MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD is the game I’ve been dreaming of since I first played the original back on PS2. Yes, the series is known for being difficult to jump in too with tons of mythos and verbiage thrown at the player with no real explanation, but Monster Hunter: World cleans up most of the menus and is chalked full of tutorials and a training area for new players to test out the 14 different weapon types. Yes, your hunting partner is a cat that can heal you, set traps for you, and inflict status and elemental damage to monsters. Yes, if you were debating on if this is the time to pick up Monster Hunter I can assure this is the time.
When Capcom subtitled Monster Hunter with “world” they weren’t playing around. The ecosystems players hunt in feel alive and real. I spent a good hour in each area discovering where all of the gathering points are, and which monster’s frequent which areas, and where to use the environment to your advantage in a hunt. As you explore the different areas you’ll see multiple monsters going through their daily life. For instance, in the Wildspire Wastelands you can track the Barroth to the area with the quicksand pit and if you hit a small flying wyvern with a rock, they’ll screech and summon a Diablos from down below and she’ll start to tussle with the Barroth. Allowing players to force the advantage if they’re having some trouble.
And if players are having a trouble taking down a pesky monster, or want Monster Hunter to truly shine, there is a simple and easy to use the multiplayer function built into the game. You can set-up an online hunt or session that can be password protected, or if you’re mid-hunt and feel like the monster is too much for you to handle you can throw up an S.O.S. signal allowing other hunters to jump in and help at any moment. This helps the world of Monster Hunter: World feel alive and this is an unexpected strength for the game. The previous titles felt empty and alone. The universe of Monster Hunter is filled to the brim with hunters, but in previous titles, you were the only hunter seen unless you played online with others. But with Monster Hunter: World even when you play offline the main hub area is filled to the bring with hunters, scholars, blacksmiths, and other people working together to take control of the New World. You feel like there are others working with you, instead of you plowing the way all by yourself. Your accomplishments weigh more since you’re not alone. You feel the instant benefits of your accomplishments. Adding to the overall feel of the game.
On the surface, Monster Hunter: World is a simple game to understand. You’re a hunter and you hunt monsters. Once you either capture or kill the monster you use parts from said monster to make armor and weapons to hunt bigger monsters. Rinse and repeat. Simple, but difficult in practice.
The difficulty starts in understanding and picking one of the 14 different weapon types that range from the quick sword and shield, the technical charge blade, the ranged bowgun, or the slow but mighty greatsword. Starting out Monster Hunter: World gives each player a basic starter set of each weapon to test the waters and see what clicks for them. I personally rotate between four; greatsword, longsword, charge blade, and hammer, with the hammer being my personal favorite. Veteran hunters will understand that picking a weapon is only half the battle. Next, comes the weapon trees that World has handled gracefully. When you get to the smithy and try to upgrade your weapon of choice you’ll a sprawling box of choices that allows players to see almost every possible upgrade your weapon could get. You can see which tree it starts from either ore or bone and then which subtrees you have to go through and so on and so forth. For new players, this could be daunting, but for returning players being able to see the full list is a godsend. Being able to accurately plan out which monsters you have to farm and for which parts and so on and so forth.
The armor is the same way. You start out with the RPG basics of either leather or chain, but in this game, armor has skill points. These skill points can make or break a hunt. Each skill activates a special ability for instance if you have an armor with the attack skill you’ll do more damage. Some skills are that simple, but others, like the earplug skill, has different levels that when maxed out completely negates all monster screams allowing you constant control of your character. Mixing and changing armor is key to success and the amount of armor is daunting at first, but once the player reaches high rank, the “end game” portion of monster hunter, the number or armor sets to thirst after is seemingly endless.
With armor and weapons, the deeper players dig the more they get out of it. Monster Hunter: World is the epitome of the more you put in the more you get out. But the fear of complexity completely disappears a couple of hours into the game. The menus are self-explaining, and the game constantly reminds and keeps players up-to-date on what is happening and what should be done. The handler, your other partner in the game, gives you constant updates on what’s happening in the story and gives hints on what players should do next. And the upgrade system for weapons is a breeze once you get over the initial shock of looking at a large list of possibilities. You’ll quickly figure out what weapon upgrades work for you and your playstyle. And that is the best part of Monster Hunter: World. The player picks how they play the game. You decide how you tackle each monster. You decide which weapon and element you bring. And the feeling of completely demolishing a monster is second to nothing.
It is possible that the constant need to update a list for yourself, or the lack of a congruent and “true” adventure game story could push some players away, and that’s fine. The constant need of upkeep and care of attention could turn some players off and that’s a concern but being fifty hours into the game I’m still discovering new crafting recipes and still going strong in the story, but after the story, the game begins to create a system within itself. Fighter monster, create weapon and armor, and rinse and repeat over and over. This could be what some players are looking for, but this is the bread and butter of Monster Hunter. Once you get into the swing and figure it out, the game only adds more crafting, creating a niche loop for players to fall into rhythm.
Whether Monster Hunter: World is for you or not, Capcom has made this title the most ambitious in technology, and sheer size of the world and experience and content. Monster Hunter: World stays true to the franchise with addictive crafting and combat. The time sink and depth of armor mixing, and weapons aren’t for the casual crowd. But the attempt to make it open for all is an honest attempt and could add more fans to the series. I know Monster Hunter: World is a title that I’ll be sinking some serious time into.
Monster Hunter: World is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and will soon be available for PC. This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game purchased by the reviewer.