Star Wars: Hunters | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Monday, June 10, 2024

Star Wars: Hunters | Review | Switch

Star Wars: Hunters has been a known quantity since February 2021. Although it’s been a long wait, the game is finally here offering a new kind of Star Wars experience. Is this free arena shooter worth taking a look at it? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about. Let’s get into it. 

Star Wars: Hunters is a third person, four-on-four arena shooter. A total of 12 characters make up the roster, 13 if you count the Mandalorian, Aran Tal, who is available only with the purchase of the Arena Pass. At their core, every character has the ability to do standard attacks with ZR and jump with B. Outside of that, each of the characters bring something different to the table. There are three class types - Damage, Tank and Support. Damage based characters do just what you think - they are built to punish opponents. Tank characters feature quite a bit of health that make them hard to take down. Support characters usually have some kind of healing ability. 
Each Hunter has a bit of a different feel, but generally speaking, Support are a bit more speedy, Tank are a bit slow and lumbering while Damage seem to be somewhere in between the previous two in terms of movement. Even breaking things down on a character-by-character basis, each offer unique abilities that take time to get used to.

A majority of the Hunters feature some kind of projectile based weapons, however, there are a few that focus on melee based combat. The Jedi robot and the Dark Side Assassin, Reive, sport lightsabers and the massive wookie, Grozz, beats his opponents with two huge clubs. Personally, I prefer ranged attacks a bit more, but I thought Grozz felt pretty good. It should be noted that gyro aiming is also available in Hunters, but it is turned off by default. That aspect of the game feels great and can be used in conjunction with the right analog stick for aiming. 
Players have a couple of options when it comes to unlocking characters. For those who are impatient, each of the characters can be purchased. At a quick glance, this might seem like the only way to have access to these, however, each hunter can be unlocked for free by simply playing the game and gaining experience. That is a little disappointing, but it might entice players to try out character that would have otherwise ignored.
Even if you do throw down some real world cash on characters or in-game currency, this doesn’t give you an advantage over others. Sure, you can pay to unlock all the characters in the game, but you’ll still have to improve them by actually playing the game. Additionally, all of the characters appear to be pretty well balanced, with not one character seeming better than the other (at least with the appropriate amount of practice). Sure, there are some characters that appear more popular or easier to use (I love using the Stormtrooper, Sentinel and am also keen on Diago), but knowing how each character works is paramount for success.

Online Experience
Hunters is a completely online experience. Matchmaking is quick (at least around launch) and I found myself connected to other players in 30 seconds or less, sometimes immediately. In terms of online performance, I very rarely ran into any issues, and when I did experience hiccups with online play, it seemed to happen more when I was playing in handheld mode. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your setup. Generally speaking, things work well online. Just to note, I have not teamed up with any friends while playing. I’ve just been going in solo and matchmaking with randoms. 

The main screen of the game is quite busy, but this seems to be par for the course when it comes to free-to-play games. Once you become familiar with the layout, things are fine, but it can be overwhelming the first few times you boot up the game. Not only this, but pop-ups informing you about things you unlocked while playing or notifications about things you an purchase can be a little bit annoying. Again, being a free game at its core, I understand this. The developer and publisher are trying everything they can to get you to spend money. Fortunately, you don’t have to. 
Playing games is as simple as selecting the large “Play” button on the lower right hand side of the screen. From here, you can choose to play Casual, Ranked, or Training. Event matches will also appear from time to time. Once in a match type, you’ll be randomly put into one of four modes - Squad Brawl, Power Control, Dynamic Control and Trophy Case. Square Brawl is simple enough - the first team to the set amount of eliminations or the team with the most eliminations in the five minute time limit wins. Power Control tasks teams with capturing and maintaining Control Points on the map. Dynamic Control, teams compete to capture rotating Control Points. Trophy Chase places a small droid (TR0-F33) in the map that must be picked up and held for a certain duration. Overall, all of these modes are pretty fun, however, they are all be unlocked based on Player Level. I personally don’t see any good reason for this, other than to perhaps get players more used to the game before moving on to more complex modes. For the record, Squad Brawl is available from the get-go, Power Control at Level Four, Dynamic Control at Level Eight and Trophy Case at Level 11. 

One Event Mode that was available in the launch window of the game was something called Matchup Mixup. This assigned players Hunters at random, including Aran Tal or other characters that you may not have unlocked yet. All modes are also fair game. This was a fantastic way to try out new characters and modes. These events will change on a regular basis.
Outside of the gameplay, and as I mentioned before, there are a lot of pages to go through from the main menu. You can customize your Hunters, check your profile for match stats, purchase in-game currency, read character profiles, try out any of the Hunters in Training, check the game’s event schedule and more. It’s a bit cumbersome and busy, but you’ll get used to it over time. 

Visuals, Audio & Performance
Hunters features a visual style that is in line with several Star Wars animated offerings, such as The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch. I don’t know how this would be possible, but if you’re coming into the game blind and were hoping for something more realistic, like, say, Star Wars: Battlefront, you’re going to be disappointed. The characters each have a distinct look and feel and take on common tropes that are found in Star Wars lore. The characters also animate nicely and are rich in detail. 
Being on the Switch, the game does have a bit of a flat look, and you’ll notice textures loading into the game when you start each match. After a few seconds, things look fine. This game isn’t going to blow you away with flashy graphics. Given the target platforms being the Switch and mobile, the developers worked within their means to deliver something that looks and performs well on the platform. Speaking of performance, the game runs at a consistent 30 frames per second. In my time so far with the game, I haven’t come across any hiccups with the game engine. Overall, if you don’t mind this more playful look of Star Wars, you’ll enjoy what’s on offer visually. 

Sound is a strong point in Hunters. You’ll hear familiar blaster fire, wookie grunts, the hum of lightsabers, one liners from characters and more. Hunters also has a very nice soundtrack with music that appears to be made just for the game. All in all, the sound design captures the good parts of franchise. 

Star Wars: Hunters exceeded my expectations. The gameplay is solid, performance is good and the game is just fun to play. Better yet, matches aren’t overly long so you hop in and out for short or long play sessions. Even with that said, the free-to-play medium comes with some minor annoyances, mainly with the notifications telling you that you can, if you so desire, purchase characters and/or in game currency. If you can get over that aspect, Hunters is a solid game. Check it out if you’re into shooters or are looking for something different from the Star Wars universe. 

But let’s turn things over to you. What do you think of Star Wars: Hunters? Have you tried it out? Are you enjoying it? Sound off in the comments down below. We’d love to hear from you. 

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