This is the first post since the changes to the scoring system went live in The Hunter – Call of the Wild. I have had the chance to really get to understand the impact of those changes and to see the effect on the weapons in game, especially since we’re mainly stuck indoors at the moment. Some of the weapons got minor improvements too – the Docent .223 being an example that the developers talked about, so lets start with that rifle.

The .223 rifle has been made lighter and slightly more powerful. How realistic that is in terms of the real world equivalent, I don’t know, but the reasoning behind the changes was to make the gun more useful to balance out a hunter’s weapon’s loadout where there was a need for a light small bore gun to keep within weight limits. The .223 is now classed as 2 to 4 ammunition which means it can be used up to deer such as Fallow. Prior to this change, the main reason to carry the .223 was to hunt Fox in Hirschfelden or Siberian Musk Deer in Medved. On most other reserves it was not a weapon you’d carry – and judging by the completion rate of the Steam achievement for bringing down 50 Foxes – not many hunters were choosing to carry it in Hirschfelden either. These changes could have made it a much more popular rifle – But…

One of the key changes within the new animal classification system was the move of Foxes up to level 2 alongside Coyotes and Jackals. What that means is that the gun you get as a starting weapon, the Ranger .243, can now be used to shoot Fox. Additionally, although they never said as much, it has been noted by some in the community that the .243 seems to have had a bit of a buff too! I’ve noticed that it seems more effective than before and I’m tending to carry it as part of my regular loadout. What this means is that the .223 actually becomes superfluous and I can’t think of a reason to carry one. Let’s take a break at this point and bring the Outdoors, Indoors, with a screenshot of some Hirschfelden scenery…

Another gun that is impacted by the changes is the 7.62mm Solokhin – once the darling of just about everyone. Its ammo class was moved from 2 to 6, where it sat alongside and outclassed the .243, to 3 to 7. With the .243 now being more effective and other very potent rifles such as the Eckers .30-06 now usable for animals of level 4 and above, there really is no reason to carry it. So Fox, Coyote, Roe, Springbok are all covered by the .243 and I can start shooting reltively small deer like Fallow, Blacktail and Kudu with the very powerful Regent Magnum 7mm or the Eckers or one of the newer guns in the game, which I’ll talk about in some detail in another post. The only reason to carry the Solokhin now is because you love it! Lets have another scenery break – this time in Layton Lakes, Oregon. If you look closely you can see a Black Bear wandering through the reserve…

Let’s talk about the way that the scoring system changes have impacted the game. No one likes taking a bad shot – lets get that stated at the start. The old system penalised bad shots by downgrading your trophy if the animal took more than 8 seconds to die. Unfortunately, it was quite possible to do a good shot on an animal with a legitimate lower powered weapon which ultimately killed it, and still fall foul of that arbitrary mechanism. The new scoring system has removed the Quick Kill element from the Trophy rating of an animal that you kill. Instead, there are 4 checks that you must comply with to get the full trophy for the animal. Use of correct ammo class – using a level 4 gun like the Eckers on a Roe deer which is Level 3 will cause this to fail. Shooting the animal more than twice – there’s no machine guns in game but this is to deter the wild and reckless type of shooting. No damage to the parts that constitute the ‘Trophy’ element of the animal – usually the head. And, most importantly, the animal must have been hit in vital organs which are Heart, Lungs and Liver. Stomach, intestines and spine do not count but a shot that breaks the animal’s neck does. Effectively, this is the check that replaces the old Integrity and forces the player to put every effort into making a good shot. Let’s look at that in practice. Here’s a volunteer Fallow Deer……and this is one of the latest addition to the rifle armoury – the M1 – which is a valid weapon for this animal……We line up the sights, and squeeze the trigger……Bang – and it’s time to go and collect our animal……You can see from the blood that this animal went down instantly, which is what we want to see. Here’s the screen that tells the story of the kill……Right Lung and Liver count for the vital check.

So, what happens if an animal that I shoot in vital organs doesn’t go down instantly? There is still a penalty. The experience points score is reduced and so is the amount of credits earned. So it’s desirable to shoot the animal with the most powerful weapon and ammo that you can use so that it is stopped in its tracks. The ammo class for each weapon gives a range of animal classes – 2 to 6 for example. It’s good practice to view this as meaning that the weapon is good for 2 to 4 class animals and switch to a more powerful weapon for 4 to 6 Class animals. The beloved Regent Magnum with it’s 7mm shell is 4 to 9 but above class 6 it will become less effective and the quick kills may not happen. I did take down a Lion with it in Vurhonga Savannah from just over 100 metres but it was a perfect side-on shot that got both lungs. Even so, the animal made around 30 meters before going down, impacting the earnings and points slightly……And it’s worth remembering that those perfect side on shots are a rare luxury!

Overall, I think the changes are good. I think the issue of ensuring that our hunting is carried out with integrity has been well addressed whilst the true flexibility of the individual weapons is probably more accurately represented in the range of animal classifications that each can shoot. It is now possible to carry a single loadout of 3 rifles and be able to take down any animal in every reserve in the game – a sort of universal loadout. I think that a lot of players will still change their loadout’s for each reserve because they value specific weapon characteristics in different circumstances or because variety is the spice of life! I will certainly be swapping my weapons around.

It’s a lovely morning outside in London but – as we can’t go out there – so let’s bring that glorious weather indoors……Have a great time wherever you are and stay safe!

After my last post I have been watching the debate about the scoring changes within the community with interest. Most of that debate has been among the real world hunters and centres around the lack of penalty in the scoring for each animal that a hunter downs in the Open Beta. Removing the artificial 8 seconds Quick Kill is seen as a good thing in that even a good ‘ethical’ shot will not bring down some animal species within that time limit. The issue as seen by quite a few is that with no penalty the game becomes more of an arcade game than a simulation. With no penalty a player can go around taking shots to the intestine region of an animal, for example, and know that they will get the full trophy score in the game because a ‘gut-shot’ animal will always die. In the real world such behaviour would be cruel to the animal and is viewed as unethical and shows the hunter as lacking integrity.

