theHunter: Call of the Wild

Half-Glass Gaming’s owner Josh recently posted an article about the upcoming hunting sim, Way of the Hunter from Nine Rock Games and THQ Nordic. While watching the trailer, I couldn’t help but get a feeling that I’d already played this game. But considering it hasn’t released yet, I knew this couldn’t be the case.

And then I remembered, “Oh, that’s right, I’m thinking of theHunter: Call of the Wild.”

Released in 2017, theHunter: Call of the Wild is an open-world hunting game from developer/publisher Expansive Worlds (which is a division of Avalanche Studios Group). I ended up stumbling upon it on Game Pass while searching for something to scratch that itch left unabated by the underwhelming-yet-still-incredibly-promising Open Country (so even Josh’s path to finding Way of the Hunter mirrors my own path to discovering theHunter: Call of the Wild; it’s a familiar story).

Hunting was my jam in Red Dead Online. To this day, it’s the one activity I always return to whenever I dip my toes back into RDO. Even though I’ve been a fan of survival games for a while now (some of which include hunting mechanics, to some extent), it wasn’t until RDO that I really started to take a shine to digital hunting. Of course, like so many people in the RDO community, I would get a little burned out on its current state of affairs, so I had to look elsewhere to get that fix.

After the relatively disappointing launch of Open Country, I was hopeful that theHunter might do the trick. Much like the upcoming Way of the Hunter (at least, based on what I gather from the game’s trailer), theHunter drops players in an open-world wilderness with the main goal of hunting wild game. This requires finding and tracking animals, rummaging through piles of dung (and deciphering their freshness), and even investigating disturbed patches of grass or brush. You can also find specific areas where certain animals tend to congregate, and you can lie in wait to spring your trap.

Although theHunter unfortunately doesn’t offer any real concrete survival mechanics (something Josh mentioned as perhaps also being the case for Way of the Hunter), the open-world setting of theHunter definitely has a strong appeal. Being out in nature (even if only a digital approximation), admiring its glory (even with the intention of lessening said nature’s glory with your trusty rifle), has proven a good way to spend a couple of hours, especially when cooped up during a long, grueling Minnesota winter.

theHunter: Call of the Wild

TheHunter does employ a small element of structure repair, which is probably the closest it comes to having true survival mechanics. You can find and restore small huts, and there are also lookout areas where you can climb up and use your binoculars to scout the area and highlight points of interest, similar to the State of Decay games. 

There are even story missions of sorts — go here and try to find this person, or investigate this area for X animal. These missions reminded me quite a bit of Open Country, rekindling some of the good vibes I had before I burned out on it due to its jank and lack of support. And that’s where theHunter contrasts with Open Country, because theHunter runs pretty smooth and looks gorgeous. And the DLC, which includes new areas and animals to kill (as morbid as that sounds while I type it), extends the experience should you wish to plop down a few extra bucks (I admit that I stuck with the base game).

So my time with theHunter was brief, and I really only remembered having played it because of Josh’s interest in Way of the Hunter. But the handful of hours I spent with theHunter were enjoyable. I think it’s a solid game that might surprise other folks who, like me, might not look to the hunting genre as anything more than a Cabela cabinet in the corner of their local bar, right next to a Golden Tee cabinet and a couple dart boards.

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