I have used this ‘Birdshot’ title for a few years to post about my hunting experiences in The Hunter: Call of the Wild. I like to think I have used it wisely and well to explain and advertise a game that has issues with the community outside of its players – In my own experience Driving trucks is not the same as shooting Deer…One is unlikely to spook anyone while the other can result in an angry reaction. So, before I go any further… In real life I do not intentionally kill any form of wildlife. If I go hunting, it’s with a camera and my most controversial subjects are humans going about their daily lives. It never fails to amaze me that shooting Humans or Zombies in a computer game is ok but Deer is not?.. There may be a values issue out there but I don’t think that it’s my issue. Ok – Needed to get that off my chest because there is a new hunting game out on PC, PS5 and XBox.

Last week a new kid on the block arrived. Until now, in my opinion, there have only been 2 options for gamers looking for serious simulations of hunting – one’s that make you really work for your kills, don’t reward failure and provide realistic graphics as a framework. That was The Hunter – an online free to play game – and The Hunter: Call of the Wild – the paid application – both from Expansive Worlds. Although made by the same developers, they are very different. Real world hunters, mainly from the US, view the web based game as being more true to the real world hunting experience. I found it ‘clunky’ as a computer gamer and that’s probably why ‘Call of the Wild’ came into being – an attempt to make the genre more accessible to non-hunters while also bringing in some additional money to fund further development.

The new arrival is called Way of the Hunter and comes from Nine Rocks Games via publisher THQ Nordic. It’s definitely going to provide a real challenger to Call of the Wild despite having some issues at launch. It has some excellent scenery – here’s some examples…

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But, additionally, it is already drawing praise from the same hunting community on YouTube that have always stood behind The Hunter as being the most accurate game out there – the animals behaviour in this game is very realistic. I can’t use real world personal experience to verify that but let me tell you an in-game anecdote from hunting a little earlier this week. I was crouch-walking up a grassy bank when I heard a deer bleat ahead. It was a warning and I new I was detected by scent. I crept up to the top of the bank and saw a small gathering of Mule Deer looking straight at me. Then, the males first, they slowly made ‘nasty smell around here’ motions with their heads and peeled off to walk majestically down the hill away from me. I could have taken a shot at the last doe, but it didn’t feel right. I let her go and set about planning my end around manoeuvre to get a fresh shooting position. That moment in time felt so real for me and that’s something this game seems to be delivering.

There’s a lot more that I would need to cover to give a potential player a good view of what this game is about, so I think I will need another Birdshot post soon to explain the gameplay. However, I do think it would be remiss of me not to tell that there is a storyline within the game that emphasises ethical hunting. The game as a whole explains the right ways to hunt including why correct management of a deer herd is important to ensure a good gene pool. I can’t say that I’ve seen that in a game before and hopefully the message of ethical hunting will be passed on.

Details of what’s good and bad about this game to follow soon 😎

You’re unfollowed…

Twitter is an interesting place. Followers come and followers go, usually without creating any ripples in the ionosphere. I don’t really worry about my following on twitter – I recognise that, a bit like WordPress, people follow for many reasons – for example, in the hope you will follow back so that they can build their following. that doesn’t mean I don’t care – on both WordPress and Twitter I have people that I enjoy having a proper chat with. That said, twitter is the more instant of the two and I often chat with members of the trucking sim community when on twitter. There is some good banter that goes on between us and none of it is taken too seriously – even the discussions about which truck may be better! So, on Twitter, my following currently sits on 935, which is slightly higher than at the time of the tale I’m going to tell.

Like my regulars on WordPress, most of my Twitter contacts know that I play more than just truck sim games. It’s well known that I play The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Quite a number of them play too. So, in early June, I decided to share a screenshot on twitter…

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And with the screenshot I tweeted “Nordin 20 gauge shotgun – single shot=3 bunnies.. That’s the stew sorted out for the rest of the week 🤣”

I was somewhat surprised when just a few minutes later I got a tweet in reply expressing disgust and stating that they had unfollowed me and that I would be blocked! My surprise initially was because I didn’t know the person at all – was totally unaware that they were following me. But then my incredulity became even more piqued – were they telling me that they couldn’t tell that this is an in-game screen shot? And hadn’t they noted the emoticon that surely shows I’m having a laugh?

