I was on my last feint. The Pink Rathian (big ass dragon) I was hunting was taking a nap at the top of a cliff in the Ancient Forest. We had been battling it out for a good 30 minutes. One of us was coming out of this fight alive (I was really hoping it was going to be me). I snuck up on the unsuspecting animal and started swinging my Switch Axe like crazy, getting in a few whacks before it flew up into the air and spun around, spewing fire around it. What the creature didn’t realize is it had knocked down a dam in the process. Water came crashing down around us. The beast and I both went flying off the cliff into the forest below. As luck would have it, the fall killed the Rathian, I survived.
Few games have the ability to really draw me in. Typically, I’ll play a game to the end, but rarely does it go much farther then watching the end credits roll and moving on to something different. As of right now, I’ve put roughly 110 hours into Monster Hunter World, and I’m still discovering new things to do. This game will suck up your free time, in a good way. It’s still tough as nails, but it’s easily the most accessible game in the franchise to date.
The story is pretty basic. An enormous Elder Dragon has appeared near the New World. If this creature isn’t dealt with and relocated, it could destroy the ecosystem and its inhabitants. If you’re familiar with the Monster Hunter series, it’s really just an excuse so you can go to said ecosystem and beat the piss out of everything you come into contact with. You can choose to capture these monsters if you want, with better rewards earned for doing this, but when it comes to battling the big bad ones later on, your only option is to fight to the death.
As opposed to other entries in the series, Monster Hunter World goes to great lengths to better inform the player of the world they’re exploring. The monsters you track leave footprints or tattered fur for you to pick up and build a encyclopedia containing their strengths, weaknesses and attributes. Learning how the monsters attack and what weapons and traps work best against them is all part of the experience. In other iterations, it was trial and error. This time around, every battle you take part in helps build your encyclopedia even further, which is just as rewarding as nabbing that special part you need for that new helmet you’ve had on your wish list for way too long.
There is no level system here. There is your Hunter Rank, which you can level up, but it doesn’t effect your character, only the quests you can partake in. Your stats are purely tied to the gear you wear. The different pieces of gear you can create can provide you with added attack power or the ability to withstand the different elemental attacks the monsters will throw at you. The only way you can get better gear is by hunting monsters and farming them for their body parts (it doesn’t look as morbid as it sounds). Finally harvesting that gem you’ve been after for ages is just as rewarding as it sounds. Sometimes the game can feel like a grind, but the battles you take part in are just too much fun to care.
Joining you on your quests is your Palico (cutest cat partner ever) who can be equipped with gear to help give you an advantage on the enemy. I just recently unlocked a musical instrument for my Palico, so he plays his bongos while I’m in combat to give me some much needed buffs. You can also eat various meals from the Meowscular Chef (ordering from this guy and watching the cat chefs cook for me never gets old) that offer temporary health, stamina, attack, defense and elemental defense boosts before you head out into the wild.
If you have a bunch of friends who own the game or don’t mind playing with strangers, you can hop online for some 4 player co-op. The difficulty of the monsters increase, but combining your various skills to overcome a tough fight is extremely satisfying.
The locales you’ll explore are varied and gorgeous. From a desert wasteland to a coral valley, everything looks fantastic. These areas teem with life. When you’re not on a quest, you can go on expeditions to these areas to fish, harvest plants, and mine minerals for crafting. The monsters that inhabits these areas looks great too, with different animations and attacks for each one. The variety of monsters could have been a bit greater (there’s a ton of dragons), but this is a problem that could be rectified with the addition of new monsters through updates.
The combat will either make or break the experience for you. This is no mindless button masher. Each monster has set patterns that need to be monitored and when an opening presents itself, that’s when you strike. You could be rolling around and dodging for five minutes before you can get a jab at the beast you’re trying to slay. It all looks spectacular though, with the pulse pounding orchestra playing in the background (just wait until you see 3 monsters have a turf war, it’s unreal). With practice, you’ll be dodging and attacking like a seasoned pro. You always have to be mindful of your attacks though. I use a Switch Axe, and I find myself constantly in an animation lock, swinging it around over my head like a mad man. There’s no way to stop it, so if the creature I’m hunting decides to attack, it looks like I’m just gonna have to take the beat down. I’ve grown accustomed to the Switch Axe, but there’s 14 weapons total to mess around with. These range from Great Swords to the Hunting Horn that you can use to provide buffs to your party members and debuffs to your enemies. It’s this learning curve that makes Monster Hunter World feel satisfying. Everything you do in this game is earned by your hard work. Adapt and survive.
With Capcom already hinting at future free updates that will add new monsters and difficulties (Deviljho was just added to the game yesterday), Monster Hunter World is easily my favorite game so far of 2018. Right now, there’s a truck load of content readily available, with a steady stream guaranteed in the years to come. You’ll keep telling yourself “just one more hunt” and then you’ll look at the clock and it’s 5AM. True Story.
Who needs sleep anyways? – NVJ
Monster Hunter World is now available on PS4 & Xbox One