I just don’t get hunting, or at least trophy hunting. There is something about humans with guns shooting animals from a distance whilst unaware that doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it is due to me being all about giving a sporting chance. I’d much rather see how the hunter would fair if the animals had lasers attached, or vice versa both were unarmed. So, when I was asked to review the newly released Hunting Simulator I was perplexed, however I have no issues with shooting digital anything’s.
As I said in my intro, hunting does not interest me at all, however due to games such as Monster Hunter, Far Cry, Tomb Raider, Evolve and Horizon Zero Dawn, I do feel like quite an expert, at least in the digital realm. As this is a “simulator” one would presume it would be more realistic than these other mentioned titles, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on where you sit in regards to hunting) this is not the case.
Hunting Simulator has you attempting to shoot a variety of animals in a variety of locations around the globe. The objective of the game is to track your prey, find its location and shoot it from a distance before claiming your trophy. This can be done by following tracks, shown with floating large white markers. As I said I am no expert on hunting but I would imagine tracking would be a little harder than seeing balloons attached to the markings.
Likewise, the game is hard to be a believable simulator due to your hunter’s movement. You can run, walk, crouch or lay down and shimmy along but doing so makes no difference to the amount of noise you create. The hunters sound more akin to a Rhino as they trudge around the map, stomping loudly and making any animal within ear shot alerted easily. If you stray close to the edge of a cliff, fear not as the only problem with falling to your death seems to be a black screen that lasts for a few seconds and your hunter being safely on his feet close to the area. Then there are watch towers, manmade structures made for hunters to climb. Here you don’t climb, you simply press X, appear in the structure, then press X again to be back on the ground.
Animals also seem to either have outstanding eye sight or be completely blind. At times, it is far too easy to take down a trophy, yet at other times some animals just seem hell bent on relentlessly running throughout the map, as if scared. This can occur without them even sensing your presence. I found that sometimes success was better found by simply staying put in a high vantage point and waiting for an animal to appear.
There are a huge number of weapons to use, from rifles to shotguns and even bows. Each are unlocked by playing through the games campaign which also unlocks the various areas and places for which to hunt. Each place has a number of different “trophies” to shoot and claim, once the particular kill and claim is made it is off to the next challenge/animal. There is some strategy in where you must use the correct calibre of weapon for your prey. You must also not spoil the kill, if you do so your trophy will be unable to be claimed meaning you need to shoot another.
The shooting mechanics are quite basic. Aim with the left trigger, hold your breath with L3 and shoot with the right trigger. There seemed to be no real physics for wind or bullet drop which means you’re sure to be killing with ease. And this is Hunter Simulators biggest problem, the gameplay is easy, too easy, and boring, really, really boring.
One thing hunting simulator does do reasonably well is present a world that is good to look at. Visually the game is quite good, not mind blowing but the world looks realistic. The lighting effects are quite good and the animals all look and move quite realistically. It is a shame that the developers went with the highlights for the tracks, it detracts from the worlds realistic vibe considerably.
The guns all look quite authentic but the motion of the hunter is horrible. His position never alters no matter what the terrain is like, showing an incredible cat like balance without the need to lean whatsoever or ever take a hand off their weapon.
The sound is average at best. The shots are passable but the animal calls and constant trudging of the hunter’s footsteps had me relying on Spotify to make it bearable. There is no music at all, I guess hunters don’t listen to tunes whilst hunting.
Hunting Simulator is one of those rare games that falls into the realm of not quite being a simulator yet being totally unenjoyable. Some simulators can be boring but to call this a simulator is a little bewildering, and to not call it boring would be a lie. The upside is you get to shoot cute, harmless and defenceless animals in a nice-looking environment, if that is your thing.