Learning how to hunt (and how to fight) through play is something common throughout the animals kingdom. Cats practice sneaking on their mothers, wolves playfight, and humans… play video games. It’s not going to impart useful muscle memory, might even not be applicable at all, depending on the game, but it does make something click in our monkey brains.
Below we feature ten games which make a Thing out of hunting, whether it’s the entire point of the experience, or a side-activity necessary to get stuff to make more stuff. Some of these games aren’t even about creatures you’re likely to encounter in real life, but it doesn’t affect the fun of the hunt they offer. Behold, ten hunting-heavy video games.
|theHunter: Call of the Wild||2017-02-16||Sport||Expansive Worlds||56%|
|Cabela's Big Game Hunter Pro Hunts||2014-03-25||Action & Shooter||Cauldron|
|Hunting Simulator 2||2020-07-16||Simulator||Neopica||87%|
|Far Cry Primal||2016-02-29||Adventure||Ubisoft||83%|
|Monster Hunter World||2018-08-09||Action||Capcom||79%|
|Ranch Simulator||2021-03-04||Indie||Toxic Dog||33%|
|The Isle||2015-12-01||Adventure||Afterthought LLC|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||2019-11-05||Action||Rockstar||71%|
|Horizon Zero Dawn | Complete Edition||2020-08-07||Adventure||Guerilla Games||78%|
|Assassin's Creed III||2012-11-21||Adventure||Ubisoft Montreal|
|ARK: Survival Evolved||2015-06-02||Adventure||Efecto Studios||29%|
theHunter: Call of the Wild
If specialized hunting simulators are what you’re interested in, then theHunter: Call of the Wild is likely to be the best game you could go for right now. There are several large maps places all over the globe, dozens of various animals you can track and hunt, as well as a wealth of realistic tools you can deploy to make your job easier, or more challenging, if you so choose.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that theHunter: Call of the Wild looks gorgeous and it’s fun to just explore the maps, taking in the sights and observing animals doing their own things. It’s a very immersive experience, and you can enjoy it with friends in in both cooperative and competitive multiplayer. With little strong competition it’s a good thing theHunter is both good AND comprehensive.
The Witcher (series)
|Developer||CD PROJEKT RED|
It comes are no surprise that games about a professional solver of monster-related problems would feature some hunting-themed gameplay in them. They are especially visible in TW2 and 3, but even the first game makes it important to learn about monsters and how to get resources from them after you’re done fighting. The second game added traps and improved ranged options.
The third game added Witcher senses helpful for noticing tracks and other points of interest, like carcasses etc. In all three cases you also need to learn which sword (silver or steel) will be more effective, as well as which potions and oils are going to be useful. Of course, it’s important to note that you’re hunting undead, griffins etc., not ducks and rabbits, so methods aren’t exactly transferable.
This is a unique one. Instead of hunting with weapons, traps in The Isle you’re hunting dinosaurs as other dinosaurs. Yes, you read that right. The Isle, despite its intent of introducing human factions, is about living your best life as a dino. That includes playing a carnivore species which has to prey on herbivores big and small. The hunting mechanics are quite believable, too, so that’s a plus.
There are several “classes” of a predators, including, of course, Apex predators like T-Rex or Gigantosaurus. Depending on which class you play (availability differs by server and update branch) you’ll need to pick the right prey and adjust your methods, from ambush to chasing your meal down. Technically even herbivores hunt, because finding edible plants involves some active effort.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Although Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t about hunting, it can still be a huge part of your experience with the game, if you want it to. RDR2 has so many different animals you could easily spend hours and hours just trying to find and hunt each of them. Of course, most hunting games don’t feature a seasoned gunman’s Eagle Eye but, while helpful, it doesn’t do the stalking nor shooting for you.
There are about 80 land and air animals, 15 of which have Legendary variants, and there are 15 fish species, also with 15 legendary variants. You can hunt them, but you can also study them if you don’t want your pursuits to get bloody. Kills don’t go to waste, either: you can responsibly skin the animals, turn the carcasses into food or sell them to a butcher, or turn bits and bobs into trinkets.
