Monster Hunter: World is one of these games where you get this feeling early one that everything is crafted with care and passion. Be it the beautiful worlds, rewarding crafting or the underlying game loop that ties all systems together perfectly. It is a mixture of feeling pure glee while discovering something new every few minutes and being overwhelmed by the sheer options the game throws at you. It is a brutal, so let’s take a look at this monster.
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Genre: Action role-playing
Release: January 26th, 2018
Review copy provided by Capcom (Playstation 4)
As you start up Monster Hunter: World, you find yourself on a ship with other hunters sailing towards the new world. The elder dragons are moving there and so are you to hunt them down. But just as you start to learn more about your fellow hunters the ship gets attacked by a giant lava monster that easily matches Shadow of the Colossus’ giants in size. You escape to the Ancient Forest which is also the first main area of the game and learn some basics before you reach the player hub, Astera.
A WHOLE LOT TO TAKE IN
As you arrive in Astera, your team leader gives you the grand tour through the base and introduces you to the main stations like armory, shop, research and the canteen. As you progress through the story the number of stations and their functionality increases steadily making it very important to get yourself familiar with the gameplay loops early on.
This can be a daunting undertaking for new players. Despite the games obvious efforts to give you tutorials at every turn, it only manages to explain the basic mechanics. It’s up to you to connect certain dots like how to use the upgrade system effectively, best practices for canteen ingredients or general inventory management.
But if you are hooked on the main concept, it is very likely that you won’t hold things like these against the game because it is genuinly fun to discover some of these mechanics by yourself. This will depend highly on your gaming preferences, but the game definitely rewards the time you invest and learn about the game.
THE WORLD IN MONSTER HUNTER WORLD
Before you start going out hunting monsters, the game encourages the player to strategize, gear up, craft, pick bounties and eat a meal to boost your stats in Astera. The 14 weapons, which basically act as different classes due to their varying playstyles, leave nothing to be desired. Same goes for the armor which can be unlocked and crafted by slaying monsters. All have very distinct looks and boosts. It is a ton of fun to gather crafting materials and finally being able to craft that next cool looking weapon or gear set in your collection.
On your first trips, you discover that each map is its own closed open world. You can travel freely uninterrupted in these huge areas which usually hold 3 big monsters, a number of smaller baddies and friendly wildlife. There is a lot to discover, collect and see in these beautiful worlds. So much so that it can end up in pathfinding issues and confusion on how to progress. This is where the scout flies can help out. With a quick custom marker on the mini map, the green helpers will guide you anywhere you want.
You can almost see the process of problem solving the developers had to go through on screen, making a world as big and complex as Monster Hunter: World’s while keeping the confusing structure as accessible as possible. Auto-crafting for example let’s you choose which ingredients you want to combine automatically to a health potion or ammo when you pick up the required materials. This avoids unwanted time in the menu crafting things that you use over and over.
THE MAIN STARS
The main attraction of the game are the monsters of course. This is the main grind of the high-rank endgame and a game like this stands or falls with the execution of these recurring encounters. Monster Hunter: World does an outstanding job here and really celebrates their big scary beasts. All Monsters have their very own characteristics in looks and fighting mechanics. Different elemental damages, aggression types and weak points keep you on your toes and all require different approaches. Some monsters burry themselves underground while others have to be dealt with in the air.
As you collect monster tracks, your research level goes up, giving you special intel on the monsters and revealing important weaknesses. You can even see which rewards you get from dismembering different body parts, making the hunt for special materials a skillful and fun task.
SLAYING MONSTERS WITH FRIENDS
Monster Hunter: World is very much designed around multiplayer and gains a whole lot if you play with three friends. Although it is easy in theory to play with friends, the game makes it sometimes confusing what you can and can’t do. If you want to join a friend in a quest, you have to have beaten this monster before or you won’t be able to play. Long waiting times when you pick online matches from the quest board can also lead to some frustrations, making it the better option sometimes to just shoot a SOS Flair during the mission and waiting until the 3 slots fill up.
The always online feature also comes with the sacrifice of being able to pause the game when you play solo. It is a bit of an odd choice but nothing major. When the gears start turning as intended, the multiplayer is a blast and makes it seem like a whole other game. The game also eliminates any unfair reward distribution or mission aborts which plague multiplayer games more often than not.
Monster Hunter: World is a true success on almost all fronts. Once the initial learning curve has settled a bit, it is extremely satisfying to swing the weapon of your choice and master the steady increase in difficulty. Some hiccups with the initial introduction and matchmaking only drag out the inevitable, which is a rewarding and rich game that will suck you in the more you stick with it.