Nowadays when you think epic boss battles and difficult combat, the first thing that comes to mind is Dark Souls or Bloodborne. However, while not many people may have heard about it, there is a franchise that has been doing epic boss battles for much longer. We’re talking about Monster Hunter.
Monster Hunter World is an Action-RPG game with an addictive gameplay loop. It’s a loop we’re all too familiar with. Farm materials, craft better gear with farmed materials, use better gear to farm even better materials to craft even better gear. You get the drill.
Monster Hunter World was one the most anticipated games of 2018 and we were quite excited to get our hands on it.
Soon after you begin your new adventure, after a short introduction you’re met with the character creation screen. Customisations are very clearly inspired by Japanese pop-culture. But fear not, if you’re not into that and don’t want to stand out, there are generic looking customisation options too. There’s something for everyone. They haven’t gone into the very minute details like the character creation in say Fallout 4, but what they do have we found was more than sufficient.
It was the next bit that took us by surprise. Next, we had to customise our Palico. Palicos are the cat companions everyone’s got. Only these cats stand on two legs and can communicate with us and this particular one we’re about to customise will be joining us in battle. They’re incredibly cute.
Monster Hunter World is not an easy game. It’s a game that will take some getting used to. There’s an abundance of information to take in. Many of the menus and numbers that were initially thrown at us, we had absolutely no clue what they did or stood for. This is apparently a staple in the Monster Hunter series. Veteran players will tell you that they spent a good amount of time googling stuff or on the Monster Hunter wiki. Eventually, as we were playing, we figured them out. The more time you spend playing the game, the more you learn about what stuff does or indicates.
There isn’t really a tutorial of any kind. Which is apparently a staple in the Monster Hunter series. Being overwhelmed by information is apparently part of the Monster Hunter experience, and veteran players say looking up stuff online is normal. The whole game is a learning curve, albeit, an enjoyable one.
In a game about hunting monsters, weapons obviously play a huge role. Monster Hunter World has 14 different weapon types, each of which has a distinctly different feel and playstyle. We’re not kidding. We actually went through each weapon to see which one we could best get a feel for and finally settled on the Charge Blade, which is a sword and shield combo that morphs into a giant axe for when you really want dish out pain.
All 14 weapons are unique in their own way and require a different playstyle and approach when you go out on a hunt. Say you’re using a Buster Sword, which is basically a greatsword, you’re sacrificing a great deal of mobility for heavy hitting. While the Buster Sword has the highest damage in the game, it’s slow so you need to be extra careful not to miss your hardest hitting blows.
The other thing is you need to sheath your weapon in order to use items. This includes potions to heal yourself when you’re in a pinch or using a whetstone to sharpen your weapon again. Yes you need to use a whetstone every now and then or your weapon loses damage.
But this doesn’t apply to the Sword & Shield (we’re not talking about the Charge Blade, entirely different weapon). Aimed at beginners, this is a fast, well-rounded weapon that even lets you use items without sheathing. Of course, it has a shield too, so you’ve got defensive benefits too. However, the shield isn’t as effective as the heavier shields of the Lance and Gunlance weapons, which sacrifice speed for much sturdier blocks that can block the biggest and baddest of the monsters you’ll face.
Additionally, weapon types matter as well, for example, a blunt weapon like a hammer would be very strong against a monster with heavy bone plate while a sword would just deflect off. Similarly, you also have to take elemental weaknesses into account when heading out on a hunt.
If that wasn’t enough, weapons can be crafted and upgraded using materials you come across during your hunts and there’s a whole tree with various different paths to choose from which give your weapon additional benefits, stats and even abilities. There’s an incredible amount of depth here. An introduction tutorial for each weapon would have been a great help but at least you can freely test them out in your room back at base.
Of course, let’s not forget all the other stuff we’ll be carrying along with us during our hunts. Crafting plays a big role in the game, and from what we can tell, the crafting system has been improved from previous Monster Hunter games. The respective NPCs do a good enough job of giving you a crash course. It’s just a question of knowing what mats to scavenge for and which monsters to hunt down.
Armour, like weapons, can be forged and upgraded at the smithy. Speaking of which, make sure you know where exactly all the NPCs are, you’ll be visiting them a lot throughout the game. Also, like weapons, armours have their own upgrade tree as well, with each path offering different benefits. As an added benefits, all the armor sets have unique looks and they all look pretty cool. Since we forgot to mention it in the weapons section, the weapons look sick as well. As you progress through the game, you’ll find that certain armour sets are tailored towards taking on certain monsters. So you might change sets depending on the hunt. Or you could stick with an all-rounder set, it’s entirely up to you.
