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Monster Hunter: World’s Final Beta Shows Just How Much I Have To Learn

Fresh meat.

Monster Hunter is a series I’ve heard about for years and years, but never really played. Its fans love to espouse its virtues, the challenge of battling its huge monsters, the joys of teaming up with friends and the hook of working to upgrade your character and their gear. Despite its cult following though, it’s never really managed to break out of its niche in the West.

There’s a number of reasons for that, of course. While the early games were out for PlayStation 2, its co-op focus meant that Capcom found the most success with the game on PSP and its adhoc play when online multiplayer on console was still in its infancy. Then came the partnership with Nintendo and the portable 3DS in particular, with any forays back to PlayStation or Xbox limited to the Japanese market where the game was at its most popular.

Monster Hunter: World is Capcom’s major attempt to redress that balance. Compared to a decade ago, online multiplayer is everywhere, we have huge online action RPGs that draw people in to play them day in, day out, and the popularity of the Dark Souls series and its ilk has shown that Western audiences are now much more receptive to the notion of ultra difficult games. Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, it’s also now got the graphical grunt of modern consoles and computers, as well as the greater flexibility of their control schemes.

Having spent time with the third and final beta – I missed the first two that ran during December, but this features an extra monster to hunt – having a full gamepad to use makes the controls a dream when compared to the awkwardness of my brief dalliances with the series on 3DS. Coming from other 3D action games, it’s easy to pick up the pad and play, while there’s always tooltips in the top right hand corner of the screen to let you know the buttons for attacks and abilities you can use while stood still, while armed, while sprinting, and so on. It’s a lifeline for absolute newcomers, but the controls aren’t terribly difficult to get to grips with.

That is, at least, before you start delving into what potions do, how to load special ammo into your gun, and so on. There’s still a great deal of the depth and complexity that has built up through the years, but that’s in addition to the niceties of having more breadth and advanced techniques in combat, such as being able to leap and mount monsters. There’s all of the fourteen weapon types to choose from, which essentially define your role in battle, each of which will likely take a degree of mastery.

In other ways, it feels as though Capcom have perhaps gone a tad too far for even my tastes as a newcomer. Scout flies are a new addition to the series that you can use to highlight nearby items of interest and uncover the tracks of the monster that you’re heading off to hunt, amongst other things. On the one hand, with the lush and verdant environments that the game can now feature, it can be difficult to figure out what you can interact with and what you can’t, but I feel like the flies take the game too far in the direction of the checkpoints and objective markers that can all too easily sap a real sense of discovery from a game. It’s all a balancing act, of course, and it might simply be that if they were less showy, they’d fade into the background more easily for me. You’ll have to wait for Dom’s review to find out what a seasoned series veteran thinks.

What I can say, however, is that I had a fair bit of fun tracking down and battling monsters with others. Our teamwork was rubbish, to say the least, but like enthusiastic school kids all rushing toward the tennis ball being kicking around a playground, the chaos was still rather enjoyable. I made sure to hop between different weapons for different quests, to try and sample a broader variety of play styles as well, instead of sticking with the long ranged cannon I started with.

Working as a team to find and then take down these huge beasts is compelling, and there’s a lot of risk and reward when they can just as easily turn around and tear you to shreds. You also have to read their actions, learn their attacks, and doggedly chase after them if they try to escape. I’m still not entirely sure it’s for me, but I can see what has sunk its hooks into so many people.

This weekend offers up the final chance to try out Monster Hunter: World before its full release next week. The third beta is live as of 2AM GMT this morning, and for those that did play the first two betas, there’s the added incentive of hunting the Nergigante and earning face paint and item sets to take over to the full game.

One Comment
  1. Avenger
    Since: Oct 2012

    The series has often had a steep learning curve when it comes to knowing what you can interact with and all the nuances of controls, weapons, crafting etc. It all sounds great at the moment.

    I think this could be the game to get me back into the series. 200+ hours on the PSP, I think I can brave it!

    Comment posted on 19/01/2018 at 14:08.