As the powerful Elder Dragons begin to mysteriously migrate to the New World continent, hunters of the 5th fleet embark on a grand quest to uncover the secrets hidden within in Monster Hunter World. Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this autumn, Monster Hunter World is the latest entry in a nearly 15-year-old franchise of killing ferocious creatures and forging their parts into new sets of weapons and armour. While the series has always had deep roots planted in Japan, Capcom has developed World as the perfect jumping on point for Western newcomers who have yet to experience this addictive, action-RPG phenomenon.
Players begin their journey in Monster Hunter World in the extensive character creator, where they can customize their personal hunter and their ever adorable feline palico. Immediately players are hurled into the action when the 5th fleet is attacked by the massive Elder Dragon known as Zorah Magdoros. This volcanic creature is the core focus of World’s story and holds the secrets to why these monsters migrate to the unexplored New World continent every decade. When compared to the lifeless stories of the previous entries, Monster Hunter World stands out from the pack by setting players on a worthwhile quest they will want to experience and see through to the end.
Though its narrative may be simple, what really hooked me into Monster Hunter World were its fantastic visuals, cinematic cutscenes and diverse roster of monsters. Each of the 5 open-ended maps feel like living, breathing ecosystems rich in detail and personality. From the lush foliage of the Ancient Forest to the festering corpses of the Rotten Vale, these are hands down the best maps in the franchise and are a complete joy to explore and interact with. What’s even cooler though is seeing the large monsters populating the map fighting for the top spot of the food chain when they start a turf war.
That being said, the true stars of the show remain the mix of new and iconic monsters that players will get to hunt. Each of these beasts is crafted by the developers at Capcom with their own personality, behaviours and attacks, which is at the heart of why fighting any monster continues to be fun even after the 10th hunt. Understanding a monster’s tells is what makes the mark of a good hunter. Monsters can limp when they’re injured, roar when they’re enraged or even drool poison from their mouths when they’ve become inflicted with a status ailment. As hunters continue to hunt a monster for its armour and weapons they begin to learn these behaviours by heart and start to employ new tactics to exploit the creature’s weaknesses.
The gameplay of Monster Hunter World is both addictive as it is complex. Hunters immediately start out with a full 14-weapon iron set to test out and build off of, but understandably this amount of choice can be a little overwhelming for new players. What these players should understand is that they aren’t locked into any weapon and that each is viable to play despite what the damage stat says. Every weapon has its own unique move-set that specializes in different kinds of damage, like bludgeoning or cutting. However, this also means that they have their share of weaknesses too. Great Sword user, for example, may be slow, but they deal massive damage when they hit and are strong cutting weapons, whereas agile weapons like the Dual Blades dish out the same amount of damage in a flurry of strikes, but lack the ability to guard incoming attacks. To make the process of choosing a primary weapon easier for newcomers, World includes a new training area that teaches the core combos and fundamentals of each weapon. Series veterans should also check out the training area to see what new moves have been added to their favourite weapons.
Once hunters have taken up their arms, it’s time to set out on an expedition to track down monsters and gather materials from the surrounding plants, animals and insects. To help with this task are a new quality of life feature to Monster Hunter World, the scoutflies. These brightly lit insects live up to their name by scouting ahead of the player, relaying the information of what they found and highlighting it on the map. They are incredibly useful for tracking down monsters, but the real value I had for them was locating harvest points for mining outcrops and herbs. This made my gathering trips a breeze and prepared me for future hunts with a full satchel of traps, potions and powders. Another quality of life improvement that works perfectly in tandem with the scoutflies is the ability to finally auto craft items while in the field, allowing me to focus full heartedly on the hunt rather than my dwindling supply of healing items.
The hub world of Astera is the players base of operations in Monster Hunter World and is where they can use their newfound materials to craft gear or accept new quests to forward the story. The largest improvement to the hub world from previous games is that Astera serves as the main gathering hall for up to 16 players to coexist in. If a player wanted to they could play the entire story cooperatively with their gathering hall companions, the only requirement being that the host will have to have seen the cinematic cutscene before others can jump in to assist. This also scales the monster’s health to a multiplayer battle in real time so the challenge of fighting a new monster for the first time remains intact. While I prefer to play solo most of the time, this is the easiest Monster Hunter multiplayer has been to approach and I’ve enjoyed being the mentor to new hunters looking to develop their fundamentals and learn new tricks.
One notable thing absent from Monster Hunter World is G-Rank. This is considered by the community as challenging endgame content where players would encounter powerful subspecies of monsters and be able to unlock new weapons and armour. While I was initially disappointed G-Rank quests wouldn’t be included at launch when the game was first announced, World makes up for it with its free DLC updates, which will expand the monster list starting this Spring. We don’t know which or how many monsters will be coming out over the course of the year, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to see some of my favourites from previous entries again with the same level of love and care that other legacy monsters received.
Monster Hunter World is a fantastic action-RPG that players can enjoy for hundreds, if not thousands of hours due to its sheer amount of quality content to experience. Capcom has introduced so many quality of life improvements that make World the easiest entry in the franchise for new players to approach, while also appealing to series veterans with never before seen monsters and more fleshed out move-sets for their favourite weapons. While the game still suffers from some poor menu and UI design like it’s previous entries, the addictive combat and the diverse roster of monsters are the driving force that keeps me coming back for more Monster Hunter time and time again.
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