Few open-world video games come out without registering at least a tinge of frustration in my mind. There’s usually always a learning curve when getting used to the terrain, map design, and movement abilities. Though, the spectrum is wide. There are games like Nier Automata, that make me actively claw my brain out of my skull while trying to decipher its horrific layout, and there are games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that sink me into a feeling of endless wonder and joy. Amongst these starkly contrasted ‘open-world’ type games, sits Monster Hunter: World, a title that continues to inspire me with its uniquely complex and simple to navigate design.
When I first opened up the beta for Monster Hunter: World, I was scared; I’d already had my fill of horribly confusing world traversal at the end of 2017 in Nier Automata. The flat map layout, combined with multiple levels was intimidating to stare at. It didn’t take long before I fell into the flow of the world, however, I was essentially just following pre-determined monster locations without actually exploring. It looked nice, but I didn’t grasp the full extent to which I would fall in love with the game’s intricate design until I’d begun sinking many hours into the full release.
From the outset, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be constantly fumbling over in frustration trying to find the monsters? Or would my mind imprint a mental image of the world to aid in my hunting duties? The answer is, neither, thanks to Scout flies! These things are fucking glorious! I’ve never witnessed a more important waypoint system in any game before; the Scout flies manoeuvre players through the world in a natural, speedy, and clearly defined way that is masterful. Waypoint a herb, a monster, or anything of note on the map, and follow the green glitter to victory. Tracking down monsters always felt like a scary barrier to entry for the Monster Hunter series (having to tag enemies with paint to know their location. What?), but the Scout flies allow players to focus purely on killing them, without lessening your roleplay as tracking genius.
It’s good that the Scout flies are as effective as they are because the game’s world is intensely complex. Every pathway winds into each zone, and vines, ledges and tree/rock formations combine to create an intricate web of runways that make you forget you’re not in a large open-world. The two zones that I’ve experienced are so dense, that every object feels hand placed, and weighed against its contribution to the grand interlocking design. Just before, I sprinted full speed along the ancient forest, chasing a weird raccoon looking creature. I weaved across huge branches extending up into the towering forest and leaped/swung across large gaps to find a secret camp alcove, hidden completely out of sight. In any other game, I would have probably been confused, stopped multiple times and get frustrated in the chase, but not in Monster Hunter. No, in Monster Hunter it is a breeze to navigate a complex and interlocking map design.
I am having an absolute blast chasing monsters through this world, and I continue to be in awe of the simplicity of traversal. They did good, son.