Review: Monster Hunter: World (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Christopher Otero, posted Jan 25, 2018
Jan 25, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): January 26, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): January 26, 2018
  • Release Date (JP): January 26, 2018
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Genres: Action-Adventure, Action-RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Eat. Slay. Repeat.
Christopher Otero
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Monster Hunter: World is the fifth generation of the Action-RPG/Adventure series by Capcom. You assume the role of a hunter from the Research Commission's Fifth Fleet, sent to the New World, a land that once every 10 years Elder Dragons cross the vast sea to travel to. Your job is to assist the Commission's quest to understand what the Elder Crossing is, and why they are drawn there. But is it still the same as previous titles or has Capcom changed things to appeal to a broader audience? Well, let's get to hunting!


New World, New You

Starting aboard a boat bound for the New World, MH: World begins with a fellow Hunter asking about yourself, leading into character creation. In previous titles, you are usually limited to picking hair, face type and features such as paint, eyes and facial hair, clothing and voice types. It has been dramatically overhauled, allowing you to change individual eye color, face type, lips and the appearance of wrinkles and age on your character. There are also two layers of paint and more choice with paint design, changing the glossiness, transparency, or how metallic it looks - you can make some unique looking people. Palico creation has had a few changes, not quite the same as above, but there has been some pretty good ones. If you don't know what a Palico is, it is a cat-like species that help out Hunters in various ways; gathering, hunting and befriending the local wildlife. As far as Palico creation, you can now change things like fur length, thickness and colors of individual patterns. It's not quite as detailed or as in-depth as your Hunter, but it allows for some good variation in design. I made my Hunter look like myself (actually looks more like my dad) and my Palico like my cat, so it was a lot of fun to mess with.

Soon afterwards you arrive at the New World and a small tutorial begins introducing a few of things, such as the Wildlife Map and Scoutflies. Scoutflies are a new addition to the series. Tiny luminescent insects, they guide Hunters to points of interest, such as monster tracks and gathering points. As you examine monster tracks, they begin to learn their scent. Once you have enough, the Scoutflies will be able to track the monster, guiding the Hunter directly to it by creating a trail to follow, completely replacing Paintballs for tracking. As the Scoutflies level up, it becomes easier to begin tracking a monster and knowing whats present in the current area. The Wildlife Map is just that; a map. But as you explore the locales of the New World, gathering spots and other points of interest in the environment, such as loose boulders and trees covered in vines, become marked on the map so you can find them later. All is displayed on the the mini-map in the bottom corner, making things like gathering something specific much easier. Pulling out the full Wildlife Map lets you view the entire area and can filter specific things like gathering spots, small monsters, and environmental interests to name a few. Additionally, the Scoutflies can be set to track anything marked on the map, making it that much easier to find what you need. You could always fast travel to camp with a Farcaster in the past, but now you can call a Windrake to grapple hook on to and fly you there. This doesn't completely replace Farcasters, as you can only fast travel when not in combat or the presence of a large monster, but it is a great new feature and saves Farcasters for those really hairy situations.

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Once you make it to Astera, the headquarters of the Commission, you are introduced to a number of the facilities that help to make a Hunter's life much easier. Some include the Provision's shop, where you can buy items such as Potions and Bowgun ammo, the Canteen where you eat before quests to gain a number of buffs and stat boosts. There is also the Blacksmith to make new armors and weapons from materials you gather. However, the Research Center and Resource Center are two of the most interesting facilities available to you. The Research Center is just what it sounds like; scholars doing research. As you explore and learn more about various life from small and large monsters to endemic life, small and non-aggressive creatures you can capture and keep as pets, the more they learn. Once they learn enough, they update the information available to you, such as weak points, weaknesses, known habitats and which materials you receive from breaking what parts. It is also the way in which you level up your Scoutflies, so it is crucial to visit regularly.

