Monster Hunter World is the newest entry in Capcom’s beloved series. The series has been dominating in Japan and slowly been gaining popularity in other regions. This appears to be Capcom’s attempt to help take the series to a new level and making it more of a global brand. Let’s see how this entry measures up and if they were successful.
Release date: January 26, 2018, Q3-Q4 2018 (PC)
Approximate size: 13.62 GB
Genre: Action RPG
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Reviewed on Xbox One X; also available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
The Monster Hunter franchise has never been known for its in-depth or massive story. This is no exception, so if you were looking for a plot that would captivate you and give you a better understand into the lore of this series, you will be disappointed. There is very little to the plot but here is the gist of it.
Zorah Magdaros; a massive monster in making it’s impending arrival to the new landmass you and your fellow hunters have gone to explore. That’s your job as part of a research team, to go out and kill monsters and learn more about this new world. I never needed an excuse to hunt massive beasts but it’s nice that the game has opted to give us a reason for our actions.
Other than that, and some cut scenes that play out, the story is pretty straightforward and barebones. Monster Hunter World provides exactly what the player needs and that’s all because in the long run, you will be crafting your own stories as you encounter these creatures.
The core gameplay of Monster Hunter World, what you’ll be doing most, is fighting the beautifully created monsters. They are the highlight of this entire experience. To engage, tackle, and defeat these creatures, the game offers fourteen different types of weapons. Each of these weapons have simple combinations to pull off and are completely unique from each other. It is up to you to use them and as you try to master one, you’ll learn quickly that there is some depth to the mechanics of the combat. It’s a pleasant surprise to learn that you can do a lot more than you initially believed you could and it makes mastery more satisfying. They’ve even taken a simple weapon found in countless games, and have redefined what it means to have that weapon; the bow. It has always been a straightforward, point and aim, weapon but Monster Hunter World implements variants on how to use this weapon. Its my go to weapon and its fantastic.
Other weapons that are not projectiles, weapons that are more for hand to hand combat, offer some realism to them as after several uses, the blades will lose sharpness and do less damage.
At first, I thought this would be annoying and break the flow of combat by having you stop engaging and start using the whetstone to sharpen the blade, but it actually adds another layer to engagements. The appropriate way to do things is to attack and to choose when to step away to sharpen that blade but when you are so focused on fighting and aren’t being mindful of your blade’s sharpness, there is an added layer of stress to stop attacking and be vulnerable as you strengthen your sharpness. Its actually implemented well and makes combat more chess-like than one would initially believe.
You also shouldn’t play exclusively with one weapon as there are situations where another type may be better to use in a particular fight. Thankfully, there is a place to practice and learn the weapons in safety and not on the battlefield. Keep in mind you also have other items at your disposal, such as your slingshot and the ability to set traps. There is food for buffs and you have an insect that will gather things for you or will go out and attack monster’s wounds. Nice little touches.
There are four types of missions you will go on: Assigned, Optional, Investigations, and Events. There are also Bounties, but we’ll discuss them after the primary four. The Assigned missions are your story missions. Completing these missions will raise your Monster Rank and open the world up more for you. Missions are labeled as Beginner, the more easier quests, Intermediate, the more difficult ones, and Expert, the toughest missions for the most prepared Hunters.
The game does a good job at never making the difficulty off-putting or causing the game to come across as unfair. The balance is good and the higher missions, if you made the appropriate preparations, will make you feel as if you’ve earned these victories. Optional quests are non-essential missions that are done to help and benefit the NPC’s of this game. You will get special rewards and progress will not impact the Assigned missions. Finishing these missions may give you items that’ll make your Hunter better so it may be a good idea to balance between them accordingly. Investigation quests are free roam special quests that can only be completed a number of times and these will help you advance your characters as well as be able to get useful materials. These missions range from your typical killing of monsters to more tactical capturing of them. It’s a little more variety than other sections and will help you level up your character and study the world map as you travel around it.
Bounties are special little side missions you can take with you as you go on a mission. Think of it as something to do as your searching for your target, extra things to accomplish as your about to engage in fight.
When fighting a monster, you are accompanied by your Palico, a cat companion, who will aid you in your quest. At first I wasn’t really expecting much from this creature and figured it was with you to give the player a feeling he wasn’t traveling the wild alone. I was wrong. This little guy will help you more than you think and watching it go out of its way to help you reminds me of how loyal animals are to their owners in real life. Kudos to Capcom for pulling that off.
