DLC Review – Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
When I first reviewed Monster Hunter World in 2018, I quickly fell in love with the game, with an addictive gameplay loop that didn’t hold my hand. The base game for Monster Hunter World had a really strong post-launch stream of content, completely for free, ranging from new monsters such as Deviljho to crossover events with the Witcher 3 and Final Fantasy XIV. Now we have a full sized expansion which brings much more to an already strong game.
I left the Xbox One version of MHW behind when the PC version came out and I was a little bit concerned that it would be a challenge going back to where I left off. However if you have the bare minimum requirements to entire Iceborne (Hunter Rank 16 and the main story completed) you will be fine. Getting the new Rarity Level 9 Gear is easy enough and doesn’t require much grinding. Within an hour of entering the DLC I was ready for the new challenges. This isn’t an expansion for new players but the Guardian Armour lets newcomers get through the story faster, essentially making the low ranks a breeze.
A few new mechanics and quality of life changes have been brought in for all Monster Hunter World players. The most notable of which is the Clutch Claw and improved slinger mechanics, allowing for you to use the slinger and grapple onto enemies without putting away your weapon. Balance changes have been brought to the weapon classes whilst also improving their functionality with new moves. You can now also ride small monsters around the maps, a fun little addition. The list of changes is extensive.
Set after the events of the main game, something weird has been happening in the Ancient Forest. A Legiana has been spotted outside of it’s natural habitat. Turns out they have been chased to another landmass nearby. To say the base game was lacking in the story department was an understatement, though it didn’t really matter that much, as it’s not why we play Monster Hunter for. It’s the same deal here, it’s only there to push the action along nicely and to give a story-based introduction to new monsters.
The main attraction in the expansion is the new expedition area, Hoarfrost Reach, an icy tundra located near the New World. It’s a fantastically well-designed map that brings an entirely new biome to the game while also giving it a distinctive feel. As you explore the area your character will struggle through deep snow, leaving tracks behind for a long time. The overwhelming cold can have an impact on the gameplay as well, slowly draining your maximum stamina. This can be countered by drinking the new hot drink on a semi-regular basis or sitting in one of the hot-springs located throughout the map. Hoarfrost Reach is roughly the same size as many of the other maps in the base game with the closest being the Coral Highlands in terms of design.
Then we got the hub world known as Seliana. Although not anywhere near visually impressive as the base game’s Astera, it’s much more functional. All the NPCs and merchants you will need to talk to are in a much tighter space, significantly reducing travel times around the hub. It’s going to be hard to go back to Astera with how much better Seliana works for the game’s flow. You also have access to a much more customisable personal room, which is not a huge addition but still a very welcome one.
Of course, being a Monster Hunter expansion means that we will get a wealth of new and old monsters to deal with. Returning from previous games we have fan favourites such as Tigrex, Barioth, and the dreaded Narcacuga, to name a few, as well as brand new additions. Each of the additions in Iceborne are all very well done and fun to fight against, with the exception of Beotodus, which was a rather dull way to introduce us to the map. Thankfully though, Beotodus is my only complaint about the new inclusions to the expansion’s roster.
Iceborne isn’t just about new content, it’s also about improving and refining on the old content to keep it relevant. Each of the games old areas have gotten the Master Rank update and you will be visiting them throughout the story to deal with new threats. New sub-species and variants have been brought in for a bunch of monsters including my personal favourite, Tobi-Kadachi. The variants aren’t just simple re-skins and have entirely new moves. It’s a good way to refresh the old and stop the new from becoming boring.
Gone are the Hunter Ranks of old, and the new Mastery Rank is where most of your progression will be going. The new rank, commonly known as G-Rank in the community, is basically a Very Hard mode and your new source of progression. It’s brutal and I love it. A good effort has been put into the game to ease players into Master Rank, especially if they had an extended break from the game and the difficulty curve isn’t too rough.
Everything in the main campaign of Iceborne will take roughly 30 hours to finish but there’s so much more than that. With new weapon and armour sets to craft, dozens of new optional quests and investigations, there’s a lot to dig into with many more hours of content. It doesn’t stop there either, with the promise of even more free post-launch support. Almost 2 years later, Monster Hunter World is still going strong and has no signs of slowing down.
Iceborne is one of the biggest and best expansions that I’ve played in a long time, keeping the same addictive gameplay loop while bringing in a ton of new content enough to fill an entire game.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is available now on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on Xbox One
A copy of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne was provided by the publisher.