Monster Hunter: World, the latest and probably the grandest game in the franchise is finally out, and by how Capcom heavily promotes this game since last year, you know that this is going to be something really special… Not just for the old-school veterans coming in from the PlayStation 2 days. Because seeing as how they push this game month after month, they really want new players to join in on this epic experience. But it still begs the question, is it really that accessible to newcomers? Lets find out in this extensive (and spoiler-free) review!
In a nutshell, previous Monster Hunter offerings really dont present itself much in terms of story. It is basically like this… You are a hunter in a town/island/village etc… And you hunt monsters! That’s basically the whole fluff of the game. Not much to grasp on, right? Well to be honest, it didn’t really have to do much effort in that department, because what Monster Hunter sells very well is that very satisfying grind to better your character in almost every aspect and not just in stats. Think of this game as one grandiose boss fight after another, where you learn how the very intricacies on how to approach (and fear) these awe-inspiring beasts.
Other than that, the game is also all about tweaking and customizing your hero as you see fit. It is essentially this happy loop of questing, killing monsters and crafting gear, rinse-repeat. Monster Hunter excels in this idea of adaptation and besting your foes via varied gameplay mechanics from the multitude of weapons to the even bigger selection of unique monster types. Believe me, this grind, this cycle, feels just as satisfying and rewarding as the day I first tried it out on the PlayStation 2.
Aside from the graphical overhaul, perhaps the most noticeable change for the oldies coming in to World is that (borrowing and improving slightly from Monster Hunter Stories) the game now has an integrated narrative, giving the player a greater sense of purpose as to why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.
Sure, after all this is done, it is still about the quests and that is understandable especially from seasons players… But I really have to stress that now in World, unlike past entries, it really feels that more coherent, like you are part of a bigger picture.
Another deviation from the formula is that the Guild and Village quests are now intergrated into one. I Would definitely say that this is for the better as it simplifies the journey and removes the unnecesarry, and honestly uneeded clutter. Also, it effectively removes the expected confusion for new players on what path to tackle first.
So as you probably noticed, the game made its drastic change in terms of representing the environment. As the title goes, the game is pushed to be an open-world experience, and it is truly believable at that. The 5 maps this time around are way larger than before, both vertically and horizontally. Gone are the “numbered” and segmented areas, everything is set into one place that looks virbrant and lively, not to mention at times interactive. With the new feature of the map, one can observe that there is seemingly no noticeable load times between the different zones.
Unlike its previous console and handheld brothers (though still awesome in their own rights) the small details really pop up here, especially when playing on the PlayStation Pro.
Thought the open-world aspect might seem intimidating at first, thankfully there are some helpful additions to the game that can aid you in your journey. Aside from your “assistant” handler which eases you in little by little throughout the game, you are also being guided by these scout flies (somehow replacing a previous staple called the paintball) which serves as a compass of sorts that helps you with various things like look for clues/objectives and of course tracking down monsters. It may seem confusing the first time you encounter this, but after a few quests in and discovering more of the lay-of-the-land, these friends really become an essential tool.
The stars of the game (and no, you and me are not) of course are the monsters you face in the game. And boy do they look detailed and menacing as ever, especially when seen on the newer console. As of launch there are at least 3 different variations of these monsters that look and behave very differently from the other.
A couple of hours playing I noticed that there are at least 3 beasts roaming around at a time, spawning in there corresponding zones. As you might think, they are territorial in nature and take advantage of their surroundings in terms of movement and overall presence.
Speaking of territories, one of the best additions to Monster Hunter: World is the introduction of “Turf Wars” to which up to three monsters can fight at a time, depending on the situation. I wont spoil too much but I can say that it is always a sight to behold whenever I encounter this, as there are times that I was really rooting for one side (usually the underdog) over the other. I’m glad that they thought of this and I hope to see more and be surprised!
Let’s face it, this is the primary reason you are investing in this game. Like I mentioned before, this game in two words is a “satisfying cycle.” The magic in this game is on how well it presents itself in giving you that experience.
Like most action-RPG’s, you start with nothing but a piss-poor armor and a rattly weapon of your choosing. But later on, as you take on various hunting quests, you gather new materials to make that next super-awesome-special gear… Nothing feels more satisfying than finally slaying your prey after numerous attempts, or getting that Ruby or Plate that you prayed to the RNG gods for five hunts or so. With that said, the crafting and customization possibilities for your character are near endless. Nice as this is though, I can fully expect that new players in the game might find the min-max elements of the game to be initially confusing, and I wont blame them… It is really as daunting as with past games which seems to be the barrier of entry before. Though as overwhelming as it is today, I firmly believe that it is not as complicated as before. Get past this initial hurdle, gamers, because there is an absolute gem to be found here.
The 14 different weapon types for me are the absolute best part in the game, as with every Monster Hunter Series because they effectively define and dictate your play-style. They are really varied in terms of usage and overall approach and every single one of these babies are viable in a fight.
Sadly, the “Hunter Arts” from Generations are removed, but I can see and feel some of its elements incorporated into world, which is definitely good.
The last thing I have to mention is about the multiplayer aspect, being in a group of 4 hunters is easily the best way to experience this game. A plus side in World is that multiplayer integration feels smooth and seamless because of the jump-in and jump-out feature. You can be in the same online session with someone and just be there to help out (via the use of SOS flares). This particularly helps the newbies who need that extra hand… Exciting and rewarding at the same time.
Joining a specific group with your mates is a different story though as it requires being on each others “friends list” on the console’s dashboard and entering via your controller this tedious 12-digit Quest ID. Its a bit of a nuisance but it is not as time-consuming as you might think. There are times I just think that they could have improved on this a bit but I am just nitpicking at this point.
An interesting word of caution when going with a squad is that when more players are joining in. The game balances itself by giving the monster more HP and a more unpredictable moveset… But hey to be entirely honest, it is genuinely more fun!
Since being announced last year, it was definitely Capcom’s goal to make a game of this magnitude look even more grander than ever, and for the most part I would definitely say that they succeeded in spades. Though I noticed that they did some effort in streamlining the game, there are still some elements that can prove to be overwhelming to some. But underneath that stats and numbers, this is really an impressive experience that is definitely a huge step in the franchise moving forward.
Now if you’ll excuse me… It is time to head back to the great indoors!
– Impressive Visuals
– Lively environment
– Combat feels more visceral than ever
– Addictive cycle of customization
– The monsters are a sight to behold
– Huge replayablity
– Multiplayer is always fun!
– No pay wall/ pay-to-win… The monsters are the lootboxes
– Everything can be overwhelming at first for the newcomer
– Entering those 12-keys in a focused multiplayer session