Review by nintendomaniaco
A wild game
Bottom Line Up Front:
- Addictive gameplay loop
- Superb Combat
- Get to kill giant dinosaurs with giant swords
- gorgeous graphics
- massive quality of life improvements compare to previous games
- tons of free DLC and support from devs
- Steep learning curve
- “animation priority” combat can feel clunky to some
- lack of content compared to previous monster hunter games
- Ridiculous RNG in the late game
- Even more ridiculous RNG ON RNG for final weapon upgrades
- boring weapon designs compared to previous games
Monster Hunter always follows a simple formula: Use fancy weapons and armor to slay giant dinosaur-looking monsters. Then, use their body parts to craft more powerful weapons and armor which you use to hunt even more powerful monsters and so on. No amount of grinding will earn you arbitrary experience points or level your character in any meaningful way. The only way to become more powerful is to kill bigger monsters, or improve your own skill as a player.
Some of these hunts can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 50 (when you’re still learning the ropes) and some of these beasts can kill you in three hits or less. There are frustrating mechanics like being stunned, being put to sleep, being paralyzed or any one of many other blights. So What do you do when you just can’t kill that T-rex looking Anjanath or you keep getting fried by that that thunder unicorn Kirin? There are several ways to approach it: Try to brute force through the fight by spamming potions, learn the monster’s patterns, try a faster or slower, but more powerful weapon. Maybe craft a weapon with an element that the monster is weak to. Or do one of a thousand other things. (Like maybe try to git gud?)
The meat and potatoes of the game is these hunts. There are 14 different weapon classes to chose from. A giant great sword that hits like a truck, a nimble bow an arrow, ridiculous morphing weapons like the charge blade - a sword and shield that charges up, morphs into an axe and then explodes in monster’s faces. A weapon with a big shield like a lance, or maybe a lance with a gun at the end of it. All of these weapons are deep and interesting and feel different enough from each other to be almost a completely different game depending on what you’re playing.
The aforementioned armor that you craft from monster bits comes with skills that you can mix and match to create your perfect set for each weapon or even each monster. You keep bleeding to death when fighting Odogaron? Throw on bleeding resistance and forget about it. My favorite monster to illustrate this point is Diablos, a bull-looking monster that can somehow move underground surprisingly fast. This monster hits hard, stuns you with attacks or roars alone, and is generally considered a wall for beginners. I created a set with stun resistance so I’m never caught off guard, earplugs to wail on him while he’s roaring, and paralysis because he’s very weak to it and it’s even more time to punish him while he can’t move. Pair all of this with a lance to poke him when I can and hide behind a shield when I have to, and all of a sudden he is not so scary anymore.
To an unchurched monster hunter novice, the combat may feel slow or clunky. Animations take priority in this game, meaning you have to commit to a big attack and can’t cancel out of it. Few things make you feel as helpless as being stuck in a poorly timed demon dance while Nergigante dive bombs you into oblivion. Even the fastest weapons can feel slow in untrained hands compared to something like the hack and slash frenzy of bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden Black. For me, this was an acquired taste. And, (this will be sacrilege among monster hunter vets), I’m not convinced the game wouldn’t benefit from a bit more reactive/countering/canceling options. The ones the game already has (guard points, foresight slash, shoulder tackle, lance counter, etc) are all welcome additions compared to previous games. Previous games had some of these, but not all. The game is much better with them in.
But it’s not just these counter options that make the combat feel better than ever. The weapons all also have many more mobility options. Repositioning has never been easier in a monster hunter game. This is incredibly important in a game where positioning can mean the difference between hitting a weak spot for massive damage, or bouncing off the monster, leaving you vulnerable to counter attacks.
The endgame is largely about grinding for decorations - upgrades you can add to your armor for more skills. Say your armor only provided four points in attack, but you want to max it out, so you can gem in 3 attack decorations. Good luck getting them to drop though. That brings us to one of the biggest problems of the monster hunter end game: RNG. The RNG for the best decorations is absurdly unfair, I’ve spent about 300 of my 400 hours grinding for decorations and am still missing most of the best ones. This Is frustrating because some skills can’t be reasonably obtained without the decoration, or decorations might be useless unless you have enough of them. (If you only have two artillery decorations, you’re better off just using the charm)
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Augmenting compounds this problem: not only do you have to hope that monsters drop the item you need to augment your weapons to their final upgrade, but you also have to hope that the item they drop is specific for the particular weapon type you want to upgrade. A monster, for example, might drop an upgrade stone for a hammer, when you really wanted to improve your insect glaive.
This game received incredible amounts of free content and support. New monsters, new weapons, new armor, new quests, etc were rolled out every month or two to keep players engaged. It would be easy, and even fair, for capcom to charge for a season pass, but they’ve traditionally given these things away, and it’s built a ton of good faith in the monster hunter community. This went a long way to compensate for its measly 30 monsters compared to, say 90+ monster in the previous game. (though that comparison is not entirely fair for various reasons.)
This game’s presentation is superb. Visually stunning and the sound design is mostly great barring a few wimpy monster roars (Teostra?) and some explosions that needed much more Kaboom (Gunlance’s full burst). But the weapon design is much less wacky/fun/creative compared to other games. Gone are the days when you can beat up monsters with a Giant corn on the cob, sushi knife, schyte, etc. Sure, the are some cool dual blades in Monster Hunter world that looks Like flails, or a hammer that looks like an axe, but these are the exception, not the rule. Weapon designs in this game are boring compared to previous games, and this needs to be addressed in future games/expansions.
Probably the worst thing that can be said about this game is that it’s not for everyone. If a series of 30 minute long boss fights doesn’t sound fun for you and you don’t enjoy grindy games, then there isn’t really much else here for you. But for the rest of us, this game is incredibly rewarding, satisfying and addictive. Despite what hardcore veterans may have you believe, Monster Hunter World is the best game to date. Streamlined armor skill systems, increased mobility and counter options, better graphics and overall experience all make up for cosmetic grievances like weapon designs. Hunting these creatures brings incredible joy, frustration, and wonder. This game is unrivaled as the pinnacle of its, admittedly somewhat niche, genre.
Product Release: Monster Hunter: World (US, 01/26/18)
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