Monster Hunter World
The Monster Hunter series goes all in on fantasy hunting, with more detail than you’d expect, and its much-praised entry, MH World is a great example. In addition to smacking a humongous beat with a big weapon it also pays off to prepare lures, set up traps, pick the gear exploiting useful weaknesses, and often also to use the environment to your advantage. Weapons are just a cherry on top.
You can also catch most monsters alive if you know when to stop attacking and let them start retreating if you have a trap and a sleep bomb on hand. As usual, all parts of the hunted monster find use, mostly by being turned into new weapons and armour, many of which quite literally use bones, hardened plates or monster skin, all of which hold bits of the monster’s life force to aid you.
Set in rural USA of the late 19th century Hunt: Showdown mixes realistic guns and locations with horrifying monsters which wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. The gist is simple: use your investigative skills and hunting practices to track down an abomination and kill it before the other hunters manage to do it. And then extract with the trophy or hunt other hunters and steal theirs.
The competitive spirit and the danger that the targets pose create a unique and engaging dynamic. Following the tracks and collecting clues turns out to be quite difficult when you’re racing against other people with guns eager to get the reward for the kill. The good part is that your hunter gains XP with every hunt, unlocking new perks and weapons, which makes it all well worth the effort.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Unlike other entries on the list, Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t ask you to hunt biological creatures. Instead, you’re going to hunt robots trying to replicate animals, to be specific. Rather than collecting guts and scales you’ll get wires, metal scraps and chips. Thankfully they are just as useful as loot in any other game. Thankfully loot isn’t the only thing that put this game on the list.
Every machine you’re going to encounter has a different set of weak points, moves, and damage vulnerabilities. As a result, taking them down efficiently requires knowing your prey and having the right tool. Lack of bio-bits doesn’t change that. And if you drag yourself away from enjoying the game’s exploration and hunting there’s also a really cool story with great lead character to follow.
Far Cry Primal
Far Cry Primal was a break from the modern day setting of other FC games. It took the action way back in time to the prehistoric times of mammoths, sabretooth cats and humanity still just getting its bearings. As a result, there’s also a fair bit of hunting involved, because animals are a reliable source of valuable resources. And because it works well with the usual Far Cry stealth mechanics.
Using a bow, spear, and your sneaking skills you’ll be able to take down most prey, be it animal or your enemies. Sometimes you’ll also need to plant a lure, because mighty hunter though you are, bears are still mightier. The good part is that you’ll be able to tame certain beasts and use them in combat. It’s hard not to appreciate the fun of raiding an enemy camp with a sabretooth cat at your side.
Assassin's Creed III
Hunting takes a big chunk of time you’re going to spend in Assassin’s Creed III, in addition to the usual mingling with historical figures and doing assassin things. Hunting, like it usually is in games, a good way to gather resources, earn money, and fuel whatever crafting endeavors you’re interested in. There’s also a measure of skill involved because a bad hunt can ruin the spoils.
An ideal hunt would have you take your target down with one, maybe two arrows. You can also use snares to deal with small game, or poison darts for a clean kill. It can be a pleasant distraction from the game’s main story or other activities, and it’s always worth your time, because there’s always something you could dump extra resources into.
ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK: Survival Evolved is a survival game featuring tons of wildlife, including big and small dinosaurs, so of course it also involved a lot of hunting. It isn’t quite as mechanically engaging as in some other games here, but it is, without a doubt, one of the most important facets of the experience with ARK. At least in the long early hours before you establish a base fulfilling most of your needs.
And even then, you’ll sometimes need to go hunting, because sometimes you just need to go hunting for wyverns or dragons for bragging rights and a few cool screenshots. Some creatures can also be tamed to be used as mounts, or even sometimes even mobile base, if you’re good enough of a hunter and have gathered enough relevant resources. Good luck.
Spoils of the hunt
This concludes our list of games which made hunting either their core identity, or “just” a prominent aspect of the experience. There’s a full scope: realistic games and fantasy settings. First-person shooters and third-person action-adventures. Hopefully, one (or more) of them caught your attention and you’re going hunting. Just remember to use every part of the beasts you take down.