theHunter (aka The Hunter) is an online-activated hunting first-person computer game. It was developed by UK based Emote Games in conjunction with the Swedish Avalanche Studios, and was released in March 2009.
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" .
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.
The next-gen Avalanche 2.0 engine uses procedurally-generated content, and can thus pack a large and sophisticated game world into a relatively small download (which is 450Mb at August 2009). 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, on an open world island, based on 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 and Roosevelt Elk, Turkey and Coyote 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 "Huntermate" an in-game GPS-like device that identifies tracks, scat, blood trails, and animal calls and grunts. At August 2009, 200 animals appear on the island when a game starts, located with an element of randomization. 200 animals is the maximum that the game can currently provide, without slowing due to AI and other considerations.
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 displayed on the player's profile page on the website, although they cannot be seen while hunting in the game client.
The Hunter gathered positive reviews during its launch period. The hunting community was impressed by the game, and has embraced it for its realism. "incredibly tense and gorgeous experience ... Over 100,000 players" - PC Gamer magazine, September 2009 review.
The Hunter experienced a lack of server capacity in the three months after launch. This caused many people to have access to the game restricted. It also encouraged many people to purchase memberships, purely because "membership" players are allowed server preference over "free to play" users.
The game is genuinely free to play, but there are a variety of payment options that can unlock enhanced gameplay and ensure priority server access.
A "lifetime subscription" was introduced in August 2009, at $199 U.S. dollars - giving lifetime access to all items, animals and consumables, in addition to access to all future additions of new hunting grounds. This compares to around $100 per year, if one were to: pay for an annual membership, buy all weapons, and regularly pay for in-game consumables.
Unusually, payment for the game's extra options can be accepted by 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
- ↑ GameRankings.com as of 2009-07-18, http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/954010-the-hunter/index.html
- ↑ GamePro review http://www.gamepro.com/article/reviews/209305/the-hunter-page-1-of-2/