The latest game in the Monster Hunter franchise brings the
core elements that have made the franchise a cult classic – difficult battles, fun
and interesting progression, and stomping on dinosaurs with your friends – and
opens the door for a deluge of new players with a more accessible sheen. Make
no mistake, hearty challenges are still at the center of the experience, so
veterans won’t be disappointed with the colossal end game leviathans. In
addition to serving up what fans expect from the franchise, newcomers also have
a chance to dip their toes in before being shoved out into the ocean and can
enjoy a slightly more accessible ramp.
Monster Hunter: World is the most accessible game in the
series, and funnels new players into the core systems and mechanics over the
first 20 hours of the game. The first low rank hours are comfortable and
casual, followed by more challenging high rank fare and an expanded armor and
weapons system, and then finally, Elder Dragons. End game hunts pull all your
skills are put to the test, and hopefully after all the progressive challenges
leading up to them you’re ready for some serious battles and top tier rewards. This
clear segmentation works incredibly well, providing a linear path that slowly
ramps up both enemy difficulty and the underlying options for your gear. By the
time I hit credits after around 60, I was eager to get right back into the mix
for more post-game fun. The intense task of bringing down an Elder Dragon and
reaping the rewards provides a double-shot of dopamine to the brain, and you
just want to roll back in and take on another.
The progression loop is simple but enchanting. Go out, hunt
monsters, use their parts to make new and exciting weapons and armor. As you
progress through the game, more customization options unlock along with powerful
set bonuses, allowing you to create a potent mix via set pieces and decorations
(gem slotting for bonuses).
An element of exploration adds to the experience, as you can
stumble upon all-manner of interesting things out in the wild, from new Palico
tribes and gadgets, creatures to collect and put in your house, and
undiscovered monster clues that can lead on a dangerous, wild ride. While each
area is its own instanced piece of the larger world, each feels distinct and
interesting. Each time you come back to the main city of Astera, there’s
something new to engage with as well, like sending out your Palico squads to
hunt for you in previously conquered areas, upgrading your food options in the
canteen, collecting the fruits of your harvest, or checking out the new goods
that come into port via ship.
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The streamlining of certain franchise staples is a boon for
both newcomers and veterans. Instead of dealing with annoying paintballs and
guessing games during the hunt and chase, scout flies are a great solution.
These helpful insects provide a tracking experience that feels natural and
immersive as you collect tracks and other clues around an environment that lead
to their habitats. Learning more about monsters from tracking, hunting, and
capturing fills out your research library in the town hub, allowing you to get
a comprehensive look at monster weak spots, elemental strengths, break-off
parts, and drop tables. Studying these entries an extremely useful way to learn
more about the monsters and your approach to beating them. Picking up useful
materials as you run by instead of having to stop is great, and auto-crafting
makes annoying activities like refilling your essential consumables a thing of
Monster Hunter: World offers 14 different weapon types that embrace
all variety of play styles, from in-your-face aggression to long-range
bombardment. Weapons are tagged with accessibility in mind, pushing new players
toward more responsive equipment that may not require as much setup or
methodical combat. But for those who want to show off and put their skills to
the test there are plenty of opportunities. A longsword user will have a much
different experience than say, the hunting horn, and experimenting with
different weapons is a big part of the fun. Catching up a new weapon to your
current “tier” only takes a few battles, so it’s easy to try out a new play style.
This adds a good deal of longevity and entertainment to the overall experience.
A few quirks drag World down from the heights of greatness.
Some framerate issues happen from time to time, creating a jarring combat
experience, especially when there is more than one giant monster on the screen
at the same time. Sometimes when you have two or three big beasts in the same
area, they won’t even really interact or move around unless you’re really close
to the action – which is probably the last place you want to be in that
situation. There are a few other minor down points, including one of the
story-based battles (that the game has the ridiculous notion that you’d want
the opportunity to play it more than
once!) being an unfun slog that’s more of a trial of patience than a battle
with a monster. When playing multiplayer, you must wait for a friend to
complete story-based mission objectives before joining in their quests as well,
but in the grand scheme of things these quibbles can be overlooked.
Monster Hunter: World is the best game in the series, and a welcoming gateway for newcomers to get in on the tail-chopping, rodeo-riding, and
titan-slaying. I never want to play the series on handheld again after this, as
the grainy graphics and clawed clutch can’t compare to the redefined experience
core platforms facilitate.