Hunting is something I don’t like to do too much of. I don’t eat meat you see so I’d much rather let the little animals run free and munch down on a can of beans, or some fruit I’ve gathered in the wild. I do like hunting down humans and monsters with no remorse though and thankfully with Hunt: Showdown it’s my lucky day because I get to do both of my favourite pastimes in one full experience… PvP and monster hunting at the same time. So son, get your shotgun, for it’s hunting season.

Hunt: Showdown is currently running in Xbox Game Preview, giving players a sense of what the development team has to offer and hopefully allowing them to iron out any multiplayer bugs that the game has. And that development team are vets too, previously behind the likes of the original Far Cry and Crysis. But what exactly is it?

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A classic match of Hunt: Showdown sees up to 10 players – playing solo or in teams of two – going up against each other as they attempt to be the first to track and take out monsters in the swamps of Louisiana. But before you get that far you must utilise a physic skill that gives you markers, which in turn unearth your search of clues. As you navigate for these, you will be lead to your bounty, but it is here where you have to be very, very careful. See, not only is the map swarming with enemy AI, but every other Hunter is your enemy as well. As you may expect, there can only be one winner (or one team of two winners), and once you have the bounty in hand, you become the new target for everyone left on the map, as you try to get out as quickly as possible, with your prize intact.

Progress enough and you’ll unlock ‘quick mode’ which is basically 10 players going up against each other in a race to finish each other off; the winner managing to keep their hunter alive. It’s a quicker mode and a lot of fun. There is permadeath to your character as well, so if you’re not careful will not just lose all your experience, but that in your inventory as well. It ensures that the whole adventure runs down the risk/reward line well.  

Taking into account that this has just launched on Preview, Showdown looks great, with a brilliant visual replication and lighting covering the swampland. It certainly reminds me of “Left for Dead” and a bit of “Far Cry” – with the latter an obvious call due to what the development team brings. The possibility of what this world can offer in terms of more maps and design when the full game is released is exciting, and they have thrown in an audio system that is terrifying, especially when it all kicks off and you have creatures screaming at you from all sides as you hopelessly run through the swamp.

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My initial impressions at this present moment, centre on the loading screens and times to get into a game. They are very long, but that is to be taken for granted when you consider this stage of the development with the early arrival in preview. When you do arrive in game though it’s absolutely scary, because you have the threat of zombies scattered across the map and even bigger monster bosses hovering around the clues. I’ve encountered beasts that will haunt my dreams forever, like a flaming skeleton and this beast-like creature that spawns bees or wasps from her head. I was too scared to work out which and just ran.

Then you have the real-world hunters – just like yourself – walking the land and trying to achieve the same goals as you. The strategies on offer here are endless and intriguing, and I’ve had some great battles with other hunters; some successful and many unsuccessful. These battles and hunts are brilliant fun and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays out as the game develops over time. Of course, I have died a lot in my short time with Hunt: Showdown so far, but instead of wanting to throw my controller across the room in frustration and never play it again, the opposite happens, and you will want to go back immediately; getting better and just attempting to survive.

There is definitely a big place for Hunt: Showdown in the Xbox One market, and it’ll be interesting to see how many maps will be on offer and extra game modes are planned when the game is released proper. It would be great to see a small campaign included, but maybe that isn’t what the game is all about. If you fancy an adventure down in the swamps though, then grab your weapons and prepare to head on down to the hunt.

Massive thanks go out to Crytek for the opportunity to check out Hunt: Showdown in Xbox Game Preview and we’ll be sure to follow this piece up with a full review as and when the proper launch drops. If you wish to check out Hunt: Showdown for yourself then head over to the Xbox Store and pick it up for £23.99.

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