I’m no expert on hunting. I’m British. We buy our meat in supermarkets and guns aren’t readily available, and honestly, we’re a nation of pansies. Just look at our “Prime” Minister.
That being said, I took on Hunting Simulator 2 anyway. I’m a sucker for simulator games, and I’ll give any such game a good go. So off I went into the wilderness a clueless idiot, and I’ve returned a little smarter and, at the very least, with some knowledge of a sport I’m otherwise clueless about.
Hunting Simulator 2 isn’t your typical game. Yes, there are guns – lots and lots of guns – and you are rewarded for your skills with a scope, but there’s a lot more to it than just pointing your gun at an animal and ending its life with the pull of a trigger.
First, you need to actually find an animal to shoot, and this is the bulk of the gameplay. If you don’t like the idea of walking around for ages without actually shooting your gun, you’re not going to like Hunting Simulator 2.
At first, I did find it a little tedious. I’d run around aimlessly, foolishly expecting a bear or something to run in my path and maybe wave at me to make sure I really knew it was there and was ready to be hung up on my wall. That doesn’t happen unless you’re hunting Yogi Bear.
It was a bit of a bore, to begin with, but I came to realise that this is the point; it’s a chill game that gives you time to sit and do not a lot of anything. It’s a big departure from the murder simulators and white-knuckle racing games I normally play, but I learned to appreciate the lead up to the hunt just as much as the final step of the hunt itself – the deciding shot that will either net me a high-quality head to stick on the wall or a mangled mess I’ll have to sell for a pittance.
That last point is actually a vital part of Hunting Simulator 2. If you use the wrong calibre weapon, you’ll be penalised harshly. You can’t blast a Mullard to smithereens with a shotgun and expect a trophy, after all.
Using the right gun for the right animal is a lesson that the game hammers home hard from the start. Nevertheless, I still managed to get a bit overexcited at times, and yes, there were a few unethical kills on my part. My bad. But, in my defence, after walking around in the wilderness for half an hour without letting off a single shot, it was always going to happen.
Hunting Simulator 2 might be a simulator, but it doesn’t go overboard with its realism. You don’t have to clean your guns and drag animal carcasses back to your base after every kill, and there’s no opportunity to take a morbid selfie with your gutted trophy. However, it does seem to try to impart some of the customs that are a big part of hunting – like license, and even hunting dogs. And yes, you can give your doggy a pat on the head for being a good boy.
You also need to have specific licenses to hunt specific animals in specific regions. Specific enough. It can be a touch taxing and at first, I was left a little confused as I went on a hunt, only for the game to tell me that the animal I was not licensed to shoot the animal I’d spent 20 minutes tracking. I shot it anyway, but I got penalised, and then I went back to the home base and bought the applicable license. It’s a bit annoying having to buy a license for every animal in every region – even if it’s the same animal – but I guess that’s just a part of hunting? It’s also part of the gameplay loop.
You gain money from your hunting exploits, and you can use this cash to purchase the licenses you need, new weapons, weapon attachments, and even some new threads so you’re decked out like a proper hunter. It’s not all superficial either, as some of those customisation options affect how you’re seen in the field by animals, with some clothes giving you more visibility, and others giving you less. It’s a simple loop and it’s a shame there isn’t more to it; you don’t really have missions or set objectives, though each map does have a set of collectables in the form of blinds, towers, and camping sites to find. Find them is a challenge in itself as the maps really are massive, and it can easily take you an hour to cross from one side to the other.
While I enjoyed the freedom the game afforded me, I don’t think a little more structure would have hurt it. Perhaps you could take contracts for wealthy collectors who can’t be bothered crawling in the dirt for a trophy? Just something to motivate me once the open wilderness is set before me, you know?
A new addition in this sequel is the introduction of hunting dogs and used right, they can be really helpful – and they definitely make slogging through the open Texan desert a little less lonely.
Your canine buddy can be used to track animals, and even retrieve them. The tracking is a god-send because without it you’d have to rely on your own eyes to find tracks and then to follow them. I can’t find my way to work some days, so the hunting dog really was a big deal for me. You can go old-school if you want and take no doggy with you, but I do recommend it, and the dogs have their owns stats that improve over time out in the field, so it’s really in your best interest to take your chum along with you.
The hunt is more than just pulling the trigger. I’ve come away from Hunting Simulator 2 having learned something, and I have a little more respect for those who do hunt for sport. The hunt is the preparation and getting the right gear for the job, the correct licenses, and the right dog for the occasion. The hunt is being among your prey and stalking them for a safe distance, getting into the optimal position for the perfect shot, and only then can you begin to think about sending a bullet through the poor beast’s heart.
If you’re down for wandering around some really, really large maps for a few hours, you can easily kill an afternoon with Hunting Simulator 2. It’s not the best looking game around, and it does come with a bit of jankyness, but nothing that ruins the overall experience. It’s good escapism – if you’ve got the patience and the time.
It’s not a game you’ll give to the kids to keep them quiet for a bit; it’s a game best played in full hunting gear down in the man cave with a few beers once everyone has gone to bed. Or at least that’s how I can imagine the hardcore hunting fans playing.
Hunting Simulator 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
Hunting Simulator 2 is for fans of the genre, that much is obvious, but it doesn’t go overboard with the simulation, keeping it accessible for newcomers, too. There are lots of things to see and do, but it’ll take you a long time to see and do something, and even longer to see and do everything. Patience is the name of the game, and if you’ve got the time and willpower, you can have a few jollies with Hunting Simulator 2.
- Massive maps that are well detailed and a pleasure to traverse with realistic ambient sounds.
- The thrill of the chase is real, if a little dragged out at times.
- Lots of weapons and gear to collect and customise
- You can pet your doggies – always a winner in my book!
- Long stretches of nothingness can be a bit boring.
- Draw distance leaves a lot to be desired in those great big maps.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.