Grab your rifle and don your favourite camo, it’s time for a Hunting Simulator 2 PS4 review.
I was hesitant about playing this game. On the one side, we have stunning environments to explore, but on the other, we’re shooting animals. Yeah, yeah, you all look up to me as this macho man, but I love those cute lil’ bunnies.
Then it occurs to me: they aren’t real.
Hiking through the wilderness, you’ll come across tracks of various species. So that you can officially hunt them, you need a licence and the appropriate weapon.
Hunting Simulator 2 PS4 Review
There’s not driving narrative in the game; instead, you explore three central locations; Colorado, Texas and Europe – each with two variants of maps to traverse.
Choose either a male or female character, and then you set off on the hunt. There are no additional parameters such as a more prominent nose, chinstrap beard, or a Phineas and Ferb tattoo, but there is a massive selection of licensed gear up for grabs.
Accompanying you in Hunting Simulator 2 is a gorgeous little Beagle who you get to name.
I named mine Edgar, following a recent binge on Spaced, and with L1, you can give your dog commands to track the animals. There are three breeds to choose from, each with their perks, but I stuck with Edgar as we developed a bond. Literally.
Each time your dog locates a track and the subsequent print following that, you can praise them and/or give them a little pet. Three stats increase with time:
- Expertise – their ability.
- Drive – their bond with you.
- Stamina – how long they can keep up.
After tracking your prey and making a kill, you ‘bag’ the animal and return it for a reward. This can either be cash to upgrade your equipment or to make a trophy to decorate your digs if you’re not a fan of Scandanavian flat packs.
Licensed To Kill
Before you can make real progress, you need the necessary licence to hunt game. Your first one is free, but you have to pay for the rest, along with the weapons.
I assumed that the guns in the game would be rifles, but you can purchase shotguns, semi-automatics and bows, plus optics for better range (and a swankier crosshair).
Items include binoculars and rangefinders, wind powders(!) callers to replicate animal sounds made by moose and elk – for example, scent killers (could have done with that in Alder’s Blood) and scent lures. I know a lot about the latter with my potent pheromones.
Finally is the clothing. Here you can pimp your player out with custom gear but not to make a fashion statement, but for the practicality in certain weather conditions and also their visibility factor.
Other than accessing the online shop and seeing your trophies mounted on the wall, you have the option to go to the shooting range to fine-tune your skills. There’s also the option add your name to the leaderboard in a series of shooting challenges.
It can be a little bit frustrating when you’re not allowed to hunt anything if you don’t have the authority to do so. I was wandering around with not much to do (as boring as that sounds, it wasn’t).
The environments are stunning, and I was quite tempted to do my own thing at times. That’s not a slant on the game – quite the opposite as it was so impressive.
By the time I located some tracks I lacked the paperwork, but rather than purchasing a licence on the fly from the cabin, as per the tutorial, I had to go back to the lodgings to buy it.
On this basis, I went for broke and bought every licence for a state, and then repeated for the other regions as I earned the big bucks (there’s a joke in there).
Back to the action, there are quite a few options available on the HUD, and you can toggle them based on your preference. Markers for your companion, stamina bars, prey locators and tracking assistance are all there to play with.
Though I didn’t assume that Hunting Simulator 2 would be gung-ho throwing dynamite into warrens, armed with uzis and rocket launchers, I was intrigued with some of the ‘ethical’ side of things.
Shoot To Kill, Not Maim
Aside from the licenses, you can’t hunt females (due to reproduction etc.), and if you shoot an animal too many times, that’s deemed unethical, and you’ll get fined accordingly.
I found the latter out the hard way as I had wounded a sheep and watched it limp away. Yes, I know it’s a game, but I didn’t want to see it bleed out, so reshot it much to the alarm of the fine for too many shots.
Putting it out of its suffering made sense, instead, I got a fine.
Ignoring this, one of the highlights of the game was the luscious scenery, realistic weather effects, ambience sounds of nature, and animals behaving as they would in real-life.
Aiming was enjoyable enough, but you’ll never get a fully steady aim, and when most of the shots are at range, you end up going through bullets a lot quicker than expected and scaring off your prey.
This might not be the simulator for those who hunt in real-life, but as a noob, I enjoyed the experience – and much more playable than say, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, which for me was a tad to overkill. Another bit of wordplay in there, I’m sure.
But the main highlight was the companion. Often I would follow my little beagle Edgar into the unknown – watching his little tail wag every time he found a fresh track, petting him, or flushing out rodents while I sniped them from a conveniently placed tower.
There were so many times where I would aimlessly track cold trails, Edgar would lose the scent, and we’d end up abandoning it. I’m not a vocal gamer, but I found myself talking to Edgar, telling him to seek out the game, asking him what he found, or just enjoying the company.
Sure, there were a few moments where the AI was a little off. He’d lead me into a rock or wall of trees, then turn round and head back the same way, but my own real-life dog is a bit of a chump, but love her to bits.
Hunting Simulator 2 can be quite monotonous. At times, I questioned whether it was an in-joke and there were no animals in the game, as I’d walk around without any encounters. Then I realised that I was permanently sprinting the vast areas, and the animals could hear me coming.
But the locations are very much alive and offered the same experience as first playing Firewatch: gorgeous lighting, the peaceful sounds of nature and no disruptions (other than bears wanting to rip your face off).