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I promised a more detailed look at the new game Way of the Hunter a couple of weeks back and now I’ve had time to experience the game a bit more, here it is. Any review of this game is bound to include references to other hunting games as they provide a yardstick to judge what is good and what is not. I will try to keep them to a minimum.

When the game released it caused a stir and it is still doing so. It really seems to be a curate’s egg of a game and I think some of that comes down to odd design decisions that were made in the run up to release. Even before beginning to play a couple of these become apparent. Firstly, there was no ability to change the mapping of keys in the game. Being able to change the key-mapping is important for PC players using mouse and keyboard – especially for players who are lefthanded. Although I noticed that one, it didn’t actually affect my play as the mappings worked ok for me. Less obvious to me but clearly important to other players was the lack of an ability to alter the field of view. The default view in the game is 70 degrees and this works quite well for me in giving a good approximation of what I would see though my eye’s IRL. But for other players this was a major issue. A third oddity was the lack of a ‘new game’ option. I like to do a quick test run in a game first before starting my real game save. Sometimes, when a game has a major change, I like to have the ability to restart afresh too. I had to go into the ‘hidden’ files on my drive and delete the save folder manually to achieve this. A final odd choice was to launch with only rifles and shotguns. Many players have wondered ‘where are the pistols and bows?’ At release, in addition to the issues listed above, many players experienced performance problems. There were also animals that spawned right next to you and blood trails that disappeared. I could go on, but you get the picture. The devs worked to fix things quickly. The initial fixes were delivered 9 days after release and inevitably introduced some more issues. Performance was badly hit in forested areas with some players saying the game was now unplayable. There was a lot of anger with accusations that the players were being used as beta testers. It all got quite emotive! The irony is that many of the issues experienced seem to be part and parcel of hunting games – there was a bit of a ‘The Hunter: Call of the Wild’ deja vu about it to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ A second tranche of fixes repaired most things although there are still some anomalies to be ironed out. Now I’ve covered the teething troubles, and this game isn’t yet 100%, let’s take a look at the gameplay.

The game begins with an introductory cut scene that leads straight into a series of tutorials designed to teach the basic elements of game play. As part of this you are given a gun referred to simply as Grandpa’s old rifle. You have to work through the tutorials in order to unlock the other weapons…

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…the first of which, the Remington 783, is used in the final part of the tutorial and unlocks the rest. Note that the rifles are all licensed by the real-world manufacturers. The same is true of a lot of other items in the game – this deer caller for example…

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After completing the tutorials, you are free to play as you like. Perhaps, go off and do some hunting? ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, there is a background story with missions to complete and also some jobs to do for other characters in the game. It is definitely worth doing these as part of your play. The developers have put some real effort into the background tale and even provided animated comic strips that you collect as you progress…

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…These tell you about your history along with that of some of the other characters in the game. It really is a great way to build a background and, I think, surpasses the story missions in other hunting games although one or two of the tales are vaguely similar. The game really pushes the values of ethical hunting and wild meat production through the storylines, so it can be quite educational too. Something that makes doing the story tasks and jobs well worthwhile is the areas which require a permit to hunt – each permit costs 4500…

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…but you can get them for free and earn some cash along the way by doing jobs for the characters in the game.

How realistic is the hunting? Well, you’d need a real-world hunter to answer that and the ones that post on YouTube seem to think that the behaviour of the deer is very realistic on the higher levels. Let me quickly explain the levels: There are 3 that provide some support in the form of a thing called Hunter Sense and a top level that provides no assistance at all. The first 3 levels with Hunter Sense range from very relaxed animals at the lowest level to very easily spooked animals at the highest level. Hunter Sense gives the player enhanced tracking and hearing abilities. The top level is, I understand, easily spooked animals like level 3 but without the aid of Hunter Sense. The game automatically starts you on level 2 – Adventurer – and until you complete all the tutorials, you can’t do anything about it. Then, when you want to change it, you’ll find it hidden in the terrain menu where you choose what map to play – Another odd design choice! Interestingly, if you delete your save to start again the game will remember the level you were playing on and will, for example, start you on level 3 (Hunter) to do your tutorials over again – weird!!! Just some advice that I think is generally agreed – If you are a seasoned Call of the Wild player then you should probably start Way of the Hunter on the ‘Hunter’ level because you already have all the skills necessary to play well at that level. I can report that the deer are very skittish at that level – you will need to approach with guile and probably crawl to get closer in a lot of cases – something I haven’t really ever done in Call of the Wild. The White Tail and Elk are probably most easily scared of the deer I have met so far. Once you have spooked a group of animals you will struggle to get close again as they seem to remain on a heightened state of awareness even when they appear calm. Also, some animals are very secretive, more so than in other hunting games – I’ve found Black Bear prints and scat, but I have yet to see one! Not all the animals behave quite as I would expect either – Pheasants will calmly walk around despite you being clearly visible to them! In my experience, most Pheasant’s that see you from the other side of a large field will quickly hop through the nearest hedge to hide ๐Ÿ˜‰

There’s a lot more I could write but this post has already become overly long. I will try to cover some more of the mechanics of the shooting side of the game and talk about the developer’s intentions for the future in another post soon.

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Showing respect to the fallen.

Back on August 5th I gave a vaguely dystopian view of my gaming world but, in some ways, it was an accurate view – the game takes precedence over other things including normal life. But there is a wholesome side. The joy of taking part, of supporting your fellow gamers and enjoying the challenge. And, if something bad is happening IRL, then obviously, that would take precedence!

