Hunting games have been fairly popular this generation. With the likes of Cabellas Big Game Hunter and The Hunter: Call of The Wild, Hunting Simulator 2 has a lot to live up to.
You start out in a small cabin without the options to move until a narrator tells you to look around. You are let go but don’t have any items or guns to take with you. You follow a trail until you find tracks; these tracks can be analysed to tell you what they’re from and what direction they are pointing. This is one of the key ideas in Hunting Simulator 2. Luckily, as well as searching them yourself, you enlist the role of a companion to help you.
As well as your companion, your gun is suddenly teleported into your hand as you cross the threshold of your cabin. Me, my gun, and Smeagol my Beagle set out to hunt the creature tracks we found. This is where you are introduced to the base gameplay loop of Hunting Simulator 2. You track an animal, follow its scent, tracks and droppings, come close to it, then find a much better prey closer to you and lose your original target. The tutorial is set up very intentionally to make you follow a certain pattern but the game itself does not feel like this.
The tutorial involves you tracking the animal, then posting up in a tower. Suddenly an animal comes out of the clearing and stands still for you to shoot. You must only hit it in its vital organs and my Sniper Elite-style headshot caused the scenario to restart. After bagging the animal, you can make your way back to the cabin to sell it or use it as a trophy. On the way, you come across a new animal which you can’t hunt due to licenses. This is a clever way of introducing the license system that means you must purchase a license to kill each unique animal type.
This would be a real struggle if money was a scarce commodity. It is not. Animals net you a lot of money and your character has a decent chunk from the start of the game, meaning you can buy almost half of the licenses outright. Luckily, licenses aren’t all you can buy in Hunting Simulator 2. You can buy sprays to mask your scent, urine and calls to attract animals, binoculars to see further distances and more items to add to your backpack. You can also change weapons from snipers to bows, and more.
Unfortunately most of this doesn’t feel essential to the experience and the animals themselves often aren’t hard enough to justify so many other factors. You can hunt practically everything with just a sniper, a scope and patience. Patience is something you badly need to play Hunting Simulator 2. There is a level of satisfaction to each hunt but the waiting around goes from tedious to downright boring quite quickly.
This naturally brings one to the realism Hunting Simulator strives for. Each animal requires a specific license and most animals require certain ammo types. This means you could buy a license and spend 10 minutes tracking an animal only to be fined for shooting it with the wrong ammo type or hitting the female animal which is also a fine-able offence. One could suggest this adds to the realism of the game, but the gameplay itself does not add to this. The movement systems are clunky and slow, the guns themselves feel pretty poor to handle, and the aiming systems are far too easy. Focusing to shoot an animal makes an animal at even 200 ft away no problem without a sight. The aiming system was far too glitchy to feel immersive in my time with Hunting Simulator 2.
This seems to be the biggest issue with progression in Hunting Simulator 2. Your companion has stats that grow as you use them that majorly affect their efficiency. This is a nice system that prioritises growth. The same is not true of your character. Although you can buy new guns, items and licenses, you don’t feel like you get any better throughout your playtime. The major satisfaction you get out of Hunting Simulator 2 is achieved within the first hour or so of gameplay.
I can see Hunting Simulator 2 working for some people, but it doesn’t work for me. It is clunky, slow and glitchy, and whilst there’s a base loop that could be intriguing, the lack of any real depth past the first few hours left me feeling disappointed.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.