When you’re making a sequel, the unspoken truth is that it often helps if you’re following up on a bit of a botch. Hunters, unfortunately for its developer Rodeo Games, got a lot of things right the first time out. A confident turn-based strategy adventure with a minimalist touchscreen control set-up and an elegant thicket of upgrades and weaponry to pick through, there wasn’t a lot of obvious room for improvement.
Thankfully, Hunters 2 hasn’t damaged any of the things that made the first game so appealing. The clear-headed interface still renders the often-muddy business of action points and movement areas easy to comprehend, while the AI remains aggressive and interesting to fight against. Elsewhere, the developers have opted for refinement, throwing in realtime lighting, simplifying the health and armour system, offering a range of new upgrades, and threading a story – along with a hero unit – into the central campaign. There’s even permadeath available, should you want it.
The biggest change isn’t found in the detailing, though. It’s in the pacing. Each stage of Hunters 2’s relatively short narrative now tasks you with a different kind of objective, switching seamlessly between rescue missions, stealth sections, and defensive stand-offs in a manner that calls to mind the fancy footwork of StarCraft II. It’s an approach which means you can never safely rely on the same old tricks – particularly when facing the game’s latest alien enemies – and it also gently pushes you outwards to experiment with different loadouts, and the brand new item manufacturing menu.
Elsewhere, the series’ daily challenges return, and the team’s flair for simple, yet interesting, map design remains undiminished. Refinement’s never quite as exciting as reinvention, of course, but with so little to fix, Rodeo’s clearly spent its development time rather wisely.