Looking back, Monster Hunter is a franchise that’s grown like no other over the years. However, despite its immense popularity in Japan, it’s always struggled to pick up traction in the West – possibly due to the fact the series is often lacking when it comes to accessibility. Nevertheless, with each new entry, more and more people have flocked to the appeal of slaying monsters, and Monster Hunter: World is Capcom’s most ambitious attempt yet to reach a broader audience. Not only have they succeeded in this beyond expectations, Monster Hunter: World is the best entry to date.
Monster Hunter has never placed narrative at the forefront of its priorities. It’s usually a typical story about a monster terrorising the lands, affecting ecosystems and throwing biomes into utter chaos. Monster Hunter: World ditches the usual archetype in favour of something more mysterious, curious, and engaging. The Elder Dragons are migrating to a land dubbed “The New World,” and it’s your job as a member of the Fifth Fleet to find out why the crossing occurs.
The story does an excellent job of keeping you engaged by posing multiple questions and mysteries over the course of its 50-hour runtime, but it mainly serves as a prelude to what comes after. The characters are all likeable, and the voice acting is decent – but don’t expect anything revolutionary or mind-blowing, because that’s not what Monster Hunter’s about. It’s one of the better narratives in the franchise but still serves as the reason for what Monster Hunter is all about, hunting monsters.
All Monster Hunter games have followed the same core loop with minor changes, and World is no different in that regard. In fact, it does it better than any other game in the series. As a Hunter, you undertake quests to explore new areas, map out terrain, and, of course, hunt monsters. After slaying a monster, you harvest its parts which can then be crafted into weapons and armour for you and your feline companion. It’s an addictive hook that holds up over time, and as much of a grind as it can be, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable one.
After searching for a monster by finding its tracks scattered all over the place, you and a group of friends must take it down using ridiculously large, satisfying weapons. Ranging from long swords and hammers to a sword and shield hybrid, there’s something for everyone regardless of play style. Experimenting and finding what clicks with you is one of Monster Hunter: World’s joys, especially if you’re new to the franchise. None is better than the other, and they all have their own unique move sets and abilities.
Some of the monsters you’ll be fighting are colossal, terrifying, agile, deadly and sometimes even elegant. The number of new monsters included in World is staggering compared to past entries, and exploring the brand new areas is just as exciting. They’re booming with life and little details, rich with resources to acquire and smaller monsters to hunt or even just leave them be as they meander in their natural habitats. It’s a thing of beauty when you take the time to appreciate it – that is until something big comes stomping through.
Once the main story is complete, there’s plenty of post-game hunts to tackle, with stronger variants of past monsters, yielding stronger gear and weapons. Couple this with the upcoming updates to add new hunts and G-Rank hunting, Monster Hunter: World has post game in spades, and all of it is engaging, making for a package that has immense amounts of value.
Monster Hunter is a franchise that’s always been technically limited due to the hardware it’s developed on. Having never seen a game released on a HD system, there’s never been an opportunity for the series to shine in terms of visuals and performance, until now. Monster Hunter: World on current generation consoles looks gorgeous, sporting high resolutions and frame rates on all formats. It’s a jarring change for longtime fans, but no doubt a welcome one. All the areas and monsters are filled with new details, effects pop out of the screen, and some of the biomes such as the Coral Highlands really make use of the stronger hardware.
As a long time fan of Monster Hunter, words can’t express just how pleased I am with Monster Hunter: World. The move to current generation consoles does nothing but wonders for all the areas and monsters you’ll encounter during your playthrough, and it’s amazing just how well it’s been positioned in terms of accessibility. It’s an immense game filled with quality content, and one that’s driven by an addictive and satisfying gameplay loop that never lets up. The narrative may not be anything to gawk at, but it’s by no means terrible and is undoubtedly the best in the franchise. If you’ve ever wanted to give Monster Hunter a try, there’s no better time to than now. Capcom has hit this one out of the park, and Monster Hunter: World deserves the monstrous amount of success it’s been garnering.