For the past few years, Monster Hunter fans have mostly had to make their hunts on the 3DS. They are amazing games and they really push the 3DS to create some of the best titles on the system. I doubt I’m alone in the desire for a new console release of this dinosaur toppling, dragon capturing, weapon crafting grindfest of a franchise. Then Monster Hunter World was announced and it looked like it was gonna deliver on every level! After standing in line for a while, I got to play it at PAX West and boy oh boy, does it deliver on a spectacular level!
Let’s dig into my hands-on time with the game while at PAX West 2017 after the long wait in line to see what all there is and will be within Monster Hunter World. At least, so far. . .
My experience started with being placed on a team to hunt with. It didn’t take very long and we were off! Right away one change that I noticed that is definitely better is being able to change your equipment during a hunt! No more making sure you have the perfect set before you set out.
However, while playing let’s say there is something not working like you thought it would. Players can return to the tent at the start of the hunt and change your items to what may be better. This alone, I think, will help with the steep learning curve that is associated with the Monster Hunter franchise and be more welcoming to new players. For my hands-on I equipped a great sword, my preferred weapon from previous titles, and was off!
Another new addition was that sections of the map are seamless; this means no more load screens when traveling around tracking down each hunt. Speaking of tracking, there is tracking now! Various signs are found and followed around the map leading players to their mark. Once the mark is located, it is epic! Still fully intact is that satisfying feeling of working together to take down a massive creature. I was glad I flexed my hunting muscles a bit on MH4U in line before hand, because when the monster struck, it did so with the fury a beast being attacked by four people would have.
I was right at home with Monster Hunter World’s control scheme, performing familiar maneuvers and dodges. The button mapping being similar to the 3DS titles, which made me glad for my practice in line with MH4U. For those unfamiliar with Monster Hunter here’s a quick breakdown. While your weapon is put away, using items, sprinting, wielding weapon, and interacting with the environment is available. Once the weapon is pulled out, regular and heavy attacks can be used to perform combos, along with every weapon having an extra action as well. This extra action varies from blocking, to buffs, to even transforming the weapon into another one! Leaping through the air for powerful attacks that allowed me to sometimes perform a mounted attack is also available and finally toppling it over for the whole team to perform combos on feels amazing.
As the battle progressed the telltale signs of the monster wearing down appeared. Panting and limping, the monster tried to hang in there, but in the end we were victorious and our time with Monster Hunter World was over. To those who were on my team, if you are reading this, I apologize. I was the one experienced Hunter on the team and may have gotten a bit zealous in my apparent blood lust. This, I think caused us to complete our hunt a bit on the early side, meaning in the end we spent less time playing than we may have liked. (Particularly after that extensive wait time.)
Graphically, Monster Hunter has never looked better! I still find myself adoring the visuals on the 3DS, but this is really something else. The world is so lush and full of detail and life. What comes to mind are the opening cinematics on the 3DS titles, but as the game! I was floored upon entering the hunt and momentarily forgot what I was supposed to be doing, as I was trying to take it all in and look at everything.
One thing I really liked about MH3U and MH4U was it wasn’t afraid to be vibrant and bright in both it’s colors and lighting. Nature is beautiful, animals can have practically glowing colors and the sun is bright! Monster Hunter World continues this trend by showing off its colors and detail in full light! Though I’m sure there will be darker hunts that takes place in caves or even at night, our hunt in broad daylight sure left an impression that this game has a lot to show off! This is all made even better considering what I said earlier about it being seamless. I get to continuously look at the phenomenal visuals without interruption!
The whole experience was enhanced by the stellar Monster Hunter World booth that Capcom put together for PAX West. Featuring an enormous dragon statue and the stations decorated with foliage and rocks; the Monster Hunter booth was definitely one of the stand out booths at PAX this year. My amazing time with Monster Hunter was capped off by receiving a really awesome Monster Hunter themed emblem pin!
I hope that the final release includes some story, it really helped me feel like I was working my way up the Hunter Ranks in MH4U. I think this will help new players get into it too. Even a simple story will help players connect with the world. With it coming to PS4 and XB1 I think a lot of people will be finally taking a look at the series and considering it for their first Monster Hunter title. If that is the case, anything Capcom can do to help new players is a must. Guides, and easy to use and understand UI will go a long way here.
One thing I DO NOT want to see is the difficulty lowered to appeal to new players, this would defeat the purpose of Monster Hunter. One thing that the popularity of games like Dark Souls, Bloodbourne, and even some of the challenging indie platformers that have come out has proven is gamers’ don’t mind a challenge if the challenge is in perfecting the controls and paying attention to their surroundings and enemy movements.
Fans have nothing to fear with Monster Hunter World. It looks like it will deliver on every level and then some. Its Best in Show, Best AAA, and Best Multiplayer nominations were well earned! It was truly an epic game, and I can hardly wait till it releases on January 26th, 2018. My time with Monster Hunter World was short, as a result there are still a lot of things for me to explore. So if you too played the game and did something I missed add it to our comments!
For more information on Monster Hunter World, check out the official website. The game is coming to PS4 and Xbox One first, with a PC release coming later on.