Monster Hunter's console return is a triumphant success.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 1, 2018
My last experience with Monster Hunter was back on the Playstation portable when my friends and I used to gather together with a load of junk food, bring our PSP's along and play four player Monster Hunter for hours. When World was announced, my old Monster Hunter crew all gathered together again even though some of us live in different countries now and it has met all of our expectations. To those new to the series, Monster Hunter is essentially a form of RPG where you and up to three other players take on missions to hunt certain large monsters in maps, think of every level being a boss fight. It's a game that spawned it's own genre with series like Toukiden, God Eater and Soul Sacrifice doing their own take but never managing to be as good.
Monster Hunter World does have a story, you are part of a fleet following Elder Dragons out to the new world, in an unexplored land to try and find out why the migration is happening. To be honest...it's crap, the story exists solely to send you out to different areas and fight various monsters, you can pretty much ignore it, it literally isn't important. However it does get in the way, Monster Hunter is a co-op game, an absolutely fantastic one and the way it is implemented in World is mostly brilliant except for some reason you can't join a friend on a story mission if he/she hasn't seen the cutscenes in it or you haven't beaten it yet. So if you buy it to play it with a friend you could be let down, that was pretty frustrating for us at first. Fortunately the game really gets going after the story is over and how it plays is where it really shines.
Despite being an RPG, from the start of the game until the end your characters stats never change, what does change is your armour pieces (head, chest, arms and legs) and your weapons. These armour sets unlock as you find more monsters, this is because your armour is literally made from parts of their body you carve off after getting a kill and will often have attributes linked to that monster, one that uses lightning may have high lightning defense for example and weapons follow the same pattern. Each armour set has it's own unique skills and their are slots for customising with extra skills or to level them higher later on in the game so you can design your character literally how you want, I have several load outs with different equipment and skills depending on the monster I'm fighting. Frankly the options in Monster Hunter for fighting are massive, various monsters have different strengths and weaknesses agaisnt weapon types, element types, ailment types to think about, the amount of skills is huge not to mention you can take into missions bombs, traps, throwing knives, buff items. Do you want to tank? speed heal? be highly resistant to roars and ground tremors? Experiment, there are tons of armour pieces and sets.
Adding to this 14 different weapons each with their own huge array of weapon trees and different attack styles. They differ from ranged weapons like bows, and guns with a variety of ammos to more up close and personal weapons like swords and axes. Most of these weapons are completely differnt to use and effective on different monsters. For example the sword and shield is quick, can allow you to use items super fast but does little damage compared with the charge blade that you build up charges by attacking before locking the shield and sword together in a giant axe before doing a massive elemental discharge, but it is super slow and easy to miss. Both weapons are sword and shield varients, I love them both but they are very different.
The maps in Monster Hunter World these battles take place in and the monsters involved are equally impressive. There are only five maps throughout the game but each one comes with plenty to explore with items to find, short cuts to unlock and even some little side missions for fishing, capturing wildlife and gaining little cat companions to help you fight when playing solo. My favorite map is the first, the ancient forest which is very vertical in design winding around a giant tree. It's pretty confusing until you know it but the new ability of having scout flies that will direct you towards your prey once you've found enough tracks makes it fairly straight forward even for new players.
There is a good amount of different monsters to fight (Though I hear a lot less than previous handheld titles) with already one new one added free to the roster already. They range from cool looking flying dragons to a T-rex, a lightning unicorn, and others hard to describe like one that's made of bone and rolls around like a tire. They are really fun to fight with decent attacks and tactics allowing you to trap them, use the environment on them in some cases and my favorite, ride them! Yep, in Monster Hunter World if you jump on them from a higher vantage point you can sometimes ride them stabbing them with your boot knife for minimal damage but as they tire they will fall over giving your team a chance to beat on them.
Presentation wise the game is great. The visuals are wonderful and the game runs pretty smoothly performance wise considering all that is going on at any one time in the game. The game is richly detailed, the art design of the monsters and environments is also brilliant. The game is fully voiced in English for the story and cutscenes and for the most part I enjoyed it, the performances are all good to great with none I hated. Lastly the music is very good, I especially like The Rotten Vale's theme but it's all round excellent.
In conclusion, to stop myself typing about how much I liked it, Monster Hunter World is just really great, while you can probably beat the main story in 40 hours? I have played it for around 300 far. A great start to 2018.
+ Huge amounts of armours, weapon variety, items and skills.
+ The maps and monsters are great.
+ Fantastic graphics with excellent music and good voice acting.
+ Co-op is really good fun...
- But having to beat story missions first was a terrible decision.
- Only five maps.
- Story is terrible.
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