Here I am, on Spider-man day, posting a review that is not Spider-man, because Spider-man is expensive.
But who needs to Swing about a gigantic city, I tell myself in an attempt to cheer up, when you can swing over-sized swords at the heads of over-sized lizards.
Monster Hunter world does for the Monster hunting series, what Breath of the Wild did for Zelda. We’re living in a time when games once shackled to specific formulas are given the technology to grow and expand in ways we never could never have hoped for only a few years ago.
Ever since Tri on the Wii, I’ve been a massive fan of the series, and have followed it entry by entry (bar XX on 3DS), and have experienced first-hand both it’s ambitious leaps forward and it’s growing pains.
For those who might not be aware, Monster Hunter is a skill-based game revolving around a central idea; hunting giant monsters for loot.
You have a hub area, where you select your quest, which can range from the simplest of things such as gathering specified items, to hunting monsters, which as you work your through the quests, become bigger, scarier, and much, much more difficult.
Some of the biggest complaints a newcomer might have when playing a title prior to World, is that things feel over-complicated, that the worlds you travel to in order to hunt said monsters are needlessly split into small zones, with loading screens in-between. And being a complex and detailed title, being confined to a 3DS seems an odd choice.
There are reasons for all of these things, but worry no longer, as World steps in and addresses each and every one of these issues in a way that is both respectful to veterans and welcoming to newcomers.
So graphically, the game is now simply stunning. Think first-party Sony AAA release stunning. It looks really, really good. And it plays even better!
To a returning player, the game controls as you’d expect. Things feel like they should, albeit being a little slower, but you quickly adapt.
The animations are now seamless, transitions between running, sliding, attacking are now fluid and it feels fantastic. Weapons have a brilliant weight to them too, you’re fully aware that you’re wielding this massive beast of a sword. Or on the flip-side of that, a katana-like blade or mini gun.. Thing.
Speaking of weapons, most have been updated in small ways to bring them up to this new standard the game now boasts. Whereas in previous titles some may have felt significantly less fun than others, in World, they’re all a blast.
The guns (or bowguns, as they’re called) in particular, were changed quite a bit, to be faster, have more functionality, and just feel better overall. It’s now fun to watch someone use a heavy bowgun, which could not have been said before.
Gone are the days of loading between zones too, whilst World introduces far more interactive and visually lush levels than ever before, it impressively also makes them a seamless experience. It’s good stuff.
You can spot a Rathalos flying far overhead and simply follow it, until you find it’s nest, which will open your eyes to just how big these levels are, too.
You’ll discover that things also go.. Up. There’s an incredible vertical aspect to exploring these worlds, and without the map, it can be easy to get lost in the vastness of it.
In terms of simplifying things, World does this in clever, discrete ways. It’s all small things, but tied together, the team at Capcom really managed to decrease the clutter that’s built up over the years of adding features.
World benefits from some spring tidying, in a way that feels productive and adds to the experience, rather than taking away.
Now, to get into the real good stuff. The monsters. And you guessed it, they’re better than ever. A common complaint you may hear is that there aren’t quite enough of them, but trust me, when playing through this and discovering that “oh there’s another one?” over and over again, you won’t be thinking that.
The post-launch support is fantastic and so far has reliably been adding bigger and badder beasts every other month too, so there’s no shortage of things to hunt here.
Monsters in World now react to the environment in ways you might never expect. A fantastic example you’ll encounter early on is upon first meeting the large T-rex-like monster, Anjanoth.
While before this you’ll have encountered the Great Jagras and witnessed him straight-up eating the smaller monsters you’ve been hunting up until that point and thought “uh oh.”, you now stumble across this terrifyingly large beast, and what do you know, he picks up and crushes the Great Jagras in his jaws.
Your “uh oh” is now a quivering gulp.
This feeling of hunting your way up the food-chain is ever-present throughout your time in World, and it feels better each time you topple a larger, more dangerous foe, knowing that the beast you barely felled before this, couldn’t handle what you just did.
You’re made to feel like the ultimate bad-ass, and oh, it’s a good feeling.
One point that goes against World, is that it is designed first as a multi-player experience, and veering away from Nintendo has meant that extra fees pile on in order to experience it fully. You can play through the full game in single-player of course, but any longtime fan will tell you that you’re missing out on the core of what Monster Hunter has to offer in playing this way.
It does however feel worthwhile when you hop on with friends to take down a couple of beasts, and there are no server issues to speak of. In fact, how online plays in World has even been improved in many ways. The best of which being the ability to now hop in and out of ongoing quests, so things feel a little less like a huge commitment.
I enjoyed my 150+ hours in World, and while paying for Playstation Plus/Xbox Gold to access the multiplayer is a pain, if you can stomach the extra cost, there is a large, fantastic world here to get lost in.
All things considered, my final score for the game is…
Monster Hunter World captures what is so special about this series, and presents it in a way that is both fresh, welcoming and all-around exciting.
Whether you’re playing alone or with friends, this is an experience not to be missed.