Feel the Rathalos!
The joy of the Monster Hunter franchise has always been the satisfaction of taking down some larger than life entity with a combination of wits and finesse. The game’s learning curve has turned people away, but I can say with confidence that even those uninterested with Monster Hunter will be swayed when they see this new iteration. Monster Hunter: World, while familiar, is a breath of fresh air for the franchise and looks to be quite possibly the best Monster Hunter game ever.
A Whole New World
I had the joy of seeing the game in action during a demo played by the developers. As a long time fan of the franchise, it is a joy to see such a beautiful vision come to fruition. Throughout the playthrough, the developers really emphasized the more interactive world on offer. While the map and terrain have always been an integral part in how you strategize and hunt in-game, it has never been done with this much scope and detail. The draw distance and detail alone make this spectacle each time you enter an area. There is so much going on any given part of the map, whether it be random animals, fauna movement, or the animations for intractable features. I cannot confirm whether it is completely open world, because it does seem like there are defined zones like previous games. However, the size and vertiginous nature of these zones made them feel like huge open spaces where shenanigans can and will happen.
While the scale and scope of the game has greatly expanded from previous iterations, there are features that have been tweaked and streamlined for the better. For example, they have changed how tracking monsters works, opting for a more investigative bread crumb system. Clues to a monster’s location are scattered throughout a zone, each clue being interactive when you approach it (and each one is visually different depending on what you are trying to hunt). After collecting enough clues you are given a breadcrumb trail in fireflies that guide you to the monster’s location – and this is where the hunt begins.
Hunting With Friends
Monster Hunter has always had a good balance of preplanning for the hunt and the actual execution of that plan. While the preplanning looks to be more or less the same, the action during combat has been increased in terms of mechanical complexity and spectacle. There’s a new slingshot, which allows you to shoot pellets with a wide variety of utilities, such as distracting groups of monsters so you can sneak past them. The demo also showed the ability to change your weapon while in your base during a hunt, so you are not locked into a weapon like in previous games. And while combat remains the same hardcore animation-locked war it’s always been, it is done with much more fidelity than has ever been done. Seeing a player hit a Rathalos with a greatsword at 60 FPS with all the glorious particle effects, makes combat feel fresher than it ever has before.
What also makes combat feel fresher is the amount of ways the environment can be used in your hunt, such as breaking a natural dam so that the water rushing out can damage the monster. Environments were usually static in the older games, but they’re very much playing with the idea that this is a huge interactive world in this iteration. You and the monster can use the environments in very creative and destructive ways, and the outcome of how you use the environments will show as the hunt progresses.
So that’s all well and good – this very much shaping to be a game that is faithful to the series while increasing its scope and spectacle. However, the best part of Monster Hunter is doing all that cool stuff mentioned above with your homies. And Monster Hunter: World delivers something much needed for a long time – drop in multiplayer. During the hunt you can send out a signal flare, and online friends can join in the hunt and help you take down the monster. I love the franchise, but the lobby system and friend code method of connecting with players always sucked. If this title blesses us with a good multiplayer experience, that would be amazing.
Monster Hunter: World has not only the makings of a good Monster Hunter game, but a great title that stands on its own merits. The fact that we are getting a big Monster Hunter title for PS4, Xbox One and PC, along with the streamlining of certain aspects will make this the most accessible title yet in the series. I am looking forward to hearing more about the game until its projected early 2018 release.