While I won’t get into the trouble of laying out the possible moral challenges of the enjoyment of killing for sport – because, let’s face it, that is Videogames 101 – I will say that there is much to hunting beyond slaughtering and skinning adorable deer. And that’s what theHunter is all about. We had the opportunity to try out the beta for this upcoming game and we were enthralled by the gorgeous craftsmanship of its landscapes and the quiet-but-tense gameplay.
theHunter is set in a protected regional park somewhere deep in Europe that you could only assume is Germany. The autumnal landscape is covered by sparse blankets of peach-coloured leaves, alternated with lush areas of healthy green foliage. However, this region is not completely virgin, as you’ll find crops, shelters and watchtowers dotted around. As you delve deeper in the pine forest, you’ll even find ruins of forgotten castles and imposing cliffs, giving the game lots of flavour and making traversing all the more difficult. Particularly if you’re following the tracks of an animal.
theHunter: Call of the Wild is the sequel to the free-to-play theHunter, a self-denominated hunting simulator whose ambitions deviate greatly from any other first-person shooter. In fact, the weapon sitting in your lap is seldom used. The type of activities that this game champions are more concerned about the serenity and beauty of nature than with giving you a reward after a kill streak.
With no vehicles at hand, and very sparse fast travel locations, you will spend a lot of your time on foot traveling between areas. However, since most of your objectives require you to sneak up to oblivious animals, running is advised against. Anything louder than crouching will alert nearby animals, which will make them flee like birds. Particularly if you decided to push through foliage, which will rustle leaves and make that fallow deer you’ve been tracking for miles aware of your presence.
Once you spot the footprints of an animal, your tracking sense will tell you where it was headed. If you follow that same direction roughly, you’ll find more and more tracks of that same animal. But be careful not to confuse them with some other one! When you’re near, you’ll most likely hear the animal’s call, in which case it’s best to drop down and make as little noise as possible. Once you’ve got line of sight to the animal, you’ll feel your heart pumping after up to half an hour of tracking, knowing that pulling the trigger one split of a second early or late, can ruin your entire hunt.
The contrast between the low-intensity segments in which you’re just wandering through the woods and the few moments you approach your target and line up a shot is what makes this game so engaging. Given that it was a short beta, we didn’t have the chance to play around with all weapons and gadgets, or see all types of animals you can hunt, but be sure that Call of the Wild will satisfy all your hunting needs.