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Just over a year ago, Hunters: Episode One was released to the delight of many hardcore strategy fans. The iOS strategy market isn’t quite as barren as it was back then, but now Rodeo Games has brought us a sequel in Hunters 2, which improves on the original in just about every way imaginable.
The visuals are still great, the gameplay is more streamlined while offering more variation options than ever before, and this is just a solid title all around. Hunters 2 is a tactical, turn based, squad combat strategy game. Building up your squad of hunters, who are essentially guns for hire in this universe, and taking them on various missions is the core experience here. Missions themselves aren’t very complex or varied, usually boiling down to kill everything, kill everything while defending something, or kill everything on your way to a specific marker. One thing lacking in the first game but now present is an actual story mode that tries to tie these events together into a cohesive narrative. It’s not particularly compelling or interesting, but at least it’s there. What really matters in a game like this, in my humble opinion, is the gameplay itself, and that’s where Hunters 2 really shines.
The combat is more streamlined than ever. Action Points limit the amount of steps or attacks each squad member can take per turn. The game offers a real sense of danger as you explore a map shrouded in the fog of war, and you never know what’s waiting around the corner. There are now multiple difficulty options as well, and the real strategy maniacs can enable hardcore mode on any of them, introducing permanent character death to the mix and really raising the stakes. The squad customization and leveling system is the jelly to the combat’s peanut butter, and offers tons of complexity and depth. Squad members level up with enough experience, letting you put points into various talent trees. Credits earned on missions can be used to buy new weapons and armor, craft custom equipment at a premium price, or even to hire new hunters to the team. Despite the lack of real characterization, you can get quite attached to each squad member based on how much you invest into their growth. In-App Purchase credits are available if you want a boost.
Outside of the campaign mode missions, special daily contract missions are also available, which are constantly cycled out and replaced every 24 hours. These are helpful for earning extra experience and gold. While I really enjoy the gameplay, it can be brutally difficult even on lower difficulty settings. Missions in which you have to keep some weak scientist alive can be quite frustrating, and the game is generally on the hard side. The visuals are great, mixing 2D environments and 3D models with smooth, detailed animations. The soundtrack sets the right tone, and the production values are generally awesome. Game Center achievements and leaderboards are supported. Hunters 2 is iOS Universal and available for five dollars at the time of this review, supposedly as a special introductory price, though the full price is not specified. Fans of the first will love it, and strategy fans who never played the first should definitely give it a look.