At the Resource Center you can accept Bounties and Investigations, along with fulfilling delivery requests to improve the various facilities. Bounties are side objectives you can do during a quest, some involve gathering a set number of things like flora or bones and others slaying the required amount of monsters. They can also be more specific, like capture a monster or hunt Brute Wyverns. Once completed, you return to Astera and receive your reward, usually Research points to be used at certain facilities, and Armor Spheres to upgrade your equipment's defense. Investigations are similar to Guild Quests like in MH4. A key difference between them is Investigations have a set number of attempts and tiered rewards. To obtain Investigations, there are various means; slaying a small monster, hunting large ones and breaking parts. When you do, you receive a notification that a new Investigation is available. Return to the Resource Center in Astera, choose what Investigations you'd like and accept them like a regular quest.

On the topic of quests, there are four different types to choose from; Assigned, Optional, Investigations and Limited. We already covered Investigations, so we'll skip that. Assigned quests are essentially key quests, often related and moving along the story. These can only be done once and are finished. Optional quests, as the name implies, are just that. Not necessary to do but a good way to earn materials and other rewards. Some just appear and others are requested by NPC's in Astera and the New World. These can be done over and over again, making farming for materials a bit easier. Limited quests are only available for a set amount of time and are distributed by Capcom. Sadly, there weren't any available at the time for me to try so can't talk on it too much.

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The core of the gameplay revolves around exploring the local environments, completing quests and, of course, hunting large monsters. This is accomplished by using the many weapons, tools and abilities at your disposal. Each weapon has a different style and strategy. The Great Sword offers incredible attack power but is cumbersome when drawn, slowing you down considerably, whereas the Dual Blades have quick attacks and movement while it sacrifices strength. The Light Bowgun can use many types of ammo and rapid fire but isn't quite as strong as the Heavy Bowgun, with its size slowing you down when drawn. With 14 different types of weapons, from the vaulting Insect Glaive and the buff granting Hunting Horn to the shell firing Gunlance, MH: World has plenty of different ways to hunt monsters. All the weapons have tight controls, improved or new combos and skills and their own advantages/disadvantages against each monster you hunt.

Mounting, gathering and targeting have all undergone some great changes as well. Introduced in MH4, when you land a leaping attack off an edge or by jumping off a wall, you mount the monsters back and stab into it repeatedly until its stamina is drained and topples over, opening it up to relentless attack. Originally you could only stab and brace yourself as it fought you off. Now you can move to different parts, like it's head or tail, and generally finish with a devastating attack. It gets pretty intense when the monster is running and crashing into trees and walls, trying to buck you off. As added in MHX, those assisting in the hunt can also attack the monster without getting you knocked off but run the risk of taking damage when the monster runs wild. Targeting is much tighter and keeps better focus on the monster, revolving around it. Not only can you target large monsters but you can now target small ones as well. A small change but a most welcome one.

Gathering is pretty much the same; fish, collect plants, catch insects and mine for ore. The only real change is you no longer need to bring a pickaxe to mine or a bug net to catch insects. You always have a pickaxe that doesn't take up any space and a small capture net as well. You can just pick up insects where they lay or use the capture net with your Slinger. The capture net is also used to catch Endemic Life, which earns you Research Points and can be kept as pets in your room. As mentioned, the Slinger is a new tool and a fantastic one at that. Attached to the wrist, it is used to launch a cornucopia of objects; stones to distract monsters, watermoss that washes away mud, or dung to drive a monster away. When in use it does an over the shoulder aim similar to when you use one of the ranged weapons and has an assisted targeting when pointed at a monster or an environmental object, like Flashflies that emit a blinding light when struck. The Slinger is one of the best new tools that has been added to the series and brings more strategy when it comes to how you hunt.


