Reviewed on PS4, copy supplied by publisher.
For the uninitiated, Monster Hunter World can be an overwhelming game. It turns out that hunting monsters isn’t as simple as it says on the tin. As my first Monster Hunter title, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – it was far better.
Jumping into the game it’s clear the level of detail Capcom have put into this title is immense. I’ll gladly admit I spent a good hour customising my character and Palico (which is your trusty cat friend). In the end they both looked pretty run of the mill, but the options were intricate and the character models look amazing, so it was hard not to get drawn into and try out all the combos – especially considering how crisp it all looks on a PS Pro.
Once you’ve spent more time than it takes to prepare a roast dinner designing your character, it’s time to jump into the story. Monster Hunter World’’s narrative is pretty great, and certainly has more to it than it needs to. I was pretty sold on “you are on an island with monsters, now get them!” Instead you’re treated to a high fantasy tale of colonialism, blood thirst and mythology. It’s hard to sympathise with your hunter at times, as you’re disturbing a beautiful functional ecosystem to kill these amazing looking beasts so you can make cute armour for your cat friend. But also, my cat friend looks amazing in armour, so the trade off isn’t so bad.
What really sold me on Monster Hunter World is the environment. The very hub you inhabit is built from the failings of the people that came before you, with ship wrecks being used to create a sprawling city. The attention to detail in this space really fleshes out the experience and lore. Outside of the hub the greater world lives and breathes like an undisturbed ecosystem. The first time you run into a herd of monsters it’s hard not to just rest your controller down and watch them move around and interact with the environment.
Some of the best moments from the game come when you’re fighting it out with a ferocious beast, only for another ferocious beast to gate crash and start shanking up your enemy. The time I was about to die at the hands of a thunder squirrel, only for a T Rex looking thing to side swipe my enemy before the final blow, will forever be etched into my brain. The way the creatures circle each other and probe for weakness before a fight is nothing short of a masterpiece in design. Rarely has a fantasy game felt so engrossing.
For a game about hunting monsters, you’d hope that the combat is pretty great, and for the most part it is. The combat in Monster Hunter World can take some time to gel with. Not in the same way that Horizon Zero Dawn takes time to click, but due to the fact there are so many weapons for you to try your hand at.
Finding the right weapon that works with your play style can be hard, and it certainly took me some time to settle for something that I could run with and still have fun. For a new player even seeing the possibilities was enough to make my hands sweat, and the little tutorial videos the game shows you only raise more questions. As with most things, the best solution was to just get out in the world with each weapon and try them.
Ultimately whatever you go with you’ll probably get used to it, but I strongly recommend finding out your preference near the beginning of the game, so you’re not wasting too many resources upgrading multiple weapon types, and the same goes with armour.
Loot in Monster Hunter World is kind of based on a pinata-like system, where dishing damage to a monster or destroying it will drop parts, which can then be turned into gear. It’s a great system, and rewards you for taking down the more fearsome foes.
That being said, taking down the larger monsters in the game is more of a marathon than a sprint. I was surprised by how long fights can drag on for – with multiple stages and environments as the creatures flee for their lives frequently. Anything short of 20 minutes felt quick when taking on a boss.
At times the length could be unforgiving, as once you’ve run low on potions you can find yourself being picked off right at the end of an epic battle, having to start again at square one. That being said, once you learn the attack patterns of monsters and adequately prepare yourself, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the life leave that beautiful creature’s eyes.
The only real criticism I have of the game is this difficulty curve, but it’s also one of the things that I like most about Monster Hunter World. Whilst it sucks getting killed mere seconds before landing a killing shot, it also feels great spending time preparing for a fight and executing a plan.
For those that love upgrades and side missions, you will be frothing over Monster Hunter World. The sheer depth of stuff to do is overwhelming, and the number of buffs and upgrades you can apply is immense. But once you get into the swing of things it all becomes second nature. Mixing it up between quests and exploration is a great way to experience the world, and you can easily lose hours chipping away at both.
Overall Monster Hunter World is a fantastic game that is well and truly worth picking up. Whether you play alone or in a squad, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Considering difficulty scales between solo play and groups, I found it best to go alone, but if you have a willing group of friends, jump into it and start shredding those beasts.