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Video Game / Predator: Hunting Grounds

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They travel impossible distances to hunt us, skin us, and mount us over some alien fireplace on another world. It would be disgusting if it weren't so familiar.
Alan "Dutch" Schaefer

Predator: Hunting Grounds is an Asymmetric Multiplayer game based on the Predator film franchise. It is developed by IllFonic, of Friday the 13th: The Game fame, and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was released on PlayStation 4 and PC via the Epic Games Store on April 24th, 2020. Unlike the Friday the 13th game, Hunting Grounds is stated to be a canonical addition to the films set after the events of the fourth film. Series characters played by their original actors, Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Isabelle Nissenbaum (Alice Braga), and Dr. Sean Keyes (Jake Busey) return as playable characters and/or audio log narrators.

The game pits a Fireteam of up to four players against one player who takes the role of the titular alien hunter. The Fireteam is tasked with completing various objectives, from collecting key items to clearing out enemy encampments, and escaping with their lives. The Predator, conversely, is tasked with hunting down the members of the Fireteam and claiming their trophies. The Predator has advantages in mobility, capable of leaping over vast distances and reaching areas humans can't, in addition to a variety of technological gadgets and weapons, from optical cloaking and thermal imaging to wrist-blades and the deadly Plasma Caster. The Fireteam, on the other hand, must leverage their numbers and weapons to drive off the Predator and complete their missions. Should the Predator find itself on the verge of death, they can attempt to finish off the Fireteam in one last-ditch effort by setting off their self-destruct device and wiping them out. If the Fireteam manages to kill the Predator before they can trigger their self-destruction, however, they can receive bonus rewards for protecting the alien's cadaver for the Other Worldly Life Forms Program.

A Prequel novel, Predator Stalking Shadows, was released in May 2020, that bridges the gap between the modern continuity and Predator 2.

Predator: Hunting Grounds contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A.K.A.-47: The weapons in this game all use made-up names and/or designs to skirt around trademarks.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Although the game only had 100 player levels upon release, subsequent updates have gradually bumped this cap up to 999, though largely only for the sake of unlocking trophies and skins, since the last gameplay-related unlockable is the Elder Predator at 150.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Unlike in the movies, where unmasked Predators can only see in near-infrared, having your bio-mask shot off by the Fireteam during gameplay doesn't affect vision, and only renders some of your abilities unusable for the rest of the match, along with making you take more headshot damage from that point on.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The audio logs expand on the time frame between the films and on the OWLF program introduced in the second film.
  • The Ahab: Ever since his run-in with a Predator in South America, Dutch has become a hunter of Predators in an effort to collect evidence of extraterrestrial life hunting humans as game.
  • Alien Blood: The Yautja's signature luminescent green blood serves a practical purpose in this game, being a means for the Fireteam to keep track of a wounded Predator lurking around them. As a Predator player, you'll also have access to perks and gear that help reduce the visibility of your blood trails.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Most of the DLC characters aren't actually "new" classes, per se. Rather, they each use a mix of specializations taken from some of the core classes of their faction (e.g. the Valkyrie Predator inherits Ghost from the Scout, Fervent from the Hunter, and Savage from the Berserker). While some of them have unique specializations, these tend to be the exceptions rather than the rule.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: To alleviate the Timed Mission nature of matches, completing the main objective as the Fireteam will add several more minutes to the clock to ensure that they have enough time to reach exfil, and stop the timer entirely if they made it that far.
  • Arc Welding: The audio logs connect the first two films and the fourth one together through the OWLF program's investigation of the Predators and replacement with Project Stargazer.
  • Artificial Brilliance: In stark contrast to the dumb-as-bricks enemy AI, the Fireteam bots are actually surprisingly competent as far as bots go. They're alarmingly quick on the draw when an enemy is spotted, are quite good at what they do (i.e. a Support bot will know to throw down supplies for the team when needed), spot frequently, and almost never split up and leave themselves vulnerable to being picked off one by one. Oh, and they also always know where a Predator player is at all times. About the only thing they can't actually accomplish on their own is doing the objectives themselves.
  • Ascended Extra: Sean Keyes, a rather minor character in the fourth film, narrates the collectible audio logs and is revealed to have taken over the OWLF program after his father's death.
