I’m pretty much against hunting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the type to protest against it and I’m not particularly vocal in my disdain of it either, but the idea of going out and killing animals just for the hell of it? It’s a little gross. On the flip-side, I’ve also spent hours upon hours hunting animals in the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, Far Cry 5, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, so I’m also a bit of a hypocrite. They’re virtual though, so in my eyes it doesn’t count… right?
That’s the mindset I’ve adopted in playing Hunting Simulator 2, the latest release from publisher Nacon and developer Neopica that strives to give gamers a hunting-sim that offers the utmost realism in almost all facets of its design. Whilst I’m sure that’ll appeal to the hunting fans out there, the average gamer can probably just expect to find themselves a little bit bored as they head out on multi-hour hunts.
Hunting Simulator 2 does what it says on the box: it lets players hunt animals in a realistic simulation. Simple. The hunts see you head out across six different areas spread across Colorado, Texas, and Europe (which all look pretty and feel huge to explore in-game) as you pursue the likes of deer, ducks, bears, and so on. You’ll have a vast array of weaponry and gear to choose between during these hunts, open up more hunting opportunities as you progress, and even have a canine companion who doesn’t only offer a variety of skills to help you out on hunts but also just so happens to be a very good boy. Basically, you’re well-equipped to hunt whatever the prey of the day might be.
Preparation is key in Hunting Simulator 2, and with a heck of a ton of different weapons and gear to use, there really is a lot to think about. Each bring with them varied attributes that make them more effective at hunting different animals – some animals can only be hunted with specific weapon types too, so that’s also something you’ll have to consider when prepping for each hunt. You can also get general items to help you out on hunts in order to lure animals or make them easier to track, whilst you’ll even need to purchase the licences required to actually hunt them in the first place. Turns out that hunting isn’t a cheap process…
Of course, each weapon costs a set amount of money, so some will be out of your reach until you’ve completed a few hunts already and are able to afford them. This actually adds a rewarding sense of progress to Hunting Simulator 2 where you can see a sense of improvement in your gear over time, which doesn’t only make the process a lot easier but also means you can hunt more varied and valuable animals. There’s no other real form of progress to be found in the game outside of that though with no campaign to play through, so you shouldn’t expect to find yourself invested in anything outside of simply… well… hunting.
It’s when you’re out in the wild on your hunt that the action really happens… kind of. See, Hunting Simulator 2 does things in a realistic manner, meaning players can’t just expect to be inundated with the animals that they’re trying to hunt but actually have to spend the time to track them. This can be a long drawn out process that can potentially take hours in-game, whilst you also run the risk of just injuring an animal when you finally do spot it and have them run away from you. Know what happens then? You track them again, but with a trail of blood to help you this time around.
There’s something both exciting and utterly boring about this at the same time, with the combination only sometimes equating to a fun gameplay experience. It really doesn’t help that you have a slow movement speed in-game and that there’s an emphasis placed on being sneaky, with even the slightest noise startling any animals around you. Whilst I’ll admit that there is a satisfaction to be found when you finally find the animal you’re stalking and hit that perfect shot to get a clean kill, knowing you’ll have to do the whole tracking process again for the next animal you’re hunting just made everything feel a bit daunting.
Life is made a bit easier thanks to the canine companion that’ll join you on your hunt, with three different types available that are more proficient at hunting different animals. Going to hunt some flying birds that might fall into the water when shot? Take a Labrador that isn’t afraid to dive into the water to fetch them for you. Want help tracking? A Beagle is perfect for that. Or are you hunting smaller creatures that are a bit difficult to spot yourself? You’ll want to use a German Shorthaired Pointer. The more you use a dog and praise it during hunts, the more efficient its skills will be – I mean, as if players needed a reason to treat their doggies, right? They do make hunts easier though and taking the right breed can certainly be imperative to your success, so their presence in Hunting Simulator 2 is a welcome one.
There is fun to be had in Hunting Simulator 2 and there’s no denying that tracking animals and finally getting them can be rewarding – however, the sense of realism that the game adopts can also make everything feel a little frustrating too. Whilst this is obvious in the hunt itself, it’s also apparent in the fines you receive in-game. You can expect fines for hunting the wrong animals, not having a licence, shooting an animal too much, leaving an injured animal in the wild, using the wrong gun… the list goes on. You’ll often encounter plenty of other animals in the hunt too, but you’ve just got to leave them alone and focus solely on your current target. It takes some of the ‘video game’ elements out of the equation to offer an authentic experience, which means that it just might not be a whole lot of fun for the average gamer. Hunting enthusiasts on the other hand will probably love it, though I’d imagine they’d just prefer to hunt in real life as opposed to virtual if it’s an option.
Hunting Simulator 2 isn’t a bad game, but its slow-paced gameplay and focus on realism does mean that it isn’t always fun to play. Whilst I’m sure plenty of gamers will enjoy the process of tracking animals carefully, following the rules to a tee, and investing themselves completely in their gear, I just found that it all got a bit boring fast.
There’s no denying that it does have its moments where it shines and getting a clean kill can be rewarding, but for the most part Hunting Simulator 2 is just a bit of a drag.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC