theHunter: Call of the Wild Review

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FYIG takes a look at the new hunting sim, theHunter: Call of the Wild. Is this the definitive hunting experience or is this game better left in the woods?

Release Date February 16, 2017
Genre Action/Simulation
Platforms PC
Developer Expansive Worlds
Price $29.99 US
ESRB Rating Teen
Players 1-8 Players

Hunting games are a tough genre to really master. It seems like such an easy thing, you shoot animals in the wilderness. The difficulty comes in when you factor in that each individual animal has to have the right AI to allow them to try and survive at all costs. The player also has to have a good way to track the animals and be stealthy enough to kill them. A lot goes into the way that these games work, they’re very strategic. They’ve always fascinated me.

My earliest memories with hunting games are from PS1 with one of the Cabela’s Big Game Hunter games. I remember them being very primitive back then. They were very much arcade experiences more than a simulation and they just didn’t appeal to me that much. I haven’t really played any of these games since then mostly because these games don’t get a lot of press. When I heard about theHunter: Call of the Wild, it immediately intrigued me because it was an open world hunting game. That’s exactly what a game like this should be. Total freedom.

theHunter: Call of the Wild
This is what you see when you first get into the game (if you choose Layton Lake District)

theHunter: Call of the Wild is what I would call a very niche game. Much like certain sports games, only so many people are going to want to play a hunting game. Some people are against hunting for their own reasons while others find it boring and see no value in it. For those that do enjoy these types of games. It’s a pretty well-made game. I will caution that you must have some patience with it. It’s not a game that’s full of action. It’s a game that requires a lot of strategy and and attentiveness to truly enjoy.

theHunter: Call of the Wild
The game looks breathtaking from any angle. The lakes and foliage look true to life.

Visually, this game looks very good. I was surprised at just how good when I started the game up the first time. The way the wind blows the blades of grass is pretty nice to see. I also couldn’t believe how detailed every bit of foliage was. it really makes you feel like you’re out there in the wilderness. The water is equally as beautiful and there’s nothing like looking down on a lake from a far off cliff. The animals themselves are equally as impressive, though I felt their movement wasn’t as realistic as it probably should have been. It wasn’t horrible, just kind of off.

The real beauty of this game is in the details. You can see the type of animal that you’re tracking through the type of footprint on the ground. If that’s not enough, there are also piles of feces that indicate how long ago an animal was in the area. You can even find animal rest areas and feeding areas that included times on when those animals can be expected in that spot. Tracking requires a simple button press and is pretty painless. The real difficulty comes with the patience that’s required to actually find an animal.

The animals in this game have incredibly sensitive hearing. I literally spent 45 minutes chasing a black bear at one point and never ended up actually finding it. Every time I got anywhere close, it would run away. It was pretty hit and miss for me. There was another time where I had 3 kills within 5 minutes. Much like actual hunting, your results may vary. The tracks do occasionally get confused and you end up losing the trail for a minute before you pick it back up. This seems to be because of terrain and doesn’t happen often, but it really throws you off when it does.

theHunter: Call of the Wild
My first kill!

While hunting in theHunter: Call of the Wild, you have various different tools at your disposal. Binoculars help you see those animals far off in the distance. Callers imitate different animals and lure your prey. There are eventually even sprays that mask your scent to animals. It’s a pretty nice array of stuff to use, but it’s all locked behind a level progression system. Normally this type of progression system is a nice way to go add some value to a game, but when you have to accumulate money and experience, it’s a lot more tedious.

theHunter: Call of the Wild
A glimpse of the skill tree and menu.

The missions themselves range from incredibly easy like photographing a specific animal to very detailed like shooting a Whitetail Deer from a specific distance in a specific area. This can be very time-consuming with any setback costing you hours of game time. There isn’t much of a story to the game. Every once in a while, you’ll hear the narrator give you a task and then that’s it until you complete it. I ran around for 2 hours just hunting before I actually finished a mission.

theHunter: Call of the Wild is certainly better with other people. The game is quipped to handle up to 8 players in a multiplayer game and having that many different people tracking and hunting animals definitely makes things a lot easier and a much less mundane. The player count is fairly low, though. It’s tough to find any more than around 4 people, at least in my experience.

theHunter: Call of the Wild
There is a deer glitched in place behind the rock. This is the best shot I could get of it. The first time, the deer miraculously ran away when I got close.

The game is fairly glitchy at times and the glitches are rather random to say the least. When I first started the game, the main menu didn’t appear. I had to restart the game to actually begin a new game. The menus themselves sometimes require you to hover over another option before being able to exit. Some items don’t equip when chosen. The biggest in-game glitch that I found was that animals would sometimes be found running in place or stuck in trees allowing for easy kills. It was strange to see a deer just floating there in place.

theHunter: The Call of the Wild is a decent hunting sim when it’s working properly. It is a very slow, methodical game that I can’t see many people actually wanting to sit through on their own. You definitely have to be someone who is in to this type of thing and someone who has a lot of patience. It’s a beautiful looking game and is rewarding when you actually get a kill, but the downtime and glitches really dampen any fun that I do get out of this. I would only recommend this game to die-hard hunters.

*This game was provided to FYIG by astragon Entertainment for review purposes*

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