Ah, the joys of hunting. There’s something rather therapeutic about crawling around in bushes, only to aim down the sights of a rifle and blow a deer away in an attempt to get that sweet, clean kill. Or at least, I see it that way. Being situated in the UK, there aren’t many opportunities for me to try out hunting myself; this means that buying simulators is the cheaper option.
Now, there are a lot of simulators out there, and not many of these are actually any good. Search “simulator” on Steam and you’ll be greeted with a seemingly never-ending list of below-average ratings for games. So it’s nice to see the occasional good simulator game being released. Examples of such treasures? Euro Truck Simulator and theHunter: Call of the Wild. I’m guilty of sinking hundreds of hours into both of these as they simulate their respective professions accurately but also in a way that’s fun to play. As a hunting game that’s received good ratings and has received continued support, there will be comparisons drawn between theHunter and Hunting Simulator 2 throughout this review.
The main aspect of a hunting game is the animals. In Hunting Simulator 2, the animals are incredibly skittish. So much so, in fact, that you’ll find yourself scaring away animals 200 meters away, on the other side of large hills. Admittedly, the challenge of actually being able to see an animal before it takes off, never to be seen again, is rather fun. This differs to theHunter, in which you can use a variety of lures and deployable blinds in order to be practically touching animals before you take a shot. There is also the amount of times animals get stuck on terrain to consider. Playing on the Xbox One X, animals would frequently get caught on rocks and trees, ruining the thrill of the hunt. However, this did allow for some animals to be taken down since they weren’t running… for once.
A hunting game without shooting would just be a walking simulator, and there’s enough of them out there as it is. The ballistics in Hunting Simulator 2 are fairly well done, with bullet drop surprisingly well realised. There is an issue with hit-markers being present though, taking away from the immersion the rest of the game tries to compliment. Compared to the first Hunting Simulator though, it’s not that bad. The first game plays like Sniper Elite with animals rather than angry Nazis (why they added the bullet cam I will never know). There is also a wide assortment of weaponry at the players’ disposal, each type being tailored to hunting different species of animals. This prevents players from simply running around and shooting every animal they see with the same weapon, requiring planning to be done ahead of setting out for a hunt. Ammo is also a somewhat valuable resource, as players aren’t just given hundreds of rounds that will last them several hours.
A new addition to Hunting Simulator 2 is the faithful, fluffy companion handed to you at the start. Players will come to rely on their hunting beagles in order to track down their soon-to-be prey. Differing from theHunter‘s system of simply finding tracks and following them until the animal is in lure range, you’re able to form a bond with your furry friend to improve the effectiveness of its tracking skills. Unfortunately, it can be rather temperamental. Tracks are frequently lost and the dog can find itself struggling with path-finding, just like the other animals in the game. This is frustrating when it happens, although visible tracks left by animals can still be followed.
Stunning. A quick and simple one word description of the visuals in Hunting Simulator 2. Even running on a standard Xbox One, the environments look incredible. The finely detailed terrain accompanied by the lighting makes for a world that you can just absorb yourself in and take screenshots of. This makes for a calming, yet breathtaking (not as much as Keanu) experience that differs greatly to your usual Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty game. Running this game on a high-end PC will likely result in a visually stunning game, worthy of being called a next-gen title. Don’t believe me? Here are a couple screenshots taken on the Xbox One X:
Hunting Simulator 2 is a remarkable game. Holding up in terms of gameplay and graphics, it makes for an enjoyable experience. But how does it compare to theHunter? If money isn’t an issue, buying both is always an option. Overall, despite being based on the same premise, the two games provide fairly different experiences. Due to the need to buy specific licences in order to hunt animals without penalty, paired with the more skittish nature of the animals, Hunting Simulator 2 provides a slower grind, but it’s still really enjoyable. Although this does beg the question: is the AAA price tag completely worth it, given that the gameplay can feel like more of a chore at times?
If you’re unsure on whether this is a game for you, I’d recommend waiting for a sale as to not get burned by a fresh hole in your wallet. Even as someone who enjoys these types of simulators, I’m on the fence whether I’ll play this as much as the alternatives. Despite this, if it’s available to you and you’re a fan of simulators, it’s worth the pick up.
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A few boring details for your reading pleasure.
I’m someone who plays games as a hobby. The media has carried me through many difficult times; serving as a distraction from real-world problems. Chances are that if you’re here, you can relate to that at least.
Now, the boring stuff. I live in the north of England, studied maths and further maths in college, to then go on and study psychology in university.