While the title may suggest violence and shooting, Hunting Simulator 2 is a surprisingly meditative game. Sure, on the most basic level, it’s a shooter – but you’ll pull the trigger so rarely that it barely qualifies, despite the large number of weapons and gear at your disposal. Ultimately, it serves a better role as an educational walking simulator.
The game dedicates its time to making sure you hunt properly, requiring all the paperwork and faff that goes with prepping for a hunt. You have to keep track of how many of a given animal you’ve hunted, use the correct calibre, take a specific number of shots, and more. This dedication to proper procedure, while maybe a nuisance on the surface, is, after all, the whole point.
All of this makes up about half the game, while the other half is actually tracking down your prey. There are a number of approaches, but far and away the best is to bring a companion tracking dog with you, and, yes, you can pet them. Letting your dog do the tracking leaves you free to take in the beauty of the environments. All six of the levels offer wildly different biomes, and are all relaxing to wander through.
While your dog – whom we affectionately dubbed Joh Yowza – tracks down your next victim, it’s remarkably freeing to gently lope through a forest with naught but the sounds of nature as your company. The lands you can roam are generally pretty crowded with quarry, so you never have to wander too far to find a new target. Just make sure you don’t make too much noise.
It is very much a “what you make of it” experience, though, as outside of a tutorial, there’s no narrative structure. There is an upcoming DLC which adds a “story mode”. It’s rather confounding that the next-gen version of the game doesn’t just include this – especially since there’s no free upgrade path, nor are there really any substantial upgrades – but the content on offer is still reasonably expansive.
The maps are huge, and have points of interest to discover littered throughout. Really the only obstacle for enjoyment is your own patience and just how much time you’re willing to spend doing all the less-than-thrilling activities.