Review – Monster Hunter: World (PS4)

Monster Hunter: World—Then, Now, and Moving Forward

Monster Hunter World logo CapcomThe Monster Hunter series has been near and dear to me since I was much younger. It gave me the opportunity to make good friends that I still have today. It was a series that was difficult and never held your hand through anything. You and your friends were truly on your own. Not just to discover the world and fight monsters, either. You had to learn the story on your own, the crafting combinations, the mining spots, etc. Everything was there for you to discover and remember when you wanted to find it. It was undeniably hard, frustrating, but so rewarding when you overcame a challenge. Truly, the Monster Hunter games were games where you could bond with new people. Each person took up the mantle of different responsibilities, and set off together to complete a quest. Working toward completion, you learned to depend on each other’s unique talents, and forged a real team.

With the addition of Monster Hunter: World, I expect a whole new generation of people to experience the same thrill. Also, as an avid player of this series, I can say I am more than happy to see my favorite monsters come alive in such high definition. Though the series tries desperately to appeal to newer players, it keeps all the things that made it so special. What does that mean for the future of the franchise? I gave myself a bit of time to ponder that question as my hunt continued.

Now, after almost 80 hours of play, I am ready to present my review.

The Legacy Continues

The game stays shockingly loyal to its roots with this new entry. The first time I was able to face Rathalos (in the first game), it brought about a true sense of fear. I didn’t know if I was prepared, and I knew the danger I faced. I felt that again with Monster Hunter: World, with the constant worry over my slinger ammunition, and the surprise at Rathalos’ shiny new move set.

Monster Hunter old new Rathalos side-by-side Capcom
Rathalos, old and new

In Monster Hunter, the best thing a hunter can be is prepared. Certain monsters are weak to different elements, sometimes bright lights or even loud noises. Though these requirements are a bit more streamlined, they still play a key role in the success of a hunt. Gloriously, I found myself using the in-game monster encyclopedia in order to refresh my memory on some of those exploitable weaknesses.

Monster Hunter World the Hunter's Arsenal CapcomAll of the weapons that we have come to admire in the series are also, for the most part, unchanged. They all make an appearance, with associated upgrade trees. Same goes for armor. A similar fight-defeat-upgrade chain is in place as well. In fact, most things that made this series so great are here; they haven’t gone anywhere!

However, we do get a few new things, for better or for worse. Which brings me to my next point.

Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken

Clearly, I have to start with the addition of a true, voiced narrative. If you are a MH veteran, you know where to find the story when you want it. Usually, some quest text gives the hunt a little background. That’s really it. There is no narrative shoved into your face, nor long cutscenes that you can’t skip. While we are on that note, why can’t you skip them? The dialogue isn’t deep, it isn’t insightful, it’s just bland. The game forces hunters to sit through this cringey, miserable tale in order to get back to the gameplay they have been waiting for. Sure, there may be fans of the story, and they will want every second of it. For most veterans like myself, we just want to hunt. Add a ‘skip’ button, that’s it, that’s all you have to do.

Don’t get me started on the radial menu. Have mercy, Capcom. How many times do I have to accidentally open that up and select an item before I go mad? Generally, players only had to worry about scrolling through the items one by one. Yeah, it was frustrating sometimes. True, but it is this frustration that keeps us coming back. There is a level of stress involved in running from a huge creature while you scroll through the list. You want to land on that certain item, and take as little time doing it as possible. I became seasoned to this struggle. From the moment I went through my first hunt, the wheel had betrayed this muscle memory I had formed. I figured out how to make it so it required a button press. That way, I wasn’t using items by accident as easily as before. I couldn’t turn it all the way off, though. It may make the game easier for those new to the series, but for me, I bid it farewell. At least, I wish I could.

Easy To Learn, Difficult To Be Bad

Monster Hunter World Palico (a Hunter's companion) Capcom

With a huge amount of time allotted for each hunt, the game doesn’t like to take the training wheels off. I never found myself losing more than twice to one Monster. This is in stark contrast to the experience from earlier entries in the series. In World, I had more than enough ways of trapping, disorienting, and injuring my target with the environment alone. I never felt that old-school anger of not being able to beat a boss to move forward. Maybe that’s a good thing. I know for the newer players, the feeling of progression may be rewarding enough.

In that idea, though, lies a problem. The game is short. I mean, after about 40 hours I had beaten the main storyline monsters. Afterward, you are kind of left on your own to increase hunter rank by just repetitively slaying the same monsters over and over again. There is a unique monster that I won’t spoil here, which you can access after a while of doing this in the endgame, though. Still, the monsters were much too easy for how little of them we got. In earlier installments we got hundreds of unique monsters to kill. Hundreds. We get merely a fraction of that with Monster Hunter: World.

Everything from taking potions to cooking meat has been made easier, as well. Now whenever you consume a potion, your character continues to walk, albeit slowly, in the direction of your choosing. No more taking potions then having to stand still while your character flexes on whatever monster is currently charging you. Was it frustrating? Yes, but that brings me back to the point I’m trying to make: that it’s just too easy. In the past, you had to buy a spit for roasting meat. Now you have infinite spits. Same goes for pickaxes and whetstones. No more truly having to know if you were prepared when leaving for a fight, in that regard. It’s hard to be a bad hunter nowadays; in Monster Hunter: World, everyone’s a master. I don’t like that, and I know most of the veteran player base doesn’t either. Monster Hunter was never intended to be a warm, welcoming glass of tea kind of game. That, unfortunately, is what we have now.

Hope For the Future of Monster Hunter: World

It is easy for me to disparage what little we received with the newest installment. The upgrade trees are small, there are barely any unique weapon variations—the list goes on. However, I cannot forget the promise of free DLC made by Capcom. With the promise of future changes and additions, there is hope yet that more will be added to the game. Maybe a more difficult mode for vets like myself?

As much as I disdain what little is there now, a year from now I may not be in the same boat. We may reach that one hundred monster milestone. We may have hundreds of new unique weapons. The possibilities are truly endless. Capcom just needs to decide who their beloved series needs to please next. Will it be more service for the newbies? I doubt it, given that the game is already welcoming enough. There doesn’t need to be an extension of the already-simple gameplay either. No, I believe the DLC will be reserved for the people who told their friends what a great series Monster Hunter is. It will be for the past players who are yearning for something more difficult, something to remind them of the old days. So despite all the things I found wrong or counter-intuitive so far, there is still a chance.

The Verdict

Monster Hunter: World is a game everyone should play, and I don’t say this lightly. Yes, as a vet I miss a lot of things that brought me to the series in the first place. Those things, though, may be what kept it away from more yearning eyes in the past. Here, we see something new, fresh, and beautiful. Though what we get is different in some ways, it keeps all the elements that matter. I applaud Capcom for not changing what truly makes Monster Hunter what it is. That is why I will continue to play for years to come. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more Vaal Hazak to slay.


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Michael King


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