Hunting games aren’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. I can understand why, since a hunting game that has too much emphasis on realism can be extremely boring, while having too little realism can make the game too easy—and remove what it feels like to actually be on a hunt. You can say it’s important to strike a balance between the two, and therein the perfect hunting game exists, right? Well, maybe. I mean, some of my favorite hunting moments in video games were in games that weren’t centered around hunting at all—like survival games where hunting is one way you can gather food. That’s the direction developer FUN Labs is taking with Open Country, and I think that’s a great idea.
Open Country is a survival game with hunting as its main focus—but it’s really a semi-open world survival game. As many hunting games do, it has officially licensed firearms, locations based on real places, and lots of different animals to hunt –33 different species–but underneath all of that woodland camo hides a survival game. You’re not always hunting just for trophies, you’re hunting so you can eat. You have to worry about things like your health, hunger, thirst, and even the outside temperature. There’s even a crafting system that allows you build items, and even set up shelter for a campsite. To me, that sounds like the perfect setup, and even something that could bridge the gap between the hunting game demographic and those that enjoy a good survival game.
Just because Open Country looks like a survival game to me, doesn’t mean FUN Labs left out what distinguishes a hunting game, and that means tracking game. You have to keep an eye out for tracks and other signs of game—but your scent, or making too much noise, can easily scare off skittish game. There will be three maps, each with their own temperature, terrain and animals to hunt—and those looking to hunt you. Animals like bears and wolves might be looking to make you their next meal, so be on your guard. Luckily, you can get a canine companion to help in your hunts by tracking and retrieving small game. Your relationship with your dog grows over time—and your survival depends on each other. But if a dog isn’t enough of a companion for you, you can even have a friend join in two player co-op for lots of fun activities—and Open Country doesn’t look like it’ll lack for fun activities to participate in—like fishing, or even ATV racing complete with race tracks where you can challenge your friends. Even the fishing is fleshed out, with boats and different bait types. Open Country is really shaping up to be the ultimate outdoor adventure.
I think Open Country is the first hunting game I’m actually excited to get ahold of. Hunt for food, set up camp, and ride ATVs—when you get bored of that, you can go fishing or even play fetch with your dog. That’s about as “outdoors” as it gets in a video game.
Open Country will be coming to Steam on June 3rd.
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