Feb 6, 2018
The Monster Hunter series has always prided itself on bringing its fans exactly what they would expect from the title: large scale monster battles, complete with scores of options on how to bring down the larger than life prey. Beyond that, most would never have called Monster Hunter an inclusive or easy to pick up game, with the interface and mechanics being less than streamlined and the experience a bit of a grind. While Monster Hunter World doesn’t make the series completely and utterly approachable to all, it does succeed in offering a less intimidating product that can prove to be one of the most fun entries in the series.
If you are a veteran of the series, the changes are apparent from the get-go. Right from the start, the beautiful bump in graphics thanks to the current gen machines, and the far deeper character creation let you know that this particular trip into the wild is going to be a sight to see. Character creation is akin to many modern RPGs, and the more abundant cinematics make for several fast paced, action packed moments not seen in past entries.
Granted, you are still playing mostly the same story as always—godlike, mountain of a monster strolls into town and you have to climb the ranks and save the day. But, this time, it looks far prettier and feels more like a full experience. This is in part thanks to many of the tweaked and streamlined mechanics and gameplay elements. No longer are you required to kill blank number of these and collect blank number of that. Those are all still available in Investigations, Optional Quests, and Bounties, all of which allow you access to more goodies or easier resource gathering, but are no longer part of the larger story. Once you complete a story mission—one that usually plays a bigger role than simply killing or collecting X amount of Y—you are usually able to jump right to the next one and advance the story.
While the story has been updated and plays a bigger part than previous entries, the focus of Monster Hunter World is, of course, monster hunting; utilizing one of 14 very different weapons, slaying big monsters, using parts from said monsters to craft even deadlier and ridiculous weapons and armor, and slaying bigger and badder monsters. And while that hasn’t changed, the implementation has been polished, leaving veterans feeling secure in their experience with the series, and newcomers with an easier time taking control.
In previous games, fighting monsters was the fun part, but finding them was mostly a practice of wandering into each area of the map until they showed up. Monster Hunter World brings in a deep but easy to follow tracking system, allowing you to use your Scout Flies (glowing, bug-like creatures) to examine the trail your prey leaves behind in the wild—footprints, carcasses, residue, etc. As you examine more things left behind by a particular creature, you gain points towards recognizing it, making it easier for you to track and eventually find the beast, where the real fight can begin. However, exploring the map is no longer the chore it used to be, with a big beautiful ecosystem—free of loading screens as you move to a new numbered area—thriving, living, existing within each unique map, filled with creatures going about their lives, moving, gathering, hunting, killing, and eating, whether you are there or not. More than once you may be battling your foe, only to have another large beast enter the fight because you and your prey have encroached on its territory. Then, more often than not, the monsters square off and go at it, leaving you to pick sides, or watch the titanic struggle that seems unique to each pair of creatures.
Weapon use is mostly unchanged, but tighter controls and smoother combos feel fresh yet familiar. That, and a visible weapons tree at the smithy that even allows downgrading, fulling returning the materials you spent on the upgrade, make weapon crafting less of an intimidating chore.
Monster Hunter World also provides a wishlist option allowing you to keep track of materials you gather towards a certain weapon or piece of armor, making this entry in the series far more manageable when it comes to gear. Armor is also less of a hassle with armor skills getting reworked so that each piece of armor grants you an ability. If you wish for more potent types of armor skills, simply mix and match pieces with the same skill, something that was difficult to accomplish in previous entries. And don’t fret about mixing and matching as a gunner or close-ranged fighter. Gunner armor sets are a thing of the past, so wear what you want and have fun.
Resource gathering is still in full force in Monster Hunter World, but, thankfully, many of the more tedious and aggravating tasks have been updated to be less so, or eliminated completely. No more worrying about remembering to resupply and pack your bug nets, pickaxes, and other gathering tools. Now, you can just gather, as if you always have those tools with you.
Multiplayer, always a main attraction of the series, has also had its fair share of updates. These, however, don’t all result in a better experience. There is almost nothing better than getting three of your friends together to go after some big bad you can’t seem to take by yourself. But, if you haven’t seen a cinematic for that particular quest, then no one can join you until after you watch it, even if it is simply the cinematic that accompanies your first time seeing a specific monster. Outside of that hiccup, the multiplayer is a bit convoluted. You can create a session and or start your own and team up with other players, or start a squad with friends and create a squad session so only you and your buddies can access it. You can post a quest and allow random players to pick it up and drop in with you, or you can password lock it. Alternatively, you can check out quests other players in your session have posted and jump in on those. If none of that appeals to you, you can create your own private session, or set the player limit on your quests to one, affectively allowing you to solo for as long as you want. It is all a bit intimidating, and having to be in the right place at the right time to team up can make it frustrating, but with a little time you and your friends will figure it out.
With all the updates to the fun yet admittedly tired formula, Monster Hunter World is a great place for those who have always wanted to give the series a try to jump on. It can still be a grind fest, and crafting a specific weapon or armor set will still require killing the same monster multiple times. But, that is what Monster Hunter is and always will be about. The updates make it easier to get to and stay with the meat of the game, and the beautiful scenery and living ecosystems that you will call your hunting grounds make it easy to keep coming back for more.