My experience with hunting games is minimal. I’ve only ever played one, and that was for a review here on Pure PlayStation, and it was theHunter: Call of the Wild, and I really enjoyed it!
It was with ease, then, that I accepted the preview duties for Hunting Simulator 2, and I’m happy I did!
Nacon is bringing its A-game with Hunting Simulator 2. Not its AAA game, mind you, as this is still a decidedly low-budget offering, but it looks and plays a whole league ahead of what one would expect.
Times have changed and so has Hunting Simulator. This time around you’re not a solo shooter skulking in the tall grass, waiting for something to stand still in front of you. Joining you on your hunting expeditions is your canine friend. Your little doggy may be cute, but he/she is also useful, as they can track animals or follow the blood trails of an injured beast. You could always manually track animals yourself, but it’s so much easier to send the dog on the trail and then follow the four-legged sniffer until your target is within shooting range. It makes for a much easier game and, if I’m honest, I’m glad the pressure isn’t on me to find the animals, and that I can palm off that responsibility to the pooch, and it means I can keep my character’s eyes upwards instead of staring at the dirt.
In the build I was presented with for preview purposes, I spent a lot of time in the lush Colorado wilderness, complete with realistic grass swaying in the wind, the sun piercing through the trees, and the wildlife around me running for cover as I took potshots. I’m not a good hunter. I’m British, and we don’t hunt! We’re not even allowed guns! That’s why we have a dozen supermarkets for every town. Meat is always within reach.
The full game will have a lot more to explore, from Texan deserts to European forests, all full of life just waiting to be snuffed out by a well-placed shot to the vital organs. Or an unethical headshot with the wrong calibre gun…
Hunting Simulator 2 is a balance of simulation and arcade. It has the accessibility of an arcade-style game, complete with nice and easy controls, but with the attention to detail you’d find in a sim. I’m split on whether I like the way the game is balanced in that respect. On one hand, I’m one of those weirdos who really gets into simulator games, whether it be farming, driving a bus, truck, or lorry, so I appreciate the intricate systems and attention to detail. On the other hand… There are guns, and my natural gamer instinct is to shoot anything and everything. Hunting Simulator 2 does not like this.
Instead of being able to pull up your rifle and headshot a duck for a sweet trophy prize or cash, you need to make sure you’re holding the right license to hunt the right animal, and that you’re using the right calibre weapon, otherwise you’ll get a fine for an “unethical” kill. I shot a dozen mallards to death and racked up the deductions, and then decided I’d try and do things the right way. That said, I appreciate that the game let me do whatever I wanted to do, it just didn’t reward me for it, which in turn pushed me to seek out the game’s approval by playing the right way. If only school lessons were taught in such a way, I might have done a little better academically.
Now, as I’ve said before, I’m no stranger to simulation games. I’ve played them all, and a few of them have been published by Nacon (formerly Big Ben Interactive) and most of them share a common theme: sub-par graphics, and the famed “eurojank.”
Hunting Simulator 2 is an exception. The game looks great and plays even better. Granted, I played on PC where Unreal Engine 4 shines, but I can’t see much changing graphically between the PC build I played and the final PS4 release. If all goes well, the game should be a real looker on PS4, though I’m unable to comment on PS4 performance as this preview was conducted on PC.
After my few hours of running around in the wild with my dog, I’ve come away impressed. I’ve killed a few animals (sorry, PETA!) and made some sweet cash from my murderous ways. The gameplay loop is large enough and varied enough that I can see a few all-nighters in my future once Hunting Simulator 2 releases on PS4.
Disclaimer: This preview was conducted using a build of the game provided by the publisher, and it was played on PC as PS4 preview code was not available.