You can forge and upgrade equipment for your Palico too! They’ve got some incredibly cute armours and weapons that you can forge. And don’t let their cuteness fool you, these guys are incredibly helpful during hunts from distracting monsters to healing you.
The world of Monster Hunter World
Is huge. It’s complex. It has depth. It’s full of life. It’s beautiful. The first time you’re dropped into the Ancient Forest, you will notice that it’s teeming with life. It’s full of all kinds of inhabitants. And the best part is the animals even interact with each other, the carnivores go out to hunt when they’re hungry and take naps during the night. They’ve even got personalities to go with it, for example, the Great Jagras (a huge lizard that looks somewhat like an alligator) will flee deeper into its layer after defensively roaring at you a few times. Meanwhile, the Anjanath (pretty much a T-Rex) will straight up chase you out of its territory. Each zone is a different ecosystem, each with defining traits. The Ancient Forest for example, has deep jungles with caves and canopies teeming with wildlife, both small and large. You can actually capture the smaller wildlife and keep them as pets in your room.
As you progress, you unlock the Wildspire Wastes, which is like a complete 180 from the Ancient Forest with its dry and sandy ecosystem. Again, the wildlife and fauna are also different and are more suited to the dry and arid landscape. There are four such ecosystems for you to explore, each of them vast with plenty of exploration and familiarisation for you to do. Especially since you can actually use the environment and its elements to your advantage during hunts.
Scoutflies are apparently a new addition to the Monster Hunter series, one which makes life a lot easier. Tracking used to be more of an ordeal before these useful insects came along. They’re incredibly useful when you’re out on a hunt. They basically highlight all the things you can harvest and all the tracking markers for huntable monsters on the map. Tracking basically involves you investigation anything from footprints to skid marks, to doodles and even globs of gooey stuff. Once you’ve obtained enough information, your scoutflies will lead you to your target. There’s even a nice little marker that pops up on the map which shows you where your hunted monster is in real time.
Another thing is tracking monsters gives you more information about them. While you may shrug this off early in the game, if you go into a hunt unprepared later in the game, you’re going to have a bad time.
Veterans are used to actually going to the Monster Hunter Wiki in order to find monster weaknesses and the best strategy to employ and such. Thankfully, you don’t have to do that anymore, since you can view the monsters page in the game itself, with all the information you’ve gathered thanks to your scoutflies.
Monster Hunter World is best experienced in squads. Sure you can play alone, but the real fun is going on hunt with friends. While you can join online sessions and access basic online features, you will need PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live in order to access all of the game’s online features, which we thought was a bit of bummer but it was honestly expected.
Ideally, you want to play the game with a friend or two, preferably with one them knowing what you’re doing. Having an experienced friend would be a great boon, especially a game like this one where you’re in the dark for the most part. But discovery is an integral part of the game as well.
Yes, there is a story. But it really takes the back bench. If anything, it seems lacklustre compared to previous Monster Hunter games according to veterans. But that’s not what you’re playing the game for anyway. Doesn’t mean it’s horrible. It’s decent and does a good job of introducing you to the new stuff in the game. You also unlock the new ecosystems as you progress through the story, so you’ll be finishing it anyway. However, there’s a LOT of content in the game. There are a bazillion side quests and if you’ve got a specific armour set or weapon upgrade in mind, that’s more specific hunts you’re going to need to go on. It does seem like an endless grind, but it’s an enjoyable grind, so who cares, right?
There’s a post-game as well, once you’ve hit the big time. Old monsters change up a bit and newer ones are added to the world to make things more challenging. Of course, there’s even more unique and powerful gear to farm as well.
The move from handheld to mainstream consoles has done wonders for the game. We just can’t imagine enjoying the game as much on a tiny handheld screen. The game looks beautiful, you can see that they’ve paid a lot of attention to detail in the different ecosystems and environments. If you’ve got a 4K TV, even better.
Even the monsters look awesome. There wasn’t a moment where we felt like we weren’t having an epic boss battle. We’ve already mentioned that the weapons and armour also look great. And of course, the Palicos are awesome. Speaking of the Palicos, there’s a certain sequence you get to see whenever you order food at the canteen. You have to check that out at least once.
Monster Hunter World – Verdict
Monster Hunter World meets all expectation and then some. It brings incredible depth, amazing gameplay, great graphics and more to the table. Furthermore, there are no loot boxes or microtransactions. Plus they’ve promised free updates and DLC, what more could you want? If action-RPGs are your thing and you love yourself a good boss fight then you should definitely pick up Monster Hunter World. The game is set to release on PC as well, sometime in August this year hopefully.
Platform: Microsoft Windows (soon™), Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Price: Xbox One and PS4 – Rs. 3,999
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.