theHunter: Call of the Wild Box Art

theHunter: Call of the Wild Gameplay Review

I played theHunterCall of the Wild but I am not a hunter. I do not know what it is like to shoot a real Deer. Would I do this in real life? If it was necessary, probably, however, this is not real life, this is a game, maybe someone should tell the animals.

theHunter™: Call of the Wild is a realistic hunting simulator with a heavy emphasis on the simulation. There are visual aids to help with tracking but for the most part, it’s about watching the distance, looking for signs and finding your quarry. There are guns in this game but this is not a twitch shooter. You will have to carefully stalk your prey, line up a shot and wait for the right time to pull the trigger.

So far I have travelled to Germany and the American Northwest, I have killed Roe Deer, Fallow Deer a Red Fox, some Red deer, Wild Boar, Whitetail deer, Blacktail deer, European Bison, I shot a Moose in the head but it didn’t die or I couldn’t find it, I have killed Elk, a Coyote, and I have shot at and missed a Black bear, Musk Deer, a Lynx, and Reindeer. I have not seen a Brown bear but when I do, I will shoot at it.

theHunter: Call of the Wild View through a scope at a deer walking in the woods about to be shot

What I am getting at is there are a lot of animals to shoot and each has its own unique schedule which means it will likely be in one of a number of specific spots at a certain time of day, however, like much of theHunter: Call of the Wild, you will spend a long time walking after the nearest sign you see.

Animal signs are highlighted to make it easy to track an animal but just because you can track them does not mean you will be able to take one down. It’s very hard to shoot a prey animal on high alert, birds will give away your position, the vocalizations from the animal you are hunting will tell you that. So, you need to move slowly, methodically, stay downwind and move quietly.

I was surprised that even though this is a hunting game, the pace is drastically different to the Cabella hunting games I have played before. Cabella is an arcade game compared to the slow steady pace of theHunter: Call of the Wild.

The developers do not want you charging around on an ATV hip firing the life out of anything furry. Sure, you can use the ATV to get to an approximate location, climb a tower to get the lay of the land but if you want to bag a trophy, you will absolutely be cresting a ridge on your belly from 100 yards out after you have spent the last 20 minutes of real time slowly following the trail.

theHunter: Call of the Wild view through the woods with a road winding through it

As you get more kills you can level up your senses, this means that as you creep through the forests and you spot animal sign you will be able to determine more and more information from it, footprints will give you a direction, scat will show you how long ago the animal passed, calls and wind direction need to be factored in to approach from the right direction, you will move slowly but, when you finally line up your shot on a feeding animal, pull the trigger and it drops a few feet away you will be elated, the sense of satisfaction at a clean kill is incredible.

I don’t subscribe to the whole hunting is “wrong” movement, this is a game, shooting pretend animals is no different to shooting pretend Nazis, so I make no excuses for enjoying the moment. The build-up is not easy, you will struggle to enjoy the pacing of theHunter: Call of the Wild, but when you slow down, enjoy the scenery, pay attention to your surroundings, getting a kill gives an incredible sense of achievement.  

A clean kill is essential for a good score too, wing an animal and you will have to chase it down, following blood trails until you finally corner it. The key is the approach, too quickly and your heart will be racing, your hands will tremble and you will not be able to make a good shot consistently. Stalk the animal slowly, creep to a good position to fire, put a shot into a vital organ and watch it drop a few feet away.

theHunter: Call of the Wild with a view over a field and 4 players, one with a weapon in first person and three others looking at the scene

Killing requires weapons and if you want to get the best score you need the right tool for the job. As would be expected there are plenty of choices here from the .223 Docent, great for foxes and coyotes right up to the Rangemaster 338 which will take down a moose or bison, there are a host of shotguns, pistols, and bows too and your set up will depend on what you are hunting. Taking a fox with a weapon too powerful will reduce the integrity significantly but on the other side of the argument, shoot a bear with a .223 and it will probably not notice and maul you.

In terms of realism, I don’t really know how things work for real having never hunted but I would be surprised that an animal with a broken leg wouldn’t limp and I certainly don’t think I would have to chase it for a few miles. I would like to see a more realistic effect of an arrow in a deer and it having to move slowly. Of course, you would lose integrity for hurting the animal but everything is so realistic that when I do wing an animal, I would like it to act appropriately. Like I said, I am not sure that they don’t but I would not want to run for two miles with an arrow in my thigh.

The biggest issue facing theHunter: Call of the Wild, in my opinion, is that of fun. Gaming should be fun and if I wasn’t reviewing the game I wonder how long I would have given it before declaring that I was bored and then jumping into another game of Player Unknowns. Reviewing the game gave me a chance to think about the game and the experience and once I did I found the game to be very enjoyable.

Enjoyable for a time that is. There is a tediousness that comes from wandering around the forest for 20 minutes between actions and the game could have benefitted from a duck or pheasant hunt or two. 

There is a story of sorts and various quests to complete that will give you a reason to wander. There are also some pretty entertaining quests that have you shooting animals with a camera too and for the most part, they are very enjoyable. 

The developers added some much needed free DLC which adds a firing range, additional character customization, larger backpacks and a compound bow. Essential items that were requested by players. It’s nice to see a developer listening to and acting on the needs of its audience.

theHunter: Call of the Wild view of a lookout tower in the middle of the woods

I had the DLCs sent through which included several ATVs to get around quickly and I would have to say if you buyt heHunter: Call of the Wild, this DLC is an essential purchase, despite the fact that the ATVs don’t feel very stable or fun, they really do speed up traversal and the world is large and walking long distances is boring. The other DLC I was sent was Medved-Taiga, an entirely new region to explore and some interesting new wildlife to annihilate.

Graphically theHunter: Call of the Wild is stunning and I mean truly stunning. Thanks to the engines global illumination tech, the incredible sound design, and organic feel imbued by the swaying trees and chirping birds you will believe you are outside.

Specifically talking about the sound design, moving through the forest is a treat, the crunch underground the bird sounds drifting through the breeze were all lost on me until I went to Medved-Taiga National Park. Everything about it felt crisp and chilly. The sound design is incredible, crunching snow, cracking ice and even the sound of the wind all make you feel cold.  

The developers have created a living breathing world and it’s such a shame to only be able to kill a few animals every once in a while. This world needs a survival game, zombies and maybe other players to kill. No wait, that’s DayZ.

I am not being too silly here, the number of people that have played DayZ will be staggering and if you remember the feeling of stalking a player, cautiously moving to position to shoot them you will understand the thrill in theHunter: Call of the Wild especially when you are hunting something that can hunt you back.

 


 

I want to love this game more than I do, the effort that went into creating this world is plain to see but the slow pace will not be for all. If you like games where your excitement is drip fed to you over a couple of hours, if you like DayZ for example, then you may be able to “get” why this is a good game. If you prefer your action immediate and rewards instantly then you will probably never understand why this is a fun game.

This game will score highly, I really like it, but there are issues, I couldn’t test the multiplayer for example, no one I game with has it and the price tag is too high for a casual purchase. I have a big question about the word fun. The game is great, I will be playing it for a long time to come but it will be reserved for those days when I am in a quiet mood when I am not in need of instant gratification and a thrilling experience.

I recommend this game, but with caveats. Your playstyle will dictate how you feel about theHunter: Call of the Wild, for some it will be a good game for others a terrible game. For me, I really like it.

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