When Monster Hunter World was first announced, its gorgeous looking graphics tempted me to give the franchise I’ve always wanted to love another go. That said, I was expecting to lose interest once things got too complicated. I was wrong. Not only have I remained enthralled by the games living breathing world filled with incredibly unique monsters, but Monster Hunter World has achieved something I’ve never thought it could. It’s finally made me fall in love with the franchise.
In Monster Hunter World, you take on the role of a hunter who forms part of the Fifth Fleet. As part of this prestigious group, you are tasked with aiding the commission in its research. Now, before you say “that sounds easy enough”, it’s important to note that part of that research entails capturing a huge elder dragon known as Zorah Magdaros (sounds a bit more challenging doesn’t it?). The easy-to-grasp story effectively serves as a way of easing new players into the slew of mechanics and elements that have formed part of the franchise for so long.
As expected, monster hunting starts out with choosing your weapon. There are 14 unique types of weapons available to choose from, each with their own learning curve and mechanics to master. I initially chose the sword and shield combo, figuring that it might be the most familiar and easiest weapons to get to grips with. While this might have been the case, I soon discovered my love for the Insect Glaive. This weapon not only allowed me to effortlessly (and gracefully) vault over my prey but also gave me the ability to command an insect creature called a Kinsect, which provided me with various useful buffs such as healing or poison attacks.
You see, it’s really important to allow yourself to try out the numerous weapons the game has on offer as each tends to be useful in various situations. Sure, I found myself continually returning to my trusty Insect Glaive but there were times where I had to rely on weapons with a bit more punch, such as the Charge Blade which transforms from a sword and shield combo into a powerful axe. This, of course, means that you’ll quickly learn the route to the smithy as you’ll be spending quite some time there using the various monster parts to upgrade your existing armour or crafting newer, shiny and more deadly weapons.
Figuring out which piece of equipment works best in which situation becomes integral if you want to survive some of the more scarier monsters that roam the world, especially since your character doesn’t level up but instead gains their increased fighting/hunting prowess from their upgraded equipment and weapons. For example, if you find yourself facing off against a Tobi-Kadachi, who is able to charge its body in order to inflict large amounts of electricity damage to your fleshy soft parts, then you might want to take some armour with you that has electrical resistance. If not, you’ll probably end up just another charred body (and maybe even lunch). This is why choosing armour purely based on its defensive value will mostly lead to you ending up fried, charred or even poisoned.
Even when prepared, hunting large monsters can sound daunting. Luckily, you won’t have to face these creatures alone (even if you don’t have friends to play online with). You’ll be joined on your hunting adventures by your very own feline companion, called a Palico, who will aid you in combat, distract enemies and even find items for you. Most importantly, they’ll make sure you never feel lonely when exploring the game’s vast environments.
Unlike many games out there, Monster Hunter World not only tasks you with “taking down X” or “killing X amount of Y” but also has you tracking and even studying your prey before attempting to down it. While it might be possible to kill certain early game monsters without much preparation, it becomes almost impossible to do the same to the higher-level creatures unless you are prepared. Part of this is studying and understanding your prey and their habits. This information becomes a powerful tool in the right hands.
Helping you in this endeavour is your glowing little insect friends called the Scoutflies. As you explore the world looking for specific monsters to hunt down, your little Scoutfly buddies will highlight various areas of interest such as interactable items and, more importantly, any traces your prey might have left behind (such as tracks, feathers and mucus). By gathering these various pieces of monster evidence, your Scoutflies will be able to take you directly to the creature you are tracking.
Another part of studying your prey involves your Hunter’s notes, which is essentially a monster encyclopaedia that contains notes on the various monsters you’ll encounter (such as their weak spots). The more you come across (and kill) these monsters, the more information will appear on these creature notes.
Saying a game has Dark Souls-like combat has become a bit of a tired cliché. However, in the case of Monster Hunter World, this is a truly accurate description. Dodging and evading attacks, preparing before a battle, learning your prey’s attack patterns, are all crucial elements of the game. More importantly, the feeling of both relief and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when defeating a particularly difficult monster is what makes this formula of killing monsters in order to craft more powerful weapons so rewarding.
While there is no doubt that the various creatively and sometimes absurdly designed monsters are the stars of the game, the varied and gorgeous environments are just as impressive. Divided into different zones, these environments are free from those pesky loading screens which were so common in the previous games. Instead, you’ll be exploring these breath-taking areas without having to sit and stare at a loading bar.
From the lush jungles of the Ancient Forest to the decomposing and bone filled Rotten Vale, each of these environments not only look beautiful in their own way but are also filled with their own unique monsters to hunt. The biggest surprise is how alive these eco-systems feel. There were quite a few times where my hunt was interrupted by a larger creature set on devouring my prey or where I would be unexpectedly attacked by another monster while scouring the environments for my prey.
Naturally, playing Monster Hunter games have always been about getting together with some friends and hunting down though and deadly creatures and, while playing alone is a viable (and fun) option, the experience is just so much better when teaming up with others. Luckily, the game makes it easy and seamless to drop into another player’s game or to summon another hunter to your aid by using a flare.
Monster Hunter World has been able to not only make the franchise just a little bit more accessible to newcomers. It has also streamlined many of the mechanics and systems that have felt so convoluted in the past. This does not mean that veteran hunters won’t find a challenge here as the game manages to still remain deep and challenging enough for those familiar with the franchise without alienating new players. Capcom has been able to create an immersive world that not only feels alive but one you can lose yourself in. Monster Hunter World is a unique experience and one you should definitely give a try.