Putting Monster Hunter: World through its paces is no easy task but I loved every minute of it. After participating in all three PlayStation 4 betas leading up to the games release, I gained some semblance of how much the game has changed over the past 10 years. I tried a variety of different weapon, armour and play style combinations to get a true sense of what the game had to offer and I’m excited for what’s to come. There are plenty of minor changes that have been made for a better overall experience but I will focus on some of the most dramatic ones.
Being able to utilise the graphical power of the PlayStation 4 Pro (and eventually PC in Spring 2018), the game now looks amazing and more alive than ever. Gone are the console restrictive, zone by zone loading screens and the entire world flows as one cohesive entity. This is a huge change as it forces the hunter to get creative when low on health or looking to out maneuver their target monster. To add to this feeling of a living world are the interactions that occur between the various monsters in game.
While you might be the monster hunter, there are other predators out there stalking their own prey and you can passively sit by and watch while larger monsters attack or eat the smaller ones to provide them with the sustenance needed to survive (for now). This provides a never before seen depth to the game as you’re not the only thing hunting or stalking prey in your immediate surroundings.
While there are no new weapons introduced in Monster Hunter: World, players are able to wield and create all of the previously included 14 weapons. These are split into two categories of Blademaster (Great Sword, Long Sword, Dual Swords, Sword and Shield, Hunting Horn, Hammer, Switch Axe, Charge Blade, Insect Glaive, Lance, and Gunlance) and Gunner (Light Bowgun, Heavy Bowgun, and Bow). You aren’t restricted by levels or specialisations and can test out any of the base tier of weapons right from the start of the game. A new welcomed addition is the ability to change your weapon mid hunt. If you go up against a new monster and quickly realise they are way too fast for your slow, tactical Gunlance play, you can head back to camp and switch out for a pair of Dual Blades to slash your problems away.
Combat is now a super slick experience with each weapon having it’s own unique play style, you’re able to quickly find which weapon you might be attuned to. Regardless which option you choose, they each have this weighty feel to them and you need to carefully mix up your swings/shots with your movements and item consumables. The latter of which has been also re-tuned to allow for potion drinking and steak eating on the go.
Before you even get your target beastie, there are variety of additions in terms of tracking and gathering materials. This could be one of the smartest decisions in Monster Hunter: World and it changes the exploring/wandering aimlessly section of the game into this constant back and forth of looking for footprints, hiding in bushes and following your scout flies around the area collecting various materials. As you explore your immediate surroundings, monster footprints and other notable resources will be pointed out to you by your scout flies. The more you do this in your travels, the more adept your hunter becomes at tracking that particular type of monster and it turns the mechanic of aimlessly wandering from zone to zone into this calculated tracking experience, just like a real hunter!
Crafting gear and weapons to fight bigger and more ferocious monsters is your main source of progression in the Monster Hunter series but the game doesn’t restrict you down a particular path which is something I have always loved. Unfortunately there wasn’t the option to craft in the demo but it’s assumed that the crafting system will stay the same as previous games where materials carved from slain monsters will allow you to wield stronger weapons and build your hunter arsenal.
If these changes weren’t already enough, another welcomed addition that wasn’t seen at previous events (EB Expo and PAX Australia) was the training ground. In this area, players can use a base version of their favourite weapon and can quickly switch their gear around without having to hunt a monster. This really helped me decide which weapons I enjoyed using without having to go through the process of selecting a quest, joining a group and doing a full hunt with each weapon.
There are so many improvements to list in Monster Hunter: World it’s difficult not to be extremely excited about each individual change. This newfound ease of play sucks you in and keeps you entertained in a whirl of monster killing, exploring beautifully crafted areas and crafting the copious amount of items and weapons available to you. There is little doubt in my mind that if you can pick Monster Hunter: World up and allow the experience to take you in, it will be a very hard game to put down. Capcom have nailed the balance between teaching new players slowly without boring the hardcore fans. If you are completely new to the Monster Hunter series and wondering what all the fuss is about, January 26th 2018 is the best time to leap in and join me in hunting beasties to your heart’s content.