“Oh man it’s trying to run away…haha look it’s limping!” I point out to my wife as she looks quizzically at my latest gaming addiction.
“So, you’re like a poacher? That’s terrible! Do you at least use every part of the animal?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
Monster Hunter World has been the subject of some hype for quite some time now, and after a couple of weeks of monster-slaying and exploring I’ve come to find that the hype may have been for good reason.
As a member of the Fifth Fleet, the latest wave to arrive in a broader expedition to a continent known as “The New World”, you’re tasked with uncovering the mysteries of the elder dragons migration to this unknown land. Unfortunately, between you and the elder dragons are dozens of unique and deadly monsters of varying size from large to “Holy crap that’s huge”. You assist the expedition with field research, collecting ore, plants, biological data and…well…hunting monsters.
As you slay monsters and acquire their parts you can then forge improved weapons and armor, continually improving your gear as you slay more difficult enemies over time. With so many monsters and components, it would be easy to turn the crafting system into an overly convoluted and intimidating exercise. To Monster Hunter World’s credit, this is not the case. Armor is broken down into major monster categories with 5 key pieces that can be constructed with varying ingredients. Once constructed, weapons and armor can be further enhanced with additional materials.
Regarding the weapons, the methods by which you dispose of these bestial threats are as varied as the monsters themselves. Interested in rocking a standard sword and shield combo? Go ahead! Oh, by the way, it turns into a massive axe too. Maybe you’re more of an archer, or interested in wielding an overly large sword that is in no way compensating for anything. Each weapon offers its own suite of attacks and strategy, and some have more steep learning curves than others. That being said, once you get into the swing of things you definitely can appreciate the nuance of each weapon type.
One point of annoyance regarding combat was the haphazard deployment of the Slinger. A ranged weapon that’s designed to distract or weaken your targets, it seemed much more difficult to find the proper ammo and pods for it while on missions. With so many other elements of combat being executed perfectly well, it was unfortunate that this element appeared to have slipped through the cracks.
Now, the New World is a massive continent with numerous maps within. Each area has a distinct environment and feel, as well as varied resources and of course, wildlife. Guided by your scoutflies, you can easily find yourself lost in the open-world “expedition” mode. The gorgeous environments and high-quality sound effects really help to transport you to this vivid and wild world.
As you explore new areas of the continent you unlock additional investigations, which may prompt you to slay or capture a certain number of creatures. There are also bounties that you can take on, and optional quests that appear from time to time in addition to your assigned quests. Herein lies the classic problem with open world games: it becomes far too easy to lose sight of the forest when you keep running into tree after tree of side-quests. The assigned quests are easy enough to return to when you want to “right the ship”, but the ability to have up to 250 active sidequests at once will no doubt pre-occupy numerous gamers who will walk away from a 6-8 hour gaming session wondering what the hell just happened.
That being said – the central campaign offers an engrossing narrative that is helped along by some impressive voice talent. Voice acting veterans Matthew Mercer and Erica Lindbeck were two of the standouts (playing Field Team Leader/The Huntsman and your Handler respectively), but the entire cast does a great job.
Now, I would be remiss without mentioning one of the central elements of Monster Hunter World – the ability to team up with 3 other hunters and take on huge beasts and daunting challenges! The online session system facilitates this partnership, and by utilizing these 4-man teams you can take down foes that would be exponentially more difficult if you were to fight it alone. My experiences in the online sessions so far have been positive – folks who knew what to do and where to go made for quick work of our target. Of course, like any online game you’re likely to encounter some less-than-seasoned hunters who may walk you into a trap and paralyze your whole crew, but you take the good with the bad.
Overall, with solid combat, a vast and beautiful world and engaging central plot, Monster Hunter World is sure to keep you busy for 100+ hours. Just don’t be surprised if you’re at hour 85 figuring out what certain buttons do.
Monster Hunter World
- Monster Hunter World offers a vast, gorgeous and interesting world to explore.
- Combat is frantic and fun
- Voice acting work is solid
- Item use can feel a bit clunky at times
- The slinger feels a bit over-complicated when it comes to ammo and pods in the field.
- Easy to get "lost in the weeds" with investigations and optional quests.
- Deceivingly complex - you may not discover a mechanic until you're 50+ hours in