If you like the idea of hunting but don’t want the expense and hassle of actually going to the woods, then these hunting video games are the next best thing. The Cabela’s series dominated the hunting video game genre for many years, but some new competition has emerged in recent years. These games deliver much more depth, and improved graphics, and the simulations are very life-like.
For instance, you have the ability to set up camp and establish blinds to hunt from. Additionally, there is a fair amount of skill required to track animals both before and after the shot.
After an extensive review of hunting video games, these are our top picks:
The Best Hunting Video Games: Summary
|#1||Way of the Hunter||It is one of the most popular hunting and light gun games ever made.|
|#2||The Hunter: Call of the Wild||Has a fantastic online multiplayer mode where you can hunt with others.|
|#3||Duck Hunt||It is a realistic experience in a world that is packed full of animals.|
|#4||Hunting Simulator 2||It’s a free game that offers a nice blend of arcade and simulation hunting.|
|#5||Cabela’s The Hunt: Championship Edition||Compatible with a motion controller for a unique experience.|
|#6||Big Buck Hunter||Delivers the arcade experience that you know and love from the comfort of your home.|
#1. Way of the Hunter
Way of the Hunter is our top choice for the best hunting video game. This is one of the newest hunting games, coming out in August 2022. You can play Way of the Hunter on Xbox, PlayStation 5, and PC. What puts Way of the Hunter in the top spot is its realism. The power of the next-gen consoles enabled developers to create stunning landscapes that haven’t been seen in a hunting game.
Adding to the realism is the density of animals, which is lower than you may expect. This means you have to put some real effort into tracking them down. The audio is also incredible and offers some tranquility while also delivering important cues about animal locations. Way of the Hunter also has a nice story where you play as someone who rarely had the opportunity to get out to the woods and go hunting.
There are also many story diversions while playing, and the whole thing feels strangely relatable. Avid hunters also have a lot to enjoy, as the game employs a unique herd management system that is rarely seen in video games. This really makes you think twice about harvesting a buck or holding off until next season to wait for it to grow.
Also adding to the uniqueness and realism is the fact that most of the weapons and accessories in the game are licensed from big-name manufacturers. In contrast, most hunting games rely on fictitious guns, scopes, and binoculars. Way of the Hunter is a simulator that takes itself very seriously. Best of all, the developers continue to add more content in the way of new reserves to explore and equipment to use.
|Licensed weapons and gear.||Animals are few and far between.|
|There is a great story that keeps you playing.||There are still some bugs being worked out in updates.|
#2. The Hunter: Call of the Wild
Before the current generation of consoles, The Hunter: Call of the Wild was easily the best hunting game. Call of the Wild came out in October 2017 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It served as a successor to the popular The Hunter: Classic game that remains free to play on PC. However, Call of the Wild brought some major improvements as the original game came out in 2009 and showed its age.
Call of the Wild is a hunting simulator that offers both a single-player and a multiplayer online mode. Additionally, you have nine unique landscapes to choose from. The game has a lot of features for experienced hunters but also walks novices through the basics in a way that is easy to understand. While different developers make Call of the Wild and Way of the Hunter, both share similar features.
However, one of the most noticeable differences is that Call of the Wild has a lot more animals roaming around, which makes the game a little easier. There are also options to upgrade your abilities, and unfortunately, DLC provides access to even more equipment. Each reserve does have a simple story, but the online element is where Call of the Wild really shines.
|The game has a great online multiplayer mode.||There is DLC and in-game purchases.|
|Makes learning to hunt easy and fun.||Some elements are starting to show their age.|
#3. Duck Hunt
The most recognizable hunting video game of all time is Duck Hunt, and it is a must-play for every gamer. Debuting back in 1984 on the NES, this game surprisingly holds up very well. While it does not have the realism of modern simulators, Duck Hunt provides hours of fun and works best with two players.
The game was often included on the same cartridge as Super Mario Bros. and came packaged with a light gun. The NES Zapper could detect the ducks on the screen and tell the NES whether or not you hit it. The game is very simple: your dog scares the ducks while you shoot them down. You must hit ten birds to progress to the next level, with each level getting more difficult.
