theHunter: Call of the Wild is a simulation heavy hunting experience that was originally released on Xbox One in 2017 with two campaign experiences. Players could choose to take on these campaigns independently of one another and even go so far as to switch between them dynamically with a simple button press on the map screen. Through the use of a Huntermate app on the player’s mobile phone, they could be contacted by a variety of people with a variety of quests. Some were as simple as taking photographs of certain wildlife variants, while others required rigorously tracking and tagging big game. Despite theHunter: Call of the Wild’s 900p display upon release the game’s environments were nothing short of awe inspiring, with impressively long draw distances that added an extra tinge of challenge when going for long distance targets.
Now, however, theHunter: Call of the Wild has gone through a dramatic upgrade for its 2019 edition release. Boosted to a 1440p display resolution and enhanced for the Xbox One X, theHunter: Call of the Wild has easily situated itself among one of the most visually striking games you could ever install on your system. But the development team at Expansive Worlds weren’t content to simply enhance the graphics for theHunter: Call of the Wild’s 2019 edition, so they’ve decided to include all of theHunter’s DLC in the new edition, as well. This adds on two additional hunting locations, the Vorhunga Savanna reserve in Africa and the Medved-Taiga reserve in Russia, as well as respective campaign experiences.
With new hunting destinations comes new wildlife to track, spot, and harvest but there may be some room for disappointed if you read “Vorhunga Savanna” and expected to tag something exotic like a lion or giraffe. Much like in real life, the Vorhunga Savanna wildlife population has been decimated by poaching, which has resulted in the elimination of bigger predators from the reserve. Left to their own devices, the Springbok and Lesser Kudu populations have gotten a little out of hand. One of the best aspects of the story arcs for theHunter: Call of the Wild is the game’s acknowledgements that hunting is a necessary evil for the sake of animal conservation. Not only will players be seeking to tag trophy antelope and warthogs, but they’ll be tasked by NPCs to collect water needed for testing, take photographs of wildlife to encourage tourism, and even dismantle dangerous traps left behind by poachers. It can be difficult to imagine that a hunting game’s story arcs could elicit an emotional response, but that’s exactly what theHunter: Call of the Wild manages to do.
While theHunter: Call of the Wild boasts a wide range of wildlife they do all mostly fit into the same distinct gameplay loop for hunting purposes. The elk, moose, and cape buffalo look very different, for example, but they’re ultimately lured in with the same types of calls and taken down with the same types of rifles. It’s the same story for the foxes, jackals, and lynx, or the whitetail deer and springbok antelope. While there is a plentiful selection of rifles and scopes to mix and match for personal preference, there is a far more limited range of animal calls. Admittedly, this could help take some of the stress of the hunting simulator aspect of theHunter: Call of the Wild for those new to the genre, but more advanced hunting fans are going to be dismayed by the limitations. Clearly even the developers have become aware of this limitation, though, as they’ve recently introduced duck and geese hunting to the game.
An understated aspect of theHunter: Call of the Wild is the game’s multiplayer side. There’s something to be said about the solace of being alone on 100 square miles of wilderness. Just you, the wildlife, and a lot of trees. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for bringing a friend -or foe- along for the journey, however. theHunter: Call of the Wild allows for up to eight players in a multiplayer session, and offers both cooperative and competitive gameplay. As relaxing as playing alone can be, it sure is helpful to drag a friend along when you’re trying to track down a mythical moose in the frozen underbrush of rural Russia.