The Hunter (video game)
Logo for The Hunter game
|Developer(s)||Expansive Worlds, Avalanche Studios|
|Distributor(s)||Expansive Worlds (online)|
|Release date(s)||March 2009|
Development and Ownership
The Hunter was first developed by UK based Emote Games, in conjunction with the Swedish Avalanche Studios. On 18 February 2010 Avalanche Studios announced the acquisition of the full rights to "The Hunter" intellectual property previously owned by Emote Games. In relation to the acquisition the new studio Expansive Worlds was formed that will act as the online games division of Avalanche and continue the development of "The Hunter".
Ongoing development and technology
The developers are constantly updating and evolving the game, and new content and tweaks are added on a regular basis. The Hunter is not a browser-based game, but rather a full PC game that runs from a player's hard-drive. Yet a visit to the website is required in order to launch the game and interface with online trophy features.
The Hunter uses Avalanche Studio's proprietary Avalanche Engine 2 which uses procedurally-generated content, and can thus pack a large and sophisticated game world into a relatively small download (which is 1.47Gb as of December 2013). The advanced engine enables night-day cycles, subtle lighting and shading, and natural weather effects.
The Hunter is a free to play PC game that recreates hunting wild animals in as realistic a manner as possible. The initial setting is on an open world island based on various locations, including the islands and surroundings of Washington State in the USA. The free game features one huntable animal type (Mule Deer), and subscribers can unlock other animals, along with a variety of guns, bows and lures with which to hunt them. More animals are planned for future game versions.
To play the player must first create a character on the game's website www.thehunter.com, which includes social networking tools and messaging capabilities to allow players to connect and share in-game experiences. Creating a character requires selecting an avatar from pool of thousands of unique faces, and adding a name. Once a character is created and the tutorial completed, the player can receive missions – initially from 'Colton Locke', a character in the game. Completing missions unlocks further missions, and introduces the player to other characters that inhabit the game world.
Players must use natural cover to avoid detection by the animals in the game. Mule Deer may be hunted for free, and Whitetail, Blacktail, Roosevelt elk, Turkey, Coyote, Feral hog, Pheasant, Black bear, Moose, European wild boar, Roe deer, Red deer, Red fox and Brown bear can be hunted by subscribers. Each animal species reacts to different stimuli in different ways. Scent detection for the quadrupeds is their keenest sense, which means the player has to be aware of wind direction or the animal might smell the player's scent and run off. Players must also pay careful attention to the soundscape, listening for subtle signals that indicate the presence of animals in the locality.
The core gameplay revolves around tracking and harvesting (killing) animals with the weapons provided, although a digital camera is also provided for those who do not wish to shoot with a gun. Animal tracks can be found and identified with the optional "Huntermate" an in-game GPS-like device that identifies tracks, scat, blood trails, and animal calls and grunts. At August 2009, over 200 animals appear on the island when a game starts, located with an element of randomization.
Hunting areas added since May 2011 are: Settler Creeks (rugged North American mountain forest with abandoned homesteads); Redfeather Falls (rough Canadian mountains and swamps); Hirschfelden (German highland farms and forests); Hemmeldal (Northern Swedish snowy mountains, swamps and icy lakes), which is also the first reserve to allow hunting during snowfall; Rougarou Bayou (Southern United States). Subscribers can choose to start anywhere in these hunting areas (provided they have a tent, otherwise a hunting lodge can be chosen to start in a list of two or three in each reserve), and at any time of day, between 5 AM and 6 PM.
The huntable species in the reserves are as follows:
- Whitehart Island: Whitetail deer, Blacktail deer, Roosevelt elk, Wild Turkey, Coyote
- Logger's Point: Mule deer, Whitetail deer, Feral Hog, Pheasant, Coyote
- Settler Creeks: Whitetail deer, Roosevelt elk, Feral hog, Black bear, Wild Turkey
- Redfeather Falls: Roosevelt elk, Moose, Black bear, Whitetail deer, Blacktail deer
- Hirschfelden: Red deer, Roe deer, Wild boar, Pheasant, Red fox
- Hemmeldal: Brown bear, Moose, Roe deer, Red fox
- Rougarou Bayou: Black bear, Feral Hog, Mallard, Whitetail deer
Free-to-play players were initially restricted at launch to Whitehart Island. Then from May 2011 a large 2.3 square-mile spur, called Logger's Point, was made the free-to-play starting point. Access was barred from there to the main Whitehart Island, unless one had a paid subscription. As of 3 June 2013 all hunting reserves can be visited and played by free-to-play users of the game, but with a limited choice of start points.
The Hunter also features minor RPG elements. As players track and spot each animal their skill in that area improves. Weapon skills can also be improved by scoring successful hits on animals. Improving the hunting skills makes animals easier to track, and a weapon will not suffer as much "wobble" when aimed.
Skills, missions, and hunting statistics are recorded by the game and then displayed on the player's profile page on the website, although they cannot be seen while hunting in the game client.
Multiplayer was released on 3 June 2013 and allows full members both to host and to join maps with up to 8 players. Free members can only join multiplayer if the host allows it. A new set of animations has been also released, together with a new inventory mode, new clothes and some minor changes. Even the website has undergone a full restyle.
In July, 2013 the Red Fox has been released, with a small population in Hirschfelden and a larger one in Hemmeldal. This was followed at the end of 2013 by Mallard ducks in the Rougarou Bayou reserve.
The Hunter gathered positive reviews during its launch period. The hunting community was impressed by the game, and has embraced it for its realism. An "incredibly tense and gorgeous experience ... Over 100,000 players" – PC Gamer magazine, September 2009 review.
The game is free to play, but licenses must be purchased to hunt any animal other than Mule Deer, as well as any additional guns, ammo, and other equipment. Payment for the game's extra options can be accepted by phone, mobile phone, as well as by PayPal or credit card. Subscriptions do not "auto renew".
- The Hunter Community Update as of 2010-02-18, http://www.thehunter.com/pub/newsarchive.php?id=2010-02-18
- New Swedish development studio formed by Avalanche Studios, http://www.avalanchestudios.se/start/10-03-23/New_Swedish_development_studio_formed_by_Avalanche_Studios.aspx
- "Making of The Hunter – Avalanche Studios".
- GameRankings.com as of 2009-07-18, http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/954010-the-hunter/index.html
- GamePro review http://web.archive.org/web/20110607135228/http://www.gamepro.com/article/reviews/209305/the-hunter-page-1-of-2/
- MyGamer review http://www.mygamer.com/index.php?page=gameportal&mode=reviews&id=554932
- 411Mania review http://www.411mania.com/games/reviews/100059/The-Hunter-(PC)-Review.htm
- UltraNinjas review http://www.ultraninjas.com/articles/?article=418