See Arnold Schwarzenegger's Predator return after 33 years in Hunting Grounds game
Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to many of his iconic film roles over the years, from the T-800 in Terminator to Trench in The Expendables. Heck, if it ever actually works out, we might just see him play Conan again. One that hasn't seen any activity on his part is Dutch from 1987's Predator... until now. After 33 years, Schwarzenegger makes his grand return to this sci-fi action universe in the Hunting Grounds videogame, and EW has the exclusive first look.
Starting May 26, players will be able to purchase a DLC that allows gamers to play as Dutch, one of the new Fireteam members, while narration recorded by Schwarzenegger will help shed light on what the character has been up to since the events of director John McTiernan's original film.
"The premise of it is [Dutch] recorded these tapes since '87 after the first movie," says Jared Gerritzen, the Chief Creative Officer at IllFonic who wrote the new Dutch story. "Throughout these tapes, there are those arrows [pointing to] what he’s doing, kind of like safeguards if he gets killed or captured. These tapes are gonna be used to essentially keep his story going."
The Predator of '87 introduced Schwarzenegger's Dutch as the leader of a paramilitary team who heads to Central America to save hostages when he encounters the titular beast, a vicious, technologically advanced hunter. Predator: Hunting Grounds, released on April 24, allows gamers to assume the role of either a member of a Fireteam or the Predator itself in various jungle settings. If you play as one of the "prey," you must complete your mission before the Predator finds you. If you're the "hunter," you can use your arsenal — including invisibility — to stalk and slay your targets.
Those who've already played know the game isn't a narrative-driven title. It's a multiplayer shooter that incorporates story elements. For instance, actor Jake Busey returned to record voice work as his character from 2018's The Predator for Hunting Grounds. The results allowed players to find various hard-drives in different settings that contained audio messages from Keyes. Dutch's story will play out in a similar fashion, though Gerritzen says his tapes will be tied to a player's rank in the DLC. Rather than finding them out and about in the virtual world, Dutch tapes will be unlocked as you progress in rank.
One tape, which EW can also reveal, was recorded by Dutch on Sep. 12, 1987. "These tapes are my personal testimony, insurance," he says, "Should anything happen to me, what I found won't be lost."
"Our team at IllFonic sanity-checked it with me," Gerritzen says of writing Dutch's arc. "We had a lot of meetups, working with myself and the design team, to get this story to be bulletproof because we do weave it throughout the universe. It's not like after '87 [Dutch] went and did nothing to do with the universe. We actually tied it to the universe."
Hunting Grounds was Gerritzen's first project when he joined IllFonic, the developer behind the Friday the 13th game, three years ago. "When you start working on an IP like this, you start throwing out crazy ideas," he notes. "It was one of those things where it was like, 'Hey, Arnold’s never come back. He hasn’t come back in any of the movies, he hasn’t come back in any of the books or any of the comics. What can we do with this?'" Gerritzen's team were already introducing the concept of a female Predator into the game to expand our knowledge of this species, which he says gave them "a lot of internal steam" for pitching something bigger with Schwarzenegger to Disney and Fox. It just came down to timing.
"It would've been impossible in the current day," Gerritzen says, referencing the shelter-in-place environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "We recorded [with Schwarzenegger] like a month before everything started going sideways. When we first started talking with him, it was before he started filming Terminator [Dark Fate] and then he was doing all this other stuff."
Gerritzen, a longtime Predator fan since childhood, found himself pitching the story directly to the man behind Dutch. No pressure. Fortunately, he mentions Schwarzenegger was "super excited about what we did with it." "It's crazy being able to play him and having him speak those lines. When we recorded the V.O. for him being the Fireteam member, when he would say a line, it just vibrated in the room. The one-liners that he does in movies are so natural to him. Simple stuff, like him saying, 'reload,' it's Arnold!"
It doesn't sound like the Dutch reveal is all IllFonic has planned for future expansions to Hunting Grounds, either. "We’re always playing the game live, we’re always listening to the community. So, who knows? Maybe there are other things that we’re gonna figure out."
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