Why You Should Be Excited for Monster Hunter: World
Is it time for you to finally jump in?
01.12.18 - 8:11 PM
Monster Hunter is a series that has a very devoted following, and fans are quick to tell you how much they adore its complexity and addictive progression loop. Newer players, however, tend to find the intricate systems needlessly convoluted. Because of this, the series has never come close to being as popular in the West as it is in Japan. Still, Capcom hasn't given up hope, and the upcoming World seeks to refine various traditional mechanics in the hopes of reaching a more widespread audience. Will World be able to take the series from niche to mainstream? Are the changes introduced in World truly significant enough to warrant the interest of new players without disdaining longtime fans? Does this game deserve to be on your radar in the first place?
I've detailed all the major tweaks that World makes to the traditional Monster Hunter formula, and as a player with over a decade of experience under his belt, explain just why I have so much love and admiration for this series. Read on to find out if Monster Hunter: World is the right time to finally jump into this franchise!
What's Monster Hunter: World?
World is the newest entry in the Monster Hunter franchise. If you've never played a Monster Hunter game before, it's worth noting that they're a bit of a commitment but successfully reward you for your time. The more you invest into these games, the more you're going to get out of them. The prize for your patience is an experience that's unlike anything you've ever had before. There's an unrivaled sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a challenging hunt, and it's a thrill that you'll want to feel again and again. Make no mistake: Monster Hunter's gameplay is dangerously addictive.
Capcom has decided to do something different with World, aiming to make a game that's more accessible than ever before while still maintaining the core difficulty. As someone who's been playing this series for over a decade, I'm thrilled with this decision. Veterans are bound to appreciate the smaller improvements, such as auto-crafting and infinite whetstones, but those new to the franchise will appreciate that the gameplay doesn't feel esoteric. These changes have the potential to make Monster Hunter more appealing to a wider audience, and I can't wait to see new people become fans of a series that I love so much. So, let's talk about these big improvements that can help cement World as a must-play RPG in your library.
New World, New Changes
For starters, we'll focus on maps. Maps are still segmented into zones, but there's no loading screen between them — for the first time, transitions are seamless. This helps make your hunting grounds feel more like a living, breathing world while still making it easy to tell different areas of the map apart.
While the graphics help make the world come to life, it's the new interactive elements in the environment that help further the sensation of being in precarious territory home to so many monsters. A monster can become entangled in vines, for example, giving you an opportunity to unleash attacks or sharpen your weapon while it thrashes and writhes in frustration. However, monsters can use the environment to their advantage as well. When I played the beta, the venomous flying wyvern Rathalos broke a natural dam and washed me straight down the newly-formed waterfall and into a different zone. Even the wildlife itself can be used to your advantage, with buzzing swarms of flashbugs exploding into a burst of light that temporarily blinds monsters upon being struck. And if you're (un)lucky enough to cross paths with another big creature than the one you're supposed to be hunting, you can strategically lure it over to your target and watch as the two duke it out for dominance.
There are also changes made in World that make it feel like a more streamlined game. These might be unnoticeable to those just now jumping into the series, but for Monster Hunter veterans, the impact of these tweaks is significant. For example, you'll now see numbers when you inflict damage on monsters, which helps to tell you where its weak spot is. You're also no longer locked in place when you use a healing item, so you can avoid a monster and patch yourself up at the same time.
Normally in a Monster Hunter game, you'd have to roam around every zone in the map to search for where your target is until you memorize where it usually spawns. Throwing a paintball at the monster would mark it for a set amount of time, meaning that when it ran away, you'd still be able to track it down. In World, you now search for clues in the environment in order to find the monster. Finding things like its claw marks (or even its dung!) will help attune the newfound Scout Flies to its location. Scout Flies will highlight a monster's trail for you, leading you right to it. And when your prey retreats to another location, the new minimap will show you exactly where it ran off to.
One of the more dramatic overhauls to staples of the series is the armor system. In previous games, skills could only activate if you had at least 10 points pumped into your armor set. If you had a pair of gloves that gave you +3 towards the initial Defense Up skill, you would need at least +7 more points from other pieces of armor in order to receive the effect. This could hurt you, as armor also has negative stat boosts. For instance, if your armor equaled at least -10 points in Fire Res, you would be more susceptible to fire damage. Like most mechanics in Monster Hunter, many people found this a little obtuse. In World, simply equipping a piece of armor will give you the first level of that skill. Equipping even more pieces that share the same skill will lead to that skill's level increasing, giving you a more powerful version of it. This tweak makes the whole process a lot easier to understand and encourages mixing sets even more than before.