It’s the first time I’ve experienced such a reaction and I was a bit non-plussed. I can remember joking on twitter in the past with a trucking friend in Germany that as he had the ketchup in his trailer we should get together because I had just killed enough boar to make Bratwurst for the next month! That didn’t draw any bad reactions. In fact I and several friends, have shared quite a few tweets of our day’s hunting before without anyone reacting like this.

So what do you see – Real Rabbits slaughtered and a rightful reason for anger or do you see the truth of the situation?

With the beginner mini-series of Trucking Digest posts completed, I have to decide where my gaming posts should venture next. Posting about the Visual Novel game Winds of Change is a no-no. It would quickly hit the issue of spoilers and I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who does decide to give the game a go. I can post about The Hunter – Call of the Wild. Although there are story missions in each of the reserves, it’s much more likely that I would be talking about the hunting on a particular map and sharing some nice screenshots. So that’s one possibility and such posts would see a return of the Birdshot series. Hold that thought and I’ll share a screen shot from a reserve I’m currently hunting on…

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…Another possibility is a return to FS22 – I started a story but changing out my gaming pc rather messed that up. I know at least one of my readers likes the farm tales, so I will restart that series although I may need to rewrite the first post to adjust it for a different crop as the chances are that there will be something other than Sunflowers in Field 17 when I buy it. I should be able to replicate the basic farm buildings and layout ok though 😎 Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to be as lucky as I was in that play through – you never got to see the second-hand harvester that Monsieur Armand had secured for me…

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There is a part of me that is itching to go back into space. Sadly, I think my Elite days are in the past – Introducing RNG mechanics into the performance of ships was a step beyond what I’m happy with, especially when you have to travel one of a few very select locations to roll those dice and hope that you might get a performance improvement. If it could be done on any station I might have been less disenchanted with the idea. But I still feel that Elite is very much a Space Trucking Simulation and simulations shouldn’t have random elements in the core mechanics of vehicles. Imagine if, in Truck Simulator, visiting the truck dealer in Berlin allowed me to tune my 460HP engine and get an increase in power that gave a random result somewhere between 500HP and 1000HP. That would be unrealistic. On the other hand, if I could buy a chip kit that boosted the power by a specific amount from any maintenance facility, then that would be realistic as such kits exist in the real world. I’ve used Euro Truck Simulator as an illustration and I hope you get the picture of why I have lost my mojo when it comes to Elite.

There are other space games on the market. Ignoring games involving the Star Wars and Star Trek universe, along with those that are really first person shooters like Destiny and Warframe, I’m really looking for something a little like Elite but perhaps with a little more company and fleet management style of play. There are a few of these around. Perhaps the most well known is EVE Online. It looks stunning and has a lot of possibilities in variety of play. There is one limiting factor – the cost. If you want to progress to the better ships then you have to pay a monthly subscription either through real cash or though a form of in-game currency that is equivalent to cash. Now you can buy a Training Boost Bundle and I understand that the long term players are not happy about it – EVE was always very ‘Pay to Win’ but that has really set the seal on it and, frankly, I want no part of it.

I’m currently looking very seriously at X4: Foundations. This game seems to sit somewhere between EVE and Elite in terms of gameplay It has the possibility for building and operating fleets – which is not a part of Elite gameplay. You can sit in and pilot your ship which is not something you actually do in EVE. One major difference between X4 and the other games is that it doesn’t have a Player v Player element. That doesn’t bother me too much. Both EVE and Elite have their share of gankers – players that hang out in groups where new players spawn and kill them for fun. I know that in Elite, some vigilante groups came into being to hunt down gankers and kill them in an effort to discourage the practise. There were other groups that would fly to the rescue of anyone out of fuel and stranded in the galaxy. PVP often brings out the worst in gamers but sometimes it can also bring out the best! In my time in Elite I always played in the PVP world. I was never killed by another player but I did get to make a couple of good friends along the way 😎

I do have one ‘Space’ game that I have already re-started, Hardspace: Shipbreaker, so I will probably post some screenshots from that one soon. But it’s a very claustrophobic space – imprisoned in a dockyard area, dismantling old ships. There are no grand vistas here 😓

So that’s where I’m at – hurrying through the Winds of Change story, driving my trucks, preparing to do some farming, cutting up some old vessels and looking seriously at another space game – Variety, as they say, is the spice of life 😂