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The force is strong with Star Wars: Hunters

Star Wars: Hunters is a fun 4v4 action shooter that features a dynamic cast of original characters that are sure to please you in the arena.

Star Wars: Hunters review - a stormtrooper cracking his knuckles while people fighting with lightsabers behind him

Ever since its reveal in 2022, I’ve been keen to get my hands on Star Wars: Hunters. Full disclosure: I’m a Star Wars fan. I take what I can get in the world of gaming while I await that KOTOR remake that decided to go AWOL. Well, the Hunters release date is mere days away on June 4, and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to go and preview the 4v4 action-shooter.

One of the most enticing aspects of Hunters is that it features both cross-play and cross-progression on mobile and Switch, with the game coming to both iOS and Android, giving everyone the chance to play, and trust me when I say it’s worth diving into. Why is that? Well, allow me to explain.

Immediately, Hunters offers a certain intrigue as a canonical game that takes place between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy. However, in the preview, I only got to experience a few matches across the game modes with little time to explore the lore and backgrounds of the characters, so I can’t say a great deal as to what you can expect from the narrative. Well, except for the fact that the hunters you see are original characters, all with their own reasons for fighting in the arena.

The hunters are the stars of the show for me. The cast is diverse, with each utilizing different skills and weapons. As is the case with many team-based games like this, there are multiple classes – support, tank, and damage – meaning there’s bound to be a role for you. Admittedly, I gravitate towards the damage class with a hint of tank. The one time I played as Zaina, a support hunter, I found myself in dire need of a medic. The irony is strong with this one.

Star Wars: Hunters review - two lightsaber hunters facing off in the center of a map

Naturally, to get a feel for what’s on offer, I tried out various characters, though there are two that I couldn’t help but come back to on multiple occasions – Sentinel and Imara Vex. The Sentinel falls under the tank category, having a large health pool, heavy machine gun, and skills that enable offensive and defensive play, while Imara causes massive damage with her gun and homing missile. She also has a hook that allows her to grapple to ledges, springing her from harm’s way.

As you can see, I strongly prefer characters who use guns. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the melee characters, Grozz (a Wookie!), Reive, and J-3DI (a brilliant name for a droid) are all well-designed. It’s just that I seem incapable of making them useful. I played as J-3DI once and can confirm that the droid would not want me to be his Padawan.

The matches themselves take place across some highly recognizable locations – a gunfight in an Ewok village, anyone? No? How about we galavant across the Death Star instead, then? The maps are a lot of fun to explore, though it’s not exactly leisurely, there’s a team of four trying to eliminate you, after all. With so many iconic locations, I can’t wait to see what other maps are in Hunters, especially as the devs confirmed there are new ones coming each season.

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Of course, having stellar maps is little good without enjoyable gameplay. If you’re a fan of shooters like Call of Duty, Overwatch, or T3 Arena, you’ll like what’s on offer in Hunters, as the game has typical match types, such as domination and team deathmatch, though their names are different. However, to help the game stand out from the crowd, there are some limited-time game modes, one of which is huttball. During my time with the game, I got to have a couple of huttball matches, and I have to say, I love it.

It’s a simple mode: a ball spawns on the map, and both teams fight to get it. Once it’s in your possession, you can throw it or try and make a run for the goal. Of course, there are people shooting at you, so you might drop the ball. The first team to score three goals wins, or whichever team has the most goals should the timer run out. One of the appealing things about Hunters is that the matches don’t take all that long. Sure, you might spend hours in front of the game, but you can also jump in for a five-minute match if you wish. Personally, I know this is going to turn into a ‘just one more game’ type of deal for me.

Okay, so it’s clear that I like the gameplay, enjoy the characters, and have a soft spot for the maps, but what about the monetization? Star Wars: Hunters is free-to-play, so it should come as no surprise that there are numerous in-game purchase options. However, it doesn’t feel invasive, nor does it feel necessary to part with your cash – 12 out of the 13 hunters are free at launch.

Star Wars: Hunters review - hunters shooting at each other in the middle of a map

Like many shooters, the game features a battle pass system with free and premium tiers. Before you commit to purchasing the premium pass, you can scroll through to what rewards you can get that season. I always do this before deciding whether or not to part with my cash. In Hunters, you can expect to see emotes, skins, and in-game currency pop up as rewards.

Navigating the different menus and tabs can be intimidating at first. The UI is jam-packed with icons, so you can expect to find yourself on the wrong screen or in a different place than you intended to be at first, but after some time, you’ll be able to navigate it with no problem. To be honest, that concern only really applies to the mobile version, as the UI is a bit more streamlined on the Switch.

Controls-wise, the developer have optimized both versions well. The hunters are highly responsive, there’s no delay in the actioning of abilities, and there’s no stutter when moving. The one complaint I have is with the touch controls on mobile. Turning the camera can be an absolute pain (as is usually the case); sometimes, I’d accidentally tap an ability button when all I wanted to do was swipe my thumb to turn the camera. It’s a small issue, though, one that you can easily rectify by connecting a controller. I gave it a go with the Backbone One, which works swimmingly.

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Along with the solid controls, Star Wars: Hunters performs really well across Switch and mobile. I have no complaints in this area; it’s a well-put-together game that looks smooth.

All in all, Star Wars: Hunters is an enjoyable experience that I, as a Star Wars fan, can’t wait to dive back into. With the promise of fresh content each season and a starting cast of hunters that are so diverse, all players are sure to find one that suits them. SWH is off to a flying start.

Don’t forget, there are plenty of other Star Wars games you can dive into on Switch and mobile. We also have a list of general space games if you want to see what else the genre has to offer.