Monster Hunter: World. By Salehuddin Husin (GameAxis)
AT A GLANCE
GENRE Action RPG
PLATFORM PlayStation 4, Xbox One
After years of Nintendo exclusivity, Monster Hunter finally opens up to the other platforms with its latest addition, Monster Hunter: World (MHW). While it is a Monster Hunter game at heart, MHW is an evolution of the series to become more accessible to casual gamers.
As a Hunter bound for the New World, your journey is rudely interrupted by the emergence of a huge monster called Zorah Magdaros, who separates the player from the rest of the fleet. This is the first hint you get that there is actually a plot driving the hunt, as you journey across the New World doing missions to advance a narrative.
If you’ve got a PS4 Pro, you can choose to prioritize higher framerate, higher resolution or better graphical quality.
Besides story missions, you can gain optional quests from NPCs to earn exclusive rewards for your base, such as unlocking new dishes in the canteen. You can also go on Bounties and Investigation side missions, but what’s interesting are Events, onlineexclusive time sensitive quests. As of this review, there are just two; Chew the Fat and Lessons of the Wild, a cross promotion with Horizon: Zero Dawn. Beating this nets your Palico unique gear. Capcom promises more Events with exclusive rewards in the future, so you’ll definitely want to pop in once in a while to see what’s new.
If you’re wondering what a Palico is, it’s your kitty companion. Your Palico will gain XP and level up as you complete hunts, making them stronger and more effective. For solo play, a Palico is a godsend as it can distract monsters to give you enough time to run, attack or reposition yourself; they can even heal you.
Of course, one of the biggest draws of the series is teaming up with other hunters online. MHW doesn’t change this formula, but know that monster health does scale with the number of hunters. Sometimes, it’s better to solo than hunt with friends due to this. If a player quits or disconnects during a fight, the remaining players would be handicapped. If only Capcom implemented a dynamic scaling system.
One of the biggest changes that MHW brings to the series is that it’s now an open world game and areas are no longer separated by loading screens. If you’re tracking a beast, you can keep hounding it instead of having it disappear when you reach the end of an area.
Another introduction for the casual gamer are Scoutflies. They constantly scout the area around you, highlighting items you can harvest or monster clues you can discover. Find enough clues and your Scoutflies will gain more experience in tracking down that particular monster. Series veterans might find that they make hunts too easy though.
Think of Scoutflies as your local monster tracker, they find clues and help guide you to the monster you’re hunting.
Combat with the various monsters are still as fun as ever. You have a choice of 14 different weapons that you can constantly swap, but each weapon is distinct enough to play differently. Weapons all animate brilliantly too. The Great Sword is powerful but slow, and you can almost feel its weight as it slams into the skin of a monster. The sword and shield on the other hand allows hunters to dive into the fray quicker.
Weapon damage pops up as numbers with every hit, helping you to see if you’re hitting a monster’s weak spot. However, I personally wish Capcom would’ve introduced an option to display a monster’s life bar. Purists can leave it off, but I’d like to know how close a monster is to death instead of just hacking away and waiting for it to drop dead.
Which brings us to the grinding part of the game. Progression demands updated weapons and gear, and the only way to do so is to kill beasts, which drop materials used to buff or create better gear. It’s a vicious cycle.
Thankfully, you’ll always have access to your Slinger, a handheld ranged weapon. Slingers also allow you to grapple to certain points and interact with the environment to trigger hazards (like rockslides) to turn the odds in your favor. MHW also introduces the Mantle to the Hunter’s arsenal. These unlimited use items grant different effects. For example, the first mantle you get—the Ghillie Mantle—lets you hide from monsters when it is activated, until you attack.
The Monster Hunter series has never been known to be forgiving or welcoming to newcomers. Like the Gentlemen’s Clubs of old, it tends to cater to a very specific type of gamer. However, with MHW, Capcom’s gone against the flow and made a Monster Hunter game that’s accessible, engaging and most importantly, fun, for both new players and veterans.
A great entry point for new players, with just enough ‘old school’ for veterans to feel at home.
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