Hunting Simulator 2 Review – Patience and a Steady Hand Required

Developer Neopica and Publisher Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive) are ready to unleash their latest simulator upon the masses. We have been patiently tracking down bears, elk, and moose for several days.

Should you take a trek in Hunting Simulator 2, or is this game better off lost in the woods?

Read our review to find out

Belgium Developer Neopica released their first Hunting Simulator a few years ago to mixed reviews, but after tweaks and hotfixes, the game seemed to get better with age. Quite a few of the negative remarks about the original game were addressed in that release, and those same critiques were used to address those issues with Hunting Simulator 2. Most of these changes were good, but there are a couple things we felt should have been left in the game.

No Campaign but a Free Rifle

Hunting Simulator 2 wants you to start hunting as quick as possible. In the first game you had to complete multiple missions in the campaign to unlock a variety of weapons and locations, and it took a long time to unlock a bow. In this release, everything is just a few dollars away, as everything is purchasable from the get go, you’ll just have to head out and bag a few critters to make some cash.

The game starts out with you in your hunting lodge and walks you through the licensing process, giving you your first license for free. You’ll get to choose which animal you want to hunt and in what location, and once picked, you’ll get a rifle suitable for that critter for free. After spending quite a few hours at each location, we would recommend Pawnee Meadows as a starting point, with either Elk or Wild Boars as your hunted animal. Both are plentiful and Pawnee Meadows is open enough that you can spot the critters from a long ways off. Getting close enough for a decent shot with a .270 Winchester XPR Composite is up to you.

Hitting the Shooting Range

Before heading out, you should probably head to the range to familiarize yourself with your new weapon. There are several different ranges to try out, and they are set at different distances to give you a better idea at handling. There’s even a skeet range for when you purchase a shotgun. This is a must before heading out to hunt waterfowl or birds that can be flushed like Pheasants. It’s also a great place to try out your bow hunting skills and figure out your distance limitations with bows or crossbows.

Weapon selection is paramount before heading out hunting. The game has a wide variety of real world brands with over 160 official licensed weapons, accessories and clothing items (including Barrett, Browning, Winchester, and Bushnell). First thing you should buy is the Hone or Carbine 2500 backpack, as they will allow you to carry an extra weapon and 4 extra items. As for rifles, you should work towards owning two modern sporting rifles, one in .223 and one in .308, as these AR platform rifles hold the most ammo and the semi auto firing rate allows for a quick follow up shot when needed. These 2 rifles will allow you hunt just about every animal in the game, with the exception of the smallest of critters. You can hunt those with a shotgun or bow.

Who’s a Good Doggy?

New to Hunting Simulator 2 is the use of a hunting companion. Once you have your license and necessary weapon, you are given the option to choose one of three different types of hunting dogs. Each dog  has its own pros and cons, and what you are hunting should determine which dog you choose. We went with the Beagle because of its tracking ability as it is great at tracking down big game. The more you use a dog and praise it, the better it will become at tracking.

As you move through an area, white diamond markers will pop up alerting you to a trackable object. You can then analyze the tracks or item, and have your dog track it. If you aren’t seeing anything pop up, you can give your buddy a Find command and he’ll start searching for something to track. Once found, and after you tell her she did a good job, you can then have her track that. We found that early on, the dog really needed some training, but as she progressed through her learning experience, all the while increasing her Expertise, Drive, and Stamina, she became much better at finding and tracking the animals. A fully trained dog is a very useful tool.

Animal Found. Now What?

Our little beagle did a great job of tracking down a nice black bear. Such a good job that we surprisingly found ourselves face to face with that bear. 60 yards is pretty damn close when the critter could you eat you for lunch and cover your remains as leftovers for later. Luckily quick reflexes and the .308 Barret dropped him like a rock and we were able to make quite a few bucks. In most cases you probably wont get that close, but we tracked the bear for a solid hour and slowly crept up on him. If the animal is quiet, and the woods are pretty thick, you may not know how close you are until you are almost face to face.

Not all shots will drop an animal right away. Miss a vital organ and you may end up tracking their blood trail for a while. As is the case in real life, animals have a large amount of blood in their body, and can slowly bleed out for hours. Always keep that in mind before pulling the trigger. If you don’t have a clear shot at a vital organ, wait until you do and save yourself some time. Most animals can be dropped, or mortally wounded, with a well placed shot right behind their front shoulders if you are viewing them from the side. or dead chest center if they are coming towards you. Hunting Simulator 2 does an incredible job of hit tracking, with an accuracy we weren’t expecting.

Trophy or Cash. Your Choice,

Once you’ve dropped that critter, and tracked down the carcass, you’ll have to choose between selling it or having it mounted as a trophy. We aren’t quite sure why you have to choose, because in real life you can have both. Turning an animal into a trophy mount in no way ruins the meat, and we have personally barbecued plenty of deer backstrap and shoulders while the head and antlers were sent out to the taxidermist. In any case, if you choose to have a trophy mount, you will find these being displayed back in your lodge. Eventually you may have to choose between a smaller older mount being removed and a newer larger trophy replacing it.

Where to Hunt

Hunting Simulator 2 has three distinct regions split into six different districts. Terrain and environments vary from dry and brushy desert scrub to lush and wet marsh lands to dense wooded areas that make long shots damn near impossible. Each area has a set of animals to hunt, some overlapping, and some unique to an area. The attention to detail is impressive in each area, with early morning fog in the wetlands to dust devils in the desert, each area feels unique and enjoyable to behold.

Each area has a huge map to hunt on, and that can be both a positive and a negative. It can take a while to walk or run from your cabin to a remote part of a map, but luckily you can find five  tents scattered throughout each region. These tents can then be used as fast travel points to and from your hunting cabin, saving you quite a bit of time when wanting to reach a specific area. There are also hunting stands and blinds scattered throughout each area, but sadly these can’t be used for fast travel. They are great spots to wait for a great shot on a passing animal, though, and if you are a savvy hunter, you can purchase lures and calls to get those critters close enough to drop them with one shot.

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The Many Animals

What’s Missing

The original Hunting Simulator may have had some issues, but it did do a couple of things right that weren’t included with Hunting Simulator 2. First and foremost was the co-op modes. It would be awesome if I could pair up with a friend or two and work together to hunt down some Grizzly bears or a massive Moose. Co-op games are few and far between as is, and this would have been a welcome addition to this title. Also missing is the drone. Many times over the course of the last few days we had wished for a drone to help us track down a wounded animal. Something with zoom and tracking features would have been an awesome addition to the title. Also the inability to zoom in and out with the high end binoculars in the game was a little disappointing. That would come in handy when trying to find those hard to see camp sites. A marking ability for those binoculars would have been great as well.

As avid outdoorsmen, it’s not an easy task to replicate a real life hunt in a video game. but developer Neopic has done a pretty good job of it with Hunting Simulator 2. It really is about as close to the real thing as you can get without actually purchasing a rifle, a license, and a deer lease yourself.

8


Hunting Simulator 2 review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.