Now I mentioned the Monsters earlier and how they are all unique and fight differently from each other. That is true and this unpredictability within the game world is something other games have been trying to add lately but few feel as organic as this one. There are instances that stick out that caught me in awe and raised the adrenaline as I had to rethink my strategy. I was hunting a monster and wasn’t doing that well against it but out of nowhere another monster came and they began to fight each other. Now, I figured I’d allow them to finish each other off and I’d attack the weakened last monster standing. Well, I got a little too eager and went to attack. Halfway there I realized that the monster I thought was dead was actually alive and I stopped to run back but in doing so I accidently pressed a button on my controller and attacked the other monster. The fight then became a triple threat free for all and it was thrilling, exciting, and terrifying. Not to mention, it was the most fun I had ever had in the game so far. I went back to the same mission, thinking I could recreate it for friends, but it didn’t happen again.
Monsters that are killed, their parts, as well as other items in the world can be used to craft weapons and armor. The hub world offers many places to go when you aren’t in battle and expanding this world and making your character stronger is the goal of the game. Its here the game can get repetitive as you go on missions, sometimes the same ones, trying to complete armor sets or to make your current weapon more powerful. I didn’t have this issue. I wanted to depart on a mission and I wanted to get stronger, I didn’t care if I completed a mission over five times because, as a whole, the game is fantastic. Its fun. Having a grand time in a game is the most important part and this game prioritizes that above all. Except when it comes to its multiplayer aspect of the game.
There are timers to the missions, but these aren’t a negative. I know some people aren’t exactly thrilled with them being present. The thing is, they have always been a part of the series and you are often give more than enough time to accomplish your goal. In many cases I forgot they were even present and in the few that I was reminded of it, that was more on me messing around and not focusing completely on the mission.
Up to four players can go on a mission together with the target monster’s difficulty being raised accordingly. The problem with this is that the game does a poor job in explaining how to link up with friends and this confusion has spawned several internet posts of different methods that have garnered others some semblance of success. In 2018, when not on a Nintendo console, this is unacceptable. When you do manage to find a method that works, the game becomes the perfect platform for playing with friends. The chaos, the unpredictability, and the fun are all turned up to one hundred as you all work together to kill these massive monsters of destruction. It’s addicting, its adrenaline fueling, and it’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you all attempt to topple these deadly creatures. When you all do, it’s the most satisfying thing. I’ve seen some things, man. Please note, you can pretty much do everything that’s available offline, online with friends.
There is also a really cool Arena mode that is a surprising hit for me and my friends. Essentially what it is, is you and your friends fight specific monsters using specific weapons in a certain amount of time and your results will be posted on leaderboard. Think of it as a quick match in a fighting game but with ranked match implications and not so quick. For us, it was the perfect mode to jump in and do some slaying if we didn’t have time for more chaotic missions. We just wanted to fight. Its great to try out weapons you haven’t tried yet and you get some great rewards.
The truth be told is that no review can cover everything that is available in this massive game. I don’t even think walkthroughs will be able to fully encompass everything available. The game has a lot and is a ton of fun. Yes, it has some issues but all of these can be addressed over time and none of them break the game.
First off let me start by saying the scope of the world is impressive and all of the moving parts that constantly are in motion makes for, often times, a breath-taking experience. While it’s not exactly a fully open world adventure, more like you’re travelling to large diverse landmasses, the scaling when you depart onto a quest or mission is amazing. Capcom have crafted quite the pretty world with lush forests, sandy areas, and dark places where color is added through creative flora. They’ve also made it so that you’re not limited in the path you take, encouraging exploration. After being in these areas a couple of times, you’ll discover shortcuts and secrets.
The true highlight of an Monster Hunter game are the monsters themselves. They do not disappoint. Each beast you will be tasked with slaying is unique designed and completely different in ascetics. You can tell the artists were encouraged to go wild and were not hindered in the slightest because they have crafted some truly unique and intimidating looking beasts. You’ll never predict what the creature will look like and after seeing them, when you think you have them figured out, some will morph and change which in turn makes you rethink your approach. If every game took this much care in their enemy designs, well, we’d have some better games because too many of them get too complacent and fall short in this department.
The weapons and armor you can craft from slayed enemies and objects found in the world are also very well constructed. There is a level of depth to what you can create to make your character stand out and, yet, it’s all presented in a simple way that isn’t over cumbersome for the player to learn. Each of the different weapon designs are easily identifiable when playing with more than one player and each armor piece adds something of value, besides making you feel super powerful and cool.
The character creator is a pleasant experience and easy to maneuver through, I was actually surprised at the options that were available. I didn’t expect the amount of options at your disposal and there are some surprises on what can be customized. The graphics in the creator aren’t a true representation of how your model will look in game and in motion. For the most part it is but it feels as if the model in the creator is displayed at a higher resolution with more details present. Now, this could be because there is nothing going on and when your in the world there are other factors, such as lighting. Chances are if you can picture the character in your head, you will be able to crafted that vision pretty accurately.
