The Monster Hunter franchise has been around for 14 years.
Although it has built up a massive fan base it is a game on which I have never really spent time – until now, with Monster Hunter: World.
Over the last 30 years, I’ve played thousands of games. Monster Hunter never fell in the right place for me, either through console choice, time or other commitments. I regret not getting into the franchise earlier because Monster Hunter: World is one of the few games that will stick with me for years.
Every year or two we’re treated to a gaming masterpiece. Last year had titles like Wolfenstein 2, Resident Evil and Destiny 2, but there was nothing that could hold my attention for more than a few months.
It’s not very often that you get these long-term, life-changing gems, but we have one in Monster Hunter World.
Starting off the game, you are in a bar on board the voyage to the New World. You are one of the ‘Fifth’, a mighty monster-hunting team that is tasked with tracking one of the Elder Dragons who make the migration to the new world every decade.
Soon enough you come face-to-face with this dragon known as Zorah Magdaros who knocks you back down to earth with a thump, setting you up for the early tutorial of movement and combat. The controls are mostly as expected but newcomers will have a few things to learn depending on which weapon they want to use.
There is an unparalleled level of depth to crafting, picking up resources and utilising your inventory, which will easily distract you. However, I found concentrating on what the game was putting in front of me gave me a detailed (yet not overly thorough) introduction and more than enough information to start on my journey.
After setting up camp at Astera, you’ll be able to start in various quests to hunt local monsters. Killing these will reward you with resources from that specific beast which can be crafted into armour and weapons.
Given the wide selection of weapons you will initially be spoilt for choice. Your weapon choice will depend quite heavily on the type of player you are, but they mostly fall into four categories: long-range, mid-range to melee, slow melee and fast melee.
The Bow and BowGun are your primary ranged weapons, and each can be used with ammo or coatings (which are crafted) to give effects such as poison, or extra power, but most of the other weapons serve as a scale across the other three styles.
There is a wide range of weapons and from the few I have spent any decent amount of time with it is obvious that there is just as much depth, so there’s plenty of choice depending on your play style.
You’ll also have a small cat-like friend following you around known as a Palico. Creating this early on, you’ll also have a simplified tree to forge new armour and weapons giving more power (and defence) to your feline friend.
Even after 20 hours of playing the game you’re still discovering new things to do.
All armour carries its own strengths and weaknesses. Upgrading to the armour of the mighty Legiana will give you a massive base stat for defence and prove unbeatable against ice monsters, but it won’t hold up well against fire dragons.
The main story of Monster Hunter: World revolves around the exploration of the New World and the hunt for Zorah Magdaros. You will find new characters who carry that Capcom swagger we’ve come to expect from the mighty publisher, but thankfully the game is centralised around you and your fellow hunters.
Online there is always the option of playing with others. I didn’t find much trouble tackling monsters alone, but often it was quicker, more productive and more fun when you’ve got a team around you, especially if they’re communicating.
There’ is a wealth of information to work through, but much is acquired from hitting ‘B’ as you see a monster track. This fills up a bar which subsequently provides more information, such as the monsters’ weak points or strengths.
Monster Hunter: World is about far more than the core story. Revisiting areas to help with quests, or search for items of use, is just as much fun as venturing forward to the new mission.
There ate very few games that offer such immersion, level of detail, play time and excitement, but Monster Hunter: World certainly does.
I’ve been playing on the Xbox One X. Graphically there are three options: ‘Resolution’ hits 4K textures with a frame rate of about 40fps, ‘Framerate’ sticks with 1080p, but pushes towards 60fps, and ‘Graphics’ combines the two with 1080p and about 40fps but uses the extra power to add in a few extra details to the landscape and surrounding areas.
Audio is mixed, with good music and great atmospherics, but due to the volume of speech there is very little voice acting.
Minor shortcomings aside, Monster Hunter: World is big, beautiful and will keep you coming back for more – possibly for years.
It’s very easy to judge Monster Hunter: World, even after eight to 10 hours of gameplay.
It is impressive thanks to the level of detail, balanced progression and the endless quest to be the ultimate hunter.
Monster Hunter: World is easily one of the best games in the last few years.