*DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT COME FROM THE COMPANY THAT HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE GAME*
Monster Hunter: World is a game where you, "Take on the role of a hunter and slay ferocious monsters in a living, breathing ecosystem where you can use the landscape and its diverse inhabitants to get the upper hand. Hunt alone or in co-op with up to three other players, and use materials collected from fallen foes to craft new gear and take on even bigger, badder beasts! " - Steam Page
“So many monsters, so many things, not enough time.” - Me (Peter), for the purposes of this review…
The Monster Hunter franchise first dug its claws into me back in 2015 with the release of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition for Nintendo 3DS. At this time I hadn’t heard much about the collection of games that were before it, or the steep learning curve that they were known to come with. However, me and a friend picked up our handheld consoles, eager to solve the complex puzzle that Capcom had created, fight some monsters, and see how far we could get before being completely out of our depth. I plugged close to 200 hours into that title, and it was awesome. Yes there were times I’d go running to google for answers, but it was immensely satisfying to climb the ranks all the way to the endgame of G-Rank. So when Monster Hunter: World was announced, and it was for both consoles and PC, I was over the moon to dive back in, and puzzle my way through again. With just over 140 hours played, and currently getting stuck into the endgame content in anticipation for the first major expansion ‘Iceborne’ looming in the not too distant future, I thought it was about time to give you my thoughts.
This review will be unlike our other reviews on this site. As I mentioned previously, Monster Hunter games are complex beasts, and you can dive into many aspects of this game until you are tweaking very granular things to make the game perfect for how you like to play, or to acquire certain buffs, etc. However, unlike its predecessors, Monster Hunter: World is a fantastic starting place for anyone new to the franchise, as it simplifies a lot of the menus that once held it back. Below I am going to tell you about a standard hunt, and break down the usual aspects of our reviews into pros and cons. That way you can understand how it plays, and what you can expect if you choose to dive in, how deep you go afterwards is up to you. I may miss a few things here and there, but if I were to write everything down, this would be a novel, and not a review.
Let us begin with a preface to set the scene…
The story of Monster Hunter: World begins with you travelling to the New World, as part of the fifth fleet. Your role is to support the research commission, which looks to learn more about the elder dragons that have been migrating over to the New World every 10 years or so - as part of the elder crossing. In your quest to find out about these age old beasts, you must explore the vast zones of the New World, learn about the monsters that roam within them, how they interact with their environment and with one another, find materials that will help you with each expedition out, and either slay or capture your target monster before returning to the Astera base camp. On your adventures you are not alone, you are joined by your trusty Palico sidekick - a cat companion that will aid you in combat and resource gathering. You also have the help of a handler, who will give you advice, guide you through your first steps in the new world, and be your quest checkpoint throughout the game. Astera has everything you need in between hunts, shops and craftsmen who can help you create gear and craft items, research stations that can give you valuable information on monsters you’ve encountered, your own room where you can store pets (small endemic critters you find out in the world, which you can capture and take home with you) or manage your Palico companion, a kitchen (we’ll get to that later), as well as so much more. There are chests dotted around Astera where you can access all your items and gear so you can change it on the fly or pick items you want to take with you on hunts, however there is also one in your room - if you like to get ready in private…
From your bedroom to the town gates…
Before you embark on any hunt, you need to make sure you’ve done everything so that your ready to take on the outside zones and the monsters within them. After you’ve stuffed your pockets with potions, and items that you want to take out with you, it’s time to gear up for the hunt. Monster Hunter: World has 14 different weapons for hunters to choose, each with their own crafting and upgrade trees to make an absolute veritable buffet of destructive forces at your disposal. Whether you like getting up close and personal with weapons like the greatsword, dual blades, lance, charge blade, or my personal favourite the switch-axe; which is an axe that transforms into a sword. Or if you like to keep your distance with bows, or bowguns (both light or heavy), or if you like to play support characters when online with friends, you can even play with a hunting horn which gives your teammates buffs as you play songs, then you can use your massive lute to clout the monster about. Monster Hunter: World has you covered with lots of different ways to play, and that’s only to name a few. Once you’re dressed and ready for battle it’s time to venture outside your room, check in with the handler and grab your hunting quest, then just before you depart the town, it’s time to grab a bite to eat. There is a Palico kitchen (that’s right a cat kitchen) in Astera that is a must visit before you depart, here you can order one of the set meals that will increase your health and stamina when out on the hunt, or if you’re picky, you can customise your meal with various different ingredients to get different buffs that you can use. This is one of the places that can get really in-depth, or if your a dirty casual like me you can settle for the chefs choice platter and get to hunting. The meals are made with a charming animation that upgrades the further into the game you get, and after you’ve eaten, your ready to go. Run to the gates and head off into the world.
Exploring the world, and hunting…
When you are dropped into a zone, you start at a little camp, there’s an item box with a few potions and nick-nacks that will be useful on your hunt, a tent where you can change your gear if you have a change of heart once out in the world, and a little travel canteen where the handler can make you something to eat - should you be knocked out in your hunt; in which case you are brought back here by your cat on a cart - I mean Palico, or if you’ve been hunting for a long time. Once you’ve grabbed or have sorted everything, it’s time to step out and explore. When you’re looking for a monster, you start by searching for tracks. Once you’ve found one, your Scoutflies will lead you to more, you’ll follow the Hansel and Gretel like trail of monster footprints, fur tufts and scratch mark shaped breadcrumbs until you are lead straight to them. Scoutflies are a useful mechanic that Capcom have implemented into this game, they help you navigate the vast maps so you don’t get too lost in the undergrowth when looking for monsters or keeping a particular monster on your radar. They also have beautiful green particle streams that lead you around - very cool indeed. While your searching, it’s always handy to pick up any herbs, bugs or items you encounter, as you never know what you’ll need for future crafting. The zones are massive, and there are plenty of hidden nooks and crannies for you to explore. Some have secret shortcuts, or hidden camps, or secret cat communities, all sorts waiting for you to discover, creating many a happy accident of stumbling down the wrong trail to encounter something amazing. I’ve done this more times than I even thought possible in this game alone.
