With Monster Hunter World, Capcom has managed to do something that very few developers are capable of doing. They took a long-running franchise which straddled the line between niche obscurity and mega-fandom, and delivered to onlookers on both sides exactly what they were hoping for. As a long-time Monster Hunter player, it's difficult to convey just how much the refinements in World mean to me, and everything I'm hearing from the new generation of hunters who just joined the ranks affirms my long-held belief that Monster Hunter offers the most gratifying grinding and progression loops in gaming.
As always, the monsters are the stars of the show, here. You're here to hunt giant, winged, scaly, fanged behemoths, and hunt them you will. Monster Hunter World features a mammoth cast of new and returning monsters, ranging from agile, raptor-like predators, to breathtaking dragons the size of literal mountains.
The team behind Monster Hunter includes some of the best animators in the business, and every monster features its own intimidating set of attack patterns and behaviors. Studying the way that each monster moves and reacts is both a challenge and a pleasure. These beasts behave with such agency; they really do have their own 'personalities.' You'll discover that the Anjanath is a ruthless and wild brute that throws its weight around recklessly with rage. Legiana, on the other hand, is as graceful as it is fearsome -- a royal prince of its surrounding skies,where it freezes and hunts its prey with detached authority.
Monsters will also sometimes encroach on each other's turf and notice one another, which leads to some of the most awesome and frightening impromptu set-pieces in the game. At a moment's notice, the fearsome Anjanath that was one chomp away from snapping your limbs between its teeth like twigs may be picked up in the giant claws of a Rathian. In that moment you feel as an insect, insignificant and puny as these two gargantuan terrors trade blows. Claws will fly, deafening roars will shake surrounding trees, and fire will fill the air as the beasts settle their score.
Of course, you're not an insect. No matter where you are, you are the most feared beast around. Combat in Monster Hunter World is utterly empowering, and weapons hit like damn trucks. Swinging your great hammer and landing a blow across a monster's skull will award a mighty *thoompf!* with gut-shaking weight. Each weapon features its own set of moves, combos, and secrets, and mastering even one of them can take veteran hunters many dozens of hours. Of course, you can always button-mash.
So much of Monster Hunter World's replay value is derived from its enormous selection of weapon types, each of which can be upgraded extensively. You're given the freedom to swap weapons at any time, and a chest full of monster parts means you'll most likely always have what you need to upgrade a new weapon to its most powerful variant quickly. Once you have that new bow in your hands, or that new charge blade, or insect glaive, every single monster feels fresh again. Old fights suddenly become novel, and hunts you've run many times will suck you back in.
And the truly brilliant thing is that your time is never wasted. Even if you're a rank-8 hunter tracking down a rank-3 beast you've toppled more times than you can count, there's always a chance that you'll manage to carve out a gland, scale, or bone from the carcass that you've been needing to complete an armor set. Almost every single monster, large and small, has a complete armor set that you can craft from its parts, and any armor set is viable once its fully upgraded, since every piece of armor features unique passive skills and elemental resistances.
Showing further respect for players' time, Capcom has streamlined so much of the gathering and collecting processes when you're out in the field. In Monster Hunters past, you had to constantly craft new pickaxes to mine ore, new nets to catch bugs, and new whetstones to sharpen your weapons which dull with use. All of the items are now ever-present in your inventory.
So much tedium has been eliminated, but the gratification that comes from being thoroughly prepared is still here. You still craft much of your own ammunition, for example, and it's up to you to make sure that you have the items you need to trap a monster on capturing quests. Here is that perfect balance that I mentioned in my introduction, which is a huge blessing to veterans as well as newcomers. Now there's very little to stand between you and the hunting and upgrading process.
Monster Hunter has always been about this process. Prepare for the hunt; track down your beast; slay your beast; harvest, refine, and repeat. Every single aspect of those core fundamentals has benefited from over a decade of iteration and now we get to reap the benefits. What's more, we get to reap those benefits with friends. Capcom still has more refining to do when it comes to matchmaking and questing with your squad-mates, but we have to believe that those kinks will be ironed out over time. As it is, the matchmaking and party hunting systems are complicated to an unnecessary degree, but once you know what you have to do to hook up with your mates, it isn't a deal-breaker.
There's not much more I can tell you that you're not already hearing from the community at large. Monster Hunter is back, and it is far better than it has ever been. Monster Hunter World has met and surpassed fans' expectations in almost every regard, and Capcom has already proven that it's dedicated to keeping things fresh with free content updates and additions. If you're on the fence about this one, then it's time to step up. Abandon your reservations and join us on the hunt. You're going to love very moment.
WWG's Score: 4.5 / 5