Compared to most game franchises out there, the Monster Hunter games have displayed the most growth and maturity over the years. Since the series began on the PlayStation 2, much has changed with the gameplay and overall presentation, but the core themes of man versus beast have always remained the same. You hunt large monsters and use their parts to go after even bigger ones, then rinse and repeat. This continues in the latest entry in the series, Monster Hunter: World, but not only are the beasts you hunt fiercer, but the world you explore is also bigger than ever before.
What you see in Monster Hunter: World will leave you in awe. The environment you explore has a high level of detail that blows away every other entry in the series to date. You have monsters and other beasts looming around every facet of the area, which feels like a thriving ecosystem rather than just random placement on the map. This is further enhanced with how the monsters and other wildlife you encounter interact with each other, even when they’re not in active combat. Some monsters will get along together and thrive, while others may demonstrate the struggle between predator and prey, allowing you to watch idly from afar. It’s something that’s been a goal for the series over the years, and only now has it fully become realized with Monster Hunter: World.
Under the surface of its gorgeous visuals and wide areas to get lost in, Monster Hunter: World brings about many changes to the series’ action-RPG gameplay, making it vastly better than before. In previous games, tracking monsters during a hunt required you to learn and memorize spawn points, as well as alternate paths to locations that felt restrictive at most.
Instead, a lot of emphasis is placed on discovering key environmental cues, like footprints and claw markings, to help located and discover the beasts you hunt. This not only helps get you into the action a lot quicker with a new navigation system, something a lot of new players will appreciate but also reaffirms the hunting characteristics of the world you’re in.
And this is a huge part of Monster Hunter: World and why it is significant to the growth of the series, the quality of life changes make everything so much better. You not only have tons of helpful menus and descriptions about everything utilized in the game, but none of it feels restrictive or comes off as complicated to anyone, even new players who may have never experienced the series before. The game does its best to get you out there quickly and see everything it has to offer, whether that’s having a more readable map or ability to fast travel easier between points of interest. The game does its best to make everything work for you without sacrificing the challenge and thrill of the hunts you take on.
Speaking of challenging hunts, Monster Hunter: World is not without its trial and tribulations that the series is known for. The beast you battle are big, fierce, and won’t hesitate to bring you down. Just because they look gorgeous and gracious, doesn’t mean that they won’t beat you senseless if you hesitate. However, none of the challenges you’re presented by hunting some of the game’s tougher monsters feels unfair like in past entries.
You still have to be clever and strategic at some points, but you have a lot more tools and abilities to bring down even the most vicious of game in Monster Hunter: World. You can mount beasts and deal damage while riding atop of them, use environmental hazards to your advantage for openings to attack, as well as cause two monsters to fight each other and tired them out before you go in for the kill. You have many options in how to approach almost any situation, making the hunts you take on feel larger than ever before.
In addition to all of this, the series’ approach to weapons and armor is revamped for the better. You still use the parts of monsters you gather from hunts to create newer and stronger equipment, but the presentation of how you do so is radically different. Weapons have a tier-tree that help make choosing your style and weapon type much easier. While you start with one of the 14 basic weapon-types at the beginning, completing quests will get you the materials to power up your weapon of choice, as well as create more armor to make you stronger.
At the same time, you have a Palico cat companion that hunts alongside you and can be customized with its own armor and weapon types, further enhancing the depth of how you prepare for hunts. In the past, much of this was complicated and intimidating, but Monster Hunter: World makes it easy enough to digest and understand without compromising how deep weapon and armor customization can be. It still takes time to craft some of the strongest weapons in the game, but you can earn it without feeling like you have to do anything unfairly complex.
The biggest change to come from Monster Hunter: World is the addition of a full story. Previous Monster Hunter games always shied away from having a story like other role-playing games, and instead favoring the gameplay. Monster Hunter: World instead takes the opposite approach and gives players a full narrative tied to the game’s world, which is both epic and builds up everything you come across.
This is something that works out to the series’ favor and offers a different look at a lot of the creatures you come across throughout the game, including some very big beasts that become directly involved with the overall story. You might find yourself hunting a few of the same beasts multiple times in optional side quests, but the game’s story makes it very clear that none of these monsters are fodder and important to the lore of the world around you.
Multiplayer is where Monster Hunter as a series has shined the most. It’s incredibly fun to gather three other friends and team up to take down a giant monster, followed by reaping all of the rewards upon success. Monster Hunter: World is no exception to this. Everything that is great about playing the game solo is just as great playing with others online. You can take on any quest, main missions or optional, with other players online.
The interesting part is that even if you are playing solo quests for the story, you always have the ability to call in help from other players online through the use of an SOS Flare item in the game. If you find yourself in a bad spot during quests, you can use this to open up your game for other players to join and help you out. While this doesn’t penalize you whatsoever for doing so, it does offer you more options for when you find yourself running into a challenge you’re struggling with. It doesn’t make quests easier or worse, but it doesn’t restrict you from calling in a helping hand either.
Monster Hunter: World is an incredible game and one of the best entries of the series to date. Everything that fans have loved about past games is made even better here, with a whole lot more to appreciate and enjoy. The beasts you hunt in this amazingly rendered world look great and display a majestic nature that was not realized before. Not only is this game fun to play alone or with friends, but fun to constantly come back to and play for many more hours beyond story conclusion. Those who decide to take the dive into the franchise for the first time will definitely want to start off with Monster Hunter: World and see the absolute best that the series has to offer. Simply put, this game is a world-class beast.
This review was based on a digital review code for Monster Hunter: World for the PlayStation 4, provided by Capcom.