While the Monster Hunter franchise has been alive and kicking for the better part of a decade now, it’s mostly been seen as a “Japanese” gaming franchise. Sure, past iterations made its way to the PlayStation Portable and the Wii, but for the most part, it went under the radar of core Western games…at least until now.
Enter: Monster Hunter World. Be it by marketing it correctly or just tugging at the right strings, Capcom’s latest Monster Hunter game isn’t just out for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (soon on PC, too), but what’s more, it’s even being accepted warmly so far — at least based on the beta that happened.
There’s a lot (and I mean a lot) to take in when it comes to Monster Hunter World, so let’s get right to it!
Throwing You Into the Deep End of the Pool With Floaties
For better or for worse, Monster Hunter World has all of the franchise’s intricacies, stat crunching, and item-heavy gameplay. Sure, you’ll (kind of) be eased into everything with mini tutorials and hint boxes, but don’t expect too much hand-holding. If you want to learn something, the best way to understand it is with the best teacher: experience. I mean actual experiencing it yourself rather than XP. I’ve only played one Monster Hunter game ever (and not even that much), and I was half-lost when I first started out. By that, I meant, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the items, resources, numbers, stats and more all thrown at your face. The good thing is, you can choose to ignore all that initially, and just grab a weapon, and go on your merry way in hunting monsters.
Of course, one way or the other, you will need to go back to checking your resources, and so on, but you’ll survive playing the first few missions on just having fun, learning the ropes, and getting familiar with the game’s controls, economy and more.
In short: don’t fret if this is your first time with the franchise. It seems Capcom anticipated this, and have readied a bunch of newbie-friendly mini tutorials for almost everything — especially for the menus and what to do.
You’ll start the game creating your character or going with the pre-made presets, and do the same for your Palico (feline companion). Once you’re past that, then it’s off to the races! You’ll be thrust into a short segment where you’re introduced to the movement controls, and given a short exposition on who you are, what are you doing there, and why the hell do you want to hunt down monsters.
Possibly the biggest thing you’ll ever have to decide on in World is what weapon you’ll be wielding. While you can change your weapon of choice at anytime you’re in camp, or in the main base, you still have to choose a “main” weapon to start the game off with. Don’t expect each weapon to be re-skins or have minimal differences, either. This isn’t your typical action game where your sword’s main difference with an ax is the amount of damage it does or its reach, nope. In Monster Hunter World, weapons dictate the entire flow of combat, and even the actual gameplay. Yes, this is true and not an exaggeration. Simply put: the weapons themselves change the entire flow of gameplay; and this is where the complexity of the game lies.
Considering you’ll be spending 85-90 percent of your time hunting monsters (hence, the title), you’ll want the weapons that fit your play style the most. There are 14 weapons in World, and all are unlocked right from the start. However, each weapon can be upgraded, and there’s new versions of it to craft, elemental damage to consider, extra weapon abilities and so on. These 14 weapons range from bigass swords (think: Cloud’s Buster Sword in Final Fantasy VII), hammers, axes, hybrid weapons, and even guns!
Each one of the weapons have their own identity. and will affect your movement speed, stamina consumption, damage, defense and more. It’s worth the time experimenting with each weapon type in the Training Area to get a feel of what suits you best. While there are weapons that more beginner-friendly than the rest (guns, sword and shield), there’s no “ultimate” weapon. It all depends on how you want to play. Are you more of a poke and evade kind of player? Then you might want to use the sword and shield combo; maybe you prefer attacking from a distance? Go the gun route or use the bow. What if you’re more the strategic type that wants heavy damage when an opening arises? Then go use the Buster Sword or the hammer.
While weapons might be the main gameplay changer in World, there’s a lot more to take in, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
Resources, Stats, Crafting and the Kitchen Sink
While weapons might be the main thing that dictates the fun factor of Monster Hunter World, there’s a whole other layer of complexity piled on to it with the resource collecting, crafting, armor and weapon upgrades and more.
There’s money to be earned in everything you do that funds your item creation (no microtransactions here, thankfully!). In addition to money, there are resources to collect on the field, monster carcasses to loot which will net you items that you can use to craft better weapons, armors and so on. It’s a never ending cycle though with a ton of nuances that make it sound a lot more complicated than it seems to be on the surface. Adding to the weapon and armor upgrades are elemental damage buffs and weaknesses that also play a hand in how you tackle each monster or mission you’re tasked with.
If this all sounds daunting to you, I don’t blame you one bit. It is a little bit overwhelming since the game just pumps you with herbs, bones, specific plants for crafting ammo, and lots more. Thankfully, you can play the game and learn these things bit by bit, and to be fair, the game does a good job of slowly easing you in when it comes to needing to craft items.
Equipping weapons and armors are a tad easier given you can see the numerical value of each (higher it is, the better), though be sure to keep an eye out for the elemental damage defense as well.
Not Your Typical Action Game
If you’re planning to buy Monster Hunter World and expecting something like God of War or Devil May Cry’s combat, then I’ll stop you right there. It’s as far from those two as it can be. World isn’t your typical action game when it comes to pacing, combat, and even level design. There’s no leveling up system to make your character jump higher (though there are armor mods that do this), learn new moves, have super abilities and more. Sure, there is some kind of leveling up per se, but it’s usually tied into your weapons and armors, and even Palicos, more than your character.
As for missions, you’ll usually be in timed quests for the story missions (50 minutes for each), though you can also hop into “Expeditions” that will let you roam the game world freely. In it, you can tackle NPC missions, catch pets, hunt for resources, go fishing and more. There’s a ton of distraction in Monster Hunter World, but it’s the good kind.
You might have noticed that we’ve gone this far in the review and I haven’t even mentioned the story. There’s a reason for that, and being frank, it’s because it’s not that important nor memorable. Sure, during the game, the commander will task us to protect a research team, find a new camp, etc., we’re given reasons to hunt monsters, but it’s not really needed. Oh, sure, we’re gearing up to take down that elder dragon thing, but the story itself isn’t anything groundbreaking or new, though that speaks volumes about the gameplay that it doesn’t even need to be.
We Be Beastin’
Monster Hunter World is an enjoyable paradox in of itself. The graphics and audio work aren’t impressive. It doesn’t introduce anything revolutionary to the action genre, nor does it have a compelling story. But here’s the thing: even without all of those, the game is just FUN! Not even fun, but addicting. There’s this “one more mission” hook to it that propels you to tackle on one more side mission (or main one), just to see what kind of enemy you’ll be up, and of course, slaying the beast to get some sweet loot.
I haven’t even touched on the awesome monster designs, the living, breathing open world that lets you do a ton of things, or even the multiplayer that lets you take on monsters head on with four players (which some might argue is the best part of the game). It would take more than twice the amount of words you’ve read now to go on in detail about the stuff I mentioned just now, and I gather, those are things players will want to experience themselves.
If you like going up against bosses in games, and find that thrilling, then think of Monster Hunter World as Boss Fight: The Game. It’s one compelling boss fight after another, that’s sprinkled in with loot, crafting, and other RPG nuances that make the journey exciting even after the numerous missions. Monster Hunter World is one monster you’ll want to take home and nurture.
- Fantastic gameplay loop of explore, hunt, kill, collect and craft
- Monster design and fights are super unique
- Complex and deep combat system
- Has that “one more mission” addictive quality to its gameplay
- Graphics and audio work might not wow you
- Overwhelming amount of stats, resources right from the start
- Some people might want a deeper story to slay monsters (I don’t)
Monster Hunter World review copy provided by the publisher. Played on PS4 Pro. Hunted lots of monsters, tested a lot of weapons, and carved a lot of dead creatures. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.