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Open Country

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Funlabs
Release Date: June 3, 2021


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Open Country'

by Cody Medellin on May 11, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Open Country is an arcade-style open-world adventure game that simulates hunting, exploration and survival.

Realistic hunting games may give players a ton of tutorials to help with the hunting and crafting, but players are mostly on their own when it comes to doing stuff and making actual progress. Open Country is trying something different in this respect, and for those who want to jump into the genre, the approach might not be a bad idea.

The preview build contained a few missions, with most of them acting as tutorials and previews of what to expect in the full game. The first mission, given to you by the lodge owner who'll give you free room and board in exchange, tasks you with going into the wilderness and grabbing all of the tools and materials to craft a lean-to and a campfire to do some cooking. The second mission gives you a rifle and asks that you bag three animals for their meat, preferably something small, like rabbits. The third mission gives you access to an ATV, and you'll travel to a few garages to pick up supplies that were left behind. The fourth mission is where things finally open up, as you're tasked with taking down a bull elk to control the population.

Except for the elk hunting, the other missions might not be interesting to purists but could appeal to those who want to dip into the genre. The structure eases players into things, which is good since there are lots of things to pay attention to. There are several meters — fatigue, hunger, temperature and thirst — and maintaining them is essential for survival. Injuring yourself from animal attacks or jumping from large heights means needing to treat wounds and injuries before they get worse and affect your health. Encumbrance is a thing, so sprinting is out of the question if you're carrying too many things in your pack. The goods you have come with a shelf life, so hunting down game and picking up every berry and mushroom is wasteful if you can't use it before it rots.

All of these things plus a day and night cycle suggest that the game may be sim-like, but some features can feel arcade-like. For example, shooting doesn't require things like holding your breath to get a steady aim. Tracking immediately puts up a blue line for you to follow and displays every bit of information you need, like the target's sex and direction. A kill is a kill, so you don't have to worry about taking clean shots or fretting over too many bullets, which can cause the grade of your hunt to go down. It's still stressful to sneak up on game and get a kill, but it also feels more relaxed compared to the other hunting sims.

That said, you being an errand boy for a lodge owner and a ranger doesn't seem like something that would entice most outdoorsy folks. Then there are the bugs. A game is expected to have bugs before it becomes final, and people previewing games or dabbling in Early Access titles know to expect them. Cut scenes show anything from floating sponges and glasses to jittering subtitles. The sneaking movement is never accurate, since you'll take a few extra steps before stopping. Animals can completely miss their marks when scurrying into burrows and tree trunks, and some sound effects fail to play.

From the structured campaign to the arcade-like elements, there's potential in Open Country. Someone who wants to get into hunting games can use this as a good primer before getting into the likes of theHunter. That said, the experience is rather buggy at the moment and may not be considered enjoyable for most players. The recent delay gives the developer some much-needed time to get in some fixes, and we'll check in on the title when it gets closer to its release date.

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