With so much going on, it wouldn’t be fair to expect this game to run flawlessly and suffer from no graphical deficiencies. The game suffers from clipping, in the world and sometimes through creatures. There is some stuttering but no pop in or major hindrances. The frame rate, however, is this game’s biggest enemy. If you’re playing on Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, you are given three options for the game to prioritize for the betterment of your adventure. One focuses on graphics, the other on resolution, and the final one on frame rate. Now, the option dedicated to resolution gives you the 4K assets for those who have bought into those televisions. I personally chose this one because I saw no major change nor any incentive to go with the graphics setting. Clipping wasn’t reduced, and the world looked just as beautiful as resolution mode but without those Ks.
Now, one would expect frame rate mode to be the mode to choose in a game like this, but the frame rate was still all over the place. One minute you’re at thirty and then you jump to forty, and if you’re on base consoles you will fall into the twenties. The graphics aren’t the best, but they are great and this frame rate issue hurts the experience overall. I’m hoping a patch is issued to address this.
I want to give a special shout out to the wonderfully created cut scenes that take place showing you the massive creature you’re about to engage in battle. Whoever came up with this is a genius. They are perfectly paced and build your adrenaline. In these areas the game, graphically, shines tremendously.
If you play with headphones, the first thing to stroke your ear drums is the impressive audio separation. All around you, you hear the sounds of the world and flora and fauna. This is an impressive level of immersion that will captivate you and enthrall you even further into the world. Escapism never felt better. There is nothing scarier than being focused on searching for an enemy only to be startled by a monster sound that feels like is directly at the back of your ear. I’ve jumped more than I care to admit. Sometimes in games we get tunnel vision as we proceed with an objective and forget that it’s a living and breathing world we are supposed to be traversing, the sound separation reminds you of that as you can hear even the faintest of sounds, even if they aren’t on screen.
When it comes to impact, the game does a good job. There is a thud when your character is thrown off a monster and there is a satisfying sound effect when your weapon crashes into an object. Monsters make grunts, bellows of pain, and cries of battle as they prepare to attack. You can hear the air announce a monster’s impending decent of attack while it’s flying in the air and you can tell a monster is preparing to flee when it’s whimpering in agony. These touches are wonderful, and Capcom has to be applauded for taking the time to add these features. It makes the entire thing feel more cohesive and complete, it garners the developers respect from the players because they can hear for themselves the work that went into development. The fruits of their labors.
Voice acting isn’t bad, nor is it impressive. It serves its purpose. Lines are delivered, the voices to not sound or feel out of place, but they don’t have the sort of depth all the other aspects of the game seem to have. I will say this, I switched the voices to the Monster Hunter language and thought it added more to the game. In a world where you fight mythological beasts, why wouldn’t the inhabitants have their own language? Regardless of the language option you select, it’ll get the job done and if you read faster than they speak you can always skip the dialogue.
Music in this game is also pretty weak. It’s all repetitive and nothing really defining or impressive. The only time the music takes hold and commands the player to notice it, is when your engulfed in a Monster battle. That’s when your ears are subjected to an intense adrenaline building orchestra of motivation. It adds another layer to the fight and makes the entire things even more epic than if it was absent. Example of this happened to me when my controller’s batteries were low, and I decided to play without it. It was late at night and, so, I had to play with the volume down on the television. It felt almost incomplete and I felt as if I was just going through the motions. I died a lot in that fight. I decided then to play with my headphones on the next night, with new batteries, and the feel of the fight felt completely different. Audio portions of games are often overlooked and underappreciated, not this time.
As a whole, the audio of the game is fine with some hits and some misses. I’m not sure if the Monster Hunter franchise is known for its in-game music or voice acting but what I do know is that when the game needs to step it up and apply what the player needs, it does.
Monster Hunter World is a great game that shines in the gameplay department and in his design choices. The HUD can be a little cluttered and many of the things you should be told, you aren’t. The game is just a blast to play. The weapons are all unique and mastering them takes work, you have to earn it, and they’ve seemed to have taken into account all gamers across the entire spectrum. The game may seem intimidating but it’s not, it’s more streamline and more inviting to new players than prior entries.
What hurts the game is its performance. The frame rate is all over the place and can detract from the experience. It needs some work. Playing with friends is convoluted and more difficult than it needs to be to figure out. The lack of a diverse musical presences doesn’t help, or hurt, matters but becomes apparent quickly that it isn’t as flesh out as other parts of the game.
In the end, this game is great and worth it for fans of the series and for people who like to be engaged in lots of boss like encounters with deep gameplay mechanics. Capcom has finally made the Monster Hunter brand a great worldwide name, instead of being solely massive in Japan. I’ll see you all on the battlefield.