Already available on Steam for Windows PC, theHunter: Call of the Wild is a definite change of pace. It was recently announced to be coming to Xbox One at some point in 2017, and we've been able to have a little look at what's to come at EGX Rezzed in London.
Much of the criticism from both reviewers and players alike around the PC launch was focused on bugs. Straight out of the gate, we're not discussing that here, because bugs at a games show are knee deep. That's just how it is.
What we're interested in is the gameplay, and there's definitely two halves to the tale. Starting with the good — the environment in theHunter is terrific. It's a huge open wilderness to explore, stalking your prey.
Having never been hunting, I can't say for sure how true to life the experience is, but it certainly feels like it should be. You have to use your hunting skills to locate the prey, identifying and following tracks, feeding zones, while listening out for noises. theHunter will be a game best experienced with a headset or surround system, for sure. It'll be really easy to immerse in the surroundings, and completely lose yourself to the wild.
What's good or bad, depending on your perspective, is the pace of play. During my session, it felt like I barely covered any ground across the huge map, because your in-game hunter moves so slowly. Sure, that's in the true-to-life column, but equally, this is a game, it doesn't have to be this slow. If you're in for the full experience, you might not mind, but there didn't seem to be a way to run faster. Even when just going from point-to-point following an objective.
I like the hunting mechanics, though. On-screen prompts will give you a vague idea of where you might find vital clues, such as tracks or evidence of feeding, and you can examine these and then use the information to your advantage as you plan your next move. You also have a series of lookout posts across the map which do exactly what they say, allowing you to tag a number of points of interest that would have been previously unknown.
It's also perfectly comfortable to play with an Xbox controller. This isn't a high-paced shooter (as far from this as you can get, really), and the transition from PC to console seems like it'll be fairly seamless. It's a fairly typical sniper-esque experience.
The biggest issue is going to be the pace of play. You could find yourself completely sucked into the large, graphically pleasing world. Or you could find yourself immensely frustrated at how long it takes you to walk across a meadow. It won't be for everyone, but for some, it might well become a source of endless hours of immersive playtime.
We've just got to hope it's mostly bug-free when it gets to the Xbox.