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Review

Monster Hunter: World Review

Uragaan love it.

There are few series that have been so successful and yet still trapped within their niche as Monster Hunter. Revered in Japan, the rest of the world has never quite latched on to a series for which obfuscation is a calling card rather than an accident of design. Things have improved over the years, but the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri was the last time we saw a clear leap in understanding and accessibility. Monster Hunter: World is the next step, with its return on home consoles rewarding hunters with spectacular visuals, while proudly offering the most streamlined Monster Hunter experience yet.

The Ronseal approach to the title means that Monster Hunter: World is hanging its raison d’etre out for all to see. This is a game that revolves around hunting monsters that range from tiny insectoids to impossible hulking wyverns, most of which give you a reason to slaughter them the moment you lay eyes on them. Largely that’s because you can carve or dislodge materials from those monsters which you can then craft into items, new sets of armour, or even more powerful weaponry which you can then use to take down even bigger monsters. It’s a meticulously designed gameplay loop, and no matter the platform, it’s an aspect that remains as intoxicating now as it first did thirteen years ago.

The combat has been refined even further in World. I’d never truly considered just how many similarities there are between Monster Hunter and Dark Souls, but the deliberate dance of hunter and prey remain forever poised on a knife edge. You have to learn to read your enemy’s behaviour, when they’re about to attack, or when they’re tiring. You also have to learn where they’re most vulnerable in order to cause as much damage as possible, before getting back out of the way. On top of that, you have to forever be aware of and top up your health, your weapon’s condition, and various ailments that can befall you. I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t often extremely challenging.

I’ve played the series from the outset, and I still found myself using all of my three chances against certain creatures, making it through with a mixture of luck and adrenaline at times. Some monsters will become even more aggressive the more damage you’ve dealt to them, meaning that just when you think you’ve got them on the ropes – and have started thinking what you’ll craft with their entrails – they dash all of your dreams to pieces. Having diminishing returns as you use up your three chances to complete a quest is delightfully old school, before you have to try and hunt it down all over again, and it makes just scraping through after an epic fourty-five minute battle so satisfying. Rest assured that this is one element that Capcom have left untouched.

While you can take on monsters on your own, co-op play has been a huge part of the series over the years, and World is no different, with four player drop-in co-op to play with friends and strangers alike. Play in an online session and other players can join you, even if you’re mid-battle, while you have an SOS flare to fire off if you’re in dire need of help. Naturally playing with friends with voice chat on the go will end up being the most fun.

The whole thing is so much more dynamic now. That’s partly thanks to each location’s open world, where before areas were split into smaller sections. Now you’re privy to beautiful, characterful, multi-tiered areas, teaming with life – or death – which you can seamlessly climb, run, leap, swing and slide about. Some areas also have built in traps where you can use the scenery to your advantage, offering some wonderful risk and reward to leading a monster on a merry chase. It can be amazing to see monsters fighting each other if you can draw them into the same area.

The increased dynamism can also be attributed to the new Scoutflies. These glowing fireflies highlight anything of interest around you, and while they’ll lead you to the multitude of gathering spots, their primary use is in helping you to hunt monsters, marking footprints or other signs of a monster’s passing. Once you’ve found enough signs the Scoutflies will form a glowing trail which helps you track down your prey far more swiftly than ever before.

It sounds like a terrible idea, but in reality all they do is make things better. They’re not an automatic guide to the monster at the start of a mission, as you need to search huge areas for clues and your target, and they simply act like the paintballs from previous games mid-encounter. What they actually do is level up your knowledge of a creature as you find signs, meaning you can eventually just check your map for a monster’s location, which cuts out a good portion of the boring busywork. It’s a much more elegant system than the icons of previous games.

Series’ veterans will appreciate just how streamlined the whole experience has become, but this also means that it’s more open to newcomers. I still remember how much perseverance it took to get into the original Monster Hunter, with elements like foraging for materials barely explained, but it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be too many of those same issues here. Monster Hunter: World is almost at pains to make sure you grasp all of its disparate elements and everything is fed to you at an easily sustainable pace. By the time you’ve opened up all of the sections in your headquarters you should have everything well under control. The fact that all of those systems build into a completely enthralling whole is simply remarkable.

