theHunter: Primal is a game that has been developed by Expansive Worlds that lets you stalk and hunt dinosaurs in an open world Jurassic era inspired environment. This has been on early access since December and so far it has some potential, but you really do need to have a lot of patience both in the game mechanics and the usual bugs you would expect to crop up in an early access title if you are to enjoy this game, don’t think you can jump in grab a powerful gun and mow down dinosaurs for fun. Expansive Worlds have described this title as ‘the most realistic prehistoric survival game ever created’, how it can be realistic I don’t know, but I am keen to find out.
First off I have encountered a few problems even connecting to the game, it has improved over the past few weeks though but there are still a few times when the game will crash before it has even loaded up the title screen. Once you are in though you either connect to or set up a game, here you will join other players in the open world that is apparently 9.3 square miles, a lot of area to walk around and I will be honest you will be walking, a lot. You can run but there is a stamina bar that depletes so quickly that it I found it very frustrating. It seems to take you forever to explore parts of the map.
Exploring is a key part of the game as when you first get into a game you are dropped in with basic supplies of a makeshift bow with just a handful of arrows. Why you would be sent in to hunt dinosaurs with such ineffective equipment doesn’t make much sense to me but it is what it is. To find something more powerful you will have to look for drop boxes that will appear on your handheld GPS device, these only appear though when you are within a certain range, so again, you need to do a lot of walking to find them and when you do it is more likely that you will find just ammo, not a weapon to fire them with.
So far there are just three different species of Dinosaurs for you to hunt, the Utharaptor, Triceratops and the king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex. As you may have guessed a bow and arrow isn’t going to do much against these so it is imperative that you hunt for decent weapons. More dinosaurs have been promised and I hope there are more as variety would go a long way to make this game more interesting and in turn last longer. What these dinosaurs will be is not clear but I hope they will all have unique methods of traversing the environment and not just similar to what is already in the game.
The world itself has been created in the Havok engine and I am glad to say that it looks great, the jungle environment of the inner island really does look like something from a Jurassic Park movie, throughout the world there are the remains of settlements ranging from basic camp fires to research facilities and army bases. Finding these areas is great as you really don’t know what you will find there, if you are lucky guns and ammo and not a pack of Raptors.
The dinosaurs are not the only thing that can kill you in this world, the environment itself is full or poisonous plants, deep ravines, cliff edges and even a volcano. Traversing the world can be a bit of a pain though as it can be very difficult to judge which areas you can climb down, often I killed myself just walking down a hill, I had got half way before falling to my death but the gradient didn’t appear to be any different, its frustrating as you lose all your supplies when you die, unless you can get back to where you died before one of the other hunters in the game.
The other hunters in the game are crucial if you are wanting to take down a T-Rex, you will need to work as a team to both distract and shoot it, go it alone and it will be just a matter of seconds before you are dead, a fair amount of ammo is required to bring it down and the more hunters you have working together the more likely it is you will get your trophy. And getting trophies is the basic aim of the game, beyond surviving of course.
So far I have both enjoyed and been frustrated by this game, I have enjoyed the open world, the dinosaurs and the ability to work as a team, but I have been frustrated by the time it takes to even become equipped to take on the dinosaurs, you are meant to be the hunter but it feels like you are really the hunted, and just staying alive long enough to be prepared for the dinosaurs will likely put people off playing it. It is not a run and gun game, you will need time to invest into it. It is not a game for everyone but if you can get into the pace of it it is really enjoyable. If you are playing this game you are likely to love Dinosaurs, and they are great to see in this game, it just needs more of them.