Released: January 26th 2018 (PS4, XBOX One), August 9th 2018 (PC)
Available on: PS4, XBOX One, Steam
Price: PS4 and XBOX One – $39.99 CDN ($29.99 US) [ Steam – $74.99 CDN ($59.99 US)
(Disclaimer: this is a review of Monster Hunter World without the Iceborne expansion. The review of Monster Hunter World Iceborne will be posted at a later date.)
Ever since I played through Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS I have been enthralled with the series. Monster Hunter boasts excellent gameplay, creature design, engaging multiplayer and awesome maps. When Monster Hunter World was announced for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The presentation looked phenomenal, all the areas make up one big world instead of separate sections. The monsters can interact with each other and there is a bigger emphasis on story. So, the ultimate question; was it worth the wait?
Monster Hunter World looks gorgeous, even when playing on an original, non-pro PS4. The environments are extremely detailed. The huge trees, the water that courses down the creek, the small herbs, mining outcrops and even small stones all look exquisite. Monsters also look impressively realistic: the fur and scales they sport are lifelike and the way the monsters move convinces me that the developers aimed to emulate real animal movement as closely as possible.
The sound design of Monster Hunter World is glorious. While most tracks do an excellent job as ambient music for the area currently being explored, the music when fighting monsters is where it excels. Two tracks that stand out are: when fighting the intrusive monster Bezelgeuse and when fighting the flagship monster Nergigante. The sound effects when striking monsters all have a cathartic crunch that is satisfying every time.
The gameplay is sublime. Monster Hunter World has the easiest point of entry for new players out of any Monster Hunter game to date. It sports a training room which is a pivotal addition to the series; perfect for learning a new weapon type, refining combos or even discovering new tricks with familiar weapons. The training room also displays important and highly suggested combos on screen. When out hunting, the top-right corner of the screen displays a list of commands and adapts to where the player is in their combo at all times. This is extremely helpful when using more complex weapons (like the Charge Blade, Switch Axe, Long Sword, Hunting Horn to name a few examples).
Finding which weapons to craft is much easier with the new in-game Weapon Tree. If the player has discovered the necessary materials, it will show them what is needed to build their wanted weapon or armor. When assembling an armor set, it is important to consider defense rating and skills. Thankfully, armor skills are another area that is made easier to understand. In previous Monster Hunter titles, armor sets had to reach a certain skill score to have the benefits of the skill. In Monster Hunter World, one skill point in a certain skill is enough to activate it. Acquiring more points in a skill will make it more powerful. Missing certain items? No problem! The new wishlist function keeps track of what is needed for the desired weapon or armor in a convenient way. It will notify the player when all the parts are gathered.
Gathering is made much easier and quicker than in past entries. No longer do bug nets and pickaxes break: simply go up to a gathering spot and push the button. For herbs and mushrooms, the hunter gathers them as they keep running.
One area I feel Monster Hunter World could improve on is in its lengthy tutorial. New players might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at them right away and veteran players will find it grating since they already know most of what is presented to them. What’s more, the tutorials don’t really fully stop until at least a couple of hours into the game, making them more of a nuisance.
The story is uninviting. The hunter is a silent protagonist so they are set up with a handler. While being prevalent in the story; her input when out of cutscenes is footling. The other characters also fail to leave much of an impression. While it does a good job showing off the monsters, Monster Hunter’s story was always its weakest aspect. Story quests can be played with up to four players but only after the host of the quest has viewed the required cutscene, which is a baffling design decision.
Monster Hunter World’s postgame content is also lacking. While it does introduce a new challenge after completing the story with tempered monsters, it is not the G-Rank difficulty (most challenging mode of the Monster Hunter series) expected from past Monster Hunter games. Monster Hunter World is also the easiest Monster Hunter in the series, as progress is closely tied to story quests which are easily done solo, making multiplayer less of a necessity.
My final complaint about Monster Hunter World is in its multiplayer design. While it has noticeable improvements in some areas (being able to join a party in the middle of a quest, being able to host 16 players in the Gathering Hub), there are some odd design decisions that are present. The aforementioned story quests only being able to be joined after certain cutscenes are viewed is a big one. The Gathering Hub also lacks key facilities that it had in the past (the Farm and the Blacksmith being noticeable omissions) forcing players to leave the Gathering Hub to access these.
The criticisms mentioned above are but a drop in the sea of excellence that Monster Hunter World presents. Gorgeous visuals, beautiful sound design and deep, engaging gameplay: Monster Hunter World is a game I constantly feel compelled to play. I couldn’t recommend the game enough.