  • Asymmetric Multiplayer: Four of the players play as a group of soldiers like in a normal first-person shooter while the fifth plays the Predator, who is far stronger, can take more damage, and can move around the map extremely agilely. While the Predator can easily slaughter the soldiers one on one, they can be taken down by sustained fire if they're not careful.
  • Battle Trophy: As is part of their culture, Predators claim the skulls of their victims as trophies. This also serves to immediately remove a Fireteam member that has been downed from play.
  • Bomb Disposal: An optional minigame should the Fireteam manage to down a Predator, but not before it can trigger its Self-Destruct Mechanism. To do this, the Predator's mask must be shot off first, and then it must be killed (which is no small feat even with a full group hosing it down), which reveals an interaction prompt where one must choose the correct symbols shown on-screen to match with those on the wrist computer, all while the detonation timer is still ticking down. Fail, and you get a nuke blown up in your face; succeed, and your Fireteam will then have to defend the Predator's corpse from an enemy wave, but the post-match XP rewards will be significantly higher.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Headshots result in the victim's head popping like a zit, and reward the player with some bonus XP. Additionally, scoring headshots against a Predator has a chance of destroying their biomask, thus robbing them of their thermal vision.
  • Broad Strokes: Given the game's events are essentially a multiplayer match, whatever happens in a match is mostly Rule of Fun and dependent on player input.
  • Canon Welding: Despite Predators consigning both AvP films to Canon Discontinuity, Hunting Grounds seemingly welded Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem back into the series by featuring Wolf as one of the available DLC classes.
  • Character Class System: Both Fireteam members and Predators have classes that define their overall capabilities:
  • Character Customization: Players can change the outfits, gender, appearance, and toolkits of their Fireteam member and Predator (and yes, this includes female Predators).
  • Combat Medic: There is an unlockable Medical Kit that can be deployed by any class, allowing them to fill this role in a group if needed. The Support class in particular is often the designated medic of the team due to its in-built excellent gear capacity.
  • Continuity Cameo: Dutch, the protagonist of the original Predator film, was released as a DLC character shortly after launch, with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising the role. Isabelle from the second sequel Predators likewise got the same treatment shortly after, with Alice Braga also returning.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dutch is 78 during the events of the game, but he can keep up with the much younger Fireteam members.
  • Dark Action Girl: Notably, the game allows the player to be a female Predator. She's just as deadly as the males. A fact which is actually a double subversion, as in the canon, the yautja are matriarchal and their females are actually ‘’much bigger and tougher than the males’’, whereas in the game the difference is merely visual.
  • Death from Above: As a Predator, one can leap down from tree branches and crash explosively into the ground, while also heavily damaging (or outright killing if landed on an AI soldier) anything caught in the impact area. There's an achievement for hitting all four Fireteam members with a single leap, though this is inadvisable to do since leaping causes a temporary energy overload after landing, making it impossible to use many of your Predator abilities until you recover.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Some Fireteam missions involve disrupting drug cartel operations.
  • Elite Mooks: Stargazer troops, identified by their blue uniforms and body armor, are better shots and can take more damage than the standard guerillas, though you can still mow through them quite easily.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Downplayed by Dutch. Allowing himself to be experimented on halted his cell aging process which allows him to fight at 78 with the strength of a much younger man but he's otherwise still human.
  • Escape Sequence: Once the Fireteam completes their missions, they must get to the choppa and escape. A predictably-named achievement is also granted if it's your first time doing this.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: DLC for the game adds a Samurai class for the Predator, complete with a katana.
  • Evil Laugh: If you can hear the Predator doing this, that means you're about to get a nuke in your face.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The title screen features the Predator and a Fireteam member squaring off. The appearance of the Predator and the soldier is based on the player's customization selections.
  • Exploding Barrels: The maps are littered with red barrels and jerry cans that go up in a fireball when damaged.
  • Finishing Move: Predators have a choice between a quick execution where they speedily rip their downed victim's skull out, or a lengthier execution where the Predator brutalizes their quarry before taking their trophy. Longer finishers provide more XP, but leave the Predator vulnerable.
