Huge Hunt: Showdown update overhauls the experience for new players

Two hunters heading for a showdown.
(Image credit: Crytek)

Crytek's Hunt: Showdown is a unique shooter, a medium-scale open world where players team up, find and take down monsters, then ultimately fight each other (or gleefully evacuate with arms a-laden). It's been receiving updates fairly regularly ever since its early access launch in February 2018 (it hit full release in late 2019), and now a major 1.5 update has overhauled the game's frontend, made changes big and small, and added an armory's worth of new ammunition types. In a game where one good shot is a kill (on players, anyway), the latter is a Big Deal.

The frontend overhaul is perhaps most interesting, however, because to be blunt about it Hunt's menus were never great: lots of things are nested away, the game would show you important information once then never mention it again, and it wasn't clear what some parts of it did or what you should be focusing on. I'm no Hunt expert but I've played a bit of it, and often found myself being guided around the menus by my more experienced friends to unlock upgrades and things I didn't realise I had.

Maybe that just shows I'm an idiot, but this is a game filled with deep and complex systems and clearly Crytek wasn't happy with the bounce rate of new players either. Version 1.5's improvements in this area are targeted at "player on-boarding" and, in a masterpiece of understatement, "it is now much easier to learn about the purpose of each menu and the game in general." Those onetime tips and other information are now available on-demand from a toggleable help menu, more information in general has been added, and hallelujah, because the text now visually links to specific menu elements. It's hard to overstate what a major improvement to the game this is.

The carbine in Hunt: Showdown.

(Image credit: Crytek)

In addition to making Hunt more accessible for new players, Crytek's also fixed some longstanding issues including the phenomenon of concertina wire basically acting as an iron wall for bullet cover. Someone was obviously very unhappy with this wire, because it now provides much less cover, can be shredded by bullets, and can now only be cut with blades.

Version 1.5 also adds a dizzying range of custom ammo, "designed as a side-grade rather than an upgrade, offering a lot more variety as well as allowing players to tailor their loadouts even more to their playstyle." Players can still opt for the default ammunition but each custom type has its ups and downs, some are more suited to PvP, and most importantly you can't change your loadout mid-match.

There's an exhaustive amount of information on all the types being added, which you can read here, but to give some idea of the amount being added there are: poison rounds, incendiaries, dum-dums, FMJs, high-velocity rounds, spitzers, explosive shots, flechettes, slugs, and so on. Most eye-catching is the penny shot, which allows you to blast someone with a load of coins which apparently "shreds skin and flesh, but cannot penetrate harder obstacles."

A water devil in Hunt: Showdown.

(Image credit: Crytek)

This ties into a change to the hand crossbow, which is now a small rather than a medium weapon. "As well as the addition of the new tactical ammo types such as the choke, chaos, and poison," writes Crytek, "we want to encourage its use as a more versatile tool in the players Arsenal. Please note you cannot dual-wield the hand crossbow."

I have a few friends who are obsessed with Hunt: Showdown, to the extent it's more-or-less all they play. I've never quite been able to get as into it as they are, and I'd put that largely down to the fact I always enjoy the game itself, but could never really be bothered to dive fully into what seemed like a labyrinthe and confusing menu and meta-levelling system. It always felt like the game's excellence was slightly buried under too many layers. With Version 1.5, hopefully more hunters will be able to see past the cruft, and discover what makes this Showdown special.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."