April 21, 2024
Way of the Hunter - Review

Way of the Hunter – Review

THE REVIEW IN BRIEF

  • More malleable and less uncompromising than other hunting simulators, Way of the Hunter offers an open world with a decent bestiary to hunt.
  • Between single player campaign, online cooperative and free mode there is no shortage of activities to be carried out, but it remains a product designed for a specific niche.
  • The not faultless optimization work on the graphic sector weighs like a boulder on the visual rendering, where the spectacle of nature has only partially succeeded.

A little over two years have passed since the last time I took up a rifle to hunt wild animals on Hunting Simulator 2, strictly in the company of Igi Ennio, my trusty beagle who was of great help to find prey of all shapes and sizes. As much as a world has opened up to me, I must say that I have not felt the urge to cultivate this discipline even in real life, as much as I love being outdoors and am a great fan of trekking and firearms.

The hunter’s instinct, however, is always there sly and, when the possibility of reviewing Way of the Hunter was feared , it got the better and from chasing monsters in Hunt: Showdown I switched to put me on the trail of deer and wild boar. For the series, give me a shotgun and I’ll shoot whatever comes within range, or at least I’ll try. Why is the “way of the hunter” fraught with obstacles, endless waits and beasts that make fun of you, but want to put in the satisfaction of proudly displaying a hunting trophy when things go right?

Hunting, a family tradition

What drives a Hollywood stuntman to take refuge in the family chalet built in the middle of the lush Valley of Pierced Noses? The desire to leave behind the routine of everyday life in a large metropolis, of course, but also the desire to enjoy a well-deserved rest by practicing a discipline such as ethical hunting in the place where the protagonist spent part of his childhood. Urged by his grandfather to take up the rifle, despite his father’s disappointment, River Knox thus becomes the cover man of the Way of The Hunter campaign in which he will be able to take part in some missions or hunt in total freedom on his own.

The Way of the Hunter campaign is a journey through the memories of the Knox family.

Nine Rocks Games has tried to differentiate itself from the other exponents of the genre by proposing a narrative context without major jolts , which develops mainly through exchanges of textual messages that often hide tasks to be accepted and completed, almost all focused on going to hunting of certain animals. Soon it turns out that the campaign is nothing more than a progressive tutorial that mixes the practice of hunting art, the exploration of large scenarios and comic-style narrative sequences that tell the story of River and his family.

He is then allowed to move freely in the second map set in Europe, more precisely in the heart of Transylvania, which hosts other types of fauna and hunting grounds that appear richer in dense forests in which to hunt wild boars and other prey typical of the European region.

Few hits but good

Way of the Hunter should be considered a hunting simulator like the Hunting Simulator series and the excellent theHunter: Call of the Wild , despite its more flexible learning curve and simplified dynamics under certain aspects that tend the hand especially to non-experts of the aforementioned discipline. The focus of the experience is always to hunt small and large animals using a wide range of firearms. What changes, however, is the approach, which proves to be more free and even adventurous, since we can completely ignore the completion of the missions to explore the two abnormal environments and get on the trail of wolves, bears, deer, badgers and other exponents. of the hilly, forest and mountain animal kingdoms.

Game hunting purists will be able to disable the HUD and experience an even more immersive experience.

An open world in a hunting key without too many constraints, with hectares of land to beat on foot or using an off-road vehicle that is not too fast , useful for grinding kilometers, but so noisy as to make all kinds of prey run away with raised legs. The driveability of the vehicle is digestible after all and the unevenness of the ground undermines the not exaggerated power of the engine, but it is a pity that the physics of the impacts is what it is, but not being faced with an off-road driving game we are satisfied somehow.

As for the situations in which a rifle is taken to hunt an animal trying to flush it out with the least number of shots, because it is always ethical hunting, Way of the Hunter does not differ much from its direct competitors in proposing characteristics such as a consistent ballistics and detailed reports of the shots taken, while also offering the possibility to rewind the trajectory of the bullet and consult a variety of information relating to the downed beast.

Depending on the level of difficulty selected, it may be more or less complicated to succeed, even if thanks to the tools of the trade it is possible to simplify life and not a little. In addition to decoys, binoculars, optics for a vast arsenal of rifles of various caliber and specific for hunting different types of mammals and birds, it is also necessary to acquire the appropriate permits to be able to hunt in private areas, otherwise accessible by carrying out some work on behalf of the owners. of the soil.

In principle, you get money by hunting in and out of campaign missions, but it is also possible to devote yourself to taxidermy to recreate different dioramas to display in your shelter. The economy and the sense of progression therefore appear less intransigent when compared to the competition, so much so that you can immediately access all the guns and accessories available, just by completing a few tasks and without having to work overtime to increase your capital. to invest in the purchase of ever better equipment.

Lovers of numbers and statistics will find bread for their teeth.

I talked about progression and I didn’t do it randomly, as our hunter is able to enhance some of his skills through the completion of some objectives , related to hunting and more. For example, you are asked to drive the off-road vehicle for a certain number of kilometers to see the speed of the vehicle increased, or to reduce the noise of your footsteps by walking for a long time in an upright position.

The hunter’s instinct is never wrong

Animals are unconsciously the object of River Knox’s attention, who, as already mentioned, will be spoiled for choice on the prey to hunt near ponds, wooded areas and clearings that stretch as far as the eye can see. Their penchant for being scared quite easily can make life difficult for digital hunters, but at the same time deer and animal companions follow a routine divided into three phases (rest, feeding and watering) that allows players to study their habits and get a decent advantage.

Animals have their own habits and must be studied to track and hunt them successfully.

