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Written by Cristian Stanic
After years of serviceable entries on the 3DS, Monster Hunter has finally made its triumphant return to home consoles, and wow, what a way to kick off the comeback tour.
Monster Hunter: World is hands down the best in the series, with the familiar core gameplay being fine-tuned to near perfection, and a host of new additions to the formula that really enhance the overall experience.
So, what’s been improved from the previous iterations? Well, environments are now more detailed than ever, but they’re not just for show. The terrain can be utilised in a bunch of unique ways for the hunter, from sliding down a hill and launching yourself into a jump to mount a monster, to dropping boulders on top of unsuspecting creatures to stun them. However, the monsters will make good use of the environment too, so it’s important to stay on top of where you’re fighting. Every monster is designed to match its habitat and use it to its advantage in interesting and dynamic ways.
The monsters themselves are just as incredibly detailed as the environments. Most of them have interesting gimmicks and traits that’ll keep the player on their toes, like seeing a Tobi-Kadachi spread its wings and glide up to the trees for the first time. It’s a horrifying experience that forces the player to think, and come up with strategies for each monster, and strategy in this game is everything.
It’s important to learn as much as you can about each monster, like what attributes they’re adept with, which ones they’re weak too, how to exploit their habitat, and what appendages to watch out for. Each monster has unique biology, and if a certain attack is giving you trouble, you may wish to focus your hits there to give you the upper hand. Cutting off certain body parts also serves another purpose – getting loot for armour and weapons.
And speaking of weapons and armour, we have to discuss the crafting system. The variety of weapons on offer is huge, and there’s a type of weapon to accommodate every playstyle. The weapon and armour sets look incredibly cool, but also come with stat boosts and weaknesses, which encourages the player to regularly change up their equipment, to gain an advantage on a tricky monster. It also encourages replaying missions and going out on expeditions, since you’ll need to slay monsters multiple times to collect enough resources. Crafting is also crucial in building traps and ammo for your hunts. You’ll have to do a lot of exploring to get the resources you need, but it’s worth it.
The Slinger and Scoutflies are excellent new additions to the series that really streamline the gameplay. The Slinger has a number of uses, including helping you to traverse the map faster by swinging off of certain tree branches, and allowing you to climb up walls faster. It also shoots a lot of different types of ammo that have practical uses against specific monsters, and also generally useful ones for every hunt. The Scoutflies are basically like a glowing trail that leads you to whatever destination or monster you select on the map. (If you’ve already seen the monster once, or picked up its trail by examining footprints, claw marks, mucus, etc.) They cut down vastly on the tedium of wandering aimlessly in search of your objective.
Unfortunately, some aspects of the game fall flat. A small but unwelcome new detail is the numbers that appear when you hit a monster, to tell you how much damage you’ve done. Monster Hunter isn’t a numbers game, it’s not about figuring out how much health a kill has left, it’s about looking for visual and behavioural cues to see how well you’re doing.
Lastly, the weapon crafting system isn’t perfect. Different monsters encourage you to switch out gear, but the actual crafting completely discourages experimentation. If you want to swap to a different kind of weapon, you’ll have to reforge a base form of that weapon, then gather resources from kills to go through that weapon’s upgrade tree to get it to where you want… Every single time you want to try a new weapon… If you’re at the stage in the game where you’re taking on Odagarons with a Flammenbeil, you can’t just start over again with a Bone Katana, you have to level up that Katana before it even becomes a viable option.
Monter Hunter: World manages to build open the amazing gameplay series veterans love, but also introduces enough new features to entice first-time players, and possibly bring some jaded 3DS players back to the franchise, despite its few minor issues. With hundreds of hours of brilliant monster-slaying content on offer, we won’t be putting this game down anytime soon.