It’s been a while since I last posted about The Hunter – Call of the Wild. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from a game and sometimes it’s just that we’ve become too involved with a different game. The latter is certainly true of the Oak Glen Farm series that I was posting. In many ways I just wanted to get a play-through from early beginnings in Farming Simulator 19 completed and I think I have now achieved that. So, as that series goes into ‘updates’ mode I find I have some time to get back to hunting.

On returning, I decided it was time to push on with the many story missions in the game. I decided to concentrate on Layton Lakes as I want to find out who was turning over Hope’s camp and tie up some of the other loose ends. There are lots of side missions too and I’ve been knocking out quite a few of them. One example of chained missions from the reserve warden involved Black Bears and culling their numbers. Most recently we had to remove 4 of them. I’ve mentioned in the past that not all bears are black, so while this bear that I shot from a hunting stand using a .44 revolver is the ‘correct’ colour……This one, victim of my 6.5mm rifle, is a rather fetching blonde… As an aside, there was a little bit of friendly banter going on between two of my young trucking colleagues on Twitter, which centred around Masha and the Bear. I couldn’t resist tweeting “Sorry guys, I think I’ve shot the Bear 😉

Of course, while the game is about hunting, there’s always time to enjoy some of your encounters with the wildlife and to breathe in the scenery…

In yesterday’s Trucking Digest I posted a video of one of my shorter drives. I’m going to close this post with a video of a short hunt to bring some life to the game for those of you who have not played it. Unlike most in-game videos that you will find on YouTube, there is no commentary and I haven’t edited anything out to just show shooting action. So we have 30 minutes of hunting around the northern end of Balmont Lake in the early morning. It includes hunting Blacktail Deer with a bow. then there’s an encounter with a Bear – I think we were both surprised and the outcome was probably best for us both! 😉 Then I couldn’t hold the rifle still to shoot a Moose at 100m, normally a shot I’d have no problem with 😦 Finally I redeem myself with two heart shots to complete the hunt…

Grind… Grind is our thought for the day… Grind is a Timesink… Almost all computer games have it. In many, especially games from Triple A publishers, it is deliberately introduced into the game. Usually the grind is there to give the player a sense of achievement when they finally get a rare resource or special weapon, having worked long hours to get it. More recently it has become central to a controversial form of monetisation in games produced by certain publishers – made excessively hard to encourage players to purchase ‘time saving’ items from the publisher’s store. There are other forms of monetisation like loot boxes that have now come under the eye of governments around the world as they often constitute gambling where many of the players are below the legal age to gamble. Again, Grind is used as a way to push the player into trying to be lucky with loot boxes and purchasing them multiple times in the hope of getting the desired reward.

Does Grind exist in Simulation games? Of course it does but that’s just part of simulating something that happens in the real world of whatever the game is simulating – it isn’t something artificial that the developers have introduced. Is it used to ‘monetise’ the game? Not normally. An example of monetisation that I would recognise as such is the availability of special fishing kit dlc’s in The Fisherman – Fishing Planet. These are often purchased by new players to get a kick-start in the game as they offer higher level equipment than is available when you first start, along with some in-game cash. But they’re aren’t forced upon you by the Grind of trying to level-up which happens very quickly anyway and they do offer some cosmetic items that are otherwise not available in the game – so you choose whether you want to be seen in a gold and white spandex jacket by other players 😉 Definitely not my style! In The Hunter – Call of the Wild you can purchase weapons pack DLC’s. They will give you access to some more interesting and more powerful weapons than the initial ones in the game but they won’t make you any more successful as a hunter as that is entirely related to your ability to find the animals and shoot accurately. So neither of these really offer a way to reduce any Grind you may experience in those games.

The Truck and Farming Sim games have Grind – it’s part of being a Farmer or a Long Distance Truck driver in real life. Do the games offer ways to avoid the Grind? Yes, but you don’t buy them – they’re part of the base game. In the Truck Simulators I can opt for only short jobs – there’s a job length slider in the settings menu and the game will then offer more short distance jobs if I wish or mainly long distance if I prefer that. In farming sim, you can hire a helper to do your task for you such as seeding or harvesting while you either watch them or get on with another task around the farm. There is a caveat to that, and one which prompted this preamble, you can’t use a helper when you’re creating a new field because the game engine can’t know where the boundaries of your new field are going to be. So you have to plough it yourself and Do The Grind!

Which brings us neatly to field 14 that I mowed in the last post. I’m creating a new crop field on the west side of the track through the field and because the plough only cuts a swathe 2.5m wide at a speed of 7mph that is going to take some time. Starting at the bottom (south end) of the new planting area with the first few rows done……It’s going to be a long morning. Forty minutes later and we’re a third of the way up the slope……I’m running on real time, so that’s forty real world minutes of rinse and repeat, row-upon-row. Just over half-way and we enjoy a Spitfire flypast……Finally after an hour and forty-five minutes, the job is done……Now that’s Grind!

Could I have avoided the Grind? Well, I could have bought a pre-existing crop field from another farmer – then I could have got a helper to plough the field for me. But the cost of buying such a field was too high for my budget and my intended way of growing my farm so that was out of the question. Another option was to ‘cheat’!! There are fast ploughing mods out there which make your plough cut a much wider swathe than it’s supposed to and allow your tractor to do the work at 30mph instead of 7mph – Can you really see me going down that road in a simulation?? So I accept the grind because it’s part and parcel of being a Farmer.

I said that I wanted to get this second crop field ‘on-line’ as quickly as possible because the Euro Truck Sim Community Event is probably starting today so yesterday I pressed on in the real world afternoon, Liming and Cultivating in preparation for Sowing. The good news is that the field’s previous owner had fertilized the Grass – so when I ploughed the grass in it, in-turn, fertilized the field so I don’t have to do that step 🙂 Final task then was to Sow the field……and I’m planting Soy Beans which is a good cash crop. And here we are, folding up the seeder after completing the task……Just got to wash down the implements and take some of them for maintainence – the plough in particular is looking a bit worse for wear…

I will continue to post about Oak Glen Farm but it’ll be less frequently. My next task will probably be harvesting my crop of Oats in the other field, then it’ll be time to cut a crop field into the other side of field 14 – possibly for Wheat or Barley which would open the door for Chickens. Have a great day everyone! 🙂

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!