First Impression: theHunter: Call of the Wild

Simulator games have really gained in popularity the last few years.  Some exist as one-note jokes with bad physics like Surgeon Simulator or Goat Simulator.  Others are more serious gaining a devoted fan base behind them like Farming Simulator or Euro Truck Simulator.  Developed by Expansive Worlds and Published by Avalanche Studios, theHunter: Call of the Wild definitely fits into the latter category.

Set in one of two hunting reserves Hirshfelden in Europe or Layton Lake in the Pacific Northwest.  The game begins with character creation, selecting to create either a male or female, then one of three preset looks.  It’s a basic character creator, but as the game takes place from a  first-person perspective you will never see yourself.  From there the player meets their first contact and starts the hunt.  As they progress they are given optional missions which reward experience and money.

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Spotting a Fallow Deer with the binoculars after tracking it.

 

The game rewards precision with hunting, a clean kill also requires less time tracking a wounded animal.  After shooting and locating your game, you are rewarded with money and experience based on accuracy and the value of the trophy.  Excess damage will devalue the trophy which reduces reward.  Hunting with a weapon also ups the skill with that weapon class which unlocks higher quality weapons, some of which are higher caliber for larger game.  Better scopes, sights, and ammunition will also be unlocked for purchase as weapon skill goes up.

As for hunting, there are many locations that can be discovered, watering locations for preferred animals, hunting grounds for predators or prime locations for blinds.  There are also landmarks to discover, watchtowers that unlock portions of the map and outposts.  Outposts can be reached quickly via fast travel, from outposts you can buy new weapons, ammo, lures or first aid kits as needed.  You can also rest from an outpost as some quests require getting a kill at certain times of the day.

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Once you claim a kill you get graded based on the trophy rating, difficulty of the hunt, it also shows you where the bullet hit and how much damage it did.

 

After killing an animal that area will be marked red on the map for a period of time, while the area is marked animals will be less likely to travel to that area.  There is also a trophy penalty for repeatedly killing the same species which results in less money and experience gain.  These penalties can be crippling early on as the ammo type you start with only works effectively on smaller predators like foxes and small deer.  Combine this penalty with the skill rating requirements for better weapons and there is a bit of a grind.

There are a couple of ways to go about hunting which split into two skill trees, Stalker or Ambusher.  The Stalker line mostly focuses on tracking animals, making tracks easier to read, causing your character to make less noise, read the winds or be harder to see in bushes.  The Ambusher line focuses more on bringing your prey to you, focusing on things like spotting, use of scents or callers.  Though you aren’t limited to one skill tree or another, it is possible to put early points into both trees.  However higher tiered skills have minimum requirements, for example, Improvised Blind which makes it harder for animals to spot the player in bushes requires nine points be spent on Stalker skills.

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Alternating levels also reward the player with perk points which are used to improve the use of the following weapons:  rifles, handguns, shotguns and bows.  Unlike the skill trees, there are no minimum requirements for perks.  Putting a point into a perk automatically unlocks the next perk in the line.

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