The Hunter’s developers have built up a good relationship with their community over the years – perhaps not quite as good as the one SCS have with their truckers but definitely one in which the developers listen to what the community has to say. So, after the first period of Open Beta testing, the developers have moved to reintroduce a form of penalty for poorly placed shots. Initially there were three checks at the point of harvest – correct weapon and ammunition for the animal class, no more than two shots and intact trophy organs (usually the animal’s skull and horns). The fix is a fourth check on whether the hunter hit the animal in a vital organ – Heart, lungs, stomach or liver. This gives a little bit more leeway than in the real world where a good ethical shot would be to the lungs/heart – Here’s an example of an ethical shot that would give a full trophy rating in the new scoring system (shown in the current live harvest screen)……But the game has to have some compromise to allow for the variations in computing equipment being used by gamers.

Of course, I wish all my shots hit in the correct place! I do usually get it right but it’s sometimes possible to get caught out by an animal’s behaviour or to misread the wind. I lined up a shot on a Roe Deer today with my bow. At the very instant that I released the arrow the animal turned 😦 If I had been using a rifle the shot would probably have been further back from the lungs – possibly stomach or intestines, but because I was using the slower projectile, my shot hit the animal in the upper thigh just below the hip. The deer ran off and I had to track it to find where it finally succumbed to the loss of blood – not too far thank goodness. So even with the best intentions, all of us will sometimes have a bad shot. The game will penalise us with a reduced trophy score – in the real world our conscience would be asking why we took the shot at that exact moment and could we have done anything different to achieve the ethical shot with minimum suffering. Actually, I even do that in game!

Apart from the changes to the way that trophy scoring is calculated, the new weapons and animal classes charts have also seen some changes during the period of Open Beta. There has been some more refinement of the levels for certain weapons and tweaks to the ammunition. Perhaps the most important changes are to the 7.62 ammo used by the Solokhin. This is now a class 3-7 weapon and therefore can’t be used on Coyotes like before. In some ways it could cease to be the ‘go to’ general weapon because the .223 has been beefed up slightly to cover animals in class 2-4. That means the .223 is no longer just a Red Fox killer and much more viable as part of a loadout which, with the 7mm or 30-06, could handle almost everything! Here’s the current charts……No doubt there will be some more refinements before this change goes live but currently it looks to be a great improvement to the game. I think we shall have to wait a while yet before it finally drops…

Well… It seems big changes are afoot in The Hunter – Call of the Wild. There willl be a new animal scoring system that will fundamentally change how your kills are evaluated for your experience points. It is built around some changes to the animal and weapon ranking systems which at least bring a bit of clarity to understanding which weapons can be used on which beasts. No longer will quick kills be important to what your score is but integrity (use of correct weapon and taking a maximum of 2 shots) will be.

I’ve watched YouTube videos from a couple of hunters that play the game and I think the view is that these changes will bring the game significantly closer to what it’s like to really hunt rather than playing a game. It has been suggested that the changes will split the community – with those who really hunt or want to understand real hunting staying whilst those who just play it as a game perhaps move on. So the developers are taking a risky step with this change. It should be noted that the change actually brings this version closer to The Hunter – Classic which was the original on-line game. I believe that was highly popular with real-world hunters.

For someone like myself who falls into the Simulation category of players, any change that makes the game closer to real life is good. So I will be continuing playing. However, with such a fundamental change to how the game works, I will be resetting my profile and starting out anew when this update releases. In fact, I have already reset my proflie and I spent some time today trying out some starting loadouts for hunting in Hirschfelden. The base loadout when you start now comprises the .243 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and a .357 revolver – it looks like this…

One thing I value a lot is the ability to hunt very quietly – it’s why I normally carry a bow and also why I have been trying out the large bore Air Rifle. My regular readers will know that I do not like the .243 and only normally use it when required to by a mission. I will have access to a couple of Bow’s and also the Vasquez Cyclone as these were included in Weapons Packs that I purchased. The Solokhin MN1890 will also be available to me. This is the first changed loadout that I tried today……You’ll note that I replaced the .243 with the Solokhin and brought in the rather nice Orpheus bow. That should cover all basic eventualities. Testing threw up an interesting discovery – the Focoso revolver is actually very good for Foxes. I killed 3 this afternoon with it – one at over 50 metres! That has revised my opinion of the gun and I shall probably continue to carry it in most reserves. However, the limitations of available ammunition types for the bow made me have a rethink about the best no-bang for buck. I reset again and came up with a different loadout – one which takes advantage of the .270 for the likes of Red Deer and Wild Boar whilst keeping the ability to hunt Roe and Fallow Deer almost silently……It’s also a lot cheaper to run than using the bow and Solokhin option above.

The highlight of testing the Vasquez Air Rifle was taking down a Fallow Deer from 86 metres away – that’s a pretty good shot for an airgun. For the record, my personal longest shot to quick-kill an animal was 328 metres and the Solokhin holds that – or it did until I reset my profile – I guess I’ll have to repeat that in the future. But for now I think that my second loadout above will be my starting loadout, especially as the changes mean that I will be able to use the Vasquez to take down Foxes – no longer any need for the .223 in that role.

Lets have a quick game of Spot the Fallow Deer……Do you see them? Yes, that’s them……Drinking in the lake.

Here’s another one……He may think he’s invisible but he soon got that feeling ‘somebody’s watching me’……so he had to stand up 🙂

Hope you enjoyed those images – till next time 🙂