  • Gatling Good: Blain's Old Painless returns as the S-R3D and it does a pretty decent job of shredding a Predator to bits through sheer volume of fire. There's also an associated achievement and Blain reference for dumping the entire ammo supply in one volley.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: If a cloaked Predator is nearby and looking directly at you, this is what you'll be able to see. Oftentimes, this is the last thing a hapless Fireteam member may see before they're unceremoniously cut down, especially if they happen to be the Sole Survivor.
  • Heal Thyself: Health does not regenerate, though both sides have access to portable healing items to restore lost hitpoints.
    • Fireteam members can take injections of medicine to heal their wounds, or use medkits from a Support.
    • Predators can also use healing tools to recover health, but the process is time-consuming and leaves them vulnerable if caught. Additionally, a Predator healing with the tools will roar if the process is allowed to fully complete, but interrupting the sequence too early will result in the medkit being wasted for very little recovery, therefore restoring health in this manner is a puzzle in itself.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Armored troopers can take about a couple dozen rounds of assault rifle fire to bring down, compared to regular NPC enemies who can be killed with just a few shots. They can even (barely) survive 1 shot from the Predator's plasmacaster.
  • Hero Killer: As a Predator, you can freely kill and claim franchise heroes like Dutch and Isabelle should you manage to down them in combat.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: The Predator can kill and eat the pigs running around to restore its health.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Predator can use a cloak to conceal themselves from their enemies. On the other hand, the Fireteam can cover themselves in mud making them invisible to the Predator's heat vision.
  • Invisibility Flicker: Contact with water will interfere with the Predator's cloak, creating a distinct electrical arcing effect that can betray their position.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: If the Fireteam kills the Predator before they can activate their Self-Destruct Mechanism, a representative of OWLF (Other-Worldly Life Forms Program) will take jurisdiction over the Fireteam. Their original mission will be aborted, and they will instead be tasked with protecting the dead Predator's body for long enough that it can be collected for research.
  • Laser Sight: The Predator's Plasma Caster projects three laser beams to help with aim. This makes the weapon lethally accurate, but can also give the Predator's position away, unless the Dithered Lenses perk is equipped. The snipers also use laser sights to confuse the matter.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: As a Predator, Second Wind mode is this. Upon being depleted of health, your Predator will fall to its knee where the game will give you two prompts: give up and activate your Self-Destruct Mechanism, or attempt to heal yourself by a tiny amount and get up again. Choosing the latter will activate Second Wind and drop a flashbang effect at your feet, allowing you to either run away or finish off those who were foolish enough not to, though this is understandably a very risky maneuver. Unlike many examples of the trope, a Predator can enter Second Wind technically an unlimited amount of times, but the cooldown is long enough that even with the specific reduction perk, it's extremely unlikely to see this happening more than once per match, if that.
  • Mêlée à Trois: As the Predator is jumping into a pre-existing conflict, most rounds will see the Fireteam taking on NPC enemies while the Predator can attack all sides.
  • Monogender Monsters: Subverted; For the first time outside the comics, female Predators are prominently featured.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Dutch's tapes reveal that female Predators are more focused and ruthless hunters than the (already pretty damn dangerous) males. The one he'd hunted down and that killed the rest of his squad certainly wasn't messing around. Averted in actual gameplay, however, where the gender of the chosen Predator, if applicable, has no bearing on its stats whatsoever.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Many of the fireteam's weapons are based on guns used in the films, such as a minigun and a fully automatic shotgun.
    • One of the face paint customizations for the fireteam is based on Poncho's striped paint from the first film.
    • The Escape Sequence is a nod to Dutch's famous line from the first film and the fireteam's original escape plan.
    • Among the Predator's voice mimicry options is "Want some candy?"
    • Several of the added details from the audio logs connecting the first two films are lifted from the second film's novelization.
    • The Emissary Predator reuses the design of the scrapped Yautja of the same name who were meant to appear in the fourth film, but were ultimately cut. Unlike the film counterpart, this Predator is still hostile towards humans.
    • Successfully killing and then defending a Predator's body from the enemy forces will show two Fireteam members performing Dutch and Dillon's epic handshake, with one having apparently been pushing too many pencils. Bonus points if one of the members doing this is actually Dutch himself.
