There are things in our lives that simply work in every way we want to and don’t realize how much had actually gone into developing these things to make them the way they are today. The finest knives we can use had gone through a rigorous process repeated of smelting, forming and sharpening, the cup of coffee you ordered off the counter has actually gone through many iterations of trial and error in its formulation. In a similar way, Monster Hunter World makes everything click nicely and makes it look easy, but it’s actually gone through a long 15 years of refining itself.
This title makes itself available on the PS4 and X1, and in several languages, making it playable around the world. Many of its incoming player base being completely new to the series (me included) are given the role of a reputable hunter sent to the Fifth Fleet, an expeditionary force seeking answers regarding the mysteries of an untamed land and its visiting giant of giants, Zorah Magdaros. After miraculously surviving an encounter with the beast and making it to the base of operations, you begin the many arduous tasks given to you by your commander to help the Fifth Fleet in their quest.
MH World is simply a gorgeous game. Environments come alive with its many moving parts, creatures, critters, and even plants that blend together to make this believable world that they all inhabit. There’s even a skybox that can slowly shift from day to night while you’re out in the wild. Monsters, even the ones from older titles were re-created in the new engine boast impressive detail while maintaining how they would have moved or animated in their during their older releases. Plenty of care has been placed for every distinct character within the Fifth Fleet as well, including the many options to choose from to customize your character’s looks. There’s also a number of areas that carry their own themes for environmental design. There’s the port-like area of Asterea, the base of operations, the thick jungle known as Ancient Forest, visiting the Coral Highlands feels like a visit to the bottom of the ocean, the list goes on, especially as these areas have other sub-areas that are designed quite differently from other points of their respective maps. Unfortunately the PS4 has been, at times, caught struggling with the graphical demand that Monster Hunter World put forward. Luckily it hasn’t gotten to a point that it noticeably obstructs smooth gameplay.
As amazing as I find how the game looks I’m afraid I can’t say the same for how the game sounds. Music tends to be a hit or miss and generally only shine during combat sequences, other than that and the revamped theme of Monster Hunter, most of the music tends to be forgettable. Voice acting could have been better and it was always quite jarring to watch characters say only the first line of their dialogue and nothing else after. Generally character voices ranged from acceptable to a level of campiness I would know Capcom for. Good voice acting (or a good script) has always been something they rarely hit home with, in my opinion. But at the very least it doesn’t take away much from the experience.
After playing Monster Hunter World a good deal I’ve come to the conclusion that discussing all of it’s mechanics in a few short paragraphs would not only be a difficult task, but a disservice to the game itself. All the weapons have been repeatedly refined ever since they first came out or are actually pretty new to the series. There is so much nuance behind them that you’d find dedicated videos for every one of them in YouTube and they’re mostly of the longer-format type. If you’re completely new to the game you might find it hard to believe how many ways there are to fire bullets with the Gun Lance and how many ways there are to block with the Lance. And yes, those are two completely different weapons. And I’m just talking about weapons.
So instead of going through all of that, let’s go through how the game generally works and have a closer look at what’s hugely different in MH World from the predecessors.
Now, I’m not sure how much better I can explain this game than the title. You’re a Monster Hunter and you hunt monsters. How this ‘hunt’ takes place that makes the entire thing brilliant. Basically you pick a hunting quest, you go on and take it down, grab your rewards and see what you can make out of them before going out to your next quest. Seems like a relentless, repetitive lootgrind? Well, yes, but I would say that repetitive isn’t quite the right way to put it. There’s just too many dynamic things in the hunt for it to feel that way.
The first thing you go out to do a hunt is prepare the gear you have or you think you might need for the upcoming encounter. Once you’ve gone out to the wild, you have to track your target through clues you find in the environment, a set of footprints, droppings, or markings they may have left in their passing. This whole tracking bit is new by the way, you used to have to wander around the map and hope to come across what you’re after. As you wander, you come across gathering points for either ammunition for your bowgun or resources you may need for your next or other future encounters. Next, you find and (eventually) take down your target, and probably not easily on your first try. You have to learn its attack behaviors, its weak points, and how to effectively use your weapon against the monster. At the end of the hunt you take home not only the loot from it, but the knowledge you’ve gained in the search and encounter as well.
You are likely to hunt the same target again at some point, most likely right after your previous one. But this time you equip yourself better, perhaps with better or more suitable gear for your opponent. Something as simple as carrying an item to cure a status ailment a monster inflicts is indication enough that your next encounter will be a little more different. You also have updated information on your target making tracking easier and having an actual manual telling you more details about the beast, that is, if you care to check the in-game monster manual. And finally you return to a map you’ve already traversed before, so you’re more aware of its roundabouts, shortcuts and even hazards.
