Feel like slaying mythical beasts with your time off? You might just get the case in your very own epic, something our game reviewer experienced amidst his own epic first time with the “Monster Hunter” franchise.
The sixth instalment of the series and the first new story to be released solely on next-gen consoles (with Windows PC to come), “Monster Hunter: World” is a game that brings with it a level of firsts. For many, it will be the first “Monster Hunter” game because of those new consoles, as the series makes its way to a new generation of devices. It’s the first title to let you have a crack at owning a digital cat while you hunt for mythical beasts.
And “Monster Hunter: World” is the first game this reviewer has played in a long time that wears you in, that forces you to drop your preconceived notions of the first play through and to let it make a mark.
As a gamer, I was so excited to play this release as it was going to be my first “Monster Hunter” title.
Missing out on the Wii and portable editions, I’ve never really been able to play games from this franchise, and I even took off my shoes to assist the game in blowing my socks off, but unfortunately the first three hours of game play ended with this journalist staring blankly at the screen questioning why the gaming community seemed to love this technical monstrosity.
Fortunately, there’s more to it than just technical issues, evident as they are.
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Exploring a monstrous world
“Monster Hunter: World”’s story focuses on a Monster Hunter (surprising, right?) travelling to the ‘New World’, a mysterious land where Pirates of the Caribbean meets Jurassic Park, only with more fantastic monsters and evidently less CGI budget.
You are almost immediately welcomed into the Monster Hunter universe with character’s mouths not matching what they’re trying to say, and looking like they appeared out of a poorly dubbed movie. Language concerns aside, I also assumed that each character in the game was found leaving a Beverly Hills plastic surgery clinic, as no one in the game can display any kind of emotion.
We’ve all heard of what a botched Botox job looks like, and “Monster Hunter: World” clearly exhibits this across most of its characters, except of course the ones trying desperately to kill you for the fresh meat you are.
Mind you, his may have been intentional by Capcom as it oculus actually be an attempt to honour the original, low-rent style of the earlier “Monster Hunter” titles, but it was hard to shake the technical flaws that turned my Xbox One had into a PlayStation 2.
Become the hunter
Once you’re over the technical hump, it’s time to make your monster hunter yours. Players get the opportunity to customise their player from the beginning, tweaking facial features, hair style and colour, adding scars and tribal paints, as well as customising your sidekick that happens to be a cat.
No, seriously, your trusty companion as you look to slaughter the mythical and dangerous is a kitty that stands on its hind legs, wears people clothes, and attacks your enemies. Just like real life.
With your hunter made, it’s time to get to action, slicing, dicing, and ridding the world of yet another monster, and yet as fun as that may sound, it can leave you feeling a little perturbed.
The first opportunity to move around as my hunter was truly disappointing, as the protagonist resembles a spineless mutant climbing walls and rolling about. That whole ‘New World’ thing that should be filled with splendour and amazement? Not quite, coming across like an incomplete swamp landscape filled with grey blobs somewhat resembling dinosaurs.
I was pleased to see that the quality of the monsters not only improved gradually, but also did the way they interact with one another. While technical issues mar the look and feel, “Monster Hunter: World” does a fantastic job at placing the human race at the bottom of the food chain, as you observe giant lizards consume their kin with ease, all while you come across winged night terrors that could surely kill you within seconds.
Once you arrive in Astera, the village home to the New World occupants, you will have access to Quest Boards, a Canteen, Ecological Research, an Armoury and Smithy, and much more. In fact there is so much going on in Astera that I was surprised not to find it in Lonely Planet’s “Top Places to Visit in 2018”.
Looking up, and looking down
At this point, things started to look up, because while the game may have initially disappointed with the lack of quality of dialogue, cut scenes and gameplay, “Monster Hunter: World” quickly becomes an entertaining experience, as you discover more unique monsters to hunt and explore new environments with landscapes that get better and better.
We’re a little confused why Capcom didn’t feel obligated to make the entirety of the game look that way, but the style and graphical strength does begin to show itself later on, so stick with it.
It does get better, folks, though it will take time to get used to the plethora of in-game menus in “Monster Hunter: World”, which if anything can be applauded for eye numbing detail when you get to the part of the game where it does happen.
That said, you can use them to attain a formidable amount of information. It will be quite confusing to begin with, particularly if you’re a new “Monster Hunter: Player” (like this guy), with the whole process feeling like mining Bitcoin by simply enquiring the armoury about purchasing or upgrading a weapon.
Don’t let this scare you, though, as your brain will slowly but surely start to ignore this painful process, and your weapons will be bolstered, even if Bitcoin won’t be a part of your experience.
One of the best parts about “Monster Hunter: World” is the variety of weaponry, providing so much to choose from to hack, slash, and hunt those monsters.
There are 14 different classes of weapons on offer, ranging from swords, hunting horns, bowguns, and even a giant iron bagpipe. Each weapon is designed for an individual style of combat, so depending if you like getting up and personal with a monster, or if you prefer to stay as far away as possible, the game has you covered.
I highly recommend you give the “Heavy Bowgun“ a try as the game gifts you with several different bullet types that will leave your prey begging for mercy (side note: monsters never beg, so kill them as quickly as possible).
As you wield your weapon, know that each monster has specific weaknesses and personalities, so it’s important to stay strategic, and try different methods of both killing and escaping from harm.
The process of hunting is what totally immerses you in the Monster Hunter world universe as you find clues to where your next victim may be hiding, and once you engage the fowl beast, the fun truly begins as you continuously chase the fleeing monster, trying not to die as you quickly make it angrier.
If you’re having trouble killing a monster, I suggest you team up with your friends and hunt it down! At the very least, you’ll have a chance of screaming for victory like the hunters you both are, and if they’re worse than you, you can always look at the sternly, wondering how, just how, they call themselves a hunter (pfft).
Final thoughts (TLDR)
“Monster Hunter: World” is one of those games that really gives you a bit of a hard shake, especially if you’re a new player of the franchise.
It’s strange, because if you’ve come from modern video games, you’ll look at it and think “is that it?”, summoning up the reasons to put it back in the console and give it another go.
But like the hunt for monsters leading you in the wrong direction, this is a bit of a red herring. Like a real chase, you need to let it weave its way under your skin, giving it another chance, getting stuck in, and truly finding your calling as a real (digital) monster hunter.
Sufficed to say, this is a game that really grows on you, and not only made this journalist feel instant regret for prematurely judging its existence, but harvested on my serotonin like a giant parasitic leech, the kind of monster I can expect crossing in a future DLC Quest.
What “Monster Hunter: World” lacks in technical beauty, it more than makes up for in addictive quests and battles with a closet full of the most creatively horrifying and unique monsters I’ve seen in a very long time. Highly recommended.