This Gothic Shooter’s First Female Boss Is Perfectly Terrifying

This Gothic Shooter’s First Female Boss Is Perfectly Terrifying

Hunt: Showdown is oppressive in that fear is oppressive, turning vines into snakes and wind into spirits. But the game never allows you to catch your breath and realize that the spider sneaking up your leg is only a shadow, and that the sudden darkness that surrounds you isn’t a sign you’re dying, but that the sunset came and went without you noticing.

Even if you were afforded a few second glances, the PvPvE first-person shooter makes sure that every one of your natural anxieties comes true. The 19th-century Louisiana bayou in which it’s set is a sweltering, wet stage for betrayal and cosmic horror, and the bounty hunting game’s newest boss—it’s fifth ever, and the first to be female—Rotjaw only makes it more punitive. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be Hunt: Showdown, developer Crytek told me in an email.

Hunt: Showdown’s first female boss

“If it’s not scary and you’re not on edge from the moment you start a match, [worrying] about other Hunters and things that go chomp in the night, then it’s not Hunt,” narrative director Richard Danksy said.

Rotjaw is, by birth, a chomper. The freakishly large gator snaps her deadly mouth at you despite the twisted metal cage constricting her (she wears it more like a summer dress than a setback for her potent, bloated body). She came along with the game’s Tide of Shadows Live Event, which runs through August 23 and adds story content and new weapons.

Image: Crytek

But although Rotjaw is fresh meat, since Hunt released in 2018, its developers “knew [a gator] was an essential element for the dark bayou setting we wanted to create,” lead character artist Hugo Guerra says.

The idea just needed to be sharpened. At first, “we struggled when it came to the technical aspects of implementing Rotjaw within the limitations of our game,” Guerra says. Crytek was sure it wanted Rotjaw to be Hunt’s first “Wild Target,” meaning it wouldn’t be restricted to a closed “compound” area like existing bosses. “That added an extra level of complexity in terms of rigging and navigation.”

Finally, the team had a technical breakthrough in 2022. Rotjaw could start clawing toward her final form after Crytek created “a quick mockup that served as a proof of concept” and decided to “[dive] headfirst into development,” Guerra continues.

She didn’t have to struggle too much—some things about her were predetermined. “A good antagonist needs to integrate itself well into the core loop of Hunt,” design director Dennis Schwarz says. “It’s not just about fighting them, but also tracking them down and securing your [Bounty Token reward, which other players can try to kill you over].” Most of Hunt: Showdown’s drama happens in its PvP elements, which makes bosses “first and foremost catalysts and gatekeepers to the [bounty] everybody wants to claim.”

Bosses “cannot be too easy, but also not too hard for players to kill. At the end of the day, […] working out a plan on how to extract their bounty is what matters,” Schwarz continues.

Fighting Rotjaw

Hunters who find Rotjaw will quickly discover she likes to bite. Then she likes to tear, and bark, and send sky-blue electricity out and around her like she’s living in a protective storm cloud, not in a vulnerable flow of gray water.

She goes soft belly-up after a couple of well-timed attacks, but those willing to read into her history might feel bad about it. Rotjaw is “very motherly, nurturing, and protective,” Danksy says. “We had never had a female Target before, so the time seemed right to add one.”

Concept art shows Rotjaw standing in front of a black background with glowing blue eyes.

Early concept art like this helped establish how impressive Rotjaw looks in-game.
Image: Crytek

A mutant alligator may not be your picture-perfect mommy, but her character model should inspire some empathy anyway. While Rotjaw insidiously emerges only at night or under a sheet of Hunt’s newly added rain, players can still see the dull glint of the broken metal cage that failed to contain her, but weighs her down.

“Often, we combine different elements in our monsters to create something new and fresh,” art director Stefan Heinrich said. “This is where the idea of the cage came in, as well as the partly rotting and skeletal look to the gator. One could only imagine what kind of horrific experiments have been dealt to this poor creature that filled it with so much rage.”

During an encounter, Rotjaw looks like she has black holes for eyes, but you can see them fill with sky-blue electricity if you get too close. Electricity crackles around her wide open mouth, too, and the bayou exacerbates the hazard. But you—her money-loving enemy—continue to approach.

Rotjaw has already been through some shit. She’s sensitive about it. So, as you carve your way through Hunt: Showdown to find its first female Target, make sure not to underestimate her. You could lose blood in her water.


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