Humans have hunted for as long as we’ve existed. Whether for sustenance or for sport, we’ve gone out into the wild places of the world intent on coming back with a fresh kill and a daring story. Many of our greatest gods and legends are accomplished hunters – Artemis, Mixcoatl, and Nimrod to name just a few. With the mythos and action surrounding the hunt, it’s a perfect fit for video games.
We’ve assembled a list of the best hunting games ever to grace a screen. From simple point-and-shoot fare to ultra realistic sims to modern myths of epic prey, these games offer whatever part of the hunting experience you could want – without having to get up at four in the morning.
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Updated On January 2, 2023 by Matt Arnold: Hunting games cover a wide variety of subgenres. Some players are looking for the most realistic experience possible, while others thrive on what-if scenarios and fantasy gameplay. We’ve added an at-a-glance realism rating to each entry so you can quickly find the best game for your chosen play style – check them out below!
Realism: 4/5. As solid as the tactical and hunting gameplay is, you can only get so realistic when dinosaurs are involved.
Hunting games that want to tout their realism will often point out the different reactions animals will have to the hunter’s actions. The player will need to stalk, ambush, pursue or even defend themselves according to the peculiarities of the animals’ fight-or-flight instincts. Many hunting games have such a mechanic. What most hunting games don’t have is dinosaurs.
An updated port of 1998’s Carnivores, Dinosaur Hunter lets the player put their hunting skills to the test against the mightiest beasts to walk the Earth. From velociraptors and stegosaurs to the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex, the game tasks you with changing tactics for each mark. The series has seen a number of reboots and remasters in the last ten years, but thus far none have quite surpassed the 2010 version.
10 Big Buck Hunter Reloaded (2020)
Realism: 3/5. The game encourages kill shots that would be correct in real-life hunting, but the fast-paced gameplay and absurd minigames never let you forget that you’re in an arcade.
Big Buck Hunter is often found in arcades and is designed to be quick, simple, and replayable. Each hunt shows a picturesque landscape with an assortment of animals to kill using the game’s gun peripheral, all of whom scatter as soon as they’re aware of you. While it’s not meant to be realistic, Big Buck Hunter captures the tense moment immediately before and after taking the shot.
The game also has some charming silliness, particularly in its minigames. The most recent iteration, Big Buck Hunter Reloaded, has the best graphics yet and, of all things, a zombie mode and a port of the Terminator: Salvation arcade game. Sure it’s corny, but the fun factor is undeniable.
9 Hunting Unlimited 2010 (2009)
Realism: 5/5. Despite being an older title, this is one of the better games out there for players who want an authentic experience.
While there have been other Hunting Unlimited titles since, for our money the 2010 edition is the best of the lot. Not only does it have dozens of weapons and tools at the player’s disposal and a target range to try them in, but it also features over a hundred missions with set goals in addition to free roaming.
Best of all, unlike most other hunting games, Hunting Unlimited 2010 includes the franchise’s mission editor, allowing players to create and share their own customizable hunts. Since it’s an older title, it’s also fairly cheap on Steam – a steal when you consider it’s one of the best hunting games on PC.
8 Hunt: Showdown (2019)
Realism: 2/5. Magic and monsters make for an exciting hunt, which is why video games are such a great medium. Hunt: Showdown is a great pick for playing with friends, but it’s an action game first and foremost.
A grimdark PvPvE romp, Hunt: Showdown pits teams of hunters against supernatural forces in the Louisiana Bayou. To win, your team will need to track and kill the target monster before any of the competing teams. There’s more than one monster in the swamps, though, so a misstep can bring an end to your hunt quickly.
Hunting has evolved into a largely social activity in the real world, so a team-based hunting game makes a lot of sense. Realism and immersion are not the selling points here, but teams racing to kill a boss first is a cool concept and the tracking element only serves to ratchet up the tension. Besides, who wouldn’t want to unleash their inner Van Helsing?
7 Duck Hunt (1984)
Realism: 1/5. It’s Duck Hunt.
This single-screen shooter is a true classic. Duck Hunt, arguably the most well-known hunting game in the world, was one of the few games to make use of the NES Zapper accessory. Anyone who’s played it on original hardware can hear the sh-ching of the trigger to this day – and likely carries a burning animosity for the game’s jerk of a hunting dog.
Related: The Best Duck Hunting Locations in Red Dead Online
Easily the simplest game on this list, Duck Hunt is a staple of retro gaming. It came packed with the NES, sharing a cartridge with no less a game than Super Mario Brothers itself. Its legacy also lives on in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, where the game’s animals team up as a playable fighter.