There is an option for one or two ducks to come out at a time, as well as a clay shooting practice area. Many people don’t realize that there is a two-player option in Duck Hunt. In the single duck mode, a second player can use a standard NES controller to direct the flying ducks, adding a nice dynamic. However, you will need to use an older CRT TV with your NES and Zapper for the game to work properly.
|It is very fun and addicting to play with friends.||Requires an NES console, Zapper, and a CRT TV.|
|It’s easy for anyone to pick up and start playing.||The gameplay is very simple, with no story.|
#4. Hunting Simulator 2
- Available on all last-generation consoles
- Realistic hunting game
- Features 33 animal species
- Over 160 weapons from the best brands
Those looking for a lesser-known hunting game will greatly enjoy Hunting Simulator 2’s playability. Hunting Simulator 2 stands apart from many of the realistic simulation games on this list. Despite having the word “simulator” in the title, it feels much more relaxed and arcade-like. Animals are very plentiful, and you even get a hunting dog.
Certain animals, such as whitetail deer, appear in almost every location in the game. Hunting Simulator 2 also skips some of the boring steps, like carrying and transporting animals. With that said, there is still plenty of realism and skill required. However, the game does guide you in choosing the right weapon and warning you about certain animals. The weapons and clothing you choose from are all licensed brands.
One great thing about Hunting Simulator 2 is that it is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The game is split into zones, including Texas, Colorado, and Europe. Although the game came out in 2020, the graphics look a little dated. One annoyance is that you must keep track of what animals you have tags for and which are in season.
|Available on all last-generation consoles.||The gameplay feels clunky and is missing a story.|
|There are a lot of animals for a realistic hunting game.||The graphics are very dated for a newer game.|
#5. Cabela’s The Hunt: Championship Edition
- Large variety of landscapes
- Great to get started with hunting games
- Epic prey to hunt
- Different game modes
The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have the biggest collection of hunting games, but Cabela’s The Hunt: Championship Edition makes up for the few choices. Fans of the long-running Cabla’s hunting series need to try out The Hunt: Championship, which is the latest installment in the franchise. While the depth of realism is not very strong, the game manages to pack in a lot of content.
The graphics are not perfect, but they are good enough for a handheld hunting game. You can choose between different game modes, including a career mode. However, you will have to play through this mode to unlock all ten maps. One nice aspect of The Hunt is that the landscapes vary dramatically from swamps to desert plains.
It also combines the need to find and stalk prey with some helpful hints that guide you in the right direction. Aiming is sufficient, but the mechanics feel more like an arcade hunting game than a simulator. You can also use an optional motion controller for aiming. Altogether, Cabela’s The Hunt is a great place to start before diving into some of the more complex hunting simulators.
|It’s a great game to get you started in the hunting genre.||Only available on Nintendo Switch.|
|Has a large variety of landscapes to explore.||The graphics look very dated.|
#6. Big Buck Hunter
Big Buck Hunter is the best choice for fans of arcade hunting video games. Most of the games discussed so far are simulators that strive to deliver a natural and realistic hunting experience. But Big Buck Hunter is a port of the arcade title of the same name. The biggest difference is that the original arcade game relies on a lightgun controller, while this version does not.
You can choose between three different regions and whether to hunt deer, elk, or moose. Once you make a decision, you are dropped into the game, which is packed with animals. The concept is simple: shoot as many bucks as possible while avoiding does. Smaller animals also appear, which you can shoot for bonus points, and predators will try to kill you.
You can’t move around much, and aiming is a little rough. However, there are some minigames and even a story mode. This is a great game to quickly start playing and get some entertainment, but it offers little to keep you drawn in for long periods of time. Big Buck Hunter is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and iOS.
|It’s a faithful port of the original arcade game.||It is priced higher than many simulation games.|
|Includes some fun minigames.||Load times are often longer than gameplay.|
Most hunting games are simulators, which some people find boring. There is a lot of walking around and tracking animals and a lot less shooting than you might imagine. But for many gaming enthusiasts, these titles offer a more tranquil and relaxing experience than typical console games. However, the games are not a replacement for getting out in nature.
With that in mind, newer games like Way of the Hunter offer a lot of variety, and the skill required to stalk your prey will certainly keep you locked in. Even so, hunting games are not for everyone, and many find that they are too intense for younger gamers. Nonetheless, they are a great option if you can’t make it out to the woods to actually go hunting.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Okyela/Shutterstock.com.