One hell of an adventure.
Monster Hunter is not new to anyone. The franchise lives a chronicled life, reaping in a niche but loyal fanbase that originated on the PlayStation 2 in 2004. For me, it’s a series I never got into until the Wii U (yeah) rolled out Monster Hunter 3, where I was able to co-op with TheGrungiOne and my friends in order to slay some beasts. Back then, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with the series, and Monster Hunter 4 on my 3DS didn’t do too much more to change my opinion. When I procured and re-launched BitCultures, the first thing I knew I had to do was purchase and play Monster Hunter World. To my very pleasant surprise, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the newest iteration of the Monster Hunter world.
The first thing I noticed about Monster Hunter World as it loaded on my PS4 Pro was how gorgeous the game was. Truly, World marks a giant leap in graphical fidelity when compared to its older iterations (of course, the most recent games were handheld titles, so it is an obvious hindrance to begin with), and the HDR effects were stunning on my 4k LG television. Perhaps done so intentionally, but the amount of beautiful particles and colors that float across the screens is almost distracting; even your flies that guide you as you track your prey leave dazzling trails of effervescent greens. Simply put, Monster Hunter World is one of the nicest 4k/HDR displays I’ve seen on the PS4 Pro.
Gameplay wise, Monster Hunter World feels like a traditional Monster Hunter game. As a hunter of the Fifth squad (pretty much the fifth batch of reinforcements to the new world), you and your handler are destined to assist in the research of a somewhat newly discovered land (about 40 years of research have already passed). Upon arrival, your vessel crashes into the giant Zorah Magdaros, a hulking elder dragon making what seems to be a pilgrimage toward the new world. From the very introduction – the crash upon Zorah Magdaros – you learn the gameplay basics; R1 springs, triangle and circle attack (with various combos based upon your button inputs and left stick directions), X rolls, Square utilizes items, and R3 locks on to your target. There are a few other controls (like using L2 and R2 to fire from your slinger or to fire the kinsects), but the opening tutorial helps you learn them all.
Your hub in World is the main research facility known as Astera. Here, you can eat, meet up with friends, research monsters, complete quests, buy and upgrade gear, plan future endeavors, and take off on expeditions. Spread out pretty evenly throughout the hub are various exits and quest boards that sit next to your personal chest, where you can store items and craft.Without spending 1,000 words on describing the intricacies of Monster Hunter World’s hub, just know that hours can be spent trying on new gear and crafting a plethora of items. As you progress through a story, a second, smaller hub becomes available in the shape of the research facility. Here, you can progress the story and have limited options when compared to Astera.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Monster Hunter World is in its sound and immersion. Nothing quite compares to your first encounter with, say, the Nergigante (or, for first time hunters, nothing like slaying your first large monster). It’s so easy to get lost in World for hours at a time due to becoming so immersed in the hunt; everything from the sounds of the monsters to tracking new fiends can absorb a mind boggling amount of time. And even though the game can become a grind fest for crafting materials or, say, the ??? Rathian quest, this time around feels like pure bliss for me.
Therein lies my biggest complaint, however. Grinding can be hastened by responding to S.O.S. flares (a way for hunters to request help on missions that may be too difficult for them). As a random online game hub, the S.O.S. system works fine, but when trying to join a friend’s expedition, for example, I’ve often found myself searching endlessly and never connecting. Other times, I’ve had no issues at all. It’s a dated matchmaking system, but that’s about what I’ve come to expect from Capcom. It’s not game breaking in the least (if your friends are kind enough, they can return from their expedition and launch a new one, making it easier for you to locate it), but it’s definitely a heavy inconvenience.
As this review is written, the Deviljho, a terrifying pickle-like monster – perhaps one of the most difficult in the game – just launched into the new world. As Capcom continues to populate Monster Hunter World with fan favorite monsters, the experience can only trend upward. With each monster comes a set of armor and weapon choices, and as you start to enter the high level hunts, you can begin to craft high level gear. It’s a song and dance that fans of Monster Hunter know and love, and it is polished well in this iteration. On the whole, Monster Hunter World is well worth your $59.99. You’ll drop tens, if not hundreds, of hours into becoming an elite hunter, and the range of difficulty in each monster makes grinding them both challenging and enjoyable. There’s a reason Monster Hunter World became Capcom’s best selling game of all time, and it certainly won me over into the Monster Hunter family.