Review: Hunting Simulator 2 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Hunting Simulator 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (25.49 GB)
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: Nacon
Developer: Neopica
Original MSRP: $49.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Hunting Simulator 2 is a… well the title sums it up pretty well. While there is a focus on the realism of hunting, the developers made a few quality of life decisions that help steer the game towards fun instead of unapologetic realism. Although in a few areas, it could have leaned in a little harder when it came to traversal.

The game immediately puts you in the woods and gives you a weapon and a tracking dog. I came across some tracks and let my four legged friend lead the way. Minutes into the game and I have a deer in my sights. The narrator reminds me to aim for the vital organs.

That would be second nature for a hunter; me, not so much. I know people who hunt and knew the general area at which to aim. I had the time and the gun to line up a precise kill shot but not the knowledge to follow through. I got close and followed the blood trail to track down my first kill. After claiming it, a chart pops on screen with some details and then shows the locations of the vital organs.

It’s a simulation, so obviously there isn’t going to be a big flashing marker telling me exactly where to aim, but the game could have been friendlier to gamers who aren’t hunters. By analyzing an animal’s tracks, or even their poop, I knew the type of animal. It would have been nice to have a handy journal to refer to, if I was so inclined.

Hunting Simulator 2 has no campaign. There is no ladder of progression, and no quests to complete to unlock the next map or environment. The game is there to let people hunt.

Upon tracking down a kill, I claimed the kill, and it is automatically transported back to the cabin for that map. It was a small thing, but I am glad I didn’t have to drag an elk carcass back to the cabin and clean it. Then I picked up right where I left off, looking for my next prey. Back at the cabin, players can choose to keep a carcass as a trophy or trade it in for money. That money can be used to buy more hunting licenses, gear, and weapons.

That’s the gameplay loop. You hunt so you can keep on hunting. While many gamers like myself like a goal to strive for, this is another smart design choice. Why force someone to hunt with a certain type of weapon in a certain location for hours before meeting some arbitrary goal and unlocking the part of the game they were excited about?

However, none of this was made clear to me. However, I probably could have done a better job of fully exploring all of the menus and various ways to spend money. I spent all of the funds I was given up front completely wrong. It didn’t even occur to me that I could go to any environment that I wanted. I just assumed, like 99% of video games, the next environment or level would be unlocked after I progressed far enough.

Deciding how to spend those initial funds would have also greatly benefited from general hunting knowledge. I know that trying to hunt fowl with a bolt action rifle is just a waste of time and ammo. However, when I was buying licenses for bobcats and foxes, there was nothing that told me that I couldn’t use my rifle on a bobcat because it would destroy it. It wasn’t until I was on the far side of a map in a deer stand with a rifle aiming at a bobcat that I saw the words “Wrong Caliber” flash on the screen. Now, I have several hunting licenses without the proper equipment to hunt that class of animal. An icon of the weapon type needed in the corner of the license or being able to filter by weapon would have prevented this. My first several hours were severely limited because of my misuse of funds stemming from a lack of how the game is structured and hunting knowledge.

Hunting Simulator 2 required stalking, waiting, and patience. Add in sitting in a deer stand at 5 AM, and these are some of the reasons I don’t hunt. This is not a shooting gallery. Gear like a rangefinder and various scents are needed. Trying to get in close with a bow was not a simple task. While I appreciate the challenge and realism, it was frustrating at times not knowing if I spooked a prey because of my footsteps, or they got a whiff of me. Some sort of noise indicator would have been a nice addition.

The in game map is a nice tool. It shows all discovered duck blinds and deer stands, and allows players to the mark the map with various animal sightings.

Once players find tents, they can fast travel to any discovered location from the tent, but not back. The game is focused on realism, but since they decided to allow some fast travel, why only allow travel from the few tents on a map? Discovering a deer stand, then fast traveling to the cabin and back to swap weapons would have been a great quality of life choice. Now I am left with a long walk back to reach a far point on the edge of the map.

Visuals:
At a glance, Hunting Simulator 2 is a nice looking game. The branches of trees swayed in the wind as I looked around the lush forest. Even up close, when staring at brush and wild grass, the visuals mostly held up.

It didn’t take too long before cracks started to appear. Scanning the tutorial forest area, I found groups of trees that were not as sharp and detailed. Not a big problem, but it stood out against other groups of trees that had rendered better.

The game offers six different maps at three different locations and environments. That’s not an easy task for any team, much less a team on a limited budget.

There are wide spans of grassy plains and desert landscapes where the player’s view is unencumbered for as far as the eye can see. There is no practical way to avoid some environmental pop in.

Audio:
There is no background music, and the only voice over is in the tutorial area for the first ten minutes of the game.

Depending on the range of the weapon the player is using, the animals may be too far away to hear any noises they would make. The true silence of standing still with only the occasional cricket noise or sound of the wind is kinda jarring.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Hunting Simulator 2 is a good simulation of hunting. Beyond the tracking and stalking, the game provides some beautiful and varied environments to get lost in.

The developers made some good quality of life decisions that focus on fun instead of tedious realism. However, they stopped too short in not letting players fast travel to any discovered location. Walking is far too slow when headed towards a destination on the far side of the map.

The game seems designed for hunters, and missed out on a few opportunities to help players who don’t have a solid foundation of hunting knowledge. Despite this, and not clearly laying out the structure of the game, Hunting Simulator 2 is an easy game to recommend for anyone looking to do a little virtual hunting.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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