The game takes place in five different locations: Montana, Mexico, Texas, Namibia and Alaska. Each location features three different primary days with five different hunts available from the start of the region. The game features a big variety of environments available including lush forests, dry deserts, craggy mountains, flooded plains, scorching savannas and the freezing tundra. The game also features multiple scenarios where "decisions" will have to be made. Each region features a variety of animals each specific to the environments in which can be hunted throughout the game.
The game incorporates many new and returning elements not found in previous main series games, such as having shooting blinds, shooting rests and tree stands, a caller, and other things to aid the player. "Hunter Sense" returns, and now upon finding evidence, the player creates a flashback in the form of a black-and-white moving image of the animal's last known location and what that animal was doing. But other new things are implemented in this game to work against the player, such as animals now having some of the most improved and most realistic AI in any game, meaning they could easily see, smell, or hear you if you make a wrong move. Similar to Dangerous Hunts, predators can now randomly surprise the player by jumping out of a bush or off a cliff, so the player's "killer instinct" slow-motion mode activates, turning the player towards the animal to shoot before it lands a hit. Getting to your target is now more challenging with the implementation of stealth hunts and timed hunts. Stealth hunts are when the males are not within reach and the player must use stealth and cover (usually thick bushes, logs, and rock formations) to avoid females, noisy terrain, and other animals like birds. The player is also given a device called a UTD that measures your presence to the animals. A low-pitched beep means that the animals are calm and can't detect you, medium-pitched beeps indicate that animals are starting to detect your presence, and high-pitched beeps tell the player that animals have clearly spotted the player and they are about to run away. A timed hunt is activated either when you reach your target, a predator or another force that could disturb the animals appears and the player must kill the target in a certain amount of time; or when the animals appear as a large herd and the player must kill a certain number of males before time runs out. Many birds and small mammals roam around for the player to shoot at their leisure. Sometimes the player can reach a hidden area, where they have an opportunity to photograph rare animals and natural behaviors. There's also a gun store where players can buy, customize, and upgrade their weapons.
The game also features multiplayer where players can create or customize their own map from a template (based on campaign or gallery) or from scratch. Players can place trees, foliage, water, terrain formations, and animals found in the game or create custom animals, which they can hunt with friends with online connectivity. Players can set challenges to compete in hunting the rarest animals and like Campaign mode, players can also buy and customize their weapons for each type of situation (a typical weapon is usually a variation of a scoped bolt-action hunting rifle). There are multiple shooting galleries like arcade, where you can kill as many animals as want, target, which you can use to practice your marksmanship by shooting wood cutouts of animal targets, or reflex which tests your hunting skills by instructing the player to kill certain animals in a chronological order. The game was released packaged with the Top Shot Elite, a plastic peripheral for the Wii controller.