Ben Gabbard is lead producer on Crytek’s forthcoming co-op,
horror-themed shooter The Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age.
Set in the late 1800s, the game will see players assume the roles
of cowboys, medicine men, occult researchers and more, all taking
on myths and legends in a world not ready for them. With an E3
build showcasing a battle against the Nightmare Witch of Cajun
folklore, the game is shaping up to be suitably macabre, promising
something a bit fresher for the genre.
With a development team largely staffed by ex-Vigil Games
members and informed by the likes of Darksiders,
Gabbard spoke with Wired.co.uk about tapping into regional
mythology, switching companies and historically accurate
Wired.co.uk: How long has the game been in the works?
How did it come about?
Ben Gabbard: The Hunt has been in development for a
little over a year. The inspiration is that when we went over from
Vigil we wanted to do a four-player co-op game. If you look at our
team, we had a lot of creatures and a lot of bosses in
Darksiders. So we wanted to leverage that. It’s a
four-player game of cowboys versus monsters, Sherlock Holmes in a
Lovecraft world. We leveraged that. That was the impetus behind
How have you balanced the solo and group play styles of
The idea is to make it playable to any number between one and
four. The scalability is all there and it’s based on the creatures
and the damage they do. It’s all down to what you go into the
mission with and what you’ll have. As four-player co-op, there’s a
team of hunters and in that situation you’re playing your own guy.
There’s some interaction there, like if a giant gets you in its
grip another hunter can help you out by sticking a knife in his
belly and setting you free.
What are the character classes?
There are no classes, actually. We wanted to build the characters
from the ground up, like in a true RPG. You start with your gender,
then your outfits and abilities, loadouts, all to customise your
character. If you wanted a Clint Eastwood gunslinger type, you can
make that character. If you wanted an Annie Oakley character, or
more of a doctor character, you can build that too. Anything from
the 1800s is something you can create. We demonstrated that you can
customise and give a personal touch, too. We were stretching a
little bit because women in that period weren’t doing a lot of
those things, but we were taking more liberties than most. We
wanted to show that anything a male character can do, a female can
do. It’s cosmetic. What kind of character do you want to
create and what do you do? You can have a damage dealing
gunslinger or a doctor and it can be a female. It’s all stuff we
had to do ourselves because we sat down and said we wanted to do
it. Period. We wanted to have an experience where you’re not locked
into having a certain way to play.
The settings — particularly the Deep South, Cajun
regions — are relatively virgin territory for horror in games.
What went into choosing those environments?
It’s a very interesting area and we want this to be an interesting
game. It’s not just this one region that you’ll be playing through
but it’s not something you’ve seen before like ancient Europe. It
was really fascinating to get fresh elements in the game. It’s an
international game though — you’ll go to South America and Russia.
And we looked at those areas and the lore from them, the monsters,
and you’ll be fighting them all.
The Nightmare Witch and other monsters we’ve seen — how
much of it is based in real-world mythology?
I’m going to mispronounce this… the coucha monster? [Cauchemar]
It’s a French word but it’s used in the Cajun areas as a witch that
sits on your chest and compresses you, paralyses you. In reality,
they were probably trying to explain night terrors and sleep
paralysis. If you look up local mythology you’ll see all these
spooky things, pictures and everything. What we wanted to do is
have myths that you can go and look up. We just take a few
liberties to make it into a boss fight.
The weapons shown seem fairly historically accurate.
Other than the supernatural element, are you keeping The
Hunt fairly grounded in the time period?
We’re starting you out with pretty basic weapons –
double-barrelled shotguns and single pistols. We have future plans
to expand on it and let you use occult lore to make different types
of weapons. We’re not going full steampunk but things like a
flamethrower were a prototype being used in World War One. How did
they get to that point? It’s kind of about the evolution of
How do the hunts play out? Strict mission-based or
something more freeform?
Everything we’ve shown so far was randomly generated except for
the boss fight. It’s a result of gathering the lore, which is just
one element of the game. There are other types where you’ll stop
missions or rescue people as you gather up lore to get to the boss.
It can vary in length, maybe a ten or 20-minute mission. We want to
stick in that sweet spot where you can get stuff done and go back
to loadouts and tweaking your characters. You’ll pick an area, get
a mission update and it’s a random mission. There are some open
world pieces and some things structured linearly.
Crytek’s still got a reputation for breaking PCs with
demanding games. Is that still fair?
Actually, we really want to make it accessible. There are other
things Crytek’s doing that can push the envelope, but that’s not us
right now. We want to display the game and make it look good, show
off the engine. But we’re not on the forefront of the next
Does the having the in-house CryEngine change how you
develop compared to when you were working at Vigil?
It really does. When we were at Vigil, we had to do all of our own
rendering and lighting and so on. Now we can focus on gameplay
because we’re just given all the bells and whistles. That’s what’s
been so great about getting up to speed. We’ve only been in
production about a year but it’s already in a post-beta stage. It
doesn’t look like it’s only been a year! The CryEngine is so easy
to work with and it really lends itself to a quick ramp up. I think
that you open a whole door of envelope pushing from an engine
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17 June 2014 | 12:06 pm – Source: wired.co.uk