A whole new world… A new fantastic point of view… Wait….
Monster Hunter World is, without overestimating, one hell of a beast (See what I did there..?); having been in Capcom’s figurative pressure-cooker for over 3 years now (At least since Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate), it aimed to bring Monster Hunter back to the olden days of Monster Hunter 1 & 2 (With 2 never releasing over here in Europe…) where they were both released on the PS2 – So, is Monster Hunter World’s return to home consoles (And eventually it’s first main outing on PC) resulting in fanfares? Or nothing more than a forgone dream..?
Let me just sink this in for a minute… The last time Monster Hunter was on a home console here in the UK was with Monster Hunter 3 Tri, back on the Wii U in 2013 – Circle a full 5 years later and we’re finally back to home consoles! How time flies!
With this natural leap from bringing the most up-to-date versions of Monster Hunter from handheld to console, a large number of improvements (And, surprisingly, redactions) have been made to not only the game’s graphics, physics, overall engine and challenge, but also with the actual content prevalent within the game – First off, and most importantly, the stats; Monster Hunter 1, back 13 years ago, had a total of 30 different monsters, with the last release, Monster Hunter XX, having a grand total of 125 hunt-able beasts – So, what does Monster Hunter: World have..?
…Really..?! That’s a bit… Odd..! In all seriousness, the majority of these monsters are, however, newer monsters with the biggest baddies, the Elder Dragons, being mostly reoccurring; it is a shame that a lot of fan-favourite monsters, from the feral Tigrex, to the shocking Zinogre, to the larger-than-life Tetsucabra, to even the Brachidiyos and Gore Magala! Coming straight from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, it was a shame to know that so many monsters that so many people wanted to see in glorious HD seem to have gotten the short end of the stick.
…Saying this, however, it does bring a bizarre sense of freshness to the series that I don’t think has been felt since Monster Hunter 3 – Encounters with monsters for longer-term fans are now less cut-and-paste as they were in X and XX, newer monsters, like the Paolumu and the Legiana provide interesting new visual cues (Such as the Paolumu’s neck puffing up like a big balloon) and attacks (Like the Legiana’s ice frost), meaning hunters will always be on their toes around these new beasts! Even having played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate all the way into the postgame and into G-Rank, I’m still finding myself in a bit of a primal struggle against these gargantuan colossi.
I guess that line alone sells the gameplay of Monster Hunter: World for me – A primal struggle; carrying over a number of the more balanced and well-rounded moves from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, X and XX, Monster Hunter World now feels like every weapon has a clear and simple playstyle, and enables all types of Hunter to be valid in any situation – I used to fear playing Greatsword due to it’s lack of aerial mobility (Unlike the Insect Glaive), and now I can’t stop leaping off ledges to send a meteor’s worth of force come crashing down on my foes!
With this expanded accessibility, however, come some blind spots – Tutorials in Monster Hunter World are extremely simple, and often don’t expand much into the depth the game has to offer – Beginning Hunters have likely no idea where to begin, what skills to go for, what items to create or what smaller mechanics, like Kinsect Boost Harvesting are all about… The tutorial system in Monster Hunter World is certainly one that leaves a lot to be desired, and definitely needs some sort of expanding or increased visibility to bring deeper mechanics to light.
Another point of complaint lies within the game’s UI – More often than not, text is far too small, menus are cluttered and hard to navigate, and don’t even get me started on the tiny weapon-specific icons underneath the Sharpness indicator! These are issues that, most likely, will be fixed or at least remedied through the release of the PC version of the game in autumn this year, with hopefully much more in the way of UI scaling, repositioning and control binding.
So… The game plays good, has some small issues here or there… But how does it look..? How does it sound..? How does it feel..? Well, to be blunt, the game looks absolutely gorgeous – It is let down by a number of framerate issues which leave me desiring a PS4 Pro (And yes, this game runs better on PS4 Pro & Xbox One X), however the game itself in terms of environments, creature design and detail, animation, particle effects and armour / weapon design is just… Breathtaking – I find myself playing more of a David Attenbourough-type character, marvelling at the sights and creatures more than I do actually slicing the damn beasts – The game has an amazing attention to detail in it’s sound direction as well, with each bang, slap, clash and wallop sounding as painful as the last, and each guttural roar striking goosebumps along my back every time, and, whilst the soundtrack isn’t as great as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’s (In my opinion), it is certainly ambient and fitting. I guess I’m just salty that the Zinogre didn’t come back so I could hear it’s amazing theme remade in full HD and orchestrated…
So, what’s my final verdict on Monster Hunter: World? All in all, Monster Hunter: World is a beautiful, terrifyingly primal experience that sits amongst the best… Whilst also being somewhat of a regression for this beloved franchise – Beginners are both wholeheartedly accepted, yet left adrift by a lack of guidance or assistance, and the smaller pool of monsters leaves a lot of room to be filled (Possibly through DLC or expansions); Monster Hunter: World throws players, new and old, into a brand new world, with brand new experiences lying in wait around every corner… It just needed that little bit more polish to make the deal even sweeter.
I rate Monster Hunter: World a 8.5 out of 10; with a few quality of life changes here and there, it could easily reach a 9.