theHunter Classic Review: A Free-to-Play Hunting Game Worth a Look
A hunting video game sounds like it could be a unique challenge for developers. To re-create a hunting experience there must be a high level of attention to detail. Detail in terms of small precise sounds, movements and AI logic. Expansive Worlds and Avalanche Studios have mastered this task with their title theHunter Classic. Initially released in 2014 on Steam, theHunter Classic has received multiple updates for both free and paid members.
There are 40-plus species in the game, which gives players the option to hunt a wide variety of animals, including bison, brown bear, bobcat, whitetail deer, turkey, fox and more. Building off a generous species list, players also have the ability to explore 12 detailed environments. This free-to-play game seems like it will be able to continually evolve with updates to landscapes, graphics and more.
With the game going full free to play, I think now is a great time to jump in and experience theHunter Classic. Therefore, let us load up, camo up and jump into my review of theHunter Classic on PC.
What I Like
For a hunting game to be a true simulation, there has to be a feeling of hunting across a vast landscape that requires a long-distance search to get your animal in the crosshairs. A replication of stealth and strategy is required to create a unique feel. Any wrong movement could cause you to spook your animal, only to have it dart out of sight. I have to say theHunter Classic does a great job of accomplishing this.
There is a ton of landscape variety. You can explore 12 ample environments in a full day cycle, ranging from the forest to swamps, and cold winter snow hunts. Each of the landscapes changes how you must design your loadout. So you can decide to put your player in light hot weather clothing or stay warm with heavy winter coverings in snow hunts.
The landscapes are large. During my first hunting experience, it took nearly 15 minutes until I came in contact with my first animal target. Hunter Classic is heavy on track. Using your GPS device, you identify and scan numerous items in the landscape, including animal droppings, footprints and animal bedding areas. Each of these helps you get closer and closer to finding the animal.
As you navigate your way through each hunt and travel across a vast landscape, there are various sounds like birds chirping, twigs cracking and brushing of the leaves as you pass by. As you walk, you hear yourself breath heavier and all of these sounds combined sound natural and fluid. When you go from crouching to prone, pull out your rifle and prepare yourself for that most important shot. When the target is in sight and you pull that trigger, the echoing of the shot across the landscape can be a beautiful thing when you hit your intended target.
The graphics are good. This is a free-to-play title now, and in terms of PC gaming, if you design a game with amazing visuals it will shrink the number of customers who are capable of playing your game. That being said, the trees, bushes and textures are all very well done and provide a realistic experience when hunting. In addition, during one of my treks across the land, I did experience weather changes from sunny to partly cloudy, then to overcast with a light blowing rain.
The initial layout of the game controls is mapped logically enough. You can easily access your loadout through the selection of number keys on the top of the keyboard. Switching between your weapon, GPS, binoculars, collar, and more was very fluid and simple.
As far as realism in this hunting experience goes, I found theHunter Classic to be on the mark. When hunting in a variety of landscapes during different times of the day, I found realism to provide a different feel. On some hunts, I was able to sight a deer quickly and get in position for a good shot. On others, finding a good target took a bit longer and required a bit more tracking to locate.
Animals moved in a lifelike fashion when making my shot, and animals in the area all ran away when the shot was taken. The animals did respond and react in a lifelike fashion overall. Animal AI is definitely something you look for in a game like theHunter Classic as there needs to be a realistic feel of hunting the animal in order to prevent the gameplay from becoming stale. In that sense, theHunter Classic finds the mark.
What I Don’t Like
Although there are options to place tents as spawn points, I wish there was an option to hop on an ATV and drive quickly from one area of the landscape to the other. I enjoy the hunt and the slow walk to capture your prey. However, the player does not walk extremely fast, and if you wanted to explore another area of the map, then a long-distance walk was the only way to get you there.
From what I was able to discover, there are not variables of wind or range that come into play. In terms of rifle hunting, these are big variables that need to be accounted for when it comes to long-distance shots of 700 to 800 yards or more.
During my gameplay, I targeted deer from one side of the canyon to the other and was able to successfully nail a direct hit without any dropping of the bullet or wind that could have pushed the bullet off the target line.
By hunting certain species and using certain items in the game, you are able to hone your skills and improve as a hunter. Each landscape provides a fresh feel and variance to keep your mind engaged in the hunt. Although this title comes with some negatives, such as a pseudo-realistic aiming system, none of them are substantial enough to outweigh the overall positive experience you will get from theHunter Classic. You can be creative with you loadouts and prepare your hunter for the ultimate challenge of hunting big game in Africa or suit up in complete camo to be stealth in the deep woods of the forest. Regardless of where you choose to hunt, theHunter Classic in its free-to-play form provides a quality hunting experience with no buy-in required.