by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Blue skies, soft winds, rifle in hand. It's another open season for hunters that prefer to experience nature from behind the keyboard rather than out in the elements. theHunter: Call of the Wild is the latest installment in theHunter series, and without a doubt easily the best looking that it's offered up. But, looks aren't everything and for every moment I enjoyed walking the wild, I found myself being disappointed with the hunting aspects of it.
Let's start with what the game does right. Despite not being the original intention, it's easily a great 'walking simulator'. Between the two nature reserves, one in North America while another is located in Europe, you're going to have plenty of ground to roam. 50 square miles, as a matter of fact. The places you'll go, from the hilled forests to open low-lands, really are a sight to see. I can't claim it's the best looking game ever, but it's definitely the best looking hunting title I've seen.
As much as I love exploring, seeing scenic vistas across the map and the thrill of the hunt trying to track my prey, more often than not it was just that. Walking and tracking. To a true hunter aficionado, they know to expect that. But in terms of a game, I want a little bit more to shoot at. It gets boring playing for so long, hoping to find your mark only to feel like you're going in circles. Sometimes, I’d question if the animal was ever really there at all, or if the same guy who faked the Big Foot footprints most recently was given a job on the developer team to make fake tracks. If I sound frustrated, I am. Some of the staff here have jokingly nicknamed me "Cowboy" for my admiration of the outdoors, and my thoughts on gun ownership.
Hunting is something that's always appealed to me, but real life has never quite allowed me to get out during any of the hunting seasons around here so I had to settle on games that involve it. The Cabela's games have a long track record ranging from mediocre to appalling, but you know what even the worst of that had? A decent amount of animals to shoot at.
Hurry Up And Wait
It's entirely possible that maybe I just suck at the game. Maybe the developers of theHunter: Call of the Wild really do expect the players to find a spot and nest up, just waiting for a grazing deer or curious bear to come along. But I can't do that, I need to be on the move. My idea of hunting is tracking and taking the shot the moment it's available. The gameplay mechanics even seem to insist upon that, but no matter how hard I searched, no matter how quiet I was, I never seemed to find an animal first. It was only when I sat still out of frustration that one finally sauntered along. Very far out, low winds, it was still not a guaranteed shot. But I took it anyway. I hit my mark, but not critically enough to end it, nor to have it bleed out. The tracking mission was back on, and once again no matter how hard I stuck to the tracks I just could not find the mark. I sat still out of frustration again as a downpour began.
Another animal roamed across my scope, but with the torrential rains and wind, it was another kill not meant to be. But hey, at least it looked good while I was failing at the game and questioning if it was me, or the mechanics that were at fault.
I'm not being sarcastic either, I really can't tell if I'm just awful at the game or if there is some severe issues going on with spawn rates, animal AI having not just a sixth sense but about four more to boot, or weapons being underpowered.
Credit Where It's Due
theHunter: Call of the Wild looks amazing, it doesn't feel clunky in terms of its controls or movement, and it has some very appealing sound of high quality. But it's just not fun. The exploration is entertaining in short bursts, but players didn't buy theHiker; they bought a game about hunting. With the issues I encountered it just seems like it's not there yet. Maybe some patching can fix it, but in its current state I think I'd rather go play a hunting game where I can at least kill something and find it more than once in a blue moon.
Looks great, sounds great, plays rather smoothly
More of a hiking simulator, lacks wildlife