As online multiplayer gaming continued to evolve over the past twenty years, more developers have begun to explore more unique design philosophies to help their titles stand out in a more and more crowded market. Instead of balanced teams of soldiers fighting with similar weapons against one another, more games branched out into stranger territory, pitting a small team of humans against one or several powerful player-controlled creatures with dangerous abilities. While the squad of humans often sought out several objectives outside of pure survival, such as repairing a means of escape or fighting NPC enemies, the opponent typically only has one goal in mind: grow powerful and eliminate the other players by any means necessary. Unlike more traditional multiplayer titles, these asymmetrical multiplayer games can struggle to find the ideal balance between the two teams, in order to ensure that the familiar human gameplay is just as enticing as playing as the less-common creature gameplay and to establish the power level of the solo mechanics of the creature so that they remain fun but not overpowered.
While the PC gaming market has found its share of asymmetrical multiplayer successes in recent years, console players have seen fewer opportunities to take advantage of this unique dynamic during the latest console generation. 2015’s Evolve saw plenty of hype prior to its release, as the game excelled in brief sessions where a team of four hunters tracked down one of several increasingly-powerful monsters which led to several intense showdowns in a single session of gameplay. But after its release, Turtle Rock Studios’ first indie title fell flat thanks to a lack of variety and an unsatisfying progression loop. The following year, Illfonic unveiled a Kickstarter project to create a multiplayer game based on the Friday the 13th movies, as one player controlled the mass murderer Jason Voorhees as he sought to take out seven camp counselors before they escaped the campgrounds. Despite the promising premise, Friday the 13th: The Game launched in 2017 with numerous server issues and technical bugs, causing the game to lose much of its audience before the small team of developers had enough time to iron everything out.
Even with these missteps, asymmetrical multiplayer games continue to garner excitement as AAA publishers continue to embrace the uncommon circumstances that arise as part of these one-vs-all scenarios. In addition to Resident Evil Resistance, a co-op multiplayer add-on for the Resident Evil 3 remake that sees four humans trying to survive against the zombies and traps set by the all-seeing mastermind, next month also marks the release of the next project from Illfonic, Predator: Hunting Grounds. When a squad of elite soldiers known as the Fireteam head out into the forest to take on an opposing military force, the iconic extraterrestrial takes advantage of the chaos to hunt and collect trophies to add to their collection. Unlike their Friday the 13th adaptation, Illfonic’s next title has the full backing of Sony Interactive Entertainment and 20th Century Fox to hopefully make their ambitious multiplayer game more technically sound at launch and allow the team to fully embrace the Predator license.
As the humans, players can fully customize their loadout of weapons and gadgets and partake in firefights against NPC opponents to work towards completing paramilitary objectives, offering a wider variety of compelling activities for non-Predator participants to engage in. Meanwhile, Predator players can pick from one of three classes, the speedy Scout, the balanced Hunter or the tank-like Beserker, and take advantage of several sci-fi abilities and gadgets, including camouflage, plasma casters, wrist blades and much more as they watch from high up in the trees and wait for their moment to strike.
With meaningful progression through unlockable gears and skins, more engaging human gameplay to compliment the inherent draw of playing as the intergalactic hunter and the AAA support to raise the odds of a more stable launch, Predator: Hunting Grounds looks to capitalize on the potential of asymmetrical multiplayer games while living up to the legacy of the iconic ’80s movies. Fans can get a better sense of the promise of the full game through a free trial weekend starting on March 27 before the game properly launches on April 24 for PS4 and PC.