Way of the Hunter Xbox Series X Review

Way of the Hunter may not have broad appeal, but it succeeds in creating an immersive, realistic experience so that criticism seems misplaced.

By Rayan, Posted 24 Sep 2022

Although hunting games are seldom blockbuster hits or benchmarks for excellence in the industry, there are still fans who have eagerly awaited the release of fresh titles for years. In contrast, virtual hunting is popular among individuals with little interest in going out and killing anything. Way of the Hunter is an ambitious project to come out of Slovakia in recent memory. It succeeds admirably in its stated goals of recreating the isolation of the hunter's lifestyle by placing the protagonist in a wilderness setting where he must track down his prey. A weird emphasis on moral hunting motivates you to take on a wide array of missions as you search for the most impressive prizes. The game's primary focus is plunging you into an open environment and giving you some narrative-based material. The storyline was not very strong, and it turned out that the whole thing was merely a pretext to take over the elderly grandfather's piece of property. But since the team behind this game are Nine Rocks Games and THQ Nordic, there's no harm in expecting more from it.


Way of the Hunter, Xbox Series X, Review, Hunting, Simulation, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

You take on the role of River Knox in Way of the Hunter. Bear Den Ranch is a hunting lodge in the Nez Perce Valley of Idaho that you'll be helping to maintain while his grandfather is in the hospital. After the introductory cutscene, you'll take control of River, and the game's first few missions will introduce you to the controls and gameplay. You begin with one weapon, a scope, and binoculars—not the ideal equipment. The first firearm you get is your grandpa's rifle for hunting squirrels and rabbits. Initially, the game will teach you the basics of driving and walking so that you can go where you need to go to begin hunting; after you get there, you are on your own. You may go off in any direction and ignore the plot if you choose. You'll have an easy initial hunt taking care of American badgers if you decide to continue the adventure, but then things will either heat up or cool down, depending on your perspective.

Beginning with a cinematic introduction, the game progressively reveals how much of its tale we've seen thus far. I wouldn't advise skipping the plot and going right to the hunting. New objectives are unlocked as the story progresses, with some of the cutscenes being presented in a comic book manner. It's filled with charming little touches, and as you seek, you start to wonder where the tale is headed. To avoid monotony, the game will constantly instruct you to hunt a number of animals to keep you occupied. You may even receive hunting contracts from local eateries, which will help you zero in on a specific target species during your present hunt. Two restaurants have asked me what I'd like for dinner: duck and venison. And naturally, they supplement your search with more parameters. Task-based fast cash is a real possibility. You may purchase new tools and weapons using real-world currency. Unlike its contemporaries, this game doesn't have a leveling system.


Way of the Hunter, Xbox Series X, Review, Hunting, Rifle, Scope, Simulation, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

When it comes to the gameplay, Way of the Hunter employs a simulation method quite similar to the Hunting Simulator series or the more current Call of the Wild. However, compared to existing games, the new game provides a more advanced degree of difficulty, which tends to significantly aid newcomers. The one definite thing is that there is not much room for experimentation or innovation in such a title since the core always consists of selecting the appropriate weapon, regardless of whether one is hunting small or huge species. However, Way of the Hunter is a hunting simulator, and the game's objective is to first recognize the target animal and then make an attempt to bring it down with the fewest bullets as is humanly feasible. This is a slight departure from the gameplay of other similar games. You can be certain that the rules of ballistics are adhered to. You can always look up a comprehensive data sheet on all the bullets fired, being able to rewind the shot and see if any mistakes were made by analyzing the trajectory of the projectile itself, which is a clever concept.

Way of the Hunter gives you a realistic sense of the difficulty of killing an animal during a hunt. You can find signs of animal behaviors by using their Hunter Sense. Because of this, you can identify need locations, which are sites where an animal feeds, drinks, or relaxes. You may also locate game paths, which often connect these need areas and provide a natural pathway for animals throughout the forest. These routes are called game trails. If you try to go close to the herd of deer by strolling, they will usually notice you when you are within a decent distance and immediately bolt for the forest cover. They are attuned to sound and, depending on the direction the wind is blowing, may be able to detect your approach via your scent. No, you need to consider the wind's direction and approach in a crouch to avoid making any noise. This enables the player to travel at a speed of around one-quarter of a mile per hour.


