I play this game since nearly the beginning, have seen the initial developer go bankrupt and the new developer take over. I have seen month with nothing happening in terms of developments and I have seen the last few month after multiplayer was released with new stuff released every few weeks.
If you love hunting simulations, theHunter for sure is the game you want. It's way more realistic then Cabela's games, it has pretty nice graphics and huge different hunting locations with many, many animals to hunt. Every species feels special and there has not been a really good hunting simulation since Deer Hunter 2005.
- Pricing -
The downside: You need to invest a whole lot of money. To really enjoy the game you need a membership for about 5$ a month. No membership and you can only hunt very few species, need to buy ammo for all but the default rifle and can't create multiplayer games. Sure you can stick with some basic guns, but to take part in competitions and finish missions you need a whole lot of different guns. Each between 3 and 5$. Not to forget, there are tree stands, ground blinds and tents you would like to use sooner or later because there are very few fixed hunting towers on the maps and... yes, each of these items is another 4,50$ from your wallet.
Just a few numbers for you:
All weapons with scopes (not caluclation different skins or "premium" skins)
more then 150$
All callers (no decoys, no consumables like scents):
Decoys for one full area for each species:
Clothing depends on what you want, so I don't add a number to this, but each clothing set is about 5$... and you guess it: Some work better in different areas or against different species.
Stands and tents... lets say two of each for each reserve, you place them permanently, you don't want to pick them up after each hunt, so you can't really use the same two everywhere.
more then 200$
Sure, you are free to choose if you want this items, but to get everything out of the game you want this stuff. And more, every few weeks there is a new weapon, new cool cloth and your membership runs out every now and then.
- Earn ingame money -
There are ways to earn ingame money: Win competitions, but without spending money you can only take part in very few competitions and so the chance is low (and the prize money gets you nowhere). They developers also have partnered with third-party pages who offer you some money for playing other online games, taking part in surveys or downloading and using different applications. The results are spam on your email address, malware and a lot of these offers simply don't reward you.
There is a different ingame currency you earn completing missions, but you can only use this "money" on consumables and you need a good bunch of weapons to finish most missions, so again: No way without spending money. There is no way to grind the gear inside the game.
Without spending money you stick with the .243 for the free Mule Deer and you can unlock the Single Shot Shotgun to hunt Cottontail Rabbits, but you need to buy the ammo for it. That works with earned money for some time, but sooner or later you will run out of missions to do without buying weapons or a membership for real money.
- Bugs -
The game is full of bugs. I personally can't say there are gamebreakers, but animals getting stuck in trees, climbing trees, nearly all weapons stuck into your arm and broken reloading animations and other smaller and bigger bugs are around since a long time and often they return after a few patches. Gamebreaking bugs get fixed pretty fast but smaller bugs are often not relevant enough (and the fixes can't be sold like ne weapons or cloth) so we will for sure see this bugs for some more time.
- Community -
Just have to add it now, after multiple insults from fanboys. This game has a small die hard community that are happy to have this game, due it's the only one of it's kind. This makes them accept and defend every action the developers take. Since this review I often got friend requests from some of these guys that have nothing better to do then to tell me I'm a hypocrit to play this game a lot and not remommending it in my review. That's what you get from the community if you are not a 100% fan and don't think it's okay to pay a small fortune for this game.
- Conclusion -
As said, I'm into this game since years, I love it and I will keep playing it, but since about a year this game is all about money and everything ingame is pretty expensive.
Like with this the pre-release review postet on Steam, my personal experience showed me, that the developers break promises and contracts, lie in some cases, solve things always to their best and only communicate public what makes them look good.
- Tipp for beginners -
If you enjoyed the small free part, go to bit.ly/1oEMUr0 or google for "theHunter 2014 box" and purchase a key from the boxed edition of the game. For about 17 € you get 6 month membership (hunt all species, get free ammo for all guns) some starter weapons that allow you to hunt all species ethically and some additional gear. It's the best deal you can currently get as a beginner. This box is also available at Amazon and some other retailers if you want the box itself.