theHunter is a free to play PC game that recreates hunting wild animals in a manner as realistic as possible, on an open world area called Evergreen Hunting Reserves. The "EHR" currently includes nine playable environments modeled on the Eastern USA, Scandinavia, Germany and Australia. theHunter is developed by Expansive Worlds.
The free game features some basic equipment including the .243 Bolt Action Rifle, as well as three huntable animal types (Mule Deer, Cottontail Rabbit and European Rabbit). Subscribers unlock all animals.
In order to play, the player first creates a character on the game's website . Creating a character requires selecting an avatar and adding a unique name. Once a character is created and the tutorial completed, the player can hunt freely, activate missions and earn one of two types of in game currency called gm$. Completing the first 3 Mule Deer Missions unlocks further missions from other animals in the game.
Players must use natural cover to avoid detection by the animals in the game. Each animal species reacts to different stimuli in different ways. Scent detection for the quadrupeds is their keenest sense, which means the player must be aware of wind direction, or the animal might smell the player's scent and run off. Players must also pay careful attention to the sound scape, listening for subtle signals that indicate the presence of animals in the locality.
The core gameplay revolves around tracking and harvesting (killing) animals with the weapons provided, although a digital camera is also provided for those who do not wish to shoot with a gun. Animal tracks can be found and identified with the Huntermate, an in-game GPS-like device that identifies tracks such as footsteps, droppings, rooting, bedding, as well as blood trails or animal sound signals like calls. theHunter also features minor RPG elements. As players track and spot each animal their skill in that area improves. Weapon skills can also be improved by scoring successful hits on animals. Improving the hunting skills makes animals easier to track, and a weapon will not suffer as much "wobble" when aimed.
theHunter can be played in single player mode as much as in multiplayer mode. Up to eight players can share a game and enjoy hunting as a team. In-game chat increases the social aspect of the hunting experience with friends. In either of these modes, man's best friend can also be engaged: a dog that will accompany the player and provide useful help during the virtual outing.
For the competitive minds a host of tournaments is running at all times, allowing the players to compete in achieving the best results for all animals as well as in multi-species competitions.
Players can get a step ahead of the animals (and the competitors) by acquiring clothing suitable for certain areas, hunting stands, lures and many other pieces or equipment.