In the lead up to the release of Monster Hunter: World, I’ve had the sense that so many people (including myself) are being drawn in by a game they know very little about. For years, we have been sidelined; watched from afar as friends we know or personalities we watch, experience so much fun with the series. We’ve tried to download and give the demo a go on the 3DS, but it just didn’t click. The controls were clammy, while it reeked of graphics and performance far below our more ‘elitist’ preferences. Finally, we thought, our prayers have been answered, a Monster Hunter game that’s ACTUALLY accessible. But were we wrong? Well, it isn’t so clear-cut.
Since its announcement, Capcom has peddled Monster Hunter: World as the best opportunity for newcomers to break into the franchise. The up-to-date graphics, the comfortable control scheme, all thanks to the wonderful technology of current-gen consoles. Indeed, like many others, despite being aware of the series’ quality, I was always deterred by the concessions made on a handheld device. However, if you’re looking for a truly accessible entry into the franchise, beyond current-gen conveniences, Monster Hunter: World may still be lacking.
My first experience of the new game was on the PAX Aus show floor, and it wasn’t good. Thrown into the thick of things, I had no idea what to do. There were icons everywhere, random instructional messages popping up when I tried to do anything, and I couldn’t find a clear objective. The graphics looked drab, and quite frankly, it ran like shit — But I tried to remain positive. Jumping into Monster Hunter at PAX with a mere 15-minutes was never going to be a good experience, even with previous knowledge. So, the other week I made a decision: I wasn’t going to try and just jump into the game on release, I was going to give the beta a fair shake.
Albeit, there were a few kinks to work out, and my friends’ patience was tested, but I pulled through. My first challenge was encountered with weapon selection. There are so many unique options, each with their own set of combos, effective uses, and playstyles. I couldn’t figure out which one was right for me until I came across the Charge Blade. A sword-and-board combo that draws elemental energy from attacks and fuses it into the shield, which can then be combined to unleash a powerful elemental attack as you combine the two to form a giant axe. Cool right? I thought so. Secondly, I had to uncover how the goddamn items work. Initially, it felt very overwhelming, but after I grasped the fact that you pick up ammo for your slingshot, and learned the item navigation, all of the sudden it wasn’t so intimidating.
Monster Hunter: World distills the experience I relished from my time playing hardcore World of Warcraft, into a tight 1-4 person cooperative set-piece. Coordination, planning, and execution are key, especially for the high tier bosses. Though, if you aren’t willing to give yourself some time to adjust, I’d say your first hour or so of playing the game is going to be brutal. And even then, even after you grasp the fundamentals, it still may not be your game. Every attack is deliberate and can have severely frustrating consequences if missed. Movement can feel sluggish and sometimes monster attacks just feel downright unfair. Also, some of those armour sets are just absolutely disgusting — what is up with those half-circle arches on the gauntlets? Someone, please explain the practicality to me.
And this was just my experience in a few hours on the beta. There’s no telling whether or not I’ll still like it 10 hours in, but I’m going to give it a crack. If it doesn’t hit it off for me here, I doubt it ever will. Check back here a few days after release for my more complete opinion on Monster Hunter: World.