In one minute and thirty seconds, a team of invisible, bow-wielding players have to completely eliminate a team of soldiers with assault rifles and proximity sensors. This is Crysis 3’s Hunter multiplayer mode – and it’s ridiculously fun. At the Eurogamer Expo, with a row of desktop computers running the game mode on a permanent loop, I sat down, put on the headphones provided, and was engulfed. I wasn’t expecting this to be so much fun, but instantly I found the terrifying strategic advantage of Predator’s eponymous antagonist finally realised in a game.
It’s tense, and fun as hell. Each match consists of five of these one minute and thirty second rounds, and the only objective is for the invisible Hunters to kill each of the C.E.L.L. operatives. Or, if you’re playing as a C.E.L.L. operative, your primary objective is to survive. With the brief match time, it’ll be pretty easy to drop in and play a quick few rounds, which is great news for more casual gamers, but skill is still vital to make significant headway. Hunters temporarily become visible when they loose off a shot, so it’s important that you make the first one connect.
The proximity sensors held by C.E.L.L. operatives also makes things exciting; these ping to indicate a nearby Hunter, with the volume representing the distance. There’s something undeniably unnerving about hearing the proximity sensor beep insistently with nothing in sight, and there’s little you can do in an open space but shoot wildly and hope to see some results. Skilled players will no doubt bring a little strategy into it – like Predator’s Schwarzenegger – and try to bottleneck the enemy, but it remains very obvious who is the hunter and who is the hunted.
Balance is probably what Crytek will focus on the most in this gameplay mode before the game hits store shelves, and rightfully so. While the very premise means there will be some unfairness, re-evaluation might be in order. Killed operatives, for example, respawn as Hunters, which means the playing ground becomes increasingly tougher for visible players. It wouldn’t hurt to make Hunters slightly more vulnerable to gunfire or nerf the one-hit kill of the Hunters’ bow – or, maybe least controversially, take C.E.L.L. operatives off the Hunters’ radar displays.
Either way, this is an insanely addictive gameplay mode that I’m eager to get stuck into once again; I played only a couple of matches, and soon discovered at the end of the Expo that Crysis 3 was one of the games I was most anticipating playing again. This alone could establish the game’s multiplayer longevity; if I were you, I’d check it out.