Way of the Hunter, Xbox Series X, Review, Hunting, Simulation, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

When hunting, we'll need to change our strategy based on how far away we are from the target. Once the prey we desire has been shot, a menu will emerge showing the sequence in which the shot killed the animal and which parts were injured. Depending on this, we will be rewarded more or less money when selling it; however, you may also use the taxidermy option to dissect it and add it as a trophy to our cabin. We'll get a sense of the kinds of creatures that live where we are by adding pins to the map as we go around. Given the genre, it's obvious that a charging, gun-toting approach would lead to failure. Way of the Hunter has a lot to offer gamers that excel at stealth action games because they prefer to eliminate enemies covertly rather than confront them head-on. But for those who don't like this kind of gameplay, the game will undoubtedly be a source of frustration. Making animals less prone to startle in the game's Explorer mode would make it more entertaining for newbies while still providing a significant challenge for skilled hunters.

The animals in this game are astonishingly lifelike in appearance and behavior. Animals react in a very realistic manner, starting at the first sign of danger, from you stepping on a stick and continuing this pattern all the way up to the moment they hear the boom from the gun. They will sprint off into the distance whether or not they see you hanging about or scent you depending on the wind direction, so be prepared to retrace their steps. Unlocking new areas of the map as you play will teach the creatures routines, such as when and where to feed, drink, and sleep. It might be more or less challenging to achieve success depending on the chosen challenge level, but with the right tools, the going can be made much easier. To hunt in private regions, which are only accessible by doing some labor for the land owners, one must secure the right licenses. Other equipment required for hunting includes decoys, binoculars, and optics for an array of guns of various calibers and specialized for hunting different species of animals and birds.


Way of the Hunter, Xbox Series X, Review, Hunting, Sense, Simulation, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

The action-packed thrill of finally getting the kill is exciting initially, but it may become old fast. Since there is no wait feature, you'll have to patiently wait for animals to emerge before you can switch to shooting mode. It's great for maintaining immersion, and hunting is satisfying. Still, the rest of the game rapidly loses its luster as you may have to wait anywhere from five to fifteen minutes in-game until the area you're ready to enter is populated. Most of the time, you can't go after the animal you wish to hunt since doing so will likely alert it to your location. Also, chasing down wounded animals after you've shot them might dampen your enthusiasm for landing shots that aren't death shots. Pursuing a wounded animal in Way of the Hunter isn't the most exciting activity since you'll have to continually watch the little blood trails the animal leaves behind. If you aren't paying close attention, you can miss them since your Hunter Sense doesn't give blood trails more priority than other indicators like footprints.

While the core gameplay loop is enjoyable, Way of the Hunter has some problems. Positions like crouching or lying flat on a mountainside might make movement a little janky. When you're crouching or prone near to anything, your full body is rendered, and this might cause the weapon on your back to leap in front of the camera. In some ways, it's too rigid and unnatural feeling. Furthermore, there are several annoyances related to animal AI. Animals may sometimes flee from me at great distances, or I'll be able to sneak up next to a group and pick them off one by one as if I weren't there. There have been instances when blood traces vanished, leading to the loss of both time and an animal. But the ambient pop-in is always there, and it's the most frustrating thing about the game.


Way of the Hunter, Xbox Series X, Review, Photomode, Hunting, Simulation, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

Even though still premature in comparison to other multiplayer modes of usual games, co-op with a friend is definitely an excellent idea for Way of the Hunter. You choose one of two maps to hunt in, the difficulty, and then play together. Unlike Elden Ring, you can't advance narrative missions or goals in co-op, so don't expect a companion to assist you to kill for that quest. There's no character customization, so both players look the same. Any progress you earn through kills, selling, and terrain visited carries over to the single-player mode, but there are few quick travel spots locked behind missions. Except for the presence of a friend, unless you can coordinate exceptionally well, there's no incentive to hunt side by side. There's also no incentive to play online with a partner unless you want company, but even then, you can simply use Party Chat and play independently while conversing.

Way of the Hunter has interesting and well-balanced hunting mechanics but falls short of providing a really enjoyable next-gen setting. While it's exciting to see so many animals all at once, it's frustrating when they suddenly start darting for cover that appears out of thin air as I go by. Way of the Hunter may not have broad appeal, but it succeeds in creating an immersive, realistic experience so that criticism seems misplaced. Currently, it's not the finest hunting game out there, but with little polish, it might easily become the best. You'll have fun here if you like hunting but don't want to deal with the mess and inconvenience of skinning and taxidermizing the animals you kill. Despite certain visual issues, it comprehensively analyzes hunting in the United States.
 

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): THQ Nordic
Developer(s): Nine Rocks Games
Genres: Sports
Themes: Hunting, Simulation, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-08-16

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