The predator should be way more OP in Predator: Hunting Grounds

Predator: Hunting Grounds
(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The only reason the predator in the original 1987 Predator film loses his asymmetrical multiplayer match against Arnold Schwarzenegger and his squad is because he gets bored.

The predator takes down Hawkins with his blades no problem—nobody even knows what a predator is at that point. Blain gets his heart ejected from his body, after which the commandos fire approximately one million bullets and manage to actually hit the predator once. Poncho gets t-boned by a log and lasered in the dome, Billy shirtlessly and stupidly dies off-screen, Mac and Dillon get their heads and arms blown off. None of them are a real threat to Predz.

Dutch takes a mudbath and sets Home Alone traps in the woods, but the predator deliberately spares his life so they can have a boxing match. Because he was bored! None of them had been a real threat so he put down all his weapons for a slap fight.

The predator in the film is way, way OP. The predator in 5-player asymmetrical shooter Predator: Hunting Grounds isn't—but I think the game might be better if he was. In all the matches I played, there was only one where the predator posed a real threat to the commandos, and I think it would be way more fun if the human squad almost never made it out alive.

In Hunting Grounds, a squad of four human players enters the jungle to complete a series of objectives—find something, steal something, blow something up, then get to da choppa—fighting enemy AI soldiers all along the way. The predator, meanwhile, spawns somewhere else and can run through the trees, use heat vision, and engage its cloaking device to stay hidden and observe the squad, looking for opportunities to start picking them off.

The AI soldiers aren't really a challenge for the squad, which is part of the problem. They're barely even a distraction, and the predator really needs a good distraction. Otherwise players constantly stay grouped together, and what you want is for them to be split up and unfocused: that frenzied, Left 4 Dead type situation where you've been mobbed by zeds and you're hurt and scattered and then the human-controlled zombies can really mess you up. 

It just doesn't happen with Hunting Grounds, so when the predator wants to engage, he's gonna be dropping in among four soldiers who are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and completely ready for him. 

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Another part of the problem is that it's really easy to tell when the predator shows up. He's very noisy—you can hear his weird alien mouth clicking, his laser warming up, and his targeting system. You can see leaves and branches showering down from the trees he's running around in. Even cloaked, he's pretty easy to spot when you're looking for him, and you're looking for him because you can hear all the damn noise he's making.

There are unlockable weapons and upgrades for the predator that improve its abilities: a net gun, a bow and arrow, that flying disc and spear from some of the other Predator films, plus traps, decoys, and other perks that make Predz more formidable. Maybe a high-level predator would pose more of a threat, but I feel like the predator should be almost unkillable from the start. I know balance is tricky, especially in asymmetrical multiplayer, but it feels like Hunting Grounds has been set up to give the commandos a fair chance to survive in one piece. I think things should be far more in favor of the predator wiping everyone out, and if you survive it should be by the skin of your teeth and probably having left everyone else behind. That's how the best Left 4 Dead matches ended, for me, at least.

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Maybe it doesn't sound fun playing as a soldier in a match where you're pretty much guaranteed to die, but honestly the most fun I had in Hunting Grounds was when I got brutally killed. It even felt reminiscent of the original film. With two of our squad having quit the match, my sole remaining teammate and I were trying to finish our objective to steal data and destroy the AI enemy's servers. 

I found the server room keys, turned to see where my teammate was, and saw a glimmer of movement in the doorway. I essentially did a double-take, and the cloaked predator lunged across the room and impaled me on his wrist blades. It felt a bit like Hawkins' death in the film, where he turns and just sees the shimmering outline of the alien before he's gutted.

It wouldn't have been an instakill if I wasn't already low on health, but maybe those wrist-spikes should be an instakill. Just ask Hawkins or Dillon.

Then I got to lay there on the floor and watch my teammate get his spine and skull ripped out next to me. That was cool! More matches should end like that, with the squad completely wiped while the predator takes out their spines. So far, though, it hasn't been that way. The predator just isn't stealthy or powerful enough to routinely mop the floor with the humans, and we keep getting to da choppa in one piece.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.