Battling the monster…
Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, it’s time to review the situation, and get stuck in. If a monster hasn’t spotted you, it can be handy to look at the environment around you to see if there’s anything you can use. Maybe there’s a boulder in the trees that you can drop on the monster below to create an opening, or some vines that you can lead it into that will tangle it up and slow it down, the environment in this game can help you so much when on the hunt. Also, what if the monster isn’t in the zone on its own, what if another monster flies in, do they get along, they might have a turf war and fight each other, and when two giant beasties are going toe to toe with each other, it isn’t something you want to get between. The combat in this game is very satisfying, the closest thing I can compare it to is a mix of Dark Souls and For Honor… stay with me. Each weapon has its own set of moves, some quick, and some which can take a while to pull off, so you’re constantly gauging when to dive in and hit, or evade to safety, because when the monsters hit you, they hit like a truck. The monsters do not have health bars, so you have to constantly visually assess the monster to see how you’re doing; is it tired and drooling, has it got a limp and looking worse for wear, is it enraged and won’t quit, is it going for a snooze in it’s nest. Another thing to note is that breaking parts of the monsters always offer more rewards at the end of each hunt, as well as being a visual damage guide, so it’s good to try and cover all the bases - and break them. Nothing is quite as fulfilling as finally breaking that Diablos’ horns that they’ve been running you through with all the damn time, or slicing off the tail of a Rathian so it can’t poison you anymore! This is purely scratching the surface of the combat, as there are so many things you can do, you can jump off high ledges to try and mount monsters like a rodeo champ, or there are items like Flashpods you can use to knock flying monsters out of the sky and stun them, the more you play, the more possibilities will open up, as you can constantly experiment on ways to bring your foe down within the time limit.
Crafting to perfection…
At the end of the hunt, if you’ve slain your monster you’ll have the opportunity to carve goodies from it, or if you’ve captured your monster you’ll get some on return to Astera. Each of these corresponds to a certain part of the monsters anatomy, and you can use these to make things - SO MANY THINGS! Each monster has an armour set that you can craft, which will have skills and abilities that will help you when trying to take down similar monsters to it, or you can make one of the many plethora of new weapons that you can take with you on your next hunt. Normally you’ll need to go on a few of the same monsters hunts to be able to craft a particular weapon or armour set, but every time you venture out you learn something new about the monster, how to tackle it faster, where it likes to chill out in the zone, what monsters it doesn’t play with, where is its weak spots, all of which you can use to your advantage next time you meet.
I think this game is the bees knees, and it has such a place in my heart. However I am aware it may be a Marmite game for a few of you. If you’re up for a challenge, and plenty to explore, this is something you should consider and give a go. I haven’t mentioned the multiplayer in this review, but it’s completely seamless; you invite a player you want to hunt with to your lobby and you’re away hunting with friends. Or if you get overwhelmed out in the wilds, you can signal an SOS flare, and someone from the online community will join your hunt and help you out. This game is great if you want to play it on your own, and if you want to play it with friends; it can create some really special moments. It ticks all the boxes for me, and I cannot wait for the ‘Iceborne’ expansion - with all the new monsters and weapons it brings. There are not many games where you can say, “Last night I was hunting a Rathalos with my pal on Monster Hunter, which is like a big, red, fire-breathing dragon. When out of the blue, right in the middle of the fight, out of nowhere came this Deviljho, another dragon that looks like an angry giant pickle that can’t fly. It snatched the Rathalos out of the sky, swung it around all over the place and threw it on the ground. I dove off a ledge onto the Rathalos’ back as it got to its feet and took to the sky again, while my pal scared off the Pickle Dragon with Dungpods, and we managed to slice off the Rathalos’ tail. We then captured it and took it back to the camp so we can study it…”, and not feel like a child again. Will you be joining me in the snow and ice? I hope so.
|Platforms:||PC | PS4 | Xbox One|
|Price:||£49.99 | €59.99 | $59.99|
|Story Completion Time:||50 Hours|
|100% Completion Time:||265 Hours|
|Natural feeling campaign that puts you in the heart of the action, and encourages exploration of all its mechanics, weapons wield, and monsters to fight. With nicely crafted cutscenes, and a plot that engages you in the hunt.||Sometimes quests can get lost, as you have so much choice on which hunt to go on. They are nicely divided, but wouldn’t be clear to new players which ones to prioritize.|
|Tons of choice for combat, big beautiful zones that are breathtaking, and so many mechanics at work to help the player customise their experience, as well as creating a vast world to explore.||Understanding certain skills, melding, food, bounties, and decorations (to name a handful) with only brief tutorials can be daunting for new players, and create a wall in progression later down the line for players with no interest in navigating menus.|
|Masses of attention to detail, stunning graphics, and more content to shake a stick at. Also the available HD texture pack on PC is incredible.||Tutorials could have been more thorough in places for new players… And the food looks too good…|
|From atmospheric underscore, to triumphant tones, to monster roars, this game has stunning sound design that immerses you in this world. Everything sounds like you would expect it to, and keeps you in the moment.||No cons in terms of sound. It’s not something I would listen to outside the game, but it’s all iconic to this franchise. Hearing certain scores ring through the trees and knowing there’s a certain monster barreling towards you ahead is a wicked touch.|
|Arbitrary Final Score|
Review by Peter
Monster Hunter: World is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC for, £49.99/$59.99. Thank you to Capcom for supplying the assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.