+Superb matchmaking and dedicated servers that allow for a solid online experience
+Tutorials aren’t overwhelming and offer solid explanations of every bit of the game
+Astonishingly well-designed graphics and animations
+Creatures act and appear realistic often battling one another in a turf war
-Matchmaking systems can be slightly confusing to new players
Editor’s Note: While Monster Hunter: World has been out for a couple of weeks now, we felt it was in our best interest to take our time, beat our way through the game, and even try out some of the post-game content before reviewing this title.
If I were to look at my save file, my game would tell me I sit with a single character hovering just over 78 hours, another at 30, and a third at around 10. You’d even think I’d have learned every little thing the game had to offer from its own take on past titles. If I told you I hadn’t, you’d think I’d be a little crazy, a bit off in many ways.
For the past few nights, I’ve even set aside some time from working on reviews in order to really enjoy Monster Hunter: World for what is. I’ve begun to farm high-rank tempered creatures so that I can work on getting some of the best items int he game and I’ve even begun to face down against “High Rank” elder dragons that make Zorah Magdaros look like a laughable joke, but what I didn’t expect was the post-endgame content for me to experience.
I’ve had plenty of missions where I’ve attempted to joint hem only to be locked out from attending them due to requirements that must be met. Not because my gear is horrible or my skill isn’t on par with the hunt, but rather, it was the fact I’ve not attended enough missions to raise my HR past 40 quite yet. But rather the fact there is still a lot for me to do in the long run. I still have a lot of game left to explore, high rank hunts to complete, and even “High Rank Rewards” left to earn.
But most of all, I’ve finally come to realize that even while I have a lot of game left to play, there’s a review to be completed and luckily, this isn’t your typical review of the game pressing for a timely release while the game remains new and relevant, but rather a review that provides an in-depth look at the game as a whole. And it’s not because Monster Hunter: World isn’t a great game to play. Let me very clear: It’s a fan-freaking-tastic game. It’s everything I’d hoped for in the games franchises first console-focused release since the PlayStation 2 era.
But for those of you that aren’t familiar with the game, perhaps I need to clear some air for you to understand what this game franchise really is and why this latest particular installment is the most important of them all. To begin, Monster Hunter is an action RPG series about, as you already may know, hunting bigger than life creatures. To top it off, the series is incredibly popular in Japan where the series has sold more than 40 million copies since the franchises 2004 debut.
Toss in the fact the games central focus is allowing you to play with up to three friends and completing the story of the game together. Unlike traditional RPGs, however, you don’t level up your character by any means; instead, you gather items from the monsters that you hunt, which lets you create both weapons and armor in order to allow you to take on more powerful creatures, which allows you, in turn, to create their weapons and armor. While the World’s plot itself is rather cut and dry – it’s still one that connects deeply with the core experience, which is sending you out to hunt and hone in on your skills along the way.
And that’s the very heart of the Monster Hunter experience. It’s one about risk and reward through its unique and well-designed combat systems. It’s one where there are fourteen distinct weapons classes, each coming with their own unique play style, and each requiring different styles of gameplay. That’s where the game urges players to find a style that suits them best. Even with the game offering multiple play styles, Monster Hunter: World can be a difficult and unforgiving game for both newcomers and veterans alike.
Much like games such as Dark Souls, Devil May Cry or even Ninja Gaiden, the game is all about timing and patience when taking on larger monsters. Many of them can easily take a player out in one fell swoop, which leaves players to consider when they attack and how committed they are to that single attack.
Being too over-committed to one could easily leave a player exposed, which could, unfortunately, leave a player over-exposed to the very creature they are facing off against. Just as this must be well noted by players, the same goes for the massive beasts you’ll encounter. Each have their own weaknesses, each has their own unique patterns, and each of them can easily be fought against once learning how they act. Once you do, taking one a monster is an exhilarating feeling and it’s one that comes well deserved once having beaten the very hunt you’ve been designated to.
