This is going to be a fairly lengthy read, and incorporates elements of many ideas that have been voiced by others in the past, but hopefully it brings something new to the discussion that the devs could build from.
One of the recurring criticisms of the game at this point is the brevity of match times resulting from either the predator or fireteam playing aggressively for a “win”, which has led to a lot of accusations about people “not playing the game right”, etc. When match times end up being shorter than it takes to queue for and find them, I think we all agree that this aggravates both issues.
There have been a lot of good suggestions about various ways to combat this issue, but the problem with most is that they tend to be too prescriptive, I think. In other words, they involve imposing rigid conditions that artificially prevent matches from ending until a certain period of time has elapsed. I’m not a big fan of restricting player agency in this fashion, as it will inevitably annoy as many people as it pleases.
The germ of the idea I have for a solution is stolen from the upcoming Aliens: Fireteam
, which will feature a “card system” that applies random modifiers to each match in order to create variety and promote replayability. In the case of Predator: Hunting Grounds
, the dynamics are a bit different, so let me identify the core of the problem first:
- Currently, the predator has the ability to end the round with a “win” with a successful rush on the enemy. This is particularly true when there is a skill imbalance between the two sides;
- Likewise, the fireteam can force a “win” either by blitzing their objective and escaping, or actively pursuing and downing the predator. Again, this is heightened through a skill imbalance;
- The underlying problem, however, is that each team knows this about the other, which allows them develop strategies that are more likely to deliver these outcomes, and shorter matches, with more regularity. Aside from minor variations in the location and specific requirements of the objectives for the fireteam, there isn’t much one side doesn’t know about the other.
As such, I think one way of encouraging longer match times without restricting player agency, or even outright preventing a rush strategy, is to add a layer of randomised secondary factors that sometimes run contrary to the primary objective of each side. The greater the variety in these, the less predictable gameplay will become, and therefore the less certainty that a limited number of strategies will prove to be effective time and again. You would also never be quite sure which one the other side currently has in play. Some examples might be:
- A time-based multiplyer that encourages predators to space out their kills with increased rewards the longer the match progresses;
- A bonus for using non-lethal “terror tactics” on the fireteam (e.g. traps, taunts, net shots, etc) a certain number of times during the match before killing them;
- Stealth-based criteria for each fireteam member that encourages them to play more cautiously and methodically when pursuing their primary mission objective;
- A late-match bonus for emptying a certain number of clips through sustained fire, encouraging something like the scene from the original movie (after Blane’s death) and signposting their position to both the AI and predator.
These are just some ideas, but there are plenty more interesting possibilities. As for how to incentivise players to actually pursue these secondary bonuses, it could be increased veritanium and a recurring weekly challenge like “Successfully complete 10 match modifiers”, or perhaps an additional “prestige” ranking that delivers labels specific to each one (e.g. “We hit nothing!” for the sustained fire objective, or “Truly dread” for predators that successfully terrorise the fireteam). Again, multiple possibilities on that front as well.
Ultimately, I don’t think we should be preventing people from ending a match early, but certainly give them more compelling and rewarding reasons to choose not to. Then everybody wins, not least of all the game and its lifespan.