Written by Derrick Smith
Crafted by developer Expansive Worlds comes a true wilderness hunters dream game, in the form of The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Developed with seemingly painstaking scrutiny in order to capture the true essence of being out in the wild, Expansive Worlds has left no stone unturned with their compelling depiction.
The Hunter: Call of the Wild is a true open world FPS, which prides itself on forcing player to approach the experience as would a real-life hunter. Meaning, patience is an absolute virtue and if players can buy into this system of methodical currency, then there is an abundance of entertaining quality to be had.
Choosing between a male of female hunter, players immediately venture out into the vast open wilds and immediately discover the impressive attention to detail. The longer you stay in the game the more intoxicating the world around you becomes. This is supported by a rich visual and sound presentation, which truly captures the impression of being out in the wild as the wind blows gently through the trees, birds chirping melodious sounds in the distance, with the crackling of insects and rodents hurrying through the bush nearby, among other neighboring visitors waiting to evade your itchy trigger finger. Even the rays of the sun will often reflect off the vegetation during the daytime, while at night the moon and the stars brightly add a pristine yet intimidating temperature to the evening setting.
I must emphasize that while The Hunter: Call of the Wild is a first-person shooter, if you are looking for a fast-paced action hunter shooting experience, this is absolutely not that game. Steeped in realism, these hunting grounds are marinated with a multitude of lush locales which introduce almost endless forest scapes, rivers and lakes, mountain ranges and prairie lands. Similar to games such as Assassin’s Creed where players are required to reach certain high points in order to open key points of interaction in the surrounding area, here when players climb to the top of lookout points, point of interest are then introduced giving players a gorgeous, almost birds-eye view of the valley. These lookout points are scattered throughout the map, which unlocks addition hunting quests.
Becoming a successful hunter is about ones perseverance in The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Enduring the sometimes tricky process of getting in the right position for that accurate kill shot is the name of the game. Unfortunately for players who are all about instant gratification, you are sure to get frustrated by what may seem like a scarcity of available animals to rapidly place in between the cross-hairs of your weapon of choice. However, do not be fooled by this, as there are loads of animals in the wild to add to your kill list. It is all about the approach.
With the ability to spot predators with their keen sense of hearing, animals are not aimlessly walking out in the open begging to be shot, they must hunted. Sure, with enough composure to wait in the bush preferably in prone position and hopefully in the right direction, you can occasionally spot your prey taking in the blissful wonders of nature. On occasion I could even spot several animals attentively passing by my view. In these precious moments the games comes alive. Yet, the moment doesn’t last that long, requiring you to take careful aim for that perfect kill shot.
You will learn early on that a well placed head-shot will make all the difference between getting a quick kill instead of having to hunt down your wounded prey. When chasing your prey players are required to carefully identify the bloodstained trail of their recently shot animal. Because the wilderness is filled with various animals roaming about, players need to constantly identify the correct trail as animal prints will often cross the paths of other animals, so paying attention to the right ques is key. I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store with so many hunting trail options while pursuing my preferred prey, due to the sheer amount of trails to follow, but of course it does come at the cost of your much needed careful persistence.
Similar to real life scenarios where the animals heightened sense of smell and hearing aids them in their ability to survive the wild, the same idea is applied here as animals can decipher your position, as well as hear inconsistencies around them and even pick up on your scent downwind, making the hunt that much more challenging.
Thankfully, with every kill comes your payment, and eventually the additional perks and XP, enhancing your hunting experience. The better the weapon and resources the more proficient you become as a hunter. Skills points can be spent on the thirteen skills which are designated to its particular tier level. For example, if you want to become better at being undetected, the Soft Feet, Improvised Blind and Wind Prediction skills once acquired enables you to get closer to animals by avoiding the unseen elements, making you a more formidable hunter. Further enhancing your abilities are perks. Six in total, perk sweeten the deal by adding to your skill sets with additions such as Focused Shot, Breathe Control and Muscle Memory, among a few others.
While you will still need to rely heavily on your wits and cunning, you will gradually become increasingly more powerful as a hunter, adding the the game enjoyment. As the hunt starts out you are equipped with binoculars, two deer lures or callers, a smart device and a standard Ranger .243 rifle that does gets the job done. However, there are several rifles (no assault rifles), handguns, shotguns and bows to spice up the hunt. Speaking of the bow, playing with the Hawk Edge CB-70 was fantastic! Super quiet and powerful this bow was a joy to play with. The downside of playing with this bow however, was due to it low accuracy, forcing me to get closer to my prey than I wanted, but of course, Expansive World would not make it too easy.
Traversing the large map locations players are aided with the four-wheeler vehicles located in the cache which can only be accessed at base camps which are scattered throughout. They come in handy when you need to reach those far out hunting locations and fast travel though limited does come in handy
The Hunter: Call of the Wild comes with story missions, but don’t expect too much of a narrative. Optional in nature, the story missions support the game by offering a directional hand holding affair which I quite enjoyed as this massive hunting world can seem overwhelming without a directional purpose.
Interestingly, while everything which builds up to making this a fulfilling hunting experience delivers quite well, the actual killing of your prey left much to be desired. Maybe this had to do with how quickly the animal vanishes from your sight after collecting the necessary bounty or maybe there wasn’t enough celebratory cadence to accompany the kill. Regardless, there was a void, which fought against the earlier processions of the game.
After spending over 50 hours hunting and opening up new locations, as well as joining a few online hunters for some impressive cooperative hunting, which allows for up to 8 players, Expansive Worlds has delivered a true to life and satisfying hunting experience. The Hunter: Call of the Wild offers a mature appeal that will not be for everyone. With its acquired taste for the hunt, what is on offer is more than satisfying for the disciplined hunter.