This month, the open-world hunting game theHunter: Call of the Wild turns four years old. As luck would have it, we’re able to celebrate this with the release of the 9th reserve today for Xbox One titled Te Awaroa National Park. Today, we’re joined by Product Owner at Expansive Worlds Sacha Karsenty, to talk about some of the team’s inspiration and thoughts behind the new reserve, and his best advice for players jumping in for the first time.
Expansive Worlds PR & Influencer Manager Mauritz Carlström: What is Te Awaroa National Park?
Expansive Worlds Product Owner Sacha Karsenty: Following the release of our previous reserve, Silver Ridge Peaks, which was inspired by the Rocky Mountains in North America, we wanted to bring players to a part of the world that had yet to be explored in the game. With Te Awaroa National Park, we’re taking the hunt to a reserve inspired by the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. We’ve added four new species to the animal roster, a powerful new rifle, and 16 story missions for hunters to complete.
Carlström: What were some of the inspirations behind Te Awaroa National Park?
Karsenty: During our now four years with theHunter: Call of the Wild, the story has become a crucial part of making the experience even more believable and immersive. For Te Awaroa National Park, the team took a lot of inspiration from New Zealand’s real-life hunting history. In particular, the daring escapades of the hunters who tracked down and captured deer from helicopters for the commercial venison industry, as well as the mystery that surrounds the vast, empty South Island bush.
New Zealand is also one of the only places in the world where virtually all game animals are invasive species. This helped us emphasise the value of hunting as a means of preserving New Zealand’s biodiversity, which the warden – the reserve’s overseer – champions throughout the storyline
Carlström: The reserve has quite a few references to films, including an accessible movie set with green screens. Were movies a big inspiration for the team during development?
Karsenty: Funny you mention that! We’re huge movie fans, so we couldn’t resist the urge to include a few nods here and there, especially to a certain movie series about a precious ring… Jokes aside, we decided early on that we wanted to do a bit of a mix of the fantastical and the real, and have the narrative centre around the after-effects of a movie being filmed there. Our world designer and artists were able to really bring that to life with some superb locations and set-pieces.
Carlström: The reserve features a lot of landmarks and environmental props for players to discover. How do you decide on what to put into the game?
Karsenty: We got a lot of help from our Kiwi Community Manager Mat, who’s also experienced in hunting, but it’s a collaborative process where the whole team comes together to contribute with ideas. When we know what location we’re going for, we start looking at real-life objects that exist there, such as the architecture and what materials it uses.
We also research historical events that we think can be fun or interesting to reference in the game, such as the crashed helicopter that hunters used for venison hunting. Based on that, we then create things like props, buildings, and structures that emphasise the level of realism we are striving for.
Carlström: Which animal species are available in the reserve?
Karsenty: We’ve done eight reserves before, featuring animals such as Lions, Gray Wolves, Grizzly Bears and Cape Buffalos, but it was just as fun to pick the animals this time. In this reserve, there are eight species available, four of which are new additions. A big one is the Sika Deer, which had long been requested by our community. The Feral Pigs and Feral Goats are also fun to hunt. Other species you can find are Chamois, Red Deer, Turkey, European Rabbits and Fallow Deer.
Carlström: What advice would you give someone who’s jumping into the game for the first time?
Karsenty: If it’s your first time ever playing the game, I’ll give the same advice I give to everyone – stop running, it scares away the animals just like in real life! We understand that the game can be overwhelming at first, even if you’re a seasoned gamer, so we’ve tried making the introduction in each reserve as intuitive as possible. It might be comforting to know that theHunter: Call of the Wild isn’t a pure simulation game, but rather a game that focuses on immersion.
It’s also good to keep in mind that each animal species requires a different hunting approach. Personally, I really like hunting the Chamois, as they look so cool! Outside of the core hunting experience, I would say make sure to explore the reserve and find all the props and landmarks. That’s something I enjoy a lot!
theHunter™ Call of the Wild – Te Awaroa National Park
theHunter: Call of the Wild™