The Hunter: Call of the Wild, from Expansive Worlds and Avalanche Studios, is an open world, first person hunting game, and the third game in the series, following The Hunter: Classic and The Hunter: Primal.
The base game comes with two hunting reserves to visit, one in the Pacific Northwest and one in Central Europe, filled with their own unique game. Locations and missions. Created characters can transfer to different reserves at will, taking all acquired gear and levels.
The reserves themselves are huge and contain many different locations to visit, and animals are spread out across the map, with specific animals being located in certain areas.
The environments are beautifully designed as well as being massive, and the day-night cycles, as well as feeding and sleeping places for the animals help makes the world feel alive.
However as large and as beautiful as the world is I felt like there wasn’t much to do within the world. Much of my time was spent just going from place to place, or tracking down an animal, without much reason to stop and just search the world. There are landmarks to see, and rare collectibles to find, but there isn’t much reward for finding them outside of some xp to level.
The sound design in the game, like the graphics, is another high point in the game. Each animal is distinctive and can be recognized by the noises they make. The chirping of birds and other various animal sounds makes the game feel more alive.
The actual hunting aspect of the game felt good, and involves following tracks to hunt down animals. The game also gives players tools to hunt as well, such as blinds, lures and scents to mask yourself from animals. I found tracking down an animal to be the most effective way to get a kill, and once you get a good idea of what animals do it becomes easy to hunt them down, just time-consuming at times.
The shooting works as you would expect, and there is a decent variety of weapons to choose from, between rifles, pistols, shotguns and bows. There is also many scopes and sights to add, as well as different ammunition types for each gun that are more effective for different sizes of game.
While I appreciated the added realism the tracking aspect added, it just became tiresome after doing it a lot. At first it feels like a neat idea, but in time it starts to feel all too formulaic. Regardless of the animal you basically find the tracks, examine them and it will point you in a general direction they were travelling, then you look for more tracks and repeat the process.
You also find droppings left by animals and that tells you how close they are based on its freshness. Outside of that there is no easy way to tell generally how far away the animal might be, and so much of the hunting process can be spent tracking down an animal, only to be seen or heard by it without knowing exactly where it is. Tracking down an animal eventually just felt like busy work I had to do in between the actual fun part of the game.
Eventually killing the animal gives you a score based on what type of animal, how quickly it died after shooting it, and it will give you money and xp based on your score. For some reason though you only get points for animals you have to track down, you get no points for smaller game such as birds, rabbits and the like. I would have liked to have the variety and option to hunt down smaller game like that and be rewarded for it.
Besides basic hunting there are also missions to do in the game, which usually provide some story based off whatever character the mission is for. These missions provided some much needed guidance to the game, and helps drive players towards different animals and areas based on the mission. Although these missions felt pretty basic I was glad they were there because it helped break up the monotony of tracking down and hunting game over and over.
The missions are also unique to each reserve, and involve different characters and stories based on the reserve you are in, so it makes it worthwhile to visit other reserves when you get bored of the one you are in.
Ultimately The Hunter: Call of the Wild is a mixed bag, while the shooting and hunting felt great, tracking down an animal just felt too tedious and routine. This game is clearly bursting at the seams with ambition, and in concept an open-world hunting game with multiplayer sounds great, but a lack of much to do in the world hinders it.
The mission system helps alleviate these problems, and I’m glad there was at least some reason to explore a bit, but it didn’t prevent the world from feeling empty at times. With that said it is still a fun game to play when finding animals doesn’t take long, and an above average hunting game that just needs some more variety to be great. 7/10
*This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, it is also available on PC and Xbox One*