Monster Hunter: World sharpens gameplay

Courtesy of Capcom
In just three days, Monster Hunter: World shipped over five million copies — more than any other iteration of the Monster Hunter series in the same time.

By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer

02/01/2018

As a franchise, Monster Hunter is notoriously difficult. Without a decent understanding of the incredible battle subtleties, each fight can devolve into a chaotic slugfest between your hunter and the beast. Thankfully, Monster Hunter: World is one of the most immersive games in the series, one which continues to cater to me despite being a series veteran.

Developed by Capcom, World continues the tradition of slaying gargantuan beasts and collecting their parts to craft progressively more powerful weapons and armor. The core mechanics remain the same, yet World introduces several new features which completely revolutionize the game. With every encounter, I found myself in awe of discovering new and creative ways to slay my prey.

Unlike previous titles, I found World’s story to be engaging, albeit slightly stale. Players create a character belonging to the Research Commission’s 5th Fleet. Members of this group are tasked with discovering the cause of the Elder Dragons migrations to the New World. The voice acting and character personalities are certainly entertaining, yet, at the end of the day, you’re still just a hunter who must kill or capture differing creatures.

To coincide with the same tried-and-true formula of utilizing a basic plot, World continues to employ its signature high-action genre mechanics. This isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I adore this series. With 14 weapon styles to choose from, hunters are expected to gravitate toward instruments which fit their specific playstyle. Hammers, for example, do the most damage, but their limited range and slow speed are not recommended for faster monsters. Whereas the longsword counters the hammer’s shortcomings, but deals significantly less damage.

Combat is where the Monster Hunter series shines. Aside from picking a particular weapon, hunters need to fully grasp the nuances of each tool, as well as their specific target. Understanding the overall speed and combos of weapons and monsters is vital to the completion of the game. My favorite weapon is the switch axe, which has the capability to transform between an axe or great sword with the press of a button. Yet, since it has a relatively slow swing speed, I’m learning to use the dual blades, an insanely fast, but incredibly weak weapon. By the end of my playthrough, I fully expect to have an entire arsenal which will allow me to effectively complete each quest.

As for the missions, hunters embark from the main city of Astera, where hunters upgrade equipment, monsters can be studied and shopkeepers sell an ever-expanding list of items. After a quest is selected, players will journey to one of five beautifully designed regions to complete their task.

Unlike previous entries in the series, World has created a seamless zone for hunters to explore. Rather than carry load times between different sections of the map, World offers an entirely open-world experience, a first for the series. Since transitions are so fluid, I was able to fully enjoy the mesmerizing environments. Whether it be the lush landscape of the Ancient Forest, or the miasma-filled caverns of the Rotten Vale, I found the flora and fauna to be wonderfully unique, and, to my astonishment, noticed that they interact with one another.

To further introduce the open-world setting, World created Scoutflies. These green fireflies will highlight monster tracks, useful plant and animal materials for crafting or turn a shade of red when enemies are near. While I enjoy their assistance, I occasionally become annoyed when they begin to highlight every interactable object within the vicinity.

Despite the fact that few new mechanics were introduced, Monster Hunter: World is an overwhelming success. Fights never become dull, areas come to life with exciting encounters and the monsters prove to be as intimidating as ever. It is refreshing to see that an established series such as Monster Hunter can continue to entertain.

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