There are still admittedly so many different facets to the game that I could see some people being overwhelmed by it all. Despite how well things are explained there’s a lot to pay attention to, with each interval between quests an exercise in maintenance and preparation in Astera’s central hub. You can probably make it through without fussing too much about botanical research or sending out your Tailriders on missions, but they, and the various other fringe systems do make things much easier in the long run. Then again, this is a game and series that’s as much about research as it is hitting giant beasts with pointy sticks. The pages and pages of wikis for previous entries are now almost unnecessary as you can find a lot of the information within the game, but you’ll need to be paying attention if you want to know what your enemy is weak to, or where to find a particular kind of bone.

There are some things that remain slightly unintuitive, despite the improvements. One of the new features is auto-crafting, which will automatically create specific items as you collect the necessary ingredients on a quest. It’s a great idea, but it doesn’t replenish your supplies of something if you’ve already got the ingredients in your item pouch. So, if you’re a semi-experienced hunter who’s carrying a full load of mega potions, and then have potions and honey to make more, it won’t auto-craft without without you jumping into the menus. If you pick up the honey while you’re wandering around however it will make a mega potion. It’s an annoyance, and hopefully one they’ll pick up on soon enough. It’s a minor niggle in a game that is so utterly compelling.

I suppose you could also point to the disappointing HDR implementation which seems to brighten the screen far too much, washing out the visuals. On the other hand, the PS4 Pro has options to prioritise frame rate, resolution or graphics, which exactly what we should be seeing in all new console releases. The 60fps option is fantastic for a game like Monster Hunter and is well worth the small amount of texture pop-in it brings with it, while the graphics setting features a great improvement in lighting and shadows. It’s only really the increased resolution offering that doesn’t feel particularly useful, but personal taste will differ.

What’s Good:

  • Fantastic visuals
  • Challenging combat
  • Compelling hunting and crafting loop
  • Streamlining has worked wonders

What’s Bad:

  • Could still overwhelm some players
  • Brutal challenge if you’re under prepared
  • Poor HDR implementation

Monster Hunter: World is the evolution the series has been waiting for. The giant creatures have never looked better, while the beautiful open world areas and the way Scoutflies assist your exploration have brought a newfound dynamism to every hunt. It remains brutally difficult and the unprepared may still be chewed up and spat back out, but this time it’ll categorically be your own fault rather than the game’s. Whether on your own, or in a group, now is the time to join the hunt.

Score: 10/10

Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

Update: Added a paragraph relating to co-op play.

24 Comments
  1. kjkg
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I did not expect that! Quite a score.

    Never have played one before but I did play that one on Vita that was meant to be similar. Sacrifice something or other? Man did I suck at it, had no clue what I was doing and a book kept talking to me which was weird.

    Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 09:33.
    • da_siz
      Member
      Since: Oct 2011

      Soul Sacrifice.. Really enjoyed that game, if this is similar i may have to give it a go..

      Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 09:51.
      • kjkg
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        It might not be to be honest but I’m sure I read that SS was a clone of MH, same style of gameplay etc.

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 10:01.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        Soul Sacrifice was great, but Monster Hunter isn’t quite the same. They’re similar in the theme of hunting monsters across maps, using different elements and such, but that’s where I’d say the similarities end.

        Monster Hunter’s combat is quite different, and on the PSP hunts could take up to an hour alone through tracking and relentlessly weakening the monster through an almost Dark Souls-esque type of combat. It’s addictive though! With friends, even better.

        SS was generally a more accessible version of MH, but I’d say World does enough to be as accessible as SS

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 10:59.
  2. JustTaylorNow
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    I haven’t read the review as I am at work. Any chance anyone can confirm if this is Co Op?

    Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 10:15.
    • Avenger
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      Yeah, it has support for public and private co-op apparently. Although it seems you’d be lucky to get a dedicated team in public, and private relies on communication as you have to match together using ye old fashioned room ID number and you can’t change a quest whilst you’re matched either, it has to be decided before matchmaking. Weird.

      Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 11:08.
      • deepmenace
        Member
        Since: Forever

        cant use party groups on ps4?

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 13:09.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        According to what I read on Eurogamer, no. You get a code generated for private play, and you pass it on to friends who want to join. You can still voice chat etc. Hopefully it’s something they’ll change in the future, seems convuluted in this modern age.

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 13:48.
      • JustTaylorNow
        Member
        Since: Oct 2011

        Thanks bro!

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 19:12.
  3. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Lovely review, Dom, but I had this pegged as a co-op game as well and have had to make it to the comments to even get an inkling into whether it is or not.

    If this game has been built from the ground up to enjoy both in solo and in groups, surely the review should reflect that? Sorry to sound so curmudgeonly. :-)

    Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 13:05.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Well, at least you read it to try and find out.

      We’ve added a paragraph to say that it’s got co-op.

      Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 13:30.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        I went off to read a good handful of other reviews and they’re in the same pickle. You either wait to review it properly (and miss the boat, somewhat) or you review it now – like everyone else has – but then have it looking somewhat incomplete.

        The stuff Avenger is on about doesn’t sound good. Might wait for them to patch things in. Cheers, fella.

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 15:31.
      • Dominic Leighton
        Member
        Since: Mar 2012

        I swear it said about it before – maybe Tef edited it out ;p

        “Whether on your own, or in a group, now is the time to join the hunt.”

        At least the conclusion gives you a hint ;)

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 15:32.
      • Dominic Leighton
        Member
        Since: Mar 2012

        So, having gone back in to check there’s no sign of the room code malarkey that was in the beta. I played with random other journos over the course of my time with it, and we were able to jump in and out of each others online sessions easily.

        However, if you create a private session you can though go to “invite player” and invite people from your friends list as you’d expect and it all looks fairly standard.

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 15:44.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        That’s good to know about the co-op. As Mike said, there’s been quite a few reviews lacking details about the co-op.

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 15:56.
      • JustTaylorNow
        Member
        Since: Oct 2011

        Ha! I see a little dig there ;)

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 19:15.
  4. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Great review. It’s not a game that’s been on my list but it’s one I’d like to have a go at now, I’m sure there was a public beta that I now feel silly for missing. I briefly tried the PSP game but I think it was out the same time as MGS Peace Walker, which kept me very busy, so I never gave it a proper chance.
    I’ve never been a fan of proper RPGs but the merging with action adventure has given me a taste for crafting, levelling up and gigantic enemies, I could even be tempted to try something challenging like this. Oh and the video made me smile to myself, I couldn’t help think that the best way to take down the bird thing was ropecaster then blast bomb, more ropecaster then more blast bomb. Ahh Aloy, look what you’ve done to me.

    Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 14:19.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Ron… There were THREE betas.

      Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 14:24.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        Oh. Then I was hiding under three rocks this winter!

        Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 15:12.
  5. skibadee
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    wowzers! great review will be grabbing this very soon then :)

    Comment posted on 25/01/2018 at 20:33.
  6. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Was not on my radar, and I seem to have kept ignoring all news about it, just realised the ratings it gets.
    It’s a game about killing monsters, to be able to kill more monsters, right? Is there any kind of hint of a story in it?
    No doubt it looks pretty, and I’m sure it pleases the Pokemon crowd, but it’s probably not for me, if not.

    Comment posted on 26/01/2018 at 07:59.
    • Dominic Leighton
      Member
      Since: Mar 2012

      There is a story, though it’s more of a thing that’s there to frame the action, and is really “we’ve got to stop this monster, let’s get to it”. It’s better than anything the series has done before – by a long way – but don’t expect it to be The Last Of Us.

      Comment posted on 26/01/2018 at 08:18.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Ok, thanks for your reply.
        By the way: the TSA website reacts much better all of a sudden, it reloads when I post a comment and I get a mail for a reply, which sadly hadn’t been the case since about last October. Great..! Makes my day..! :o)

        Comment posted on 26/01/2018 at 08:44.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Yeah. I broke a thing to try and make something else work, but then decided that the other thing wasn’t working as well as it should be, so I’ve gone and fixed it.

        Comment posted on 26/01/2018 at 16:43.

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