So in summary there’s three things you’re continuously mastering as you play the game. The preparation for your hunt, your knowledge of the map they inhabit, and how to fight the monster in question. Everything you do or learn to do, whether it be completing sub quests or just trying out new gear, they all contribute to your hunt.
Nothing feels arbitrarily done in the game as it always comes back to how you play. Depending on how you play and the monster you’re fighting decides to do, your next hunt can be very different from your previous one. It can’t be repetitive if your combat situation can always change on the fly, that’s why this isn’t just another loot grind. Oh and in case you missed the beta, the monsters can be hazards to each other, and they can duke it out while you’re fighting one of them which gives some real Jurassic World vibes. But if you’re unfortunate enough it’s also possible that both of them decide to go after you instead. It’s just amazing and crazy.
It’s actually hard to cleanly set apart the content and mechanics of MH World because of how well they complement each other. You can consider weapon variation and weapon types as a type of content but they also play into how you like to play. The number and size of maps were intentionally designed to be the way they are so that hunts can play out the way they do. But if we’re going to talk about hardline numbers I suppose there’s about 27 monsters to hunt within the game at present. There’s also a plethora of side-quests to be had and while many of them tend to pad the game’s playable hours, some of them are pretty handy in several ways. Rewards can range between simple currency gains, unlocking new options in certain shops, new spawn points on certain areas or even unique tools for either you or your Palico pal.
Finally there’s the campaign mode which in general paces you through some of the MH World’s mechanics, at least the most necessary ones to learn. You still have to learn certain specifics on your own. I really read it out as an excuse plot to guide you through how the game works and I find that perfectly fine for something like Monster Hunter World.
Having spoken to Veterans of the series they claim it doesn’t have as much material as MH4U, and even lack something called G Rank. And that’s a shame but I’m willing to be more forgiving of MH World because of the rebuilding it’s doing from the ground up and perhaps making considerations of its much broader audience this time around. As of this writing they’ve already announced an expansion including a new monster to hunt and for free, so yay for that. Eventually they’ll have to charge for expansion DLC and I honestly hope it comes at a reasonable price.
One thing that Monster Hunter World has improved so much on having spoken to enthusiasts is how there’s so many Quality of Life (QoL) improvements to the game, making mundane actions get less in the way of gameplay and adding features that allows saving and loading of presets and generally making farming easier. Some argue that this makes the game easier especially with the sped up animations within the game. I can’t say with absolute certainty as I don’t have previous experience with Monster Hunter. But I believe the game is fine the way it is.
They also provide a thorough enough character creation feature where you can try to match your own looks or just create your own persona you’d like to play in the game. Though it kinda becomes moot unless you turn the appearance of helmets off in the options menu.
Speaking of Options, MH World actually has quite a lot of customization options for your gameplay, allowing you to access several quick slot menus to either access items, communication signals or even emotes available within the game. It’s also quite handy that the preset emotes automatically translate to make international play go through that much smoother. It’s also possible to customize the camera distance so you can see more of the map around you while you play.
Finally, the online components of this title is probably the last piece of the puzzle that it really needed to make it a phenomenal hit world-wide. Being able to form squads, making it easy for friends to be in the same session, being able to jump in mid-mission, and making it possible for lobbies to be publicly or privately accessible are huge innovations compared to how its usual handheld versions handled multiplayer. Everything just changes when you start playing with friends or simply other players online, it’s like playing a familiar game with an entirely new spin on it. It’s just wonderful.
Certainly, it has issues with matchmaking and consistently working for everyone but as of this writing Capcom has already acknowledged and are addressing them. So it won’t even take long for it to be perfectly serviceable for everyone. Thanks to these online capabilities, the hunters of the Fifth Fleet will be alive and well for a very long time to come.
At this point we can clearly see that Monster Hunter World is a gamble that Capcom took and is now paying out in spades. I have little doubt in the fact that this title will be influential for game developers and their works in the future. Every little detail and mechanic within the game intertwines beautifully with your long and short-term goals for your play session. The thought and care that the designers had cultivated within the series through the years simply radiates the more you look into it.
Of course not everyone will be attracted to the base idea of a repeatable loot grind as games like these are prone to sinking away hours upon hours of your time especially if you like the idea of playing other games in tandem. The good part is you don’t have to, if you believe defeating all the monsters is as good as clearing the game, that’s completely fine. In Monster Hunter World’s current state it’s completely possible to clear the game without having to rely on items or abilities unlocked with side-quests in the game. However, if you’re taken in enough by this title. You’ll want to clear everything you find meaningful in the game, and it’s damn fun.
Monster Hunter World is as good as a perfect barbeque, scoring a 4.3 / 5.
This game is currently available on PlayStation 4 and X-Box One, it has been announced to be coming to PC August 2018.