Review: Hunting Simulator 2
Video games are amazing, they can open up worlds and allow you to do things that you couldn’t normally do. Want to race a Formula 1 car? How about pilot a 747 across the Atlantic? You can even battle aliens in outer space should you so wish.
They also allow you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do too, one of them being (at least for me…unless it was for food) hunting wild animals.
Hunting Simulator 2 gives you 3 landscapes to explore, with each of them being split into 2 regions:
- Colorado – Pawnee Meadows & Roosevelt Forest
- Texas – Bandera Region & Chihuahuan Desert
- Europe – Czechia Marshlands – Harghita County
Each of the regions have their own particular terrain, be it the flat plains of Pawnee Meadows, the dry mountainous Bandera Region, or the lush wet Czechia Marshlands, each of them not only adding varied and beautiful views to pause and look at, but also each of them being the natural habit for a wide variety of wildlife…33 animal species to be exact.
Hunting Simulator 2 begins with a tutorial section which walks you through the basics of what you need to know to bag your first kill. It gives you a gun and a dog (yes, a dog!) and takes you out on the hunt, showing the tracking and shooting mechanics which will soon become second nature to you as you progress into the main game.
You can name your canine companion, and so I of course named him after podcast mascot Bodhi, which naturally gave me an even closer connection to my digitally rendered friend.
You are then given the decision of how to spend the starting amount of your in-game cash. The choices on what to spend it on are split between:
Each of the above sections are also split into sub-sections.
It is here, at the very beginning of the game, that I have my only gripe with the game. I spent all of my money on completely the wrong things, only finding this out when I ventured out on my first trek into Pawnee Meadows and finding that I was ill prepared to hunt anything there.
Yes there is a wiki for you to read in the library section of your lodge (the central hub of everything), but I would have much preferred the option of an extended tutorial for the complete noobs such as myself.
Restarting the game (and annoyingly having to go through the short initial tutorial again) I then spent my money more wisely and went out on the hunt.
You can change the time of day you want to visit each area by using your bedroom in the lodge, and this changes both the visible look of the areas and the animals that appear in each of them. I began with a morning stroll with Bodhi.
The first few hours can be slightly laborious, and certainly very slow, but this is only to be expected in this type of game, and also more difficult when my dogs stats were at their minimum and needed building up by traversing Pawnee Meadows and tracking the animals that roam there.
“Slowly slowly catchy monkey” is the secret to success in Hunting Simulator 2, or more to the point “slowly slowly catchy Elk/Boar/Fox/Turkey/Moose/Duck/etc…”
Patience, the correct gear, and shooting at the right time at the right spot on the animal are the main factors to progressing. As is owning the correct licences too.
Each area has its own particular set of wildlife, and to allow you to hunt them you need to buy the correct licence for each animal in each area. Every licence only giving you permission to shoot a set number of them before having to buy another licence. This stops you from going crazy with your gun, while also adding another layer of management with your money. Do you want to hunt some more Elk, or spend some of that cash on the duck caller that you’ve had your eye on in the Items section?
While your initial choices limit where you can go and what you can hunt, the cash soon starts rolling in as you, and your dog, both begin to master the environments, with each successive kill allowing you to either sell it and add to your bank balance, or choose to use it as a trophy to decorate your lodge.
Hunting Simulator 2 is one of those games that slowly grabs you without you even knowing it, with what began as a slight annoyance having to patiently wait your time before anything seemed to happen, soon becoming an intricate game of “cat and mouse” as you track that elusive moose that has so far evaded you. Little does it know that you’ve now spent some more cash on better weapons (covering a multitude of calibers), optics (with varying zooms), clothing (making you less visible), and so much more that is available to buy.
Each area requires different skills, as well as different weapons and licences, with all areas opening up even more possibilities depending on what companion you choose…yes, you have FIVE dogs to choose from, each of them having their own particular skillset.
The 6 maps are huge and take a long time to cover, with towers, hunting blinds and fast travel tents to uncover and use as prime hunting spots. Each part of the map uncovering different secrets depending on what time of the day you visit and what the weather is like at the time.
The wealth of things to buy, including officially licensed guns, and the ever changing “living” environments means that no 2 gaming sessions are ever the same, and if you want a short rest from hunting animals, you can always step out of your lodge into the shooting range and test your newly bought rifle against a variety of targets.
Every time I step into the world of Hunting Simulator 2 it draws me in that little bit more. I want all my dogs stats maxed out so that they become the best they can be. I want to own all of the weapons and find all of the landmarks in every area. I want my lodge filled with trophies…and then go looking for even better examples of each animal to show off in there.
I want…another session on it. And isn’t that, above everything else, the best compliment you can give a game? That ability to have you thinking about it even when you’re not playing it, and always looking forward to firing it up again and not knowing what will happen when you step out into its world.
There is already so much to explore and do in Hunting Simulator 2, but I hope it continues to be supported and I can look forward to more areas and animals for myself and Bodhi (and his 4 in-game doggy friends) to discover.
A fantastic game to sit with your feet up, have your favourite drink beside you, and go out and explore.
Hunting Simulator 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox, PC and coming to Nintendo Switch.
Review by Dave from a PS4 code kindly supplied by Dead Good Media.