Despite being a little late to the Monster Hunter World party (quite poor at the moment), I have finally gotten my hands on it and sunk a fair few hours into exploring the rich open environments and slaying monsters of all kinds. Monster Hunter World was my first real foray into the amazing world of Monster Hunting besides my love for Dauntless, and Capcom has done a truly amazing job creating a primal world full of exploration, discovery and opportunity.
You begin your journey of slaughter and monster fashion on your way to the New World, following the trail of an Elder Dragon by the name of Zorah Magdaros, a giant hunk of flaming wyvern. These Elder Dragons are migrating to the New World for unknown reasons stirring up the incredibly aggressive wildlife as well as causing disaster and pain wherever they go quite like me when there is free ice-cream involved. Put quite simply Monster Hunter World is all about uncovering the secrets behind the migration, ensuring the safety of the settlements and of course hunting to your heart’s content. You are very much the muscle of the operation, slicing, dicing and getting knocked on your arse a lot more than once.
Our intrepid hunters (that’s you) will arrive in the town/city/settlement of Astera after undertaking a cursory and up-close study of the locale and some of its native wildlife. Astera is an impressive and practical town where every structure has a purpose and the same can be said for everyone who inhabits it. Researchers, Provision Suppliers, Botanists, Ecologists, Smiths, Chefs and more all live and work in Astera, each offering a service to the Hunters readying to leave the safety of the gates or the ones who return triumphant.
In simple terms, as you probably could have guessed from the game’s title, Monster Hunter World is a game about hunting monsters and what unique dangers, variations and challenges each one poses to the Hunters. Oftentimes you can become the hunted. The monsters are truly exciting and formidable, not only with respect to their individual designs but also their abilities and the mechanics they utilise in combat.
Take the above Radobaan for example. Covered in vicious spikes and bony protrusions, it has powerful defences as well as the ability to roll itself into a ball and barrel down towards you, striving to crush you beneath it. Even relatively simple monsters like the Jyuradotus (aka fish slug) provides a challenge to even an experienced Monster Hunter, at least when you first encounter them.
A notable feature is the way the body of the monster can be altered by a hunter’s attacks and the subsequent effect this causes for the beast. It is possible to break parts off the monsters, like armour pieces, bony protrusions and the like, but it is also possible to sever off body parts if you manage to deliver a certain amount of damage to that specific appendage. A common one is the tail, which can be severed to differing lengths depending on where the final cut is made.
Going back to the Radobaan, I was intrigued when I severed the tail how it began to behave, it could no longer roll as smoothly as it did moments before. Rolling around lopsidedly, it still attempted to obliterate me but it showed notable signs of weakness. This also extends to the pursuit of a monster when it attempts to retreat, as it is want to do when it has taken too much damage.
Monsters taking to the sky, dashing across the ground or scaling walls in an attempt to get away from your ruthless assault is a sign that you are doing something right. Even if it does tug at the heartstrings hearing the cries of the monster attempting to get away, more so if it is limping. It is a good sign for a hunter as it shows that the monster is almost slain but with some of them it definitely just sounds as if they want to be left in peace. Turns out WE are the monsters after all.
However, the monsters aren’t just going to conveniently be waiting for you when you are first dropped into an area, this is a goddamn hunting game which includes tracking. Following footprints, unknown or otherwise, scratches made on the rocks and trees and in many cases accidental stumbling on the monster, you will eventually discover your mark. The actual act of tracking is helped by your Scoutflies, special luminescent insects that act like sniffer dogs, once they get enough of the info or ‘scent’ provided by studying footprints and the like, they can lead you straight to your target.
Not only that, once you have actually found the monster you seek, you can set a waypoint on their map icon to have the Scoutflies constantly track it even when it retreats. However, understandably, the monster icon on the map will not appear unless you have already found the monster itself. They cannot make it too easy after all.
That being said, after discovering a monster, they will earn a place in your Hunter’s Notes which can be a wonderful resource, letting you know the specific weak points of each monster, what rewards you can hope to collect and what weapon types they are most vulnerable to. Discovering footprints or other traces of a specific monster, not to mention actually finding it, will increase your monster specific research level. If you visit the Chief Ecologist (big pile of books) you will increase your research level which will unlock more info about the monster. If you don’t you will have a pretty picture but not much else.