Old Monster, New Tricks

Monster Hunter: World is about one thing; Monsters. Hunting them, capturing them, studying them. And they certainly don't disappoint in this game. There are many old classics, like the Rathian and Rathalos and the Diablos, a savage two horned Brute Wyvern. But don't worry, there are numerous new monsters to hunt too. Among them is the Anjanath, a Brute Wyvern that looks like a T-Rex with vulture characteristics. An aggressive beast, if not wary of it's powerful biting and fire attacks, a hunter can be dropped in one blow, as I have experienced myself. Others include the mischievous but cowardly Pukei-Pukei and the floaty Paolumu. Each monster has its own behaviour and attacks, each requiring a different approach to defeat them. There are plenty of other monsters and with DLC on the way, I can only imagine there will be more added to the hunt.

Expeditions are back from MH4 as well but have also gone through a few changes as well. In MH4, you could only go to one place; The Everwood. They paths between and number of zones were random every time, as were the monsters you encounter. This is not the case here. Expeditions now take place in the areas you explore, but with no set goal. Simply free to hunt and gather as much as you want. Day and night cycle is in the game, changing the monsters and life that appear. A few changes to camp have been made as well. Not only can you have more than one camp, you can also change your armor and weapons, eat a meal and go through your item box now. Nothing big, but game-changing all the same. Run out of an item you need? Go back to camp and restock. It's little quality of life changes like this that greatly improve the game.

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When you load up your save, you have the choice to start or join an online lobby. You can set passcodes, invite friends and make it private if you'd like. Lobbies can have up to 16 people, with up to 4 per quest. The Gathering Hub is where you interact with other players when playing online. With its own Canteen, quest counter and board, item box and provision shop, the Gathering Hub has everything you need for hunting with others. No disconnections, voice and text chat worked nicely. If you are hunting alone and encounter something you can't handle alone, you can send and SOS Flare. Up to three Hunters can join mid-quest to help out. Incredibly helpful for some of the more intense monsters. You can exchange Guild Cards with other hunters as in previous games in the series. These are customized cards that feature player stats, chosen title, backgrounds and poses, you can make some pretty absurd and clever ones.

Graphically, it's quite impressive. The lushness of the jungle and it's dense overgrowth; the scales on a monster's hide. The amount and attention to detail is astounding, the maps themselves, seamless movement between the areas within, they breathe life. Even in a dark, carcass filled pit, there is so much detail and life all around you. Crisp, clean and colorful, Monster Hunter: World is very pleasing to the eyes. The soundtrack is great as well, featuring new songs and music from previous instalments. When there is no music, you have only the sounds of the wildlife around you. Bugs, the rustling of leaves and the ground beneath you. My only real complaint is some of the voice overs are incredibly off-sync. Like, worse than an 80's kung-fu movie. Not a deal breaker or a big problem, but it is kind of ridiculous at times how off it is.

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Join the Hunt

For those wondering if they changed the game to reach a broader audience; Yes and no. They have changed quite a bit, more than I could cover here, but at its core, it is still Monster Hunter. A number of improvements, changes and additions make Monster Hunter: World the definitive game in the series. Unique monsters, beautiful and immersive environments, plenty of quests and online fun, I cannot recommend this game more. Veterans of the series should have no problem jumping right in. But newcomers to the series shouldn't have too hard a time learning the game, it does a good job providing an in-depth tutorial and training area.
Happy hunting.


Monster Hunter: World - Launch Trailer



Verdict
Pros
+ Plenty of quests
+ Amazing visuals and locales
+ Epic monsters
+ Great online
Cons
- Some out-of-sync voice overs
9 Presentation
Apart from minor issues with voice over, Monster Hunter: World is a stunning game and it shows everywhere. Good story, beautiful locations and monsters galore.
10 Gameplay
Polished controls and improved targeting, 14 different weapons, new tools help to make the game fit to how you want to play. This game has it all.
10 Lasting Appeal
There are more than enough quests, monsters and coming DLC to keep you coming back for a good long while. With the return of Expeditions and Investigations, there is more to do than you can shake a stick at.
9.8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Monster Hunter: World stands high as top dog in the series. Tight gameplay, impressive visuals and great online only make up a small fraction of this fantastic game. A must play for vets and those new to the series alike.


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