In other words, by interacting with elements of the scenario such as the banks of a stream, burrows and food scraps, information is obtained that is stored in a sort of bestiary and on the interactive map , to be consulted later to view the time and the area in whose herbivores and carnivores usually move to sleep, eat and quench their thirst. Obviously being found in place X at Y o’clock does not automatically guarantee the presence of the designated prey, however, learning their behaviors significantly improves the chances of returning to the family ranch with a hunting trophy.

It is a gameplay mechanic that fits perfectly into the general context, a friendly outstretched hand that allows you to spare yourself a useless coming and going far and wide in search of a specific animal, but on balance it is not the only facilitation on you can rely on. Given that Way of the Hunter is a highly scalable experience that does not intend to hinder newbies or make it too easy for the more experienced, although it still addresses a niche of enthusiasts, the hunting simulator of Nine Rocks Games gives the possibility to activate the so-called “hunter instinct”. This feature highlights the footprints, verses and bloodstains of wounded prey, as well as providing important information on target range and bullet power just before pulling the trigger.

Leupold optics and Bushnell binoculars are synonymous with quality even in a game like Way of the Hunter.

The choice of whether or not to use the instinct of the hunter is up to the individual player, considering that even by deactivating it, the traces left by the fauna still remain etched in the ground. You can therefore decide to activate all the indicators and simplify your life, or select the maximum level of difficulty and live the (almost) definitive hunting experience, but in this case you end up putting the simulation aspect before the practical one. and delightful.

Without going into the merits of how ethical it is actually or not to get on the trail of game to be killed with a well-placed shot, Way of the Hunter does not really offer moments of fun but rather prefers to give some satisfaction when a hunting expedition is revealed. particularly fruitful.

Who does not hunt in company …

To try to make hunting more enjoyable, Slovak developers have followed in the footsteps of theHunter: Call of the Wild , introducing an online co-op mode that can accommodate up to four players. The possibility is offered to create a session by defining some aspects such as the scenario and the difficulty or to join an instance of another hunter, so as to join forces and set out in search of increasingly valuable prey. Unfortunately I was unable to test it due to the lack of users connected to the servers, understandably empty given the obvious circumstances.

Although not a lightning bolt of war, the jeep supplied allows you to move quite easily between a hunting territory and another.

The other noteworthy addition is the photo mode, a perfect feature for capturing everyday wildlife and the natural habitats surrounding River Knox in a digital snapshot. There is no shortage of filters, options and presets to tinker with, even if the fine-tuning of a parameter causes quite noticeable slowdowns. Inexplicably absent support for adaptive triggers in the shooting and driving phases, while the shy vibrations emitted by the controller do not do justice to the potential of the DualSense .

Way of the Hunter fares much better in terms of loading times, so much so that it takes about 25 seconds to load the last session through the Activity tabs and less than 15 from the main menu. Moving from one refuge to another with fast travel is equally lightning-fast, since it takes just a few seconds to wait to reach the different points of interest scattered throughout the map in the blink of an eye.

Look, a flying badger!

It is said that the first seven seconds are more than enough to elaborate a first general impression, but in my case it took even a couple less to understand how the technical sector of Way of the Hunter is the weak point of the entire production. But let’s go in order and start with the annoying and continuous pop-up of bushes and blades of grass, made even more evident by moving at moderate speed aboard the off-road vehicle, which is not exactly a good sight to watch. A problem that in truth I had also encountered in Hunting Simulator 2 , albeit to a much lesser extent and mitigated by a collection of more colorful hunting grounds.

The Way of the Hunter photo mode in action.

The other imperfection that is difficult to turn a blind eye to is the instability of the frame-rate, with dips occurring mainly in the densest areas of vegetation and shrubs . Since we are talking about a hunting simulator and not a frenetic shooter, the non-exciting performance of the graphics system does not spoil the gameplay too much. By force of things, given the circumstances, I found myself forced to favor the frame-rate in the Performance mode but without the desired results, another clear sign of an optimization process that is anything but flawless. If we add to all this funny bugs such as animals suspended in mid-air or running underwater without experiencing the slightest inertia, what comes out isa technical framework that clashes with the good work done under the purely playful component .

There is some regret for the many imperfections found, because some landscapes can be evocative and deserve to be immortalized using the photographic mode. Leaving aside the tragicomic situations involving animals, victims of programmers’ mistakes, their animations appear moderately realistic, while polygonal modeling is still acceptable. A good attention to detail was instead placed in the sampling of the animal sounds, the same goes for the different types of calls that can be used to trap deer, geese and red foxes, just to name a few.

MODUS OPERANDI

I played the role of the ethical hunter in The Way of the Hunter on PlayStation 5, connected to a Samsung MU6400 screen, thanks to a code provided by the publisher. Between campaign missions, free hunting trips and the exploration of the wide scenarios, I spent about fifteen hours in the company of the simulator dedicated to the hunting discipline of Nine Rocks Games, during which I successfully hunted over twenty animals including deer, mallards, wild boars and even bears. As already mentioned above, I tried in vain to test the multiplayer mode but will try again in the next few days using the official launch of the game. The texts are localized in Italian, unlike the dubbing available only in English.

Verdict

Way of The Hunter is a hunting simulator that manages to unmark itself with some success from the rigid hunting routine other exponents of the genre, despite being a bit victim of its own ambitions in having wanted to propose at all costs an open world structure that has a negative impact. on the technical sector. The choice to streamline some dynamics made it less tedious and more intuitive to go on the trail of a prey, without affecting the simulation aspect too much and leaving the full freedom to customize the multiple aspects of the game experience as desired. Although they are side additions, the single player campaign and the cooperative mode respectively provide a narrative context to appeal to and the possibility of hunting in company.

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