Finally the Japanese pop culture phenomena reaches the lofty heights of AAA status.
As of writing this article (Our first full game review for the website) I currently stand at having put in roughly 6 hours of gameplay into Monster Hunter: World, for some games that would be the campaign done and a few custom items in multiplayer unlocked. But not Monster Hunter: World. Over the 6 hours I have barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer in its entirety, and in all honesty I think that after 40 hours of gameplay I wouldn’t be in much of a better position.
That’s a sign of one of Monster Hunter: World’s biggest strengths, but also one of its biggest flaws. To put it mildly, the game is dense… very dense. The tutorials provided are useful, but often hard to recall/find once they’ve gone. Combined with the sheer vastness of what is on offer and without any prior knowledge of the series, or the understanding of what you’re getting into before you begin, the first few hours of the game will likely be enough to halt the progress of more casual gamers who’ve ventured into the series on a whim due to this being its first ever AAA offering.
The game is so dense in fact that there are already countless videos up on Youtube helping players find there way around (And introducing them entirely to) certain aspects of the game which are never introduced in the way of helpful in-game messages and tutorials. But that speaks volumes to the sheer amount of content that is on offer in Monster Hunter: World. The game-world feels alive, it’s a living, breathing eco-system and it comes across as such whilst you play. There are plenty of monsters for you to hunt, even in the earlier stages of the game, and to make sure the eco-system felt real the bigger monsters weren’t hidden away in some corner of the map that you could only access after completing a certain mission. No, in fact the first time I ever fainted in Monster Hunter: World was because I was hunting a Great Jagras but was caught with my pants down by an angry Anjanath. My character at the time stood little-to-no chance of beating the thing and moments later I was down for the count.
But beyond the core gameplay of hunting and exploring, which is done extremely well (I would expect nothing less from a game studio who have specialized in doing those things for years), what does the game offer and where does it fall short?
Well to start off with, whilst solid to good, the graphics don’t live up to the expectations set by some other AAA games from 2017. But with its smaller budget and the vast expanse of varying climates and biomes, the game provides a graphics offering that will leave you appeased but never stunned.
The crafting system is of a similar ilk. Unlike most RPG’s the game opens you up to every kind of weapon at the very beginning of the game and from there on out it is up to you which you use and to what end you upgrade them. The more monsters you hunt, the greater your options for crafting/upgrading weapon and armour sets. But with every upgrade it never really feels like anything significant is changing, only a few numbers here and there. The actual diversity of weapons and armour on offer however is outstanding and the ability to mix and match sets as you please results in a really personalized experience. So whilst the system is in some manner slightly flawed, it still stands out as a very strong and in depth rabbit hole in which you can easily get lost.
The multiplayer elements are enjoyable if you have a set group of friends with whom you can play. Otherwise the multiplayer is a bit too ad-hoc to at any point be fully developed and alluring.
Character customization is a certain highlight of the game. Unlike some games (Looking at you Mass Effect Andromeda) it feels as though love and care has been poured into the character customization for Monster Hunter: World. And who doesn’t love having the option of being able to customize your own cat? (Palico, I know, I know). Because I can safely say that my Palico is the real star of my save so far.
The last thing which I want to touch on is the general story of the game. Unlike other Monster Hunter games this entry into the franchise is far more story driven and for the first time features fully realized cut scenes with accompanying voice overs. The story itself is relatively basic, and as is the case in many Japanese anime, the side characters have little development (If any). But it’s still enjoyable and a welcome addition to the franchise as it breaks into AAA territory. Although repetitive, the quests are propped up by the eco-system offering different experiences every time you travel into the wilds, and it’s one of the few games where exploration and the side quests are well worth doing, if only for the loot you can often find yourself accumulating as a reward.
Overall the game is thoroughly enjoyable if you know what you’re getting yourself into. So be sure to do plenty of research before you buy and make sure you know what you enjoy as a gamer.