The Best Hunting Games
Humans have hunted for as long as we've existed. Whether for sustenance or for sport, we've gone out into the wild places of the world intent on coming back with a fresh kill and a daring story. Many of our greatest gods and legends are accomplished hunters – Artemis, Mixcoatl, and Nimrod to name just a few. With the mythos and action surrounding the hunt, it's a perfect fit for video games.
We've assembled a list of the best hunting games ever to grace a screen. From simple point-and-shoot fare to ultrarealistic sims to modern myths of epic prey, these games offer whatever part of the hunting experience you could want – without having to get up at four in the morning.
10 Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter (2010)
Hunting games that want to tout their realism will often point out the different reactions animals will have to the hunter's actions. The player will need to stalk, ambush, pursue or even defend themself according to the peculiarities of the animals' fight-or-flight instincts. Many hunting games have such a mechanic. What most hunting games don't have is dinosaurs.
An updated port of 1998's Carnivores, Dinosaur Hunter lets the player put their hunting skills to the test against the mightiest beasts to walk the Earth. From velociraptors and stegosaurs to the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex, the game tasks you with changing tactics for each mark. The series has seen a number of reboots and remasters in the last ten years, but thus far none have quite surpassed the 2010 version.
9 Big Buck Hunter Reloaded (2020)
Big Buck Hunter is often found in arcades and is designed to be quick, simple, and replayable. Each hunt shows a picturesque landscape with an assortment of animals to kill using the game's gun peripheral, all of whom scatter as soon as they're aware of you. While it's not meant to be realistic, Big Buck Hunter captures the tense moment immediately before and after taking the shot.
The game also has some charming silliness, particularly in its minigames. The most recent iteration, Big Buck Hunter Reloaded, has the best graphics yet and, of all things, a zombie mode and a port of the Terminator: Salvation arcade game. Sure it's corny, but the fun factor is undeniable.
8 Hunt: Showdown (2019)
A grimdark PvPvE romp, Hunt: Showdown pits teams of hunters against supernatural forces in the Louisiana Bayou. To win, your team will need to track and kill the target monster before any of the competing teams. There's more than one monster in the swamps, though, so a misstep can bring an end to your hunt quickly.
Hunting has evolved into a largely social activity in the real world, so a team-based hunting game makes a lot of sense. Realism and immersion are not the selling points here, but teams racing to kill a boss first is a cool concept and the tracking element only serves to ratchet up the tension. Besides, who wouldn't want to unleash their inner Van Helsing?
7 Duck Hunt (1984)
This single-screen shooter is a true classic. Duck Hunt, arguably the most well-known hunting game in the world, was one of the few games to make use of the NES Zapper accessory. Anyone who's played it on original hardware can hear the sh-ching of the trigger to this day – and likely carries a burning animosity for the game's jerk of a hunting dog.
Easily the simplest game on this list, Duck Hunt is a staple of retro gaming. It came packed with the NES, sharing a cartridge with no less a game than Super Mario Brothers itself. Its legacy also lives on in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, where the game's animals team up as a playable fighter.
6 Bigfoot (2017) and Folklore Hunter (2020)
Sharing this spot are two sides of the same early-access coin. Both Bigfoot and Folklore Hunter send you (and your friends, if you wish) to hunt a supernatural beast – the titular sasquatch and the Wendigo, respectively. Each monster is strong, cunning, and doesn't like humans in its territory. Standing no chance in a straight-up fight, you will need to track the monster, learn its habits, and eventually lure it into a position where you can put it down for good.
Both games have a horror element to them, as you never know quite whether you are the hunter or the hunted. Encounters with the target usually consist of trying to deal enough damage to drive it off and maybe wound it for later fights, or the humans running for their lives.
5 Hunting Simulator 2 (2020)
For the player who wants realism in their hunting games, Hunting Simulator 2 is a strong choice. It will see you selecting the appropriate ammunition for the job as you track dozens of animals over three gorgeous environments. You'll need to use real-world hunting tactics and gear to be successful, including weapons and outfits.
Best of all, Hunting Simulator 2 gives your character a dog to accompany you on the hunt. Picking the right breed for the job is part of the game's strategy, and you'll be using your companion to sniff out, run down, and retrieve prey just as much as you'll be using your firearms – and yes, you can pet them too.
4 Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive (2014)
Depth Hunter 2 is a spear-fishing sim with plenty of underwater environments to explore. The challenges associated with underwater hunting provide new gameplay experiences, including three-dimensional environments and the need to monitor your oxygen. The game specifically simulates breath-holding spearfishing as opposed to SCUBA, so timing your dives and taking care not to overexert your character are critical skills to learn.
The game also offers a photo mode and sunken treasures to recover. Combined with three giant environments from around the world, this gives Depth Hunter 2 replayability and something to offer anyone who wants to journey through the deep.
3 Cabela's North American Adventures (2010)
There have been a lot of Cabela's hunting games over the years, but North American Adventures stands out for its unique twist on the genre. This time around, your big game hunter is accompanied by a cameraman. The pair are filming a reality show, and your job is not only to bring down your prey but to do so in a way that gets your cameraman the footage he needs to make the show a hit.
The merging of hunting and photography gameplay is incredibly unique, cementing North American Adventures as our choice from Cabela's extensive lineup.
2 Monster Hunter: World (2018)
Capcom's Monster Hunter series has gained a cult following that's only getting stronger with each successive entry. The colossal open environment of Monster Hunter: World is one of the traits that make the game the series' best yet. Tracking and killing even the tamest of the game's monstrous marks can be a challenge, and taking down top-tier bests like Lunastra or the Extreme Behemoth truly feels like an accomplishment.
The game's fantasy setting allows for unchecked creativity in coming up with new creatures to hunt, and the action-oriented gameplay is a departure from other hunting games but the need for skill and focus is still front and center.
1 The Hunter: Call of the Wild (2017)
For the true realistic hunting aficionados, there is no better game on the market today than The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Its massive, realistic environments are a feast for the eyes, and you'll be hard-pressed to explore every inch of them. The individual animals are nearly unique, leaving it up to the player to decide from behind the scope which beast will yield the best trophy. Every step your character takes will crunch leaves and snap twigs, potentially alerting the wildlife to your presence. The game even has an engine to generate unique antlers on animals. Expansive Worlds really did try to think of everything.
Best of all, the game continues to be actively supported with both free and paid content. New locations, animals, vehicles, weapons and hunting dogs are being added all the time, making Call of the Wild a living, growing experience.
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