In a world where dinosaurs exist, dragons run amok and talking cats are (apparently) a thing – Monster Hunter is back baby!
In what has seemed like an enternity for PlayStation fans since their last entry (11 years to be exact), Monster Hunter returns with the fifth mainline entry, Monster Hunter: Worlds. Ditching the portable console market for faster and better hardware, the latest iteration brings to life a dynamic world filled with bizarre creatures, strange flora and more monsters than you can possibly handle.
There is a lot to love about the Monster Hunter series. For the casual/beginner player, the game has a wide variety of objectives that can be completed in any order, allowing for more freedom to explore and hunt for whatever you want.
For the more intermediate/hardcore, the game is loaded with challenging boss fights, and enough awesome weapon/armour upgrades to make the most obsessed completionist give up a month of work just to procure a small fraction of it.
Aboard one of the many vessals from the fifth fleet, you play as A-list hunter – sent in from ‘The Old World’ to research a newly discovered continent. Set in a diverse world of sentient cats, elves, and gnomes, you arrive to the island after a crash encounter with the Elder Dragon, Zorah Magdaros.
After narrowly escaping the giant beast and sneaking past some of the local wildlife, you eventually arrive at base camp safe and sound. After a short cutscene and some minor tutorials here and there, you are then tasked with one clear objective: investigate the giant beast, discover why it’s lured to the island, and hunt down any monsters that stand in your way.
Much like its name, the gameplay of Monster Hunter: World is relatively straight forward. Set in a number of different hubworlds, each mission tasks you in exploring untamed areas of the world, finding a giant beast, slaying it and collecting its bones for potential weapon/armour upgrades.
As you progress throughout these missions, you soon uncover more giant beasts within the area, discover more hidden wildlife, and uncover tracks to better understand the animals’ behaviours.
Dual-blades? Great sword? Cross bows? Oh my!
Combat is fairly basic to understand, though it differs immensely depending on your choice of weapons. For instance, players with a desire to use a great sword can find a huge benefit in the amount of damage inflicted on a foe. However, swinging a heavy weapon like that can take up some time, thus leaving players open to an attack.
In comparison to a weapon such as a crossbow, players can attack enemies from a distance, allowing them more than enough time to dodge upcoming attacks. However, reload time can still leave players defenceless, and some of the ammo used for the crossbow isn’t as strong as a melee weapon.
I could go on about all the different weapons within this game and explain in great detail about how each one can benefit players in certain situations. But I found if I did, this review would probably evolve into a bloody essay.
The thing with Monster Hunter: World is that everyone is going to have their own preferred weapon class upon playing this game. The beauty of this is that the game doesn’t hinder or punish players with a class system to limit their options on what they can use. Instead, players can opt out at any time on what they want to use and switch up their play style at any time.
From peaceful herbivores, flying insects and carnivorous predators, the game is packed with a wide variety of untamed creatures willing to fight if given the chance. While most missions of the game generally revolve around culling these creatures for research bases, players can hunt these creatures for potential armour/weapon upgrades and food. While the concept sounds straight forward on paper, in practice, there is a fair amount of planning needed to take on these bigger monsters.
For instance, prepping up on health items is a must for all big monster battles, with possible food to help keep your stamina up and antidotes just in case you end up poisoned. In addition, having the right weapon equiped is also recommended, as all the main missions usually have a time limit of up to 50 minutes. Fail to kill the creature within the time frame, and it will end up running away from the map.
As you can see, a standard boss fight is fairly long within Monster Hunter: Worlds. Throughout my sessions, my average playtime usually lasts between half an hour, with my longest session taking as long as 40 minutes. While their health most certainly plays a factor for taking so long to kill, monsters also like to run around the map if they’ve taken a little too much damage.
It does get a little annoying to run around constantly in order to find your monster again, but I do appreciate the idea that the developers were going for in this. After all, while these are indeed boss fights, these are animals that you’re hunting down. In a real-life scenario, no doubt they would probably grow tired after a number of hits and would want to avoid the hunters.
Stuck on a fight? Well, don’t do it alone!
Much like 3DS releases, players can invite friends/strangers to join their quests. Whether it’s the form of creating a squad of hunters prior to a quest, or sending a distress ‘SOS’ signal – multiplayer mode is completely optional, though encouraged for players stuck on a tough boss fight.
At the time of this review, I managed to test out the multiplayer in both the forms of sending out SOS signals and joining/inviting friends to my game. Aside from one internet cut, my overall experience has been very positive. While it’s a little finnicky at first to figure out how to join, internet connection has been relatively stable. Adding to that with the PSN party chat, and you’re in for one hell of a time!
Newcomers to the series will probably find themselves in a steep learning curb trying to figure out a number of things within this game. Even after several hours of playing, you’d be surprised as to the amount of things you might’ve accidentally skimmed over, or have yet to uncover.
But with that said, if you’re fine with that knowledge and patient enough to sit through the title’s slow introduction, then you’re going to come in enjoying this game.
Monster Hunter: Worlds is a damn fine game. While the start is a tad too slow, it is a title that grows on you quick and consumes every shred of free time you have on this planet. From the enemy variety to its fast-paced combat mechanics, Monster Hunter: Worlds is a title packed with many surprises.
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