Thursday, March 30, 2017

Two Awesome Hunting Games Coming to Xbox One and PS4 in 2017

The last couple of console generations have been full of hunting and fishing games – even to a point where a new Cabela’s game launched the same day as Halo several years in a row – but we haven’t really had a serious entry in the genre on PS4 or Xbox One yet. That is going to change pretty quickly in 2017 as not just one but two massive open world hunting sims are coming to consoles. See all of the details right here.

I think it is important to look at why hunting games have mostly disappeared over the last 4 years before we dive into the new ones, though. On the Xbox 360 and PS3 Activision was pumping out at least one new hunting game per year but it, as seems to be that particular publisher’s tendency, latched onto a couple of trends and tried to ride them for far, far too long. Those trends were Kinect and peripheral games – see the multitude of awful Kinect outdoors games or games that came bundled with cheap crappy light guns – and “extreme survival” hunting games. There were several years where the only hunting game was a glorified survival horror experience where vicious animals were stalking the player through a “story”. While novel at first, these games weren’t really what fans of the genre wanted. And, yes, hunting games definitely do have fans. A lot of them, in fact. Interest waned. Sales went down. And instead of trying something different, Activision simply quit. Because Activision sucks.

Fast forward to 2017 and hunting games are making a comeback. From developer Neopica and published by Big Ben Interactive, Hunting Simulator is coming to Xbox One and PS4 in Summer. Also coming to consoles sometime this year is theHunter: Call of the Wild from Avalanche Studios subsidiary Expansive Worlds and published by astragon Entertainment.

Both games promise open world realistic hunting simulations and online co-op so you can hunt with your friends. Both also will offer multiple species to hunt, plenty of guns and items to choose from to help track animals, and at least a couple of different locations in Europe and North America to explore.

Something of particular note about theHunter: Call of the Wild is that it uses Avalanche Studios’ open world engine – the same one they made Mad Max and Just Cause 3 with – which means the game looks pretty stunning. The hunting locations – one in Germany and one in the Pacific Northwest in North America - are massive with 50-square miles to explore including wetlands, dense forests, open fields, and more and are full of dozens of species of animals. You’re free to hunt wherever, however, and whatever you want but the game also has missions to complete as well as a progression system to level up and unlock new items / abilities.

Hunting Simulator, on the other hand, is a little smaller scale but with the same basic concepts. It offers more locations to hunt in – 12 different areas compared to theHunter’s 2 – but they’re smaller and less diverse. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, mind you, just noting the differences. Hunting Simulator also doesn’t look nearly as pretty as theHunter: Call of the Wild, though we’ll have to see both of them in action on consoles to really make any true judgment on that.

I’m definitely looking forward to playing both theHunter: Call of the Wild as well as Hunting Simulator later in 2017 but my final thought for this preview is a question – Why are all of the hunting games, farming simulators, and other good ol’ American redneck-style games developed in Europe? Both of these games are from European developers. Activision’s Cabela’s games were made by Cauldron and Fun Labs – both European. Are American developers ashamed of making these sorts of games? Seriously, I’d like to know.

Be sure to keep an eye out for both Hunting Simulator and theHunter: Call of the Wild as they come to PS4 and Xbox One later in 2017 if you’re a fan of hunting games. And stay tuned to PSXBoxIndies as we plan on reviewing them both. Now if we could just get some decent fishing games I'd be all set.