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Hunt: Showdown wades out of the early access bayou next month

Crawling out of dead man's gulch.

Weird Western (yes, I know it's set in the swampy deep south, it's a genre descriptor) competitive monster-slaying FPS Hunt: Showdown launches in full on August 27th. While I didn't get to play it as much as I wanted to during its recent free trial, I've acquired a taste for Crytek's grim blend of duos battle royale and tense horror-themed shooter. There's a big nasty demon out there, guarded by undead cultists, and only one team of occult cowboys/girls can claim the bounty. Below, a new trailer showing off some the lady hunter characters Crytek are adding in version 1.0.

Hunt: Showdown is an odd beast. A PvPvE shooter with some light roguelite elements. The standard format is five teams of two players, stalking around a large map, killing regular undead and using their spooky ghost-vision to find clues. Nab clues early to narrow down where the big boss demon is, giving you first dibs at it, or the chance to hunker down to pick off rival teams going for the prize. You only win after banishing the demon and escaping the map, so it's high stakes up to the end, made even higher by permadeath and persistent money and unlocks.

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After you've earned a few levels (this feature is disabled at first), your characters can croak permanently, making it a genuinely strategic decision whether you push your luck or just tap out. Characters level up and you can buy new equipment for them over time, but all of that can be lost. Still, even the highest level hunter kitted out with bespoke monster-slaying weapons can die to a lucky newbie hiding in a corner with the cheapest revolver money can buy. Best not get too attached to characters, but it makes for a unique vibe in a PvP team game.

Over the course of early access, Crytek have added a good slab of stuff to the game. A second map (and more times of day the match can be set, which makes a lot of difference to stealth), a new monster boss to hunt, lots of new guns and a second way to play. Quickplay mode starts you out with an entirely new, cursed character and has you competing to claim an energy wellspring to save yourself. Lose, and that expendable character dies. Win, and you get to keep them and and everything you hauled out of the battlefield. There's no boss monsters, but it's a lower stakes affair.

Hunt: Showdown is in early access until August 27th and currently 25% off in the Steam summer sale, reduced to £19.49/€22.49/$22.49. The price is planned to increase at launch, and the game appears to be doing well for a smaller-scale online shooter, with a good couple thousand players online at any given moment.

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