Realism: 3/5. Tracking cryptids across the wilderness puts these games squarely in the fantasy genre, but if you run with the premise that these creatures exist, both Bigfoot and Folklore Hunter provide a solid tracking and hunting experience that’s much safer than actually trying to bag dangerous game.
Sharing this spot are two sides of the same early-access coin. Both Bigfoot and Folklore Hunter send you (and your friends, if you wish) to hunt a supernatural beast – the titular sasquatch and the Wendigo, respectively. Each monster is strong, cunning, and doesn’t like humans in its territory. Standing no chance in a straight-up fight, you will need to track the monster, learn its habits, and eventually lure it into a position where you can put it down for good.
Both games have a horror element to them, as you never know quite whether you are the hunter or the hunted. Encounters with the target usually consist of trying to deal enough damage to drive it off and maybe wound it for later fights, or the humans running for their lives. These hunting games are the first in an exciting new subgenre, and we can’t wait to see where they go next.
5 Hunting Simulator 2 (2020)
Realism: 5/5. Honestly, we’d be disappointed if a game called Hunting Simulator wasn’t one of the most realistic games around.
For the player who wants realism in their hunting games, Hunting Simulator 2 is a strong choice. It will see you selecting the appropriate ammunition for the job as you track dozens of animals over three gorgeous environments. You’ll need to use real-world hunting tactics and gear to be successful, including weapons and outfits.
Best of all, Hunting Simulator 2 gives your character a dog to accompany you on the hunt. Picking the right breed for the job is part of the game’s strategy, and you’ll be using your companion to sniff out, run down, and retrieve prey just as much as you’ll be using your firearms – and yes, you can pet them too. The dogs, not the firearms.
4 Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive (2014)
Realism: 4.5/5. Spear fishing is an experience that fewer people will likely have in their lifetimes than traditional hunting, so Depth Hunter gets props for bringing that into people’s homes. The only real point against it is the fact that there’s so much treasure within easy diving range.
Depth Hunter 2 is a spear-fishing sim with plenty of underwater environments to explore. The challenges associated with underwater hunting provide new gameplay experiences, including three-dimensional environments and the need to monitor your oxygen. The game specifically simulates breath-holding spearfishing as opposed to SCUBA, so timing your dives and taking care not to overexert your character are critical skills to learn.
The game also offers a photo mode and sunken treasures to recover. Combined with three giant environments from around the world, this gives Depth Hunter 2 extra replayability and something to offer anyone who wants to journey through the deep.
3 Cabela’s North American Adventures (2010)
Realism: 5/5. The extra conditions and challenges in North American Adventures make it a great choice for sim fans who are looking for something different.
There have been a lot of Cabela’s hunting games over the years, but North American Adventures stands out for its unique twist on the genre. This time around, your big game hunter is accompanied by a cameraman. The pair are filming a reality show, and your job is not only to bring down your prey but to do so in a way that gets your cameraman the footage he needs to make the show a hit.
The merging of hunting and photography gameplay is incredibly unique, cementing North American Adventures as our choice from Cabela’s extensive lineup.
2 Monster Hunter Rise (2022)
Realism: 2/5. Monster Hunter definitely nails the preparation that goes into a successful hunt, as well as the overall lethality of trying to fight a large predator. However, its high-fantasy setting keeps it strictly in the realm of make-believe.
Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has gained a cult following that’s only getting stronger with each successive entry. The franchise’s trademark massive boss fights and co-op focus have reached new heights in the latest entry, and fans have already fallen head-over-heels for the new characters introduced in Monster Hunter Rise. It almost goes without saying that the game is gorgeous – just be careful not to get too distracted lest you miss a dodge roll.
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The game’s fantasy setting allows for unchecked creativity in coming up with new creatures to hunt, and the action-oriented gameplay is a departure from other hunting games but the need for skill and focus is still front and center.
1 theHunter: Call of the Wild (2017)
Realism: 5/5. We’d honestly give this one a six if we could. The environments, animal behaviors, and player tactics are all about as realistic as it gets. It’s enough to make even the indoorsiest gamers consider giving the real thing a try.
For the true realistic hunting aficionados, there is no better game on the market today than theHunter: Call of the Wild. Its massive, realistic environments are a feast for the eyes, and you’ll be hard-pressed to explore every inch of them. The individual animals are nearly unique, leaving it up to the player to decide from behind the scope which beast will yield the best trophy. Every step your character takes will crunch leaves and snap twigs, potentially alerting the wildlife to your presence. The game even has an engine to generate unique antlers on animals. Expansive Worlds really did try to think of everything.
Best of all, this deeply immersive PC game continues to be actively supported with both free and paid content. New locations, animals, vehicles, weapons and hunting dogs are being added all the time, making Call of the Wild a living, growing experience.
Next: Scary Games Where You’re the One Being Hunted