Capcom had a solid showcase on the show floor at PAX this year, even if it didn’t seem like an abundant amount of titles. Puzzle Fighter was introduced for mobile; Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package got a decent little demo for PlayStation 4; Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite had fans lining up; and then there was Monster Hunter World.
And I’ll tell you, World got the most attention. The publisher put a gigantic creature into the middle of the show floor, lording over you as you play through one of the demos within the game. And while that may have been intimidating, it gives you an idea of the sense of scope and scale that’s going into these monstrous beasts that you have to hunt down and slay.
I’m pleased to report that World, thus far, is a triumph. It feels like the most accessible game in the series, serving a purpose for those that are getting into it the first time; while, at the same time, presenting the level of challenge we’ve come to expect from previous entries in the series. And support for co-op for up to four players is absolutely welcome, as this is the sort of game you’ll be playing for hours at a time, as you stalk creatures alongside your friends and reap the rewards that follow after.
The first thing that makes World shine so much is its customization. There’s a lot you can do for your soldier here, from selecting your initial weaponry (or trying something new if you feel that swords suit you better than a shotgun-like cannon) to adding perks that will help your character grow, including extra shielding and a neat ability that allows you to glide – an ideal way to get a jump on an unsuspecting foe from above. There are a ton of options available, so players that are used to that will be happy with what’s here.
As for the combat itself, it’s surprisingly smooth. Your character, whoever it may be, will have a number of tactics that you can do damage to the enemy with. My particular soldier, for instance, had netting that could stop them temporarily (well, smaller ones more effectively), but then could switch to their main weapon to do damage to the larger targets. I feel it’s actually a bit smoother here, and, as I said above, accessible to newbies that want to get what it’s all about.
The tracking system is actually pretty cool. It’s a large world to track down your prey in, and it can be easy to get lost. However, some magical glowing bees (or bugs of some type) actually light your way. Plus, it’s fairly easy to keep track of where your fellow hunters are, so that’s not as big a deal as you might think. However, going off the beaten path, you actually discover a few more monsters in the world, which you can take down and gut for additional meat. (It sounds savage, but, hey, that’s the Monster Hunter way.)
Group battling still feels about right, too. The larger creatures in the game take a lot of damage. The T-Rex style creature that we were hunting in the world took several hits before it even managed to roll into a defensive position, and then tried running off multiple times. I have a feeling that this AI is going to be a common theme, as we’ve come to expect from Monster Hunter. Step up to the challenge and get promptly rewarded.
I also like the idea of drop-in/drop-out multiplayer. No one bailed on my group as we were playing, but being able to finish with another player online is a novel touch. The multiplayer we went through was a lot of fun, and everyone really communicated on a good level. We’re not certain if every session will go this way, but here’s hoping you find a few decent Monster Hunters to join your crew.
One thing that’s worth nothing, however, is how frickin’ beautiful Monster Hunter World is. This is easily the most dazzling entry in the series, as being available for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 really enables the team to put together a living, breathing world to stalk your monsters in. It looks terrific, whether you’re working your way through a number of caves (with only a hint of light to show the way) or out in the open in a field, where your monster (beautifully animated, by the way) runs wild with great aplomb.
We didn’t get to hear much of the in-game audio, since there were a lot of players chatting up a storm during our session. But the character dialogue we did hear was pretty good, if a bit on the cheesy side. For instance, we didn’t really need a narrator to tell us when a monster was vulnerable when it was lying on its back. But maybe she’s just acting as a guide for those that aren’t sure what to do within the game, so we’ll allow it. The music’s not bad, either, based on the little samples we heard.
Monster Hunter World definitely looks to be the strongest entry in the series to date. It’s probably that way by default anyway because of the platforms it’s on, but Capcom is really going all out with this entry when it comes to gameplay, options and presentation. I’m really eager to jump back into this world and see what I can carve up – though I’ll be waiting until early 2018 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.