Game: Monster Hunter: World
Consoles: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC (Not released yet)
Review copy supplied by publisher
As I chased my wounded prey through the forest I was washed over with a sense of power and control. Yet, right when I was about to deliver the killing blow a bigger monster came flying in and obliterated my catch. Sure, my foe was dead, but Monster Hunter: World reminded me once again that there is always something higher up on the food chain. It’s rare that any video game can make a player feel both powerful and powerless at the same time. This is a tricky balance to obtain that makes Monster Hunter: World a compelling action RPG. Even with a few minor battle scars, this is the first great game of the year and absolutely worth your time.
Monster Hunter: World’s story revolves around your custom hunter traveling to the New World as you follow a migrating Elder Dragon. Accompanied by an entire company of travelers, researchers, hunters, and merchants it’s up to you to figure out why this beast is on the move. Along the way, you’ll meet new adventurers, travel to mysterious locations, and slay all manner of different monsters. Despite being just a loose plot to string along a succession of monster hunters, the story is still entertaining. Much of this is thanks to the solid voice work and eccentric characters that make up this world. It’s cheesy, but still quite entertaining. Overall the story is serviceable, but it really acts as a study guide for the final exam that is the post-game.
The meat on the monstrous bone is, of course, hunting the unique and terrifying beings that roam the various hunting grounds. Ranging from tiny birds that feast on the corpses you make to giant brutes that tower above you, Monster Hunter: World has quite a diverse line up of beasts. Each monster has their pros and cons, all of which have unique attacks that will keep you on your toes. It’s the sheer variety of creatures that keeps Monster Hunter: World from ever becoming dull or repetitive. Every fight is an elaborate chess game with both sides prodding for weakness.
However, you will do more than just beat these creatures to a bloody pulp, as tracking and researching them is a core concept of Monster Hunter: World. Users are able to follow tracks left behind and gain knowledge of everything from the being’s anatomy to what kind of items they can drop. All of this helps flesh out these hunts and makes them more than elaborate boss fights. It truly captures the essence of hunting your pray and the preparation needed beforehand. Capcom has refined this series system of hunting, slaying, and looting to near perfection. Every aspect of the hunts feels neatly polished and the game continues to deliver new beasts well into the twilight hours of its story.
Combat also feels refined with players being able to choose from 16 different unique weapon types, all of which can be upgraded and customized. These range from typical swords, hammers, and bows, to more elaborate weapons like the Hunting Horn or Switch Axe. My personal favorite is the Insect Glaive, a spear that lets hunters launch into the air and perform elaborate air combos. Every upgrade can be rolled back in case you don’t like the direction your favorite sword is going and players are never locked into a single choice. This gives Monster Hunter: World a huge amount of personalization that allows for unique builds and fun experimentation.
Actually using the weapons in combat also feels great with an easy to learn, hard to master design. Most combos can be performed easily enough, but there are a bunch of advanced tricks and moves that dedicated players can learn. As you weaken a monster it will take visible damage, break bones, lose limbs, and eventually try to limp away. This offers a good sense of progression in a fight and allows players to make you feel like you’re always advancing your goals. Users can also try and capture monsters by trapping them when they are weak. While this won’t let you harvest their bodies, you will receive bonus items at the end of the quest.
Speaking of, most quests revolve around simply tracking a certain monster and killing it. Sometimes you are tasked with saying multiple large beasts in one go or capturing one for research. There are also side quests to complete and various bounties that offer rare rewards upon completion. While these quests aren’t exactly breaking the Monster Hunter: World mold, they serve as good distractions when you don’t want to just hunt something down.
However, the black spot of these quests is arena battles which are extremely fun, but very limited. Instead of fighting a creature in the wild, players are forced into a trap filled arena with the beast. This produces some seriously tense moments, but arena fights never feel like they offer much more than quick thrills. There is no leaderboard or real reason to participate in them outside of, potentially, easy loot. It would be great to see the addition of online leaderboards or modifiers added to shake up the one on one fights.
In fact, the entire multiplayer component of Monster Hunter: World feels slightly off axis. Almost every quest can be completed with up to four players, either via inviting friends or having random users join your session. Once someone arrives the monster you’re hunting will gain more health to accommodate for the extra damage, but that’s it. While the health boost might sound substantial, it really isn’t since most skilled teams can absolutely obliterate monsters in a matter of minutes. There is no extra challenge outside of removing your feline companions once there are three people or more in a squad. Co-op makes most hunts far easier then they should be. However, it is nice that the option is there for those struggling with killing a specific foe.
Inviting friends is also a convoluted mess that is in desperate need of streamlining. In order to join your friends, you’ll need to be invited, entered server codes, join the specific hunt in question, and then depart for it manually. It’s a cumbersome system that makes co-op with buddies a hassle at times, especially since you are always tied to quests. Users cannot simply roam the various hub worlds together outside of one specific location. Hopefully, this gets some much-needed quality of life changes, but as it stands the online portion is Monster Hunter World’s worst feature.
Thankfully, you will typically won’t need to call on friends for outside help since the difficulty rarely ever spikes. If you died it’s because of a mistake you made and not due to the game feeling cheap or unfair. Outside of some server issues on the launch date, I encountered no major bugs, crashes, or issues when playing Monster Hunter: World. The game ran smoothly – mainly because I prioritized framerate on the PS4 Pro – and the world itself looks gorgeous.
Monster Hunter: World is a gorgeous and captivating game that will have you invested for dozens, possibly hundreds of hours. There is so much to craft, hunt, farm, and forge in this game that it’s easy to lose track of time. From the deep character customization to the fascinating monsters that roam gorgeous landscapes, Monster Hunter: World is a triumph. Even with some wonky issues revolving around the online component of the game, it was never bad enough to detract from my enjoyment of the game. If you are a veteran or completely new to the series, Monster Hunter: World is a game worth trying. Now if you excuse me I need to go pick through some bones so I can upgrade my next piece of armor.
- Engaging Monster Hunts
- Rich Crafting and Customization
- Beautiful Ecosystems
- Good Post Game Content
- Fantastic Music and Art Direction
- Co-op Makes Fights Too Easy
- Invitation System Needs Refinement