either side? Just be careful to aim your bite right or you’ll end up back in the water again!
5. Discretion is the Better Part of Valour
In Maneater it’s very easy to die, especially as you are quite weedy when the game starts.
As such there is absolutely no shame in breaking off from a fight you are getting a good kicking in to eat, regroup and come back with more health. If you are fighting a Hunted or Apex predator, they will be at the same health they were when you broke off, which is a nice bonus. Breaking out of the fight, swimming away and coming back also gives you the chance to attack from behind, something that is a valid tactic as sharks are not well-known for their sense of fair play.
Fighting human hunters is a different deal, however. The first thing you need to do is break contact, and diving deep is a good first step, as is using your boost ability (LT) to get away from their laser sights. Using the dodge button (RB) is also a literal lifesaver, as dodging bullets is infinitely preferable to getting shot.
Weirdly, the frogmen in the later stages seem to be able to swim faster than the boats, but what’s an underwater hunter if not a tasty snack? If you manage to break contact for long enough, depending on how long it takes you to find prey and recharge the old health bar the hunters may well give up and vacate the area. If they do, eat a few swimmers and they’ll soon return.
In short then, run away, eat, and come back stronger. All in a day’s work for a Maneater!
6. Combat: A Primer
Maneater does have an issue with combat, if I’m honest. As I mentioned in my full review, the omission of a lock-on mechanic makes a lot of the fights harder than it needs to be. It’s possible, with a quick press of the right stick, to focus the camera on the nearest threat, which works pretty well when you are taking on another animal such as an Apex predator. If you can see where they are, you can dodge and attack, and with speedy foes like the Mako sharks this is an advantage.
But what about when you are surrounded by angry hunters and their boats?
Well, not so much, as if three people are aiming at you, the camera doesn’t quite know what to do. So here are my tips for combat: press all the buttons!
But seriously, combat with the animals is usually not too bad, being a cat and mouse game of dodge and counter strike. Fighting boats is much harder, and my top tip is this: spend as little time swimming in a straight line as possible, as this will make it harder for the hunters to lock on. The underwater, scuba-type hunters are the biggest threat, so take them out first. The boats are interesting, mind, as you have to sink a certain number to draw out the Bounty Hunter, the boss of the wave of hunters. However, you can pick the hunters off the decks of the boats by leaping, and with practice it’s possible to land on a boat and eat your way through the crew. You see, in this game, a boat is counted as destroyed when there are no more hunters left on board – you don’t actually have to destroy the boat to count it as vanquished. And squishy people on the deck of a boat make a great target for a leaping shark…
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Bounty Hunters, again you just need to snatch them out of the boat – you don’t need to sink their vessel. Jump, grab, dive, swim away… laughing!
If you haven’t yet purchased Maneater then get yourself over to the Xbox Store pronto.