Conquering the Wilds in Way of the Hunter

Editor’s Note: Levi Fuchs is working on reviewing all kinds of games for GiN, but he is currently concentrating on hunting titles like this one. You can also check out his review of theHunter: Call of the Wild.

Way of the Hunter is an expansive, realistic hunting simulator that was first released in 2022 and has since deployed multiple DLCs for it. Developer Nine Rocks Games and publisher THQ Nordic continue to support the game with new maps, hunting tools, and other items to keep the content fresh. The most recent update was the Matariki Park region, which was released last month and features the incredibly unique landscape of New Zealand.

Unlike many pure simulations, with Way of the Hunter you actually have a unique main character and a storyline to follow alongside multiple hunting regions and, of course, free hunt modes. You have the option to play through the entire story or explore in the free-style mode, switching back and forth between those modes as much as you like. The free-style mode allows you to explore and hunt on your own without the pressure of completing the story’s missions.

The freestyle mode is also one of the best ways to jump right into new maps like Matariki Park to see what kinds of diverse wildlife and other challenges the new DLC holds.

There are also different difficulty modes in Way of the Hunter, ranging from Hiker all the way up to Ranger, so the title supports multiple skill levels. Players are able to just wander around and explore if they chose, or they may want to challenge their skills in some amazing hunts against elusive game.

Each of the hunting regions presented are quite different, as they are scattered throughout the world. There are even a variety of hunting lodges situated in each hunting region. I had a good time exploring the lodges as all of them are unique and have different layouts and designs that reflect the region. For example, some are standard log cabins, while others are pretty fancy houses. One lodge even has a pool in the backyard. I really love how much care and detail was put into the design of each lodge that makes them feel special to the specific region.

The hunting regions range from the savanna in Africa to the wetlands of Transylvania. I did not see a wooden arrow option for Transylvania, but it might come in handy when hunting at night. I hope the developers consider this. There are also many different animals to hunt, ranging from Alaskan moose to North American grizzly bears, black wildebeest, and spotted hyena. The newly released Matariki Park map in New Zealand adds Chamois, Fallow deer, feral goats and pigs, Greylag Geese, Sika deer, and more in addition to the beautiful New Zealand scenery.

When going out on my first hunt, I found it difficult figuring out what I needed to do at first. Thankfully, there’s a mode in the game called “hunters’ sense.” This sense can be toggled on and off in the event you want to enjoy the scenery or make the hunt more realistic without all the visual distractions. When activated, it allows you to highlight important things such as animal tracks and areas where animals like to rest. The most important function of the hunters’ sense is the ability to see the tracks of an animal that’s been shot and wounded. This appears as a trail of colored light spaced on the ground with intervals varying depending on the game’s difficulty setting. Harder game settings show less frequent tracks.

Each region is spatially large and full of detail. However, you have access to multiple UTVs (utility terrain vehicles) to assist in quickly covering large distances. Furthermore, while driving, you have the option to listen to music on the radio. I really enjoy this feature as there are several radio stations with many types of music just like one would expect in a real car. It is really relaxing to drive around with the music while admiring the scenery. While driving, you can actually hit and kill animals with your vehicle! When this occurs, the kill is classified as roadkill. This is an interesting feature as the animal is unclaimable and sells for only a dollar. Just to make it fair, animals can run over you too. While hunting, I got trampled by a moose and received an immediate game over.

The animal behavior is quite realistic. Some animals travel in herds, which means at times they are very plentiful. Others prefer to travel alone, like a lion. This can make it difficult to hunt as you either have to track the animals down or wait patiently in a hunting stand.

I found that there are some methods to help make your hunt more successful. The first way is to find a hunting stand to observe the surrounding area. These stands are already pre-built and scattered all throughout the various maps. Secondly, I suggest purchasing an animal caller as soon as possible to help attract prey to your location. Finally, while hunters’ sense is activated, you are able to visualize the sounds the animals are making. For example, it makes a visual indicator showing where the sound originated from and notes key details, such as the species, distance, and gender of the animal. All these tips will help pinpoint animals quicker and allow for a more successful hunt.

If you have played and enjoyed the other hunting sim that I reviewed recently, theHunter: Call of the Wild, then you will enjoy this title as well. There are features in Way of the Hunter that are not in theHunter: Call of the Wild that should make it stand out for many players. These include UTVs and the radio music mentioned previously, the pre-built hunting stands, visual sound indicators, and more advanced tracking features. However, I do miss the hunting dogs from theHunter: Call of the Wild, and I hope they add some to Way of the Hunter.

The graphics in Way of the Hunter are pretty amazing, probably some of the best for a hunting simulation. I played the title on my computer using the DirectX 12 driver option which really made the scenery and details very lifelike. If your computer can support it, I would highly recommend that you select that option because it adds a new level of detail that games are only just starting to tap into.

For those who enjoy hunting or even for anyone that just enjoys wandering around some gorgeous outdoor scenery and locations, Way of the Hunter is both an engaging and unique take on the hunting genre that is not to be missed.

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