bonbonetti's theHunter: Call of the Wild (PC) review

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a game of patience

This is one of the most immersive sim games you can get: the visuals are utterly fantastic, the sound is great, and the gameplay overall feels authentic (to the extent a computer game can be authentic).

It's a slow-paced game that's great to chill-out to, when you want something more relaxing. There's some degree of stress and action of-course, but this game is mostly a game of patience.

There are two ways to hunt, though you are not forced to pick, you can do both. You can stalk a prey: find a track and follow it, hopefully it will lead to something. This trek can easily last you 30 actual minutes or more. You can ambush a prey: find a place where the animals like to gather (a resting place for example) and wait until they arrive. You can use lures to aid you, regardless of method. Either way you choose to hunt, you need lots of patience. I can't emphasize that enough. Progress in this game is very slow, but that's part of the experience, part of the charm. The anticipation is a crucial part of the fun.

It's great as a single-player game. You have main missions and side-missions, that to me were interesting and nicely done. Typically I would do a mission, then do some "sandbox" hunting on my own, then do another mission, and so on. The missions are like mini stories. Each map has a set of these, and they are unique to each map.

Speaking of maps, they are enormous in this game. I've spent close to 200 hours on this game, and I could easily have spent all that on a single map. What adds to this, is that the design or geography of each map varies a great deal, it's not just copy-paste. The terrain varies within each map, to the extent that it feels very realistic and organic. It really heightens the sense of immersion. The game offers 2 maps in the core game, and 5 maps as DLCs.

The variety of animals, the feel of the weapons, ... it's all really good.

Complaints? well, there's one thing that has really annoyed me with the game. In the best case, your target animal will die on the spot once you shoot it, in the worst case they will run away. In the latter case you have to follow the blood-trail to hopefully reach the animal, to put it out of its suffering and claim your prize. It's the humane thing to do, even in a computer game. However, the times I've had to search for an animal after injuring it, the blood trail has suddenly vanished, as if the animal was zoomed up by an overpassing UFO. No trace of it, nada. It feels like a bug or glitch.

Also, the animal AI can be quite dumb at times, getting stuck on bigger rocks and trees. For the most part it works as it should, but is still a noticeable flaw when it doesn't. The menu system or interface you be smoother, especially when you are choosing gear and such.

DLCs ... there are two DLCs that are crucial in my opinion, that I think should have been included in the core game. The first one is the tents, these allow you to save anywhere you want on the map, otherwise the game will re-spawn you at the camp you were at last. The game's default save system has been infuriating at times, when I was away on longer treks or hunting sessions. The tents also function as stores, if you need to buy more ammo for example, and allow you to rest and forward time. The other DLC you really need is the ATV. The maps are huge, as mentioned, and sometimes you just need to get to point A or B, and walking there could take you 10+ real-life minutes. For example, there are places on the map where certain animal types prefer to gather, in these cases you just want to get there fast. Generally speaking, the 5 map DLCs are really worth getting as well, since you could easily spend 100 hours on just one of them, and they offer lots of environmental and atmospheric variety.

In summary, I've spent around 200 hours on this game, focusing on 2 of the maps, but have tested all of them. I am undoubtedly going to continue playing this game, exploring the other maps in more detail. It's such a unique and well-made game (overall), there's no other hunting game around with this ambition, variety, and level of immersion. It's an easy game to recommend, ... to people who have the patience for it.

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