Before picking up a rifle and heading out to shoot those pesky coyotes, you might want to be certain that you have the skills to do it. Sure, target practice and venturing into the open range is a great way to work on your shooting skills, but do you have what it takes to stalk and hunt those cunning canines? Well, you’re in luck; now, you can try your hand at hunting coyotes and other game animals without leaving the comfort of your home. Hunting Simulator is a video game available on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC platforms.
- Published by Maximum Games
- Developed by Neopica
- Rated “T” for Teen
- $21.54 for the Xbox One, $24.89 for the PS4, and $24.99 for the PC
Hunting Simulator comes with 37 species of animals, including deer, waterfowl, moose, foxes, bears, and coyotes. There are even small game mammals like rabbits to digitally shoot and kill. There are 12 open environments to hunt in, ranging from thick wooded areas to deserts to even arctic tundra. While playing, you’ll notice the dynamic weather and lighting as the in-game hours pass. There are also 17 different firearms with 50 accessories to use in your hunt. You can play this game in three modes: single player free range hunting, solo campaign mode, and online multiplayer which lets players hunt alongside friends. There’s no doubt that the features touch on most, if not everything, you’d expect to face or use in real-life hunting sessions.
However, despite the impeccable features, the execution of the game is unsatisfying. First of all, you start the game off with you playing in a single environment with a limited selection of rifles to choose from. Everything else – the guns, the environments, the accessories – has to be unlocked. Although grinding, in the beginning, is a great way to get us fully engaged and invested in the game, but in this game, it becomes a chore. The payoff for tens of hours of gameplay is just a few guns and accessories.
A good thing about this game is that the gameplay is easy to understand and control. You move your character through large areas looking for animals to shoot while being mindful of the wind, how much noise you make, as well as your overall visibility. These are all displayed in the popup which shows how aware of your presence the animals are.
Tracking the animals is either done by finding their droppings or footprints, just like in real life. While following their trail, onscreen indicators will show how close animals are to you by the noises they make. Finding animals isn’t difficult at all since they’re virtually everywhere you go. That is, of course, when you’re not playing the campaign mode. When doing missions for hunting specific animal species, they suddenly become lost in the wilderness, never to be found again. This isn’t too bad since, in real life, you’d basically be doing that anyways.
The overall tracking, scouting, and hiking experience around the maps are actually quite enjoyable. The onscreen indicators make the process fairly easy and enjoyable. However, if you’re into a challenge, you can eliminate them from your screen through the menu options. One thing that’s not quite right with the game is that the animals almost always contrast horribly against the surrounding environment, making them easier to see. For non-hunters, this is a God-send, but for real hunters, this is as far away from realism possible.
Despite the annoyance of grinding, the overall hunting and scouting experience is extremely addicting. However, when it comes to taking the shot, we were left unsatisfied. Every shot, it felt like we were off the target by several inches. Sure, wind and distance play a big role in determining the bullet’s trajectory, but after hours of playing, we found that every shot made was basically a Hail Mary play. Even when you hit the animals, only miracles can grant us a clean, one-shot kill. This reflects the real hunting experience where single-shot kills are done by veteran shooters, but this problem is found almost exclusively when hunting small game. Large game mammals, like in real life, would take several rounds or a perfect shot to kill.
The final thing worth talking about is the realism of this game. A “simulator” should deliver the most realistic experience possible through the digital world. Sure, sacrifices have to be made in order to make the game fun and appealing to people who aren’t exactly hunters, but the game’s developers took it one step too far. First of all, rules and regulations are virtually nonexistent, meaning that you can shoot and kill anything and everything you find without fear of consequences, whereas real hunters have to be aware of every single law in place, including certain hours of the day when hunting is allowed and which species or sex you killed. Online leaderboards encourage players to kill as many animals as possible. These complaints address the realism aspect, or lack thereof, of the game, but this does not mean that Hunting Simulator is not fun to play.
Graphics-wise, there is an incredible amount of inconsistency. Things can look neat and clean while staying still, but the graphics can become downright messy when looking through your rifle’s scope at objects at a 50-yard distance.
With everything said and done, Hunting Simulator is an enjoyable game to play. Real hunters might nitpick every single detail of the game that clashes with their experiences or laws in their neck of the woods. Tracking and hunting are actually pretty decent in this game, and there is a surprising amount of (un-lockable) content. However, the shooting experience – a vital part of hunting – has a lot of room for improvement. Grinding with the starting equipment can be pretty boring at first, but after you get the hang of it an unlocked more powerful guns and accessories, it can still be boring. It’s fairly simple to play, and the UI indicators found on the screen are very helpful for inexperienced hunters and gamers.