The animals are distributed on the map as groups/herds. Herds of a given animal will not appear in areas of the map that do not match the required habitat. Each herd will be represented by a silhouette of the animal species on the map. Here’s an example for Mule Deer:
The circled silhouettes are two individual herds of Mule Deer. Each herd will occupy and roam a region of the map specific to only that herd. Each herd will also have its own need zones. If you click a silhouette, the need zones you have discovered for that specific herd will be dsiplayed. The need zones for a herd will indicate the territory that herd inhabits. Note that it isn’t a strict boundary. A herd of deer won’t stop at a need zone and not go beyond it if they get spooked, for example.
Note, also, that the animal management mechanics, like male to female ratio and genetic fitness (more on those topics later), only applies to individual herds. When you harvest a mature Mule Deer buck with low genetic fitness, for example, it will only effect the herd that buck was originally a part of. It will not effect a Mule Deer herd in another location of the map.
I want to immediately point out, for players coming from theHunter Call of the Wild, that need zones in Way of the Hunter don’t even remotely work the same way as in Call of the Wild. There is no mechanic for the density of need zones in a particular area, and need zones are not an indicator of the likelihood of a trophy animal or how many animals will be there.
Rather, need zones in this game are more true to real life. They are places a herd of animals goes to and from to get their needs for survival met. Elk in real life, for example, will bed down in one location, where it’s safe, hard to get to, or easy to hide in, but will move to an entirely different location to get good grass for eating, or to get to water. These places could be miles apart from each other. It’s similar in Way of the Hunter. A herd will move to different need zones in their territory, depending on the time of day, which will be indicated in the game’s encyclopedia. Animals in Way of the Hunter, as in real life, don’t just wander around the wilderness. If you want to find the animals, you need to know where they go to get their needs met.
Every animal will have three types of need zones:
Animals may not go to one zone as often as they go to another. That said, each need zone will either be labelled as “Rarely” or “Often” as you discover them. If it’s marked “Rarely”, the animals don’t go to it as often as they will a need zone, of the same type, that’s marked “Often”.
A herd will always have both a rarely and often used need zone for each type of need. Once you have found all 6 need zones, you have found all of the need zones for that particular herd.
Spawning and Movement on the Map
Animals are spawned on the map when you first load into it from the main menu, when you sleep at a lodge or campsite, or when you fast travel.
Animals are spawned at a need zone. The zone selected for their spawn depends on the animal being spawned, the time of the day, and where that animal would be based on its needs. Check the game’s encyclopedia for an animal to see what times of day it will be at or going to a specific need type.
Once animals are spawned, they will realistically interact with and move around the map. If you were to load into the map and set the time to first light, found a herd of deer at a particular spot, then followed them throughout the day, without spooking them, the herd would move from need zone to need zone in its territory as the day progressed. Be aware that it isn’t a strict pathfinding. They’l meander around in their territory as they move between needs. It isn’t a strict path, necessarily. It’s more like a direction of movement.
After animals are spawned, and you then do one of the things that would cause them to be spawned again, they are de-spawned from the map and spawned again. For example, if you were you see a herd of deer at a need zone, then fast traveled to a lodge to get a different weapon, they may not be there at that same area when you go back. Similarly, if you were following deer as they moved on the map between need zones, then fast traveled, they wouldn’t be midway like they were when you were following them. They’d be spawned at a need zone after the fast travel.
There are routes the animals take to get from need zone to need zone. It IS NOT always a clearly defined, cut path through the foliage. The game’s encyclopedia, and tutorial, is a little misleading on this point. Yes, the game trails will connect to need zones. However, there will be other routes the animals take that are not clearly marked as a visual, cut path through the foliage.
Rather than relying on game trails, rely on the little patches of dark dirt/mud. These will always have animal tracks in them to indicate the species of animals that use the path, and the direction they went.
Note that I am not talking about the tracks you find that aren’t on the dark patches of dirt/mud. Those indicate that a spawned animal on the map has moved through that spot. The dark patches of dirt are static indicators, as part of the design of the map, to give the player some guidance to the animals in the area, where they go, and where their needs are. The tracks you find on these patches, and the tracks you find that aren’t on these patches, are not the same thing.
In the examples below, I have reduced the foliage in the graphics settings for clarity. Matter of fact, I recommend you reduce the density of the foliage to be able to more easily find these patches of mud/dirt, as well as being able to more easily track others things, such as blood trails.
Notice the darker colors and rougher/muddier look of where the tracks are. This is what you need to be looking for. It is more likely that they will be on game trails, as shown here:
However, the same patches of dirt/mud will also appear elsewhere, not only on game trails. See below:
See the shiny white silhouette of the tracks inside the grass? If you reduce the density of the grass and foliage, this is what you get:
There’s a patch of dark dirt/mud, just like there would be on a game trail.
So, let this be a lesson. A game trail is not the only place you will find these patches of dirt that have tracks on them. Stop looking only for game trails. What you should actually be looking for is these patches of dirt/mud.
Finding Need Zones
With the patches of dirt/mud from the previous section in mind, let’s talk about finding the need zones of a herd.
When you encounter animals, the first thing you should do is to find the need zones. If you caught them on the move between zones, look for the patches of dirt/mud in the direction, or opposite direction, they were moving. These patches of dirt will lead you to need zones.
Herbivores, like deer, moose and elk, will have a pointed end on the hooves. The pointed ends is the direction the animal is moving. For carnivores, like wolves and bears, who have paws, the singular pads for each toe indicate the direction of travel.
After you’ve found a need zone, you can start finding the others. Compare the tracks you find at a need zone with the encyclopedia.
Tracks coming into the need zone will be the type of need the animal has prior to the need zone you are currently in. For example, you find incoming Mule Deer tracks at a Mule Deer Resting zone. The tracks coming in, if you follow their path, will eventually lead to an Eating zone. Similarly, tracks going out will lead to the need zone that is next for the animal in the encyclopedia. For example, using Mule Deer again, you find outgoing tracks at a Mule Deer Eating zone. Those outgoing tracks will lead to a Drinking zone.
If you find tracks on the dark patches of dirt that do not belong to the animal the need zone is for, it means the animal you found that doesn’t use the need zone either moves through the area, or uses the area as a path to get to its own need zone.
If you find tracks on a patch of dirt that go both directions, it means the area is used by the animals to both enter and leave the need zone.