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Riders on the storm
31 5
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2,627 Hours played
A Wild West symphony of adrenaline

You're running the gauntlet, gleefully leaving a macabre series of killings behind; you have two partners watching your back, after all. Once the dust settles, the seemingly empty marshland grows ominously silent, and... BANG! The piercing whistle of bullets shrill through your mates' skulls. Both are taking a dirt nap as you wade through the knee-deep swamp water now with only a quarter of your hard-earned bounty, holding on to your dear, almost empty health bar. Facing the same fate as your crew, all that terror you went through, now a fading memory. Very soon you will be too.

You'll die, paying the price for shattering the peace in the bayou. You don't win. Best-case scenario, you live to die another day.

Blending the competitive forays of Battle Royales with horror-themed cooperative bounty hunting, Hunt: Showdown comes out on top as the prime example of an engrossing multiplayer experience. It requires your utmost attention. Analyze closely and always think a few steps ahead, as if you're playing chess against a grandmaster. You might have your moments, but doing so is no easy feat.

You, a patron to a "Bloodline" of voodoo bounty hunters, have been summoned to the plagued swamps of Louisiana in the late 19th century. Using the Dark Sight to search for clues around three generously-sized maps, your task is to banish the nastiest of those creatures back to hell and escape with bounties in hand. From garden-variety zombies to demonic mutants, all manners of menacing beasts are found along the way. Be it old hags spewing out swarms of poisonous bees from their chest, or charred immolators bursting out in flames if their skin is pierced.

But, none are the stout challenge you'd be looking for. Not even the bosses. An elusive assassin, a nimble wall-crawling spider, and a bulky butcher with a flaming hook, all three seem to be formidable opponents, though, against seasoned huntsmen, they don’t require much strategic thinking to take down. Frankly, every hunter of the bayou regards these targets as tertiary, their heads will not make for proud cabin trophies.
That bounty you happily took after killing the boss is the start of pure bloodlust. It's a "put a bullet in me" beacon, visible on the map, while also boosting your magic with a wallhack of some sort for mere seconds. As up to eleven other sweaty, try-hard hunters are racing to your location, it's up to you whether to put up a fight or madly dash through the muck to an extraction point.

It feels like an insoluble dilemma, given that death lurks about these festering lands. If your hunters go down, after the initial grace period, they’re taking all of their equipment and upgrades with them. While frustrating at first, the immense tension a permanent death causes, however punishing, keeps you on your toes at all times. The fear of losing hours of work in the blink of an eye makes the competitive, if mostly sluggish, nature of the encounters all the more thrilling.

Money is found sparsely throughout the world, while hefty sums are given at the end of each session, which is used for recruiting hunters and gearing them up. XP on the other hand, varying on the number of killed baddies and extracted bounties, converts to upgrade points and contributes to the overall Bloodline ranks—a natural progression system to simply show what item unlocks next.

You may think once tapped out, you'll be hitting a wall. But no. You can always fall back on a gratis, low-tier hunter. Or perhaps, take your chances in the Quickplay, a free-for-all, last-man-standing take on the bounty hunting mode. Your starting options are narrowed to random weapons, but powerful ones are dotted around the map for the taking. Survive the ordeal, and you have a custom-made cowboy with choice gear and abilities that free ones don't come with.
Naturally, the guns of the era are slow to shoot and painful to reload. Having an itchy trigger finger is a sure way to kiss the dust. From puny six-shooters to shotguns and big-bore rifles, with several interesting ammo types per each, all are nonetheless capable of dropping enemies with a shot to the head or upper torso—unlike a good number of frivolous shooters. With that, anything is a death-blower in the right hands, turning each gunfight into one hell of a methodical showdown. A few widely accessible spam guns on the offer may be detrimental to the gameplay, but overall, the balancing is spot-on.

However, should you see firearms as the weapon of last resort, your chances of survival will increase fourfold. The pitch-perfect binaural audio design urges you to stay as quiet as possible. Shot a gun? Somebody across the map heard it and can tell what gun you're using. Creeping up on foes caught up in a boss fight? Footsteps, even when crouched, are noticeable and distinguishably varied over different types of ground. Ears pricked for the proximity chat, Hunt gets even more unnerving when other hunters acknowledge your presence. You turn back... but get a flying sledgehammer in the face.

Seeing that you'll be spending most of your time sneaking around, understanding how and when to use the tools and traps is of the essence. Yeah, a big bundle of dynamite is scary, but is it scarier than getting flushed out with its decoy just to have your face blasted off with an exploding crossbow bolt? I didn't think so. Makeshift bombs give you an edge in the fights, while consumables ensure your longevity. Another asset to your advantage—or disadvantage—is the ambient alarm systems. Like a startled flock of crows that can easily give away the location of who jumped them. Or the grating noise of all creatures when agitated, from the undead to crippled horses and caged dogs. Most of my kills were obtained by carefully listening for clumsy movements.

As you patiently traverse the fetid southern landscape, it's impossible to tear your gaze away from its grotesque beauty; atmospheric and vivid, with excellent lighting, you can almost feel the heat of the sun through the screen, yet a gritty feeling of despair clings to this zombie-infested old-west. That beauty puts a strain on the GPU as it does on the nerves. My Ryzen 5 3500X, GTX 1050 2GB, and 16 GB RAM run the game in agony on a fluctuating 40-ish FPS with graphics set to the lowest. As the VRAM usage exceeds the limit, texture flickering becomes a deal-breaker, though that's a pain known only to low-end users.
That said, there are a few technical drawbacks on the servers' side, too. While disconnections are few and far between, you can still lose your cherished cowboy when thrown out of the match. Compared to other games, desync and trading kills are taken to the extreme here. I have lost count on how many times I've shot a player down only to get killed by his dead self, lying cold on the ground, seconds later.

"The tale is told, my fate is writ. And I weep, it starts again."

Ears ringing from all the gunshots, heart pounding out the chest, and hands trembling uncontrollably; Hunt makes me feel alive and fight like there is no tomorrow. Unforgiving. Strenuous. Tense. An experience like no other. I think I need a smoke or three.

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MobZ May 17 @ 5:10pm 
awli mark mikoni dash
Nixis May 16 @ 9:47am 
good hunter and a nice guy :huntbounty:
ΛliRez May 13 @ 1:51pm 

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀:butterfly:𝑷𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆 𝑱𝒐𝒊𝒏 𝑴𝒚 𝑮𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒑:butterfly:

Max Verstappen May 13 @ 8:54am 
LoLy_pop Mar 20 @ 2:07am 
نوروز مبارک :aofbeer::g_heart:
GUNSLINGER Jan 8 @ 8:24am 
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