What I truly love about Monster Hunter World is the sheer variety and freedom you hold when it comes to combat. You are given a basic iron version of every weapon type right at the beginning. If you want to use a Great Sword go ahead, Bow? It’s yours. Want something a little more challenging? Try the Insect Glaive. Each of the weapons has their own set of combos and special abilities like the Great Sword’s block, the Insect Glaive’s Kinsect and the Dual Blade Demon Mode.
You can take them into the Training Room to try out each individually or you can stop messing around and try them out in a real monster hunt! Don’t half-ass this. While the combat concept in Monster Hunter World is quite simple it can be hard to master what attack to use and when. That is part of the charm. However, no matter how proficient you become with a weapon you definitely need to acquaint yourself with how to evade because you will be diving out of the way a lot.
A mechanic that I have never seen in any game previously (I may have been living under a rock) is the use of a whetstone to sharpen your blade while out in the field. After a hefty encounter with a monster, the edges will start to dull reducing your damage per strike. You will need to cycle to your whetstone and sharpen the blade to maximise damage. It is a good idea to do it in breaks between combat, after a monster has retreated, or if they are focused on something else as it does take a few seconds.
As you progress through the story unlocking new and more challenging hunts, as well as collecting different parts of all the monsters you slay you will undoubtedly want to make some new gear, as well as increase the strength of your weapons. The upgrade and forging system is incredibly simple. In terms of weapons, you can only forge two types of each, being the Iron and Bone variants. You will need to collect materials and continue to explore and hunt out in the world to open up new upgrade slots. This will, in most cases, upgrade the weapon’s strength and depending on if you upgrade to a new Tree, it can change the appearance of the weapon itself.
The catch-22 is that you won’t know what material you need until you have looted it from a dead monster/creature, mined it or otherwise added it to your inventory. I should mention now that you can only use items or carve monster parts when your weapon is sheathed so keep that in mind.
Armour is where most of my enjoyment comes in, as you can mix and match defensive pieces depending on the monsters you have slain and the parts you have collected. Each of the five forgeable armour pieces has a different set of materials needed and you may need to farm a particular monster to get the whole set. Each piece has a particular defence rating, elemental resistances and specific look to it. Whether you want to be a badass casting an intimidating silhouette or a primal version of the Village People, Monster Hunter World has got you covered.
Upgrading armour pieces is a simple process, you must collect Armour Cores which provides a bonus to the armour level. It may take several cores to increase the armour’s level, which will, in turn, increase the defence rating.
Next up we have crafting, which is mostly left up to the player throughout Monster Hunter World. Aside from a short tutorial, the hunter is left to their own devices to explore and uncover the ingredients necessary to craft what they need (or want). All recipes are available along with an item description that tells you all you need to know about what you are crafting. It is an unobtrusive crafting system that contributes to the freedom of the game’s atmosphere and style while providing everything you need to be successful in your hunts. As long as you have Potions and Honey you will be fine!
How could I have gone so long without talking about our ever-present furry companions, the Palicoes? Every hunter has a Palico to call their own, a companion, who not only assists you in combat but who can provide you with items they have dug up or alter the flow of combat with discoverable gadgets. Each Palico can equip gadgets found by tracking down Grimalkynes but everyone generally begins with the Vigorwasp. While the Palico has many benefits, one of them being a great distraction while you fight, the Vigorwasp is a health restore that will periodically be sent out by your Palico which just may keep you alive long enough.
Each of the Palico gadgets has their own benefits and drawbacks, it is up to you to discover what they are and how they function with your particular playstyle. However, always remember to craft new armour and weaponry for your Palico so they can be of even greater use. An added plus is that they are ADORABLE!
It isn’t hard to see why Monster Hunter World is so popular, with its open-world style of gameplay, wonderful monster combat mechanics and intricate weapon and armour sets. Aside from brief tutorials, each aspiring master monster hunter is left to their own devices being able to hunt, capture and explore to their heart’s content. It is what makes Monster Hunter World so captivating and exciting which leaves us coming back for more. This is an adventure about carving out a place in a new world filled with deadly monsters, you just need to step up and accept the challenge.