A Massively Complicated But Rewarding Action RPG
Making its console debut, Monster Hunter World is a big, sprawling action-adventure RPG. The combat is balanced, fair and challenging and the world brimming with life and beauty. The game does have a steep learning curve though; unnecessarily convoluted menus, a lack of direction and an emphasis on trial and error mechanics make Monster Hunter World a difficult game to pick up and rush through but certainly rewards those patient enough to reap the rewards if you can persevere through some of the bizarre design choices in the hub world. Monster Hunter World has an incredible gameplay experience, unique to what else is currently on console at the moment and for that alone, Monster Hunter is well worth checking out.
The story, whilst generic, holds everything together in an acceptable manner and gives you enough incentive to trek through the game and hunt bigger monsters. As a member of the 5th, your task is simple – hunt down and kill or capture monsters that threaten the New World and the livelihood of the research team. With each main quest given, the monsters become tougher and more resilient and despite the plot progression, story missions are simply glorified boss fights stitched together with a bit of exposition and a slickly presented cut scene to introduce the new behemoths you tackle.
Boss fights are tough but rewarding
Although this doesn’t sound very glamorous, Monster Hunter World’s main appeal comes from the fights and the exhilarating, adrenaline fuelled combat is outstanding. The fighting feels like a blend of Witcher 3’s sword play and Dark Soul’s intricately brutal attack patterns and play style. This blend works perfectly but players may find the lack of a health bar for any of the creatures a deterrent, especially those used to a more conventional way of approaching these sort of fights.
Capcom have made a cleverly accessible game for a lot of people to pick up and play but to really get the most out of Monster Hunter World, some serious hours need to be logged. Expect to spend a good 10-15 hours just getting accustomed to the different weapons, experimenting with play styles, crafting and all manner of hunting before even making a dent in the campaign or taking full advantage of most of the gameplay mechanics. Once this eventually clicks into place, the game opens up in the most wonderful way and slaying a difficult beast after a 30 minute+ battle is an incredibly rewarding experience. With promise of more monsters to be added as free DLC, expect to spend a good 70+ hours playing the campaign and all the added extras beyond that.
The main hub area is big but designed with multiplayer in mind
Although marketed as one, Monster Hunter World isn’t a traditional open world game. The main camp acts as a gateway to different large, hub areas that hold up to four or five large monsters to slay, accessed via the world map screen on the menu. Each of these areas are beautifully presented with a unique aesthetic and thriving population of creatures big and small. Large vespoids (giant mosquitos) buzz around stagnant swamps, herds of herbivores migrate across large, open plains and towering predators roar defiantly in the distance, at times engaging with one another in brutal battles for dominance. These hub worlds feel like living, breathing areas although it would have been nice to see all them interconnected together in one mammoth sized map. The game drips in visual splendour too and everything from the creative world design to the imaginative monsters is animated beautifully and realistically depicted. Monsters have specific attack patterns that change through fights too which adds an extra layer of challenge on an already tough but fun game.
After the opening cinematic, it’s clear from the start that Monster Hunter World is a game designed to be played online as a multiplayer title. Quests are accessed through a quest board which brings up an online lobby, modified to 1 player if you want to play solo. SOS flares can be used during tough fights to bring in additional players but in doing so, the monster difficulty increases which does help somewhat to balance out the gameplay. Online only events garner some of the best rewards outside the main missions too and an arena area where you can battle most of the monsters in a controlled environment is intentionally designed to be played with more than 1 player. Still, there’s a lot to be enjoyed single player but but there’s no denying the multiplayer intent in Monster Hunter World is where most of the focus is with this title.
Monsters regularly change their attack patterns as you do more damage
Of course, Monster Hunter’s World uniqueness is ultimately it’s own achille’s heel. This won’t be a game for everyone and those jumping into this expecting the next Witcher 3 or Skyrim are likely to leave very disappointed. In its simplest form, Monster Hunter World is a series of boss fights set in large, open playgrounds that progressively get tougher as the game continues until you reach the final monster and help preserve the New World. Of course, this doesn’t even begin to describe the intricacy and level of overwhelming detail inherent in every facet of the game. Menus of information, statistics, monster guides, crafting and more can easily overwhelm you and it does take a while to fully immerse yourself into the game.
At times, monsters will attack other monsters which you can use to your advantage
With such a unique appeal and steep learning curve, Monster Hunter World is a game you need to be prepared to sink some serious hours into. It certainly provides an excellent return of money and time and the sense of achievement you feel after beating some of the tougher foes the game throws at you after an exhausting and exhilarating fight is unrivalled. Monster Hunter World is an outstanding game and although its certainly not without its problems, the gameplay is the real star here and for that alone, is worth checking out… if you can commit to the hours it takes to reach that point.
Verdict - 9/10