Open Season

Cabela hunting games have never interested me. Although I flock to hunting in games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or even The Long Dark, there’s just something about actual hunting games that keeps them at arm’s length from me. I suppose that in the games that I currently enjoy (The Long Dark and Red Dead Redemption 2 being just two examples), hunting is a side activity rather than the main course.

So it came as a surprise to me when I found myself being drawn to what seems to be a pure hunting title.

I stumbled upon the latest open-world hunting game (which is Cabela in spirit but not in title), the aptly titled Open Country from developer FUN Labs and publisher 505 Games. Aside from having made countless Cabela games in the past, you might recognize FUN Labs as having recently developed the dreadful yet commendable Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and the rather excellent survival title Stranded Deep. And it is the inclusion of Stranded Deep on the FUN Labs resume that gives me an underpinning of hope that Open Country will lean harder into the survival and even crafting elements of the genre, which I’ve always felt would be interesting for the Cabela series to consider.

Before we continue any further, let’s take a look at the recent gameplay trailer for Open Country.

Now, I do hesitate to play up the crafting elements too much, because although the trailer mentions survival several times (and does briefly show what appears to be the player character building a makeshift shelter), it doesn’t actually go into much detail about how deep any of these systems are. In fact, it’s hard to even get a feel for what the general possibilities are. The general lack of a HUD also limits the info that can be gleaned by a keen observer.

But aside from whatever the crafting or building might entail, Open Country looks like a rather peaceful jaunt through nature. And this is where the real potential lies — Open Country has a chance to capture an experience that few games offer. You can just spend time out in nature without stumbling across bandits that need killin’ (which can sometimes be a real downer in games like Red Dead Redemption 2). And it would be nice if we could altogether skip those dreadful “Collect 50 rocks” or “Chop down 20 trees” quests that tend to bog down the survival genre.

The trailer mentions fishing and vehicles, as well as target practice, which might also feed into the character progression system (which is also mentioned in the trailer). With dynamic weather and a day-and-night cycle, it’s possible we’ll see some added challenges based on weather and time of day. You’ll also have a dog companion.

Open Season

The official Open Country website offers a few more details, though I wouldn’t say any of it is substantial. The loose story seems to be that you are a master outdoorsman who is training a Ranger. There’s also an RV, though I’m not sure how much you’ll get to do with it.

All that said, Open Country could be the first step in a more survival-tinged naturalist hunting game that could open up the hunting genre to a much broader audience. With no indication of whether there will be hunger or thirst meters — or any other meters for that matter — it is definitely hard to gauge just how hard the game will lead into its survival elements. Still, lacking the post-apocalyptic setting and zombie elements of so many survival games these days, instead focusing on the simplicity of being alone in nature, Open Country might just serve that chill survival vibe I’ve been looking for.

And with a $20 price tag (which is reflected in the lower-budget presentation) I could see myself spending a decent amount of time out in the Open Country once this game releases on June 3, 2021, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x