Monster Hunter: World
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Thanks to Monster Hunter World, hunting monsters is now one of my favorite things to do, and I’m already planning my next hunt.
The Monster Hunter series has been around for years, and while I was aware of its existence, I was never compelled to play it. The gameplay has always looked too sluggish, and the character development too complicated.
Everything changed with Monster Hunter World.
The game has already scored itself a nomination as one of the best games of 2018, as far as I’m concerned.
The story revolves around a massive migration of elder dragons in the New World. You join the fifth fleet as part of a pilgrimage following these giant creatures. Along the way, you will hunt increasingly large monsters as you try to unravel the mystery behind this ecological phenomena called The Elder Crossing.
The story isn’t very deep or sophisticated. The different characters don’t have names, and you will regularly refer to them by their profession, but it is all a solid background to the whole “hunting larger monsters” deal.
I didn’t feel very connected to the characters or the drama in the story, but I felt like the story gives enough context as to why I’m hunting every monster.
Now’s probably a good time to talk about the monsters and how you hunt them.
Like earlier games in the series, you encounter various monsters in your travels, and you hunt them (hence the title). You start off with small creatures and work your way up to the larger, deadlier ones.
The battles with the monsters are usually slow but very satisfying. At first, you might find yourself smacking the same monster over and over until it dies, but as you familiarize yourself with each one, you’ll start employing some actual tactics. You learn how to dodge attacks, where the weak points are, and which part to break first to reduce the damage each monster can deal.
It’s incredibly satisfying when you break a huge horn or chop off a poisonous tail, or when you jump off a ledge to land on top of the monster and mount it to deliver continuous damage.
The hunts themselves are somewhat demanding, and will usually require a lot of preparation before you actually battle the monster.
You will often start by analyzing footprints and claw marks, to learn about a monster’s territory, as well as acquire vital information from your researchers. While doing all this, you will also be training your Scout Flies, which are firefly-like bugs that can help you track anything. They will eventually be able to guide you all the way to the monster. This tracking system works wonderfully and makes navigating the complex maps much more accessible.
Once you figure out the best way to take down a monster, it’s time to forge for new armor and weapon that will let you do just that.
Every time you successfully hunt a monster, you will loot a bunch of monster parts, which will enable you to craft better weapon upgrades and new armor sets. You will suddenly find yourself forging a cool fire sword or an electrified ax, and this constant change to your arsenal is one of my favorite things about the game.
The loop of hunting smaller monsters to craft equipment to kill even bigger monsters takes time, but it’s very entertaining. I personally really enjoyed completing armor sets, upgrading my swords, and be as prepared as I can for every hunt.
Overall, Monser Hunter World features 14 different kinds of weapons, each one with an entirely distinct gameplay style and upgrades. You will probably find yourself trying out a lot of weapons before deciding on which one to stick with. Changing into a different weapon in the middle of the game is a bit of a hassle, as you often need to forge and upgrade the new weapon from scratch. However, since the gameplay and material gathering are so engaging, you will probably enjoy that too.
Almost all of the game’s missions are available in co-op mode. It’s really easy to join other people on missions, whether they are your friends in a private lobby or complete strangers via the matchmaking system.
Just how much you enjoy playing in co-op usually depends on your partners. If you’re lucky (or just have cool friends), you will take down the target like a well-oiled machine, and create some great stories in the process. If you’re unlucky, you might get stuck with a jerk that lets you do all the heavy killing so they can leech off the loot. But on average, players joining in will make your missions go faster with plenty more action and fun.
One of the first things you’ll notice about MHW is that it looks incredible. The monsters are very detailed and uniquely designed, and you can see that the developers really put a lot of thought behind each of them.
A good example is the Tzitzi-Ya-Ku. This monster looks a bit like an ostrich and lives in dark places. Most of the monsters that share its ecosystem are photosensitive, and the Tzitzi-Ya-Ku can emit flashes of dazzling light to stun them and prey on them.
In addition to their looks, the monsters are beautifully animated and display impressive AI. If you lead one of them into another monster’s habitat, you might see them battle each other, which is a truly spectacular sight to behold. I also really like the cool introduction cutscenes you get the first time to stumble upon a new monster.
The environments are just as beautiful. You’ll explore highly-detailed areas full of vegetation, caves, and massive trees, and even though you’ll be hunting in the same few maps every time, they’re complex enough to give you new and exciting experiences each time. Here too you can see the thought behind the different areas, the monsters that inhabit them, and how all these details work together.
While the game looks amazing, the sound does quite measure up. The monsters all have unique battle themes, some more catchy than others, that have the intended effect but nothing more. Also, the character voices aren’t very good.
Moreover, the lip-synching is completely off, which can bother some people. Whether you’re playing with the English voices, the Japanese ones or even the Monster Hunter language, which sounds a bit like a combination of Chinese, Japanese and caveman grunting, they never even remotely resembles the way the characters’ mouths move.
Monster Hunter World is an adventure I am delighted to go on. The game takes its time to teach you all the different mechanics and tools, so you’re never overwhelmed. That was actually one of my main concerns going in, and I’m glad to see it works so well.
While it does things that I don’t normally like in games, MHW does them excellently, and I found myself enjoying every second of it. I’m already planning my next hunt, and the one after, and even the one after that.
Thanks to Monster Hunter World, I know now that I’ll closely follow the next game in the series. I’m a Monster Hunter fan now.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.