But nothing has truly changed in Monster Hunter: World. At its core, it’s the same experience players have enjoyed countless time before. But there is a slight change to the games basic quest structure, but one that’s reasonably made. The structure has been reorganized so there’s no disconnected feeling between single-player and multiplayer quests, and it’s clear what you need to do next in order to progress. NPCs are clearly marked from one another and each indicates what needs to be done and where players need to go.
While past titles were ones that emphasized learning how to play and figure things out for one’s own self, this has been dramatically altered in this latest title. To some, it’s been made more casual, more appealing to potential fans. Monster Hunter: World is one that’s a bit more generous in what it deigns to explain to players, even if some of the franchises past clunkiness remains intact. However, it doesn’t take away from the fact the game has been made a bit more casual and user-friendly.
But these sensible and practical tweaks were desperately needed in order to be more user-friendly. Some of these become much clearer when out on a hunt. Long-gone is the days of using a paintball to mark your target. Instead, tracker files take place of paintball themselves, automatically helping players find hints of where their target is or has been. Each leading you to designated spots such as claw marks, items for gathering, or random markings from some unknown source across each and every map.
In the settings, players can even tweak their controls to help them while out on a hunt. The game features Western-style control schemes such as one that lets players select items through a radial menu or clicking on the left analog stick in order to sprint. Even the item crafting system has been streamlined to the point that crafting from resources is automatically done. Players no longer have to worry about popping up the crafting menu in order to create potions, the game automatically does it for them if their inventory quantity hasn’t already been met.
Along with crafting, even using consumables has been readjusted in order to be a bit more user-friendly. Players are no longer locked into staying steal in order to consume an item nor are they locked in holding a celebratory pose for an unimaginable amount of time. Luckily, players can now move at a walking pace while using consumables. While still left vulnerable, there’s still a chance for players to move away from the creature they’re hunting in order to heal.
But these minor changes aren’t even the best there is. Players can now see their damage dealt in good RPG fashion, however, this can be disabled for Monster Hunter purists who wish to go back to how things look. But the largest improvement of them all? Monster Hunter: World’s complex environments. Instead, they have meaning, they are alive and they feel just alive as they look. Everything is sprawling with life in every meaning of the word. Small pools of water serve as a home to a small school of fish while swamps may buzz to life with the sound of nearby insects that are darting about.
Often times in the deserts of the Wildspire Waste it may not seem odd to see a dung beetle or two strolling about, rolling a giant ball of dung about. But most impressive of them all is how bigger creatures react with one another. It’s not uncommon to see creatures such as a Legiana and a Paolumu duking it out. More-often-than-not, players will get to see this very system go into action as a turf war begins. Their natural interactions make them real, they make these digital creatures feel natural to the habitats they call home.
Everything was designed to feel organic. Everything was designed to feel absolutely natural and admirably tangible. Even the attention to detail on the creatures is quite clear. When fighting a Paolumu its fur is admirably detailed even when it begins to inhale air in order to glide about without care while facing down a team of brave hunters. Each piece of fur can easily be counted one by one, each of them flowing differently and reacting differently to the creatures movements or the attacks of hunters.
Toss in larger creatures such as Diablos, a monstrous creature covered in armor-like scales, and it’s hard to consider how much time was taken in order to make these creatures look as life-like as they do. That’s the charm though, Monster Hunter: World is an all around step up from its previous titles, ones that may come off as a bit more hardcore than World itself. If you were to import Monster Hunter XX on the Switch from Japan, you may notice quite a few things that are different from locally released titles.
Many of these changes include the removal of load times when moving from zone to zone, allowing players to seamlessly hunt their target without miniature load times getting in their way. This feature wasn’t implemented in the Japan-only Monster Hunter XX, but did come to light with the release of Monster Hunter: World. Another change is a change in difficulty. Much of Monster Hunter: World has been toned down a touch in order to appeal to the more casual crowd, but to offset this, there are countless optional quests and investigations for veteran players to enjoy. Since Monster Hunter: World has been readjusted for a solo or multiplayer focused adventure, players can enjoy the game at their own pace.
