MONSTER HUNTER WORLD
Platform Played: PS4 Pro
# Hours Played (so far): 66
Monster Hunter World is a massive game. It doesn’t have quite as much content as some of the previous entries, such as Generations, but there is still a lot to discover. I’ve played over 60 hours of this game, and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. The addicting gameplay loop found in previous Monster Hunter games is fully intact, but in an exciting new entry (finally) on home consoles.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS was my entry point to the long-running hunting series. Playing the demo when I got my ‘New’ 3DS XL was a great moment because I instantly knew that I’d be hooked. The game had satisfying combat, a great variety of weapons to suit any playstyle, and the visuals were great for what the 3DS has to offer. I poured over 200 hours into the game, raising my hunter rank and having a blast the entire time. Monster Hunter Generations released a few years later and, while I did end up playing a lot of it, I didn’t find the game quite as addicting as 4U.
When Capcom announced Monster Hunter World last year, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A brand new, console-focused Monster Hunter game that had the best bits from the handheld games but with shiny new graphics? Sign me up! The initial trailer may have worried some veterans of the series, but I thought it looked phenomenal from the start. Finally getting my hands on the game, my expectations were blown out of the water. Monster Hunter World has, so far, turned out to be even better than I anticipated. Each of the weapons work similarly to previous games, offering a wide degree of control. Melee attackers, ranged fighters, and support players are all welcome, and each play an important part of any hunt. Every critical strike on a monster feels satisfying, offering a solid crunch noise and brand-new damage numbers to add to the feeling of dishing out major damage. I was initially wary of the damage numbers, thinking they looked too game-y, but they provide great feedback for each of your hits on a monster, as well as give you an idea on where the right place to hit a monster is located.
Despite there being only a handful of maps to explore, each area is massive. They feature no loading screens in between areas, which is a very welcome change from previous titles. This opens up a new layer of strategy to monster hunting – no longer can you run out of the arena at any point to catch your breath during a fight. You have to carefully choose when to retreat, otherwise a monster can simply chase you down into different areas. This change gives each map a better flow, removing any abrupt loading screens in favor of large new zones to explore. More importantly, each map feels interesting enough to explore, with plenty of hidden items to gather to improve your hunter’s arsenal.
The game is downright gorgeous, offering plenty of unique forests, deserts, and varied locations to discover. I usually hesitate to call a game world ‘alive’ because most of the time in video games, it can be easy to spot subtle nuances that break the immersion. But here, using the word alive may be the best way to describe most of the maps in Monster Hunter World. Each map really feels like a full ecosystem with its own unique inhabitants that wander the game world as you track down your prey. There are often multiple monsters that wander during a hunt, and if they come into contact with each other, they may initiate a turf war where they’ll inflict damage on each other. These conflicts have been among my favorite parts of the new game – watching giant beasts go one-on-one against each other, even for just a few seconds, is an exciting shake-up to the fight. When hunts for a target monster can take upwards of 30 minutes, it’s a nice change of pace to see your target fighting another monster. All of the environmental interactions to help take down your foes are also a great addition, such as offering vantage points to climb atop a monster’s back, or heavy rocks that can be broken from the ceiling to deal heavy damage to a target.
Veterans of the series will immediately pick up on most of Monster Hunter World’s familiar mechanics, and there are plenty of tutorials to help new players find their way through. I have heard a number of people complain about the obtuse nature of certain parts of the game’s design, and while these complaints are certainly understandable, this Monster Hunter is more accessible than ever to newcomers of the franchise. Most of the old systems from the past are intact and better than ever, thanks to numerous quality-of-life changes that have made hunting even easier. No longer are there breakable pickaxes, bug nets, or whetstones – all of these items can be accessed without spending any resources. These items are ones that every player will utilize a lot during their playtime, and their shift to infinite usage is very welcome. Even better are the numerous customizable options at every player’s disposal; everything from your shout-outs during a battle, location of items on your toolbar, and even a new radial menu that gives you access to even more items is here. These all culminate to give players the options that best suit their playstyle.
It’s really tough for me to imagine many ways that I’d improve Monster Hunter World. Additional monsters to hunt would be appreciated, but those are coming through free downloadable content in future updates. The frame rate can get a bit choppy during certain enemy encounters, but I found it stable for most of my playtime. The voice acting is also a bit hit or miss, and a few of the main story missions are downright unenjoyable, but the latter only accounts for a minor portion of the game. Overall, this is exactly what I’ve wanted from a Monster Hunter game for years, and it’s fantastic to see the game selling well. Monster Hunter may have finally broken out of its niche and found itself a bigger western crowd.