  • Net Gun: Predators can use a Net Gun to bind their targets. AI enemies will be immobilized, while Fireteam members will be unable to attack, but will still be able to run.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: For all of Dutch's efforts to hunt down Predators and convince them that humans are not to be trifled with, he fears that all he has done is made humans more enticing prey. The increase in Predators arriving on Earth lends credence to his belief that his and OWLF's attempts to ward off Predators have only painted a target on Earth.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: The Predator's helmet has thermal imaging that allows them to more easily find their prey. Fireteam members can cover themselves in mud to conceal themselves from the Predator's enhanced sight. If the Predator loses their helmet, they will also lose their thermal vision. Fireteam members, meanwhile, have standard night-vision goggles for night ops.
  • Oh, Crap!: The first time Fireteam member marks a Predator for the rest of their team to see, the Fireteam's Mission Control will comment on it, worried that the operation is about to get a lot more complicated.
  • Plasma Cannon: The Plasma Caster, natch. Players can also unlock a handheld variant that functions similar to a shotgun.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: With the exception of "hero" units like Dutch or many of the DLC Predators, the player can decide whether their character will be male or female, with no difference in gameplay between the two genders. This is in conflict with the established lore, however, where it's often stated that female Yautja are more often than not stronger and deadlier than their male counterparts.
  • Recognizable by Sound: Predators of all classes emit their signature clicking noises when cloaked, allowing the Fireteam to tell if one is near. The Scout Predator archetype can select the Disciplined specialization that mutes this clicking entirely, but the others have no such luck.
  • Retirony: Casual enemy banter may sometimes have one of the mercenaries telling his buddies that the current operation will be his last. The Fireteam and Predator can both see to it that it is.
  • Rugged Scar: Dutch has facial scars from his run-in with a female Predator when she caught him in a razor net.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: According to the game's background, this was the result of The Predator. After the events of the fourth film, Stargazer was shut down due to the Fugitive Predator's escape and the OWLF program from the second film was revived. This led to Stargazer's remnants becoming a black market arms group dealing in Predator tech and destabilizing regions to attract Predators.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Also Lady Swears-a-Lot if female. The Fireteam agents are surprisingly foul-mouthed given the supposed professionalism of their unit and would spout expletives at the drop of a hat, sometimes for no real reason at all.
  • Skyward Scream: In the stage intro and outro cutscenes for the Predator, they will release a triumphant (or if the match was lost and they survived, angry) roar towards the sky.
  • Sole Survivor: A lite mechanic for the Fireteam side, where the last man standing will run faster, but also emit more visible thermal signatures due to panic. There are a few things a Fireteam Sole Survivor can do at this point, such as reinforcing the whole party back into action, exfiltrating if the objectives have been completed, or even beating the odds by killing the Predator to avenge their squad, but the chances of any of these succeeding are rather slim.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path: As the counterpart to the Fireteam's sniper rifles, the Predators in this game can make use of the Yautja Bow, which allows them to accurately pick off enemies from long distance without making noise or emitting a telltale laser sight.
  • Take No Prisoners: Dutch questioned the wisdom in Project Stargazer's attempt to capture a live Predator: they will not cooperate and will not yield any information while imprisoned. There simply is no value in a living Predator.
  • Taking You with Me: If the Predator runs out of health, they can trigger their Self-Destruct Mechanism in a last-ditch effort to wipe out the Fireteam.
  • Timed Mission: Each match has a timer that will begin ticking down as soon as the Fireteam has inserted. Failing to complete their objectives and extract before the clock runs out will result in a win in the Predator's favor.
  • Trail of Blood: Heavily injured Predators leave trails of glowing green blood that astute Fireteam members can use to track them down.
  • Villain Respect: Dutch believes that he's earned some level of fame among the Yautja when a female Predator spared his life after defeating and critically wounding him.
  • Visible Invisibility: The Predator's cloak doesn't conceal them completely: it creates a distinct blur from the light bending around their bodies. Eagle-eyed Fireteam members can spot a cloaked Predator by watching out for this blur. Still, Predators standing completely still are next to impossible to notice. It's not uncommon for a Fireteam member to stand directly in front of a stationary Predator and not even realise they're there.
  • We Need a Distraction: Since the Predator is often limited in how and where they can focus their attention, it is often a very risky but valid strategy to send a lone team member ahead to handle the objectives, while the rest of the group hunker down, make a lot of noise, and keep the enemy busy. It can backfire horribly if the Predator cottons on to their trick, but an inattentive player will usually be too busy dealing with three angry targets to notice.