Review – theHunter: Call of the Wild
After putting over a dozen hours into the game I can safely say theHunter: Call of the Wild is hands down the best hunting game I’ve ever played, although, to be fair, that’s not a particularly high bar to clear.
Where past hunting games have all-too-often boiled down to ‘kill whatever’s running at you’ shooting galleries, theHunter – yes, it’s spelled that way for some reason – encourages more traditional hunting techniques. Players will have to stalk the game’s 12 different animals through a surprisingly wide variety of gorgeous terrain contained in two different maps, and that means paying attention both to the amount of noise you’re making and which way the wind is blowing.
Being aware of the noise around you is key in theHunter, both to hide from and track your prey. Lying prone in the extensive foliage is a fantastic way to hide from the animal you’re following, but it has the nasty side effect of blocking your view. On one hunt I used a deer call while lying prone in long grass next to a meadow, hoping to lure something closer but surprised to suddenly hear a crashing in the brush right beside me as a buck appeared out of nowhere.
While you can use a handful of tools to try and lure animals in or hang out in one of the blinds scattered around the two hunting areas and hope something comes to you, most of the time the process of taking down a target starts with finding a set of tracks and following them. Tracking is a simple enough process, aim at the tracks and you’ll highlight them and get an idea of which way the animal is going as well as the speed they’re moving. Keep following tracks and you’ll find droppings, which allow you to assess how long ago the animal passed by.
It sounds simple enough, but animals are unpredictable and it can be challenging to track them as they double back, cross hard ground or through high-traffic areas, and pass through water. Throw in rain storms and an accelerated day-to-night cycle that limits the amount of daylight you’ll have access to, and the difficulty can ratchet up significantly.
The game features a number of equipment unlocks, including guns, scopes, lures, new ammo, and ATVs, as well as skill and perk systems that allow players to choose between Stalker and Ambusher paths and specialize their character for the way they prefer to hunt. There’s also multiplayer, though I found it a bit buggy in the first few days following launch. In one three-man lobby, for example, the host could see the other two players while both of us could only see the host. While it wasn’t a big deal, it did make it hard to organize shots into herds of animals.