If you fancy strolling through the beautiful wilderness, rifle in hand, searching for some animals to hunt, you’ve come to the right place.
When Way of the Hunter was first announced, I took particular interest because I’d just come off the back of months on Call of the Wild, “that other hunting game”, we’ll no doubt refer to a few times through this review. My experience with Call of the Wild was mostly positive, but constant issues online meant co-op was barely playable on some maps, which years after release was unforgivable, I was ready for something new and Way of the Hunter was just around the corner.
Just over 3 months ago, when first released, I had some hands on time with Way of the Hunter and apart from a handful of small glitches, it was easily the best looking hunting game to date, but a few teething problems prevented me from really investing myself into da whey.
On to November, and I returned to Way of the Hunter, ready to spend many hours stalking prey and to see if those early issues had been resolved. So as well as anyone looking at Way of the Hunter for the first time, those with a returning interest should find this helpful too.
As with most recent Hunting games, your primary task is to kill various species to raise funds, buy passes and better rifles and equipment to hunt larger and rarer prey in more distant areas, and then slowly build up a collection of taxidermy (stuffed animals) to showcase in your lodge.
Unlike both Call of the Wild and Hunting Simulator, there’s no major content locked behind the Paywall of DLC.
Way of the Hunter also takes the concept one step further with a pretty impressive career mode, you’re returning to your grandparents lodge after many years, and there’s a wide selection of missions to accomplish giving far more”story” than any other Hunting game, I’ll give Call of the Wild credit, it Certianly tried to add quests and missions, but it sadly felt really tacked on, and Hunting Simulator 2 locked one of its best modes behind paid DLC.
With Way of the Hunter, it’s a much deeper, and better presented experience, there’s full voice acting, and many sections have a comic-book-like presentation introducing you to the story, characters and situation at hand. Even some simple emails are fully narrated.
Offering the closest thing to a “proper” career mode, the much better presentation and nothing major locked behind a Paywall, Way of the Hunter is the most complete hunting game currently available.
The positives don’t stop there either. There are two maps, Nez Perce Valley and Transylvania, each covers approximately 55 Square miles, with jist over a dozen huntable animal species on each. But the real beauty is in the details, no doubt utilising the power of next-gen consoles you can literally see for miles…
Those trees in the distance, you can go there, hunt through the woods and explore anywhere, thankfully you do have a small truck you can use for travelling, which isn’t always the easiest to control on bumpy ground, but it’s surprisingly well done for a secondary method of transport.
The vast majority of your time in Way of the Hunter is on foot , and that’s when things start to get really important. The reason people still play and love Call of the Wild after 5 years is because the hunting experience was so well balanced, so how does it fare in Way of the Hunter?
Unfortunately, this one’s a bit mixed, when first released, my views were a little negative, and while the actual hunting experience isn’t quite up to par with COTW, it’s improved considerably since launch and currently stands very close, with one simple improvement, Way of the Hunter could become the new king of Hunting Simulations.
There are many features Way of the Hunter shares with other titles, choosing between walking, crouching or lying down and adjusting your movement speed to decrease the noise you make, finding “need areas” so you know where animals are likely to visit to feed or rest, as well as utilising Hunter sense, to easily track an animals movements.
Sadly the latter is my single major issue with Way of the Hunter, Hunter Sense is annoying, at times it’s distracting but mostly, it’s completely useless.
When spotting an animal it can help with a clear bubble indication of animals nearby, but when tracking it’s absolutely aweful, upon activating you get an invisible “ping” working away from you that will very briefly highlight things like tracks and blood spatter.
Call of the Wild and Hunting Simulator both give you a lot of customisation over this feature, allowing you take make things easier with a directional cones giving you the rough idea of travel, as well as the option to make things more difficult by disabling certain elements,
Way of the Hunter, isn’t quite as friendly, you can have this brief radar ping, which might highlight the obvious feeding spots clearly, but small and important details like that splatter of blood, shown in yellow half a second, just isn’t good enough. When you head in pursuit of your prey, good look finding that spot again in the future because the actual tracking side isn’t just tough, at times it’s impossible.
Unfortunately, I found myself missing that little bit of hand holding other titles offer, which still provides plenty of challenges, but didn’t put your navigation and tracking skills as a higher importance as your actual hunting. With Way of the Hunter, it’s tough.. let’s say you spot that specific deer you need for a quest?
If you know an approximate location you can drive to about 500 metres away, run and then walk until at about 250 metres when you really need to slow down as you approach and try to position yourself best, before taking your first shot.
Sadly this is where things really fall short, when trying to track a single animal, there’s no direction markers, you haven’t got a vague direction to pursue, instead you’re left walking around in circles looking for a marginally more recent drop of blood.
There’s no automatically marked points on the map, leaving you to place waypoints on the map manually, and try to decipher where our Deer friend had run off to. It’s counter intuitive and convoluted and while I can appreciate the realism and challenge, on the easiest difficulty, I thought they could at least remove some of these hindrances so newcomers could enjoy actually hunting and not the management of travel direction and tracking directions before you can get another shot.
I’m really hoping the developers add a simple directional cone like in COTW does.
If you’re happy with a hunting challenge, you’ll definitely find one here. It’s just a real shame, because otherwise there are so many strong positives with Way of the Hunter, and the few other negative points such as overall animal population density and finding some tougher species are just as common in other titles.
Locations look better, the animals look better, they behave more realistically, and from when I got close enough to witness it, they seem to have far better movement animations.
Audio quality is fairly strong too, with plenty of ambient sounds regular animal sounds, and even your own footsteps, however the balancing is off , mostly down to the sounds of wildlife which is a little over the top and distracting, ambient sounds like the rustling of trees in the wind aren’t as noticeable or effective and unfortunately in the options all of this is bundled under “special effects” so you can’t even tweak down that constant babble of wildlife you can’t see.
There just seems so much missed potential with features such as animal groups becoming more or less populated dependent on whether you hunt male, female , young or old, but with a scarce population to start with and difficult tracking I really struggled to invest myself long term.
If you’re an experienced hunter, who wants the best “simulation” you’re in for a treat, the large, lucious and detailed environments are the best in the business, and if you’ve already spent plenty of time on similar titles, Way of the Hunter could be your new permanent Hunting ground with enough familiar to welcome you, and enough new and different, making the challenge enjoyable.
If however, you’re new to the genre, or you want an enjoyable “game” about hunting, those tracking issues make it tough to recommend over Call of the Wild. I kept spending far too much time working out where I was going, rather than how, and it stalls the engagement like a bullet through the heart.
I love the thrill of the hunt, but at times it feels completely random if you’ll ever see your target again, let alone get close enough to finish it off, and I really hope the development team work on making the Way of the Hunter a little more accessible to less hardcore hunters, while maintaining the challenge for veterans. This single change could easily make Way of the Hunter the number one game in the genre.
Way of the Hunter
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