The Monster Hunter franchise has been around for almost a decade and a half, and while it’s built up a massive fan base over the last 14 years, it’s one game I’ve never really spent the time with, until now… so how does Monster Hunter : World treat a newbie.
Over the last 30 years, I’ve played ALOT of games, thousands to be sure, Monster Hunter never fell in the right place for me, either through console choice, time or other commitments and today, I declare I regret not getting into the franchise earlier, because Monster Hunter : World is one of those few games that will stick with me for years.
Every year or two, we’re treated to a gaming masterpiece, last year had titles like Wolfenstein 2, Resident Evil and Destiny 2, but (as much as I wanted Destiny to be different) there was nothing that could hold my attention for more than a few months.
2016 was different, both OverWatch and Rocket League are two of my favorite games today, but it’s not very often you get these long-term, life changing gems, but while only in February, we’ve already got one in Monster Hunter World.
Starting off the game, you’re in a bar on board the voyage to the New World, you’re one of the ‘Fifth’ a mighty monster hunting team that’s tasked with racking one of the Elder Dragon’s who make the migration to the new world every decade.
Soon enough you’ll come face to face with this dragon, known as Zorah Magdaros who knocks you back down to earth with a thump, setting you up for the early tutorial of movement and combat, the controls are mostly as expected, but newcomers will have a few things to learn depending on which weapon you want to use.
Monster Hunter is in many’s eyes, a MMORPG, so you might expect quite a slow start, but it’s all delivered in such a way that you always keep on track, there’s a unparralelled level of depth to crafting, picking up resources and utilising your inventory, which will easily distract you, but I found concentrating on what the game was putting in front of me, gave me a detailed (yet not overly thorough) introduction and more than enough information to start on my journey.
After setting up camp at Astera, you’ll be able to start in various quests to hunt local monsters, killing these will reward you with resources from that specific beast which can be crafted into armour and weapons.
With a wide selection of weapons, you’ll initially be spoilt for choice, I think I made a pretty wise decision to delete most leaving myself with a handful that seemed most different to each other. Your weapon choice will depend quite heavily on the type of player you are, but they mostly fall into 4 categories, long range, mid range to melee, slow melee and fast melee…
The Bow and BowGun are your primary ranged weapons, and each can be used with ammo or coatings (which are crafted) to give effects such as poison, or extra power, but most of the other weapons serve as a scale across the other 3 styles, I really enjoyed using the bow, but didn’t get on with juggling through the arrow coatings every few minutes, so I tried a few slow melee weapons which pack a massive punch, but felt much more limiting with mobility. Finally I settled with the Insect Glaive, which I could write an entire article on just this one weapon due to how much I’ve picked up over the last week or so, Aswell as a fairly competent slasher, it allows you to vault into the air as well as sending out an insect known as a Kinsect, these little guys have their own upgrade tree and can be powered to any affinity as well as effects such as sleep and poison offensively or healing to you and co-operative players.
It took me a good 20 hours of using the insect glaive to really start to get to grips with utilising the Kinest, building up buffs to raise speed and power to the point I could take down some of the more difficult monsters with ease and joining a group of other hunters, I always felt like I could hold my own, while helping to make a difference, there’s not many games that give this balance and sense of achievement just from spending time with one weapon, but Monster Hunter does a real good job of doing so.
Obviously there’s a wide range of weapons and from the few I’ve spent any decent amount of time with its obvious there’s just as much depth, so there’s plenty of choice depending on your play style.
You’ll also have a small cat-like friend following you around known as a Palico, creating this early on, you’ll also have a simplified tree to forge new armour and weapons giving more power (and defence) to your feline friend, there’s the option to leave your buddy at home, but especially solo, you’ll want every piece of help you can get.
There’s so much moe that you’ll learn over the first 5-10 hours of Monster Hunter : world, but it’s safe to say it’s delivered to you almost perfectly without really inundating you with information, and even after 20 hours, you’re still discovering new things to do, such as sending out Palico party’s on a safari to pick up resources and monster pieces for you, these are limited to areas you’ve passed, but save you backtracking quite as much when you realise you need more armour.
All Armour carries it’s own strengths, and weaknesses, upgrading to the armour of the mighty Legiana will give you a massive base stat for defence and prove unbeatable against Ice monsters, but it won’t hold up well against fire dragons, earlier on it’s not too important but as you progress you’ll want to build up a few armour set’s dependent on the affinity of the Monster you’re hunting.
The main story of Monster Hunter : World revolves around the exploration of the New World and the hunt for Zorah Magdaros, mmorpg’s aren’t usually known for groundbreaking storylines, and the same can be said for Monster Hunter, you’ll find new characters who carry that Capcom swagger we’ve come to expect from the mighty publisher, but thankfully the game is centralised around you and your fellow hunters.
Online (after a few teething problems in the first few days) there’s always the option of playing with others, I didn’t find much trouble tackling monsters alone, but often it was quicker, more productive and often more fun when you’ve got a team around you, especially if they’re communicating, if you want that shiny new piece of armour, you might be looking for a specific piece of the monster, such as a Fang, so you’ll want to concentrate blows to the head, but having a team to equally slash at the tale or legs/wings will help to produce other resources as well as limiting the mobility of the beast.
There’s a wealth of information to work through, but much is acquired from hitting ‘B’ as you see a monster track, this fills up a bar which subsequently provides more information, such as the monsters weak points or strengths, once again none of this is too important in the early stages, and some of it is easy to overlook, but it’s a welcome level of depth for those who want to go far beyond the main storyline.
Like many Action MMORPG’s, Monster Hunter World is about far more than the core story, revisiting areas to help with quests, or search for items of use is just as much fun as venturing forward to the new mission, I’ve probably spent half my time back-tracking and usually not through force, simply because I wanted to assist friends or pick up another piece of a specific armour.
Already this is one of the longest reviews I’ve ever written, but that’s purely because of the amount of things I could explain, flies helping lead your way to tracks, resources and monsters, using traps to snare a beast for some easy hits, and capturing insect or collecting flora, mushrooms or rocks to complete mini quests to help upgrade your armour and it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface, just like 30 hours into the game I opened up another new area, new monsters, new armour and weapon tiers, it feels like Monster Hunter just keeps on giving and with almost 50 hours under my belt over the last 7 days, I don’t mind admitting I’ve not completed the game yet, though I’m progressing nicely, I’m not even sure If I could imagine being finished after 100 or even 200 hours.
There’s very few games that offer such immersion, level of detail, play time and excitement, but Monster Hunter World certainly does.
I’ve been playing on the Xbox One X, and graphically you’ll find 3 options, ‘Resolution’ hits 4K textures with a frame rate of about 40fps, ‘Framerate’ sticks with 1080p, but pushes towards 60fps, and finally ‘Graphics’ combines the two with 1080p and about 40fps but uses the extra power to add in a few extra details to the landscape and surrounding areas.
I’ve been using ‘Prioritize Resolution’ and have found the graphics impressive considering the sheer volume of detail on the screen and while Frame-rates might drop to about 30 in heavy combat, it’s not been a noticeable issue at all. There’s a few awkward animations such as climbing, but nothing that impacts the game or the enjoyment of it.
Audio is a mixed area with good music and great atmospherics, but due tot he volume of speech, there’s very little voice acting. One day we’ll get that perfect game but it would take hundreds if not thousands of hours of voice acting (and a hefty download size) so maybe for now it’s best to limit speech.
Minor shortcoming aside, Monster Hunter World is big, beautiful and will keep you coming back for more, not just for weeks or months, but quite possibly years.