Monster Hunter: World is a truly strange beast. Capcom’s action-RPG is undoubtedly one of the best games of the current generation. And it recently became Capcom’s best-selling game of all time. Clearly, hunting down skyscraper-sized monsters is an enticing prospect to many people.
That said, Monster Hunter remains a niche franchise that is simply not going to scratch everybody’s itch. Is it a brilliant game? Yes. Is it the right game for you? Maybe not. Fans presumably need no convincing, but they are not the ones who benefit from a review.
A New Beginning
Capcom’s franchise has a history of not being welcoming to newcomers. Most entries lack a story or a satisfactory tutorial. In some ways, Monster Hunter’s unwillingness to lead players is one of the series’ greatest strengths.
When the core premise involves tracking down progressively larger monsters to create cooler weapons and armor pieces, there is really little point in a narrative. The joy lies in the gameplay loop. For lack of a more fitting phrase, Monster Hunter is a pure game. A story would just be a distraction.
So, Monster Hunter: World adds a story. Seriously, there are cutscenes and everything. NPCs even have a semblance of a personality. The campaign opens with an Elder Dragon wrecking the main character’s ship, leaving many members of the Fifth Fleet dead.
Following this ordeal, the protagonist ends up in a large base called Astera. From here, the Research Commission hands out missions intended to establish settlements in a continent known as the “New World.”
As the story unfolds, the player unlocks new areas to explore. The base game has approximately 30 large monsters.
In truth, Monster Hunter: World’s story only qualifies as such in comparison with older entries in the franchise. Although the cutscenes are nicely animated, the paper-thin characters hold back the already predictable storyline. Monster Hunter has always been about the gameplay and, luckily, 2018’s entry more than delivers in this area.
Even before the story is concluded, Monster Hunter: World’s point is to complete hunts, collect loot, and craft new weapons and armor pieces. Once done, the process is repeated.
Monster Hunter: World holds 14 weapon types. Each category carries dozens of alternatives that can be unlocked by collecting specific materials or upgrading the base piece.
Pinpointing the perfect type of weapon is the hardest part of the game. Equipping a Great Sword or Hunting Horn greatly changes the combat. Some types are more suitable for long-range attacks (Bows). Others are all about delivering slow but devastating blows (Hammers).
While players are never locked into a single weapon tree, it is best to invest in one type during the first 50 hours. New weapons and armor pieces are upgraded through the application of materials collected during hunts. Certain enhancements provide unique buffs that provide an advantage in specific fights.
Missions are quite straight forward. Prior to a quest, there is the option to craft new consumables that may be useful during the upcoming hunt.
Despite its name, Monster Hunter: World is not a conventional open-world. The game is split into seven maps that can be freely explored while out on a hunt or an expedition.
Tracking monsters has been simplified through the addition of scout fireflies, which help to diminish the odds of getting lost. Once the target is located, the true fun begins, as the hunter sets out to defeat (or capture) the monster.
The combat is responsive and dynamic. While it may be tempting to just slash away at the enemy, Monster Hunter presents various tools to expedite hunts.
Each monster telegraphs its attacks and learning their patterns becomes crucial. Missions have a 50-minute time limit, although this should be more than enough to complete most hunts.
Graphically, Monster Hunter: World is often gorgeous, even if the environments can look somewhat blurry in certain areas.
Fortunately, the monsters boast impeccable designs while also demonstrating intelligence. Along with using the environment to their advantage, the A.I. does not hesitate to escape if the tide of battle turns against them.
Monster Hunter: World finds the franchise at its most welcoming, while still retaining the license’s core appeal.
If the thought of hunting monsters just for the sake of hunting monsters does not sound appealing, then Monster Hunter: World may not be for you. Otherwise, Capcom’s 2018 game is well worth a look.