Review – Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World is the latest entry in the long running franchise and is the first Monster Hunter to release on current generation consoles. Designed to appeal to both newcomers and series veterans alike, the story follows a fleet of hunters trying to find out why elder dragons are crossing over to the new world. That’s pretty much it. There’s a little bit more to it but it’s mostly there to give a little bit of context and propel the gameplay.
I’m a newcomer to the series and World does a good job of introducing new players. There’s some guidance in the form of text tutorials that never get in the way, but for the most part the player can discover things by themselves. An example of this is the streamlined hunting mechanics; once you find enough tracks, footprints etc. The scoutflies will lock onto the monster’s trail. You still have to track monsters but it never becomes tedious.
There’s an addictive gameplay loop that Monster Hunter World is built around. Hunt monsters, gather resources, build/upgrade better equipment and repeat. The amount of variety in both the locations and monsters stop it from feeling repetitive, even fighting the same monster can play out completely differently.
Each of the 14 weapon classes are incredibly distinctive, no two feel the same and it’s a total blast learning a new weapon. You’ve got everything from my personal favourite, the Dual Blades, to the heavy hitting hammers and a selections of ranged weapons, each with a long upgrade path. There’s something for everyone and the game encourages experimentation.
The same goes with the monsters as well. There is a surprisingly large roster of monsters and whilst a small handful feel similar, they do a good job of making most of them very different to fight. Some of the most impressive moments are when multiple large monsters are in the same area, often ending in massive battles.
Preparation is absolutely essential to succeed in Monster Hunter. Every monster has different strengths and weaknesses you’ll need to adapt to. Even the vast variety of armour can provide different benefits. Once you get to the “high-rank” levels you may need to mix and match different armour types for certain perks. I have multiple versions of the same weapon types to take with me for different monsters. Deal enough damage to certain parts and you can damage them or, in the case of a monster’s tail, you can actually cut them off for additional crafting resources.
Once you finally defeat a monster that was super hard for you, it gives you a real sense of pride and accomplishment not many games can achieve. And the rewards you get actually feel worth the struggle.
Most hunts have a time limit of 50 minutes and a maximum “faint” limit of 3 before it fails the hunt and you get sent back to the hub. It sounds harsh but that’s usually more than you need. Though some fights took me dangerously close to the time limit with only 5 minutes remaining. On the edge of failure is when it gets intense knowing one slip up and it’s over.
The difficulty, in general, is super well balanced. The monsters telegraph their more powerful attacks, giving you ample time to get out of the way if you pay attention. The vast majority of my deaths felt fair. That said, there were a small handful of times where the hitboxes seemed way off.
The visual design is astonishing, making the larger monsters are huge and threatening. There’s a great sense of scale that not many games can accomplish. As you get further and further the designs in the monsters get crazier and visually more complex. And the environments, too, are huge and lush with detail. One thing I’ve noticed a lot is that to save on resources the background monsters do run at a reduced frame rate. On base hardware there’s a few frame rate drops and the visuals can look a little blurry at times, but it never gets too bad to completely throw me off. The one area where the visual design drops in quality is in some of the unique weapons. They rarely look as crazy as they should.
Some of the must stunning moments are seeing two monsters go at each other’s throats, throwing each other around. Whenever this happens I just sit back and watch the chaos unfold.
Just as I thought the game was almost done, they threw a bunch of new monsters and even expedition areas for me to explore. There’s absolutely no shortage of things to do. Beyond the main assignments, there are optional quests and investigations. The investigations can get interesting as they will usually mess with the objectives, hunting multiple monsters without fainting once or capturing monsters with a reduced time limit are just 2 possibilities.
SOS flares are one of my favorite additions, being able to easily jump in and help other players can lead to some memorable moments. My one gripe is with the Gathering Hall, a way for up to 16 players to group up and go out on hunts. The problem is that it’s mostly useless, since you can’t do everything you can do in Astera. It would have been much more interesting to have Astera be occupied by 16 players but instead it’s a solo instance.
The soundtrack is epic and helps feed into the rewarding feeling when you take down a boss. Voice acting is a bit of a miss but it’s hardly the focal point of the game anyways. Elsewhere the sound is brilliant! The roars of the monsters as they stagger your hunter sound powerful. The knowledge that something big is coming your way can be terrifying when coupled with the sound effects.
It took me over 70 hours to see the end credits and that’s not even the end of it. There is an incredibly strong endgame with an addictive gameplay loop of grinding out monsters for better gear. There’s also plans for new monsters and content to keep people coming back for a while.
Even though there’s some technical issues, Monster Hunter World is deep, thoroughly engaging, and incredibly addictive. I’ve had fun every time I boot up the game and will keep coming back for more.
The visual design is stunning even though it’s sometimes disappointing from a technical point of view.
Monster Hunter is difficult and fair, with intuitive gameplay that’s just good!
The sound design helps the world of monsters feel lived in, despite the somewhat poor voice acting.
There’s so much variety and depth in Monster Hunter it’s impossible to get bored.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Monster Hunter World is available now on Playstation 4 and Xbox One