This is real hunting when you can’t be out actually killing creatures. The Hunter is a free to play, online-based hunting title co-developed by Expansive Worlds and Avalanche Studios. The premise is simple, explore your environment to find game to hunt using various tech at your disposal. Those that do hunt in real life will certainly find some true to life aspects in the game that set it apart from other games in the genre.
The set up for the title seemed a little cumbersome as you had to go thehunter.com, register, then download the client and later returning to the website and logging in every time you wished to play. I ran into no issue there, just wish there was a quicker way to get into the game.
Thinking of it as a web-based game has certain connotations in regards to graphics, but The Hunter expels all those notions as players are presented with lush and highly detailed forest environments, it is certainly my favourite aspect of the game, I often found myself just sitting, staring at my surroundings and forgot my goal. Even the pictures can’t do the Avalanche Engine justice, though some gamers may be familiar with it if they have played Just Cause 2.
Now, when it comes to the act of hunting, I am as familiar with the concept as I was when I played Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter, many years ago. Though I definitely suspect that this is the most accurate representation of the hunting experience, as you traverse vast lands without even a hint of wildlife. You are provided with two tutorials to start off newbies to this sort of gameplay and they are well done, enough so that I felt I would be highly competent once released into the actual hunting levels. You are taught how to tack and take down your target using your HuntMate, which is like a GPS/PDA device that indicates when wildlife is nearby and and points you to an approximate location after you discover tracks or droppings.
My first kill was a Mule Deer taken down from an observation tower, after tracking it’s droppings to an open area and waiting a good 15 minutes, luring it closer with my deer calling device. If the game did not look as nice as it does then I wouldn’t have been able to endure staring through binoculars for such a long time hoping to spot some life. Taking down the animal was as simple as taking out someone in any other FPS, click left mouse button once to bring up your gun, aim and click the button again to shoot, while holding Spacebar to hold your breath for added precision.
The controls are essentially your standard PC FPS controls, and of course can be customized at anytime. I just wish that was also the case for your load out, which has to be chosen once you enter the game and cannot be changed unless you exit the game and go back in from the website. This is probably the biggest issue in the game, though it is nice that your load out is saved for each time you start the game, if you do happen to find that perfect set of equipment.
Your equipment consists of two types of weapons, a rifle/shotgun and a pistol, all of which can have a scope added, there is also deer urine, various animal calling devices, ground blinds and a digital camera. Since the game is free to play there is also extra items that can be purchased for real money from the store, though some of those simply include aesthetic changes.
The use and fluidity of weapons and items in-game do tend to feel very sluggish though, and could be compared to game made seven years ago, but I feel the developers intended this to add realism to the game and as I mention I have not hunted myself so I can’t say for sure that it take almost five seconds and three clicks of the mouse to use a deer calling device.
If you are a FPS gamer that has a very high level of patience and enjoy exploring lush realistic environments in pursuit of prey, or if you are a hunter that is a gamer in the off season then I would definitely recommend this title. If you want a deeper experience than tracing and hunting deer and other legal game than you may be disappointed, as that is about all this has to offer. There is a great amount of reply value with the ability to unlock new licenses to hunt even more game and travel to different reserves to see rare and unique breeds.
The game is in a constant state of being updated so even my small issues with The Hunter that I have mentioned may get resolved as time presses on and more people make use of the micro transaction system.