With World, Capcom is making multiplayer better than ever. Cross-region play is being supported for the first time, and there's now a drop-in/drop-out system in place. If you're in a bit of a bind, you can send out an SOS flare to other players, who can then jump into your game to help you out. SOS flares are going to make a huge difference with harder quests, and they're definitely a welcome change in my book. Perhaps the most interesting enhancement to multiplayer, though, is the introduction of a squad system. Squads will function similarly to clans and guilds in other online games and can house up to 50 players. You'll be able to join multiple squads (eight, in fact), so you don't need to worry if you have commitment issues — Capcom understands.
The Thrill of the Hunt
The changes may be great, but what makes Monster Hunter a series worth playing in the first place? The appeal of this franchise as a whole can be tough to explain. Its gameplay boils down to a great progression loop: slay or capture monsters, create better weapons and armor from their parts, hunt harder monsters, and repeat. If it sounds simple, that's because it is — but this is also why it's so alarmingly addictive. There's a real sense of charm in grinding quests for specific monster parts as you slowly learn a monster's attack patterns and start to understand where it's the most vulnerable. The series puts emphasis on the role-playing aspect of the genre, making you feel like you're truly becoming more familiar with its world. The feeling of finally getting the gear you worked so hard for and using it to take down an even tougher monster is unparalleled.
As much fun as it is to play the game solo, it's even more fun with friends. I have so many memories of staying up and playing Monster Hunter with my pals until 4 AM. When we weren't grinding for parts so one of us could make new gear, we were tackling high-rank quests. I'll never forget how amazing it felt to take down a Ceadeus (an absolutely massive Elder Dragon) in Monster Hunter Tri for the first time. The odds were stacked against us, and we failed a few times, but the rush I got from finally taking down that mammoth underwater monster was absolutely thrilling. We were able to complete the quest (and many quests after) because we worked together, and I managed to end up bonding with my friends in a very special way. It sounds corny, but we really learned a lot about each other during our late-night sessions, and I think we all grew to appreciate each other because of them.
I love the fact that Monster Hunter is a series that encourages teamwork and communication, which makes taking down your prey feel strategic. This is especially true since there are so many different weapon types. Players using more blunt weapons like a Hunting Horn are able to break off pieces like tusks easily, but those using a Long Sword can slice off tails. Because some of the items you need from monsters can only be earned through breakable parts, it's wise to make sure that your squad has a good composition of different weapon types. The new squad system introduced in World is sure to make hunting with friends easier than ever before, and if you join your friends after they've started playing, you can now slip your way into an active quest!
The monsters themselves also make the game enjoyable, as every one of them behaves like its own beast. Some have an aggressive personality which shows in its attacks, while others are more prone to running, flying, or even burrowing away from you. Hunting monsters means more than just figuring out their elemental weaknesses and preparing for whatever damaging status effect they might inflict; it also means learning a monster's attack pattern and figuring out which zone they like to retreat to. The monsters are so popular with players that the newest franchise spin-off, Monster Hunter Stories, capitalizes on their appeal. In Stories, you befriend iconic creatures from the series and build up a team a la Pokémon, and many found it nothing short of charming to see ferocious enemies redesigned into cutesy friends! The entire concept of Stories showcases how the monsters help make the series so memorable.
Is Monster Hunter: World Right For Me?
Your enjoyment of World is largely dependent on your patience. Yes, there's a steep learning curve for some of the more technical weapons. And yes, you'll have to pay attention and learn a monster's patterns. But the sense of reward you get from investing your time and effort into a Monster Hunter game is fantastic. It's proof that hard work has a big payoff. This satisfaction might be enhanced when playing with other players, but rest assured, it is possible to go it alone and still enjoy the game as much those playing with friends.
Monster Hunter is a series that I can't recommend enough. I've put hundreds and hundreds of hours into these games, and I don't regret it for a single second. If you've always been interested in what the fuss is about, World is shaping up to be the best entry for you to jump into. It's still not going to be a game you can master right out of the gate, but it's definitely tweaked the formula enough to make playing it a smoother experience. As a longtime fan, I couldn't be more excited; hopefully, newcomers feel the same way.
Monster Hunter: World launches worldwide on January 26th for PS4 and Xbox One, with a PC release to follow this fall. Stay tuned to RPGFan for our official review and all news Monster Hunter: World in the meantime!
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