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Hunt: Showdown's first closed alpha begins January 31st

The real monster was man, after all

As troubled as the studio have seemed lately, I must admit to loving the look and concept of Hunt: Showdown, Crytek's upcoming competitive monster-hunting shooter. Maybe it's because I've always been a sucker for Weird West settings. Plus, you just can't beat a chunky six-shooter and a lever-action rifle as far as satisfying videogame shootin' irons go.

Whether you're in it to hunt the deadliest game, or whether the Cowboys Vs Hellspawn idea appeals, the first closed alpha event for the game is just a couple weeks away and signups are still open.

For those who haven't been following the news on Hunt: Showdown, the concept is a little bit Monster Hunter, a sprinkling of Plunkbat and a dash of Call of Juarez for flavour. Players either go in solo or paired up as bounty hunting cowboy-types on the trail of some monster escaped from the bowels of hell itself. Your goal is simple: Kill it, claim a trophy and escape alive to collect the bounty. Only problem is the other hunters after the big cash prize, and all you need to claim the money is proof that the creature is dead. You see the problem.

The flow of a match is that players will gradually work their way inwards from the edges of the map, occasionally skirmishing with NPC cultists, but constantly working their way towards a cluster of potential target locations. The lucky players that find the target first are rewarded with a boss fight, the requirement to cast a very visible ritual spell to banish the monster back to hell, and the new task of getting the hell out of dodge with every other living player on the map gunning for them.

It's a lovely concept, and doesn't look half bad either. My only concern is the talk of a roguelike-esque progression system where your character retains equipment upgrades so long as you survive, but if you die, only your experience level carries on to your next life.

While Hunt: Showdown has a Steam page, there's no fixed release date or price point, and Crytek aren't ready to push this one out to early access quite yet. If you want to get your ten gallon hat and spurs on, you'll have to sign up for the upcoming alpha test event over on the game's site.

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