Crytek appears to be in a whole heap of trouble. Rumors have begun circulating concerning the company’s finances, which have reportedly been hampered by the poor sales of Ryse: Son of Rome and low adoption rate for CryEngine 3. Crytek, however, is not about to go down without a fight. With a handful of titles in development, the company hopes to put naysayers to rest. One of these titles is Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, the first title from Crytek USA. Can this Co-Op Free-to-Play title help save the company? It’s possible, but it still needs a lot of work.
Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age is a Third-Person Free-to-Play shooter with four player Co-Op. It takes place during the 19th century and follows the adventures of four soldiers as they attempt to protect humanity from supernatural forces. I had the pleasure of checking the game out at E3 2014, and what I saw was cool, though severely unpolished.
The demo took place in the swamplands of Louisiana with the players hunting a witch. Along the way they were ambushed by cultists, zombies, and finally the witch herself. The player characters found themselves taking cover, jumping through windows, and participating in Quick-Time-Events just to stay alive. It should have been fast and intense, but it was actually pretty tame, at least against the human cultists. When fighting against humans the gameplay feels generic, uninspired, and a bit buggy. Either the enemies were bullet sponges or the hit detection was off, but either way it took far too many bullets to fell an enemy. Even worse, melee attacks didn’t seem to even faze enemies.
Thankfully, things are much different when it comes to tackling the supernatural. One section of the demo sent players into the swamp only to be ambushed by zombies. Watching the zombies rise from the water sent shivers down my spine. Fast and without fear, the zombies provided a tense challenge that added some much needed excitement into the game. Similarly, the battle with the witch was quite intense. Shrouded in smoke, teleporting throughout the map, and casting her magic, the witch was a fearsome opponent. Seeing these enemies made me dread the next encounter, rather than dread having to play more of the game.
All levels in Hunt: Horrors of the Golden Age are procedurally generated with a large number of creatures and bosses populating them. This also applies to player respawns, which are unique and hilarious. Some examples shown to me included a player respawning inside a coffin, and needing his allies to open the door. Another player respawned hanging from a tree by his feet. Crytek is emphasizing variety, and the randomized levels and spawn points will keep the game replayable for a long time.
This is a Free-to-Play game, which means that there will be micro-transactions. Much like many other Free-to-Play games, Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age will not impede your ability to play if you don’t want to pay. The only items that will be monetized are cosmetic items and experience boosts. Players will not be able to buy their way to victory.
Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age is a tale of two games. There’s genuine brilliance when you’re battling supernatural forces, who always manage to challenge the way you play. However, there are also the tedious, uninspired fights against humans. There’s still time to improve and polish the game, and I hope Crytek USA does. In places this game shines brightly, but it’s coated in muck.
Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age goes into beta later this year.