To offset the change in difficulty, Capcom has implemented a difficulty scaling, which adjusts the challenge of each fight based on how many players are on a mission together. The more the players, the harder the fight. The fewer players there are, the easier the fight. This single change is one of the biggest yet and it shows when on a mission and multiple players join. With the move to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and later PC, Monster Hunter: World is absolutely massive. Let alone is it a visual eye candy with an amazingly well-done art direction, Monster Hunter: World is bigger than its predecessors in all ways possible.
The game itself is a breathtakingly beautiful sight to see. Unlike previous titles, everything is amazingly realistic. Everything is as beautiful as one would imagine thanks to the power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. On the PlayStation 4 Pro, Monster Hunter: World truly begins to shine. Everything has a more natural look to it, nothing feels as if you’re looking at it through a kaleidoscope and thanks to the newly built graphics engine, Monster Hunter: World is a sight to behold with HDR enabled. Rarely does the game stutter or hiccup on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
While the game does receive some stunning visual upgrades, Monster Hunter: World‘s new areas are absolutely massive. As part of this new and crucial design, the areas are no longer broken down into singular sections or separated by interstitial load screens. Rather, World plays out rather smoothly as stated before. It’s one where you can leave one zone for another without a delay. While some veterans may prefer the old ways over the new – this new design is more forthcoming, it’s more welcoming, and it allowed Capcom’s designers to make more intricated and complex areas for fans to explore.
This move even allowed designers to create multilayered areas that make each locale entirely different from the other. But even with this move to home consoles in 2018, Capcom has a glaringly large problem facing the game. It’s not a game that’s going to be for everyone. It’s not a game that everyone is going to love and call their favorite title of the year. While having the ability to play with anyone in the world at any time on dedicated servers is highly appreciated and a major feat for the franchise; Monster Hunter: World may not be the title many will play.
While the loot grind is definitely addictive and quite enjoyable, Monster Hunter: World isn’t going to be a solid replacement for those looking for the next Dark Souls game to enjoy. Instead, it may put off newcomers due to its sheer size, scale, and gameplay mechanics. While there are similar mechanics to the Soulsborne games such as firing an SOS flare during a mission, which is reminiscent to that of putting White Soul Sign, the games are quite different from one another. Neither focus on the same gameplay elements as one another.
While both are certainly about hunting down massive enemies, obtaining their loot, and eventually moving on, they are vastly different from one another. One’s a lighthearted story of a hunter while the other is one telling the grim tale of a fallen warrior, one that will eventually meet their own demise based upon the player’s choices while the other is truly about grinding out the end-game loot before moving onto a “New Game+” playthrough. A mode that Monster Hunter has eluded the use of due to their missions that can be repeatedly played and hunts that players can take part in at any given time.
However, the sheer amount of creatures to encounter compared to past titles is considerably small, Compared to Generations or 4 Ultimate, World has significantly less hunts to enjoy. But given that Capcom has announced free content drops that will feature new monsters, new hunts, and an unspecified paid downloadable content, we could see a rather bright future for the game.
Even with 118 hours invested in the game Monster hunter: World still feels like it has a lot to offer. If this feeling of having barely scratched the surface remains, Monster Hunter: World could very well be a 200+ hour game for die-hard fans and even around 70-100 hour game for more casual players.
Monster Hunter: World – PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Release Date: Available Now
But let me be clear. If this is the kind of game you will enjoy, Monster Hunter: World is a spectacular title and it’s one that does a solid job at separating itself from the rest. If it continues to have this kind of staying power, Monster Hunter: World could very well be the first in many more titles to come for future generations of console releases.
But what I can tell you is this: Even if you aren’t a fan, give Monster Hunter: World a try. Make sure you do it with your friends. This will truly help you enjoy the game and could very well see you being around for the long run whether you’re ready for it or not.
Our review is based on a retail version that was purchased by the writer. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.