I hit the ground running on that first Friday morning and I knocked out 8 of the required deliveries in my first day. On the Saturday I completed the last 4 to meet the requirement for the personal goal in the community event. All of this work was done by Motown Dog, my Mack R…

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…That came at an unexpected price – Motown Dog, being underpowered and having a manual gearbox, requires a lot of work and all that double-declutching caused me to suffer swelling and a lot of pain in my left foot. It only became apparent after the damage was done as I walked out for a family meal on the Sunday. It meant I had to withdraw from doing the Wingate & Finchley team photo the following Thursday too as I was still in pain when walking. It’s still tweaky even now! That’s an eSports injury right there ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ๐Ÿ‘

To progress with the driving I had to buy a new truck – a modern one that has an automatic gearbox and a retarder to make driving less foot heavy. If you recall, this is still a new profile so some options were out of my available choices due to my game level. I would probably have liked to have gone down the Mack road with an Anthem but I hadn’t found a Mack dealer to buy one (Motown Dog is effectively second hand and bought via the mod dealer). I looked around a number of other options – International (We already have an LT in service with the company at our Ontario base), Kenworth, Western Star and Freightliner. It wasn’t easy making a choice as there are so many trucks by those manufacturers that I can like. Having said that though, I was looking at something that would fit with our company profile of hauling Plant and Supplies for farming and industry. Motown Dog has great all round visibility and being able to look over your shoulder while reverse parking is a big benefit. What she doesn’t have is somewhere to sleep. That hasn’t been a big problem as I have tailored my rest stops to places in town or with hotels. Most of these trucks lose the rear view when you add sleeping accommodation!

Step up the Kenworth W990. I was surprised to find this truck had a 40″ sleeper option. It has been created as a ‘classic’ design on a modern chassis and that small sleeper is a throwback to the days of 36″ ‘coffins’. An additional benefit is the fact that the sleeper has windows in the back! For the sort of loads that we intend to carry normally, that is a huge bonus – seeing where the rear end of a lowboy trailer is ranks high on the desirable list! The only real issue was the provenance – the truck is based on the Kenworth T680. I dislike the T680 mainly because of its appearance. When I have driven one it has been an ok modern truck that performs similarly to the Peterbilt 579. I looked long and hard because, my intention this time around is to do stints of 100,000 miles in each truck before changing to another. We’re going to be companions for a long time!

I decided that this truck (another mod by Harven) was the way for me to go. I selected the mid-length chassis with the 260 gallon tanks. Initially that felt a bit of a mistake because the turning circle was huge compared to Motown Dog, but it is the right one. I opted for the 455HP Paccar engine and their 12 speed automatic box. There was an issue with the available choices of paint scheme. I now remember that this was an issue when I first tried this mod. This time around I tried out our White with the Orange and some Red lining…

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…I wasn’t totally happy but we headed out to do our first job. Note that in keeping with tradition, new truck = rain! ๐Ÿ˜… Since then I have tracked down another mod that provides a good modern paint scheme option and using our Company Red and White, I think I now have a very good looking truck…

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…And she now has a name – ‘Miss Lola’. A play on words from the Missoula garage where she is based. Inside, she is equipped in the manner of one of the classic big rigs like the Kenworth W900 or the Peterbilt 389. Lots of gauges and some nice wood and leather trim…

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…The second shot was taken as I went to the bank ๐Ÿ˜Ž A fellow driver recommended popping into Uncle Viktor’s down the block for lunch – Excellent Blini’s apparently ๐Ÿ˜… There’s always a bit of good natured banter to go around in our trucking community, even if it is virtual!

A lot of work has been done over the last week. We’ve helped the community towards the 100 million miles total for the Cruising Montana event – there are only around 4 million miles outstanding as I write this post and we’ll be done tomorrow! I’ve also cleared off 4 of the 5 new achievements in the week – several of those rely on random generation of the required cargo so many have had to be done as hire jobs rather than company work – but we’ve had to keep the clock ticking over and Miss Lola already has 15000mi on the odometer!

I will try to share some scenery shots from Montana in the future but, for now, here’s Miss Lola enjoying the flowers at a garden centre!..

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…And here’s what she looks like when she’s ‘Comin’ at You’…

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…very ZZ Top ๐Ÿ˜‚

A few weeks back I wrote a post about trying out this visual novel called Winds of Change…

WoC Character page

It was a new experience for me and I must admit that I was a little unsure at the beginning that I would actually go through to completing the ‘read’. However, I have now completed the first play-through. It took me just over 20 hours to reach the conclusion. Any doubts I had about the genre have faded – this was a very engaging experience and it is clear that my choices almost certainly made a difference to how the story played out. As evidence of that I know that I still have 4 achievements that I can unlock by making different choices along the way as well as 2 hidden achievements that clearly required me to take a totally different path somewhere in the story to make those visible and unlockable.

The story has many twists and turns, some of which I saw and some that came as a complete surprise. When a physical sexual interaction happened, it came out of the blue and involved a character that I had not envisaged! ๐Ÿ˜‚ So it’s fair to say that this story keeps you on your toes for significant periods of time. I’m not going to go into any more details about the game than I have as I don’t wish to give spoilers. What I will say is that I will definitely play through again because I would like to get the rest of the achievements and see what other possible fates await me and my companions.

If you’re feeling jaded at the many action games out there or want a break from simulations. If you don’t play computer games and want to start with something that doesn’t require the nimblest of fingers. Then maybe a visual novel is just the game for you. I can strongly recommend Winds of Change ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