Tikamoon Plains is the second DLC added toWay of the Hunter, and like its predecessor, Aurora Shores, it takes the player to a new locale and introduces both a new cast of characters to interact with and animals to hunt. Where Tikamoon Plains differs, though, is it exits the familiar lands of the United States, taking place in the titular location in Africa. But will this be a day in the Sun or more heat than one can handle?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about the cast. While the base game had very little in terms of interaction and voice acting, being limited to a few key characters and otherwise being handled via text, Tikamoon goes above and beyond this in its first steps. You take the role of Malachi, who has the arduous job of acting as a tour guide, shooting couch, and bodyguard to a group of wealthy people, including authors, actors, and others that can be classified as eccentric. Each of your wards has their own distinct voices, personalities, intergroup dramas, and needs. Though they talk to you and each other quite a bit during the many telephone calls you’ll have — like in the review of the base game — I still have not seen a soul. These interactions add a lot of life to the game, especially since many of the actual missions are requests from these characters, giving you extra incentive to do them instead of filling out random orders for restaurants. They also allow Malachi to have a bit more personality than the protagonist of the first game, River, as now, we have many more active participants to work off of.
So, in addition to an abundance of characters, what else is new? Well, like in the other available locations, the area you can hunt in is separated into sections, each offering different animals to hunt and sights to see. Where Tikamoon differs, however, is the sheer scale of some of the transitions! In the base game, you had forests with hills, streams surrounded by forests, swampy forests, and good old forest classic. Here, we have a fairly hilly savannah, transitioning from a flat plane of watering holes to an honest-to-goodness desert! This may be my Scandinavian roots talking, but I found this more dynamic setting very refreshing. Additionally, and most importantly, I could actually see.
Though hunting in a forest has its charms and may awaken the master tracker in some, I had a lot of trouble seeing any of my quarries between the forests and the trees, before their Spidey-sense kicked in and they skedaddled like a dog hearing their owner opening up a packet of ham. Now, in the mostly treeless plains, I can actually see the animals roaming around from miles away, making it much more pleasant to start planning my approach. The render distance is also quite impressive, as I could see the lodge I was staying in from what felt like the other side of the map!
In addition to the new exotic locale, the game has added a few new toys for you to play with in the form of bows! Now you can live your childhood dream of being the silent and deadly hunter of the wilds, taking prey unaware and without a sound! That is, if you can get close enough. The new weapons are meant for more experienced hunters, as you need to be within 50 ft to actually have a shot at harming anything big, which is much closer than anything before; with the animals being skittish at twice that distance, it takes much patience and precision to pull off a bow hunt! Luckily, it is very satisfying once you get a feel for it and additionally, the bows are very versatile in their use, being suitable for most animals beyond some of the biggest beasts.
Speaking of, Tikamoon offers a plethora of new and fun beasts to hunt, running the gambit of smaller animals, such as the now-famous honey badger and warthog (sorry Pumbaa), to buffalo and the king of the jungle itself, the lion! The lions especially were one of my favourites, though I’ve yet to successfully snag one. They roam in semi-large prides (the accuracy of which I’m unsure, as there are many males) and seem to have built-in proximity detectors, as they often sensed my presence before I even knew they were there! Though it’s a bit frustrating, watching the large pride run away and off into the distance was pretty great. I even managed to re-enact that scene from The Lion King by scaring a herd of buffalo along with a pride of lions. No casualties, though, thankfully. The new roster of animals was a welcome change and, honestly, it felt like the AI was more balanced; the buffalo, for example, will, more often than not, stare at you if they become alarmed, instead of bolting. At least they will, until you make a mad dash or give them a reason to run. This made getting a few successful hunts much easier and made the experience more pleasant, as I no longer found myself playing for hours on end without a single target.
Before you pack your bags and board a flight, however, I will note that Tikamoon is not a great place to start: the missions of the DLC require a bit more skill than the base game, having the very first mission demand a one-shot kill. Though this is not hard per se, it can take a while to master. Additionally, you keep the money, gear, and skills you have unlocked from the base game, so playing the DLC after will have you much better equipped from the get-go!
Finally, Tikamoon Plains offer a few fun side activities to keep you busy as you roam the land. First off, Malachi has a daughter on her way to visit. Having promised said daughter a swing seven years ago, our dependable father has decided to build a swing for each missed year all around the plains. At certain points of interest, you’ll be able to erect one (the swings even have physics!!) and enjoy some unforgettable views while you're at it. There are also some racing challenges – basically, a route you need to drive in a set time — and bow hunting practice, to name a few! The races weren’t my favourite, as the car does not control that well and I usually wound up driving down a hill longer than my life expectancy, but I appreciate the addition, as it gave some use for the cars instead of a glorified storage box on wheels.
To summarise, Tikamoon Plains did a lot to fix the few issues I had with Way of the Hunter: I could see what I was hunting, the travelling felt less similar, and there was more character interaction! While it may be somewhat challenging to newcomers to the series, I do recommend giving it a try, as it reignited my enjoyment of the game to a point where I’m pretty sure I’m getting and playing the rest and future DLCs!
Way of the Hunter - Tikamoon Plains (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Tikamoon Plains improves on many of the issues the base game has, such as character interactions and animal AI. If the views won't keep you coming back, the characters and hints of mystery will!