Review – Monster Hunter: World

 

This week’s review is on a recent PC port of a PS4 game that has received many accolades in the time between its original release and its home computer counterpart. As the most recent game in a long-running series of monster-slaying, we have Monster Hunter: World. Let’s go!

Multiple monsters fighting among themselves as a hunter runs about the battlefield trying not to get hit.

In Monster Hunter: World, you play as an intrepid new hunter, on a flying ship with a bunch of other intrepid new hunters on their way to a new, barely explored land mass known as the New World, following the tracks of an enormous beast, an Elder Dragon known as Zorah Magdaros. No one knows why Elder Dragons have been going to the New World, but as part of the Fifth Fleet, you’re going to find out! Make your way into the New World, discovering its rich bounty that will assist you on your adventures. Using your scoutflies, mark, track and hunt enormous monsters through a host of wildly different environments. Practice, sharpen, and wield a variety of weapons to use on your hunt, from dual swords and hammers to bowguns and charge axes, to decimate your quarry and bring home its valuable resources. Travel further into this new continent, find Zorah Magdaros, and discover the truth of the Elder Dragons in Monster Hunter: World.

Three hunters face off against a large Tyrannosaurus-like monster.

All the monsters you can handle, with up to 3 friends!

When it comes to graphics, Monster Hunter: World has the best in the series. The environments are full of detail, the monsters all look amazing, and so does the armor that you can make from their hides. The way that you move through the environment still lends itself to seeing so much of the genius that went into the level design, textures, and modeling that is a big part of why wondering around in a forest can be so cool. One small caveat is that some of the faces of NPCs can look a little odd at times, including your own if you decide to create your character with some unique facial features. The stuff you’ll be seeing the most of, the monsters, the levels, and your own gear, all looks amazing.

 

The sound design of MHW is good, not too much to talk about in this regard. The monsters all have appropriate grunts, snorts, groans, and sometimes squawks, and the main theme of the game is woven throughout many of the minor and incidental pieces in the game, giving it a nice cohesive feel. Combat music is solid, and appropriately scales in volume and intensity as combat ebbs and flows between high-ferocity combat and following your quarry through the woods as it refuses to hold still.

A large bat-like creature stares down the hunter.

“What’re YOU lookin’ at?”

As the 5th game in the main series and 14th game to be released in the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter: World has a lot to build off of and live up to. As a hunter in the New World, you take on quests to hunt a variety of monsters for their parts and provide field experience to the researchers back at the home base.  Most of the game revolves around picking up quests, going out into the wild, and completing them, with most of them involving some number of monsters and possibly some hunting of one kind or another. Going through the main story, you are hunting Zorah Magdaros, the latest in a line of Elder Dragons to travel to the New World, and the quests you take on revolve around getting the needed materials and making sure the coast is clear for trying to track the enormous lava-spewing beast as it makes it path inland. This will take you all over the place gathering materials and fighting a variety of monsters, from giant lizards and chickens to dragons with poison stingers and T-Rexes that spew fire from their nose.

A large white unicorn monster walks slowly past a hunter

“Out of my way, plebeian. Elder dragon, coming through.”

Combat takes form in the variety of weapons that Monster Hunter has on offer. From dual swords, long swords, great swords, and hammers, to more esoteric things like a gun built into a lance, swinging around a set of reinforced bagpipes, or using a spear to pole-vault onto monsters while using a bug to fight alongside you. The variety is pretty large, allowing for an array of playstyles both in solo play and in multiplayer scenarios. Along with the combat is the gathering, which represents the large portion of the game that is not quest-related. You’ll end up going through the area searching for and picking up materials for building something, whether that’s ingredients for a Max Potion, the components of a Large Barrel Bomb, or the last bits needed to make the next upgrade on your Carapace Buster, gathering materials is going to happen, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

A hunter with a long sword hacks away at an enormous lizard monster.

Like many people, this is the first Monster Hunter game that I’ve gotten in-depth with, but this is not my first Monster Hunter experience, having played some of Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS, and the amount of changes made to the game for quality of life is astounding. When exploring an area, it is so large that it needs to be split up into numbered zones for each area. In MHW, going between these zones is seamless and provides some satisfaction just traversing the forest at top speed. In Monster Hunter Generations, these zone markers were more than just lines denoting space, they were loading zones. This means that, every time you wanted to chase a monster from point A to point B, there would be a number of loading screens to get to the next part of the fight. This was required on handheld devices such as the Sony PSP and Nintendo 3DS, but with MHW, they are long gone! Other such quality-of-life changes include a shortcut wheel of common tools and items, automatically tracking hunted monsters o the mini-map, and an infinite whetstone for keeping your weapon in top condition while fighting, which used to be a consumable you needed to carry with you! Monster Hunter: World has made large strides to being friendlier to a more casual audience.

A small cat-like creature in leather armor smiles at the viewer.

Don’t forget about palicoes! Your friendly cat companion in your hunts.

These changes and updates are not without their downsides, however. One of the major aspects that Monster Hunter World lacks in compared to the other titles in the series is monster variety. Counting all of the minor variations, MHW has around 35 different large monsters, where as Minster Hunter Generations has closer to 70 different larger monsters. Moreover, most of the large monsters encountered in MHW are saurian in nature, similar to large dinosaurs or dragons, whereas in MHGen, there were giant wombats, owls, crabs, rock camels, sand wurms and more to fight. Capcom has been working to add more monsters to MHW, but while the results so far have been good, they’ve also been slow.

A cat-like creature wears a beautiful dress made of dragon scales.

And your palicoes have adorable armor! Look at this little princess of poison.

For all of the things I enjoy about Monster Hunter: World in its current state, there are a couple of things I do have issue with. First, there is the camera and lock-on system that takes some getting used to. Large monsters have two different lock-on points, one for the body and one for the head, and getting too close to a monster while locked on can cause odd camera angles and missed attacks. The second thing I still have issue with is the universal ability of large monsters to let loose a roar that will interrupt everything you are doing. You will stop all attacks, all item use, and even bring you down out of the air if you do not have higher level gear to prevent this from happening. They can, and will, do this, and it’s just a matter of expecting when it’s going to happen and acting accordingly.

A hunter comes face-to-face with a large toothy red monster

But remember, few things want to be your friend.

If you have been thinking about getting into Monster Hunter: World, this is definitely the game to start on, with many of the basic mechanics and wonderful combat of other Monster Hunter games in a new accessible package. If you’re looking for a multiplayer online action game, this may be worth looking into. If you like decimating your oversized opponents in awesome ways, give MHW a shot. If you’re going to contemplate the amount of violence that goes on in a game like this, this may not be the title for you. MHW is now available through Steam, and has been available on Playstation 4 since January 2018. This review was based on the PC version, and as such does not have any of the special event updates the PS4 version has had, or anything else exclusive to the PS4.

Farewell, and happy hunting

 

-Dr. Glovegood

 

 

Dr. Glovegood

I like gloves. I like games. I'd like to see more of these in the world.

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