The hunt is on
The PS4-exclusive Monster Hunter World beta wrapped up this week and now it’s time to discuss what I saw. My biggest takeaway is one I’m very excited to say: Monster Hunter World feels like a full-fledged AAA console evolution. It takes the best parts of the recent handheld entries, adds luscious 4K graphics, and all-new gameplay elements.
Moreover, Capcom has created a true living, breathing ecosystem within the game environments. There’s a clear animal hierarchy that translates into eye-popping predatory encounters between this world’s fiercest creatures. It’s unbelievably impressive and sets a new standard for the Monster Hunter franchise moving forward. If it’s not already clear, there’s a lot to discuss!
Monster Hunter World comes alive
Breathtaking is the most appropriate word to describe the world that exists within Monster Hunter World. It’s like stepping into a rich, diverse ecosystem filled with wondrous animals both docile and deadly. Dinosaur-like herbivores can be seen grazing on vegetation or taking a drink at the riverbanks. Vultures will swoop in and start devouring the carcasses of freshly killed beasts. Look to the ground and you’ll even see insects gathering the dung of larger creatures and rolling it back home. But wait, it gets even better.
Capcom has built a full monster hierarchy and seeing it in action is truly a sight to behold. On one hunt through the beta’s Desert map my mission was to defeat the Barroth, a massive, thick-scaled, bipedal monster. This epic battle spanned multiple map areas until finally we reached an open marshland that emptied into a lake. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, a Jyuratodus attacked the Barroth—supposedly my prey! For the uninitiated, Jyuratoduses are sharp-tooth aquatic creatures resembling a great white shark only way larger and more intimidating. For a couple of minutes I backed off and watched these monstrous behemoths literally shred themselves to pieces. Talk about an epic gaming moment!
Expect the unexpected
Another mission, which took place in the beta’s Forest map, had me hunt a ferocious T-Rex-like Anjanath. This gargantuan predator is extremely dangerous, possessing a vicious bite and crushing tail sweeps. Amazingly enough though, the Anjanath isn’t the alpha creature of this map: the flying dragon-like Rathalos is.
In one fight my 4-person Hunter team saw a Rathalos circling us overhead, but we weren’t its intended target! Instead the Rathalos swooped down and started to savagely bite the Anjanath. Imagine a dragon (similar to those seen in Game of Thrones) having a brutal fight with a T-Rex right before your very eyes. Stunning barely begins to describe how awesome this is to see. Then of course my team got in on the action too, further heating up this carnage-soaked battlefield.
It’s not just other monsters that can show up in the middle of battles either. Your Palico, which is your A.I.-controlled Felyne companion, has learned a new trick: recruiting help from wild cat tribes. During one battle with the desert-dwelling Barroth about a dozen Palico helpers showed up to lend a hand. They flung ropes over the beast to tie it down, allowing my team to hammer it while incapacitated. The unpredictability of each mission was so exciting—you never know what kind of unforeseen events are about to unfold!
Weapons for all kinds of Hunters
Something that hasn’t changed in Monster Hunter World is the inclusion of a wide assortment of weapons. The diversity is really astounding: 14 different weapons are available and each one has its own play style.
For those who like up-close weapon combat, you have choices like the Dual Blades, Hammer, Glaive, and Lance. Even within this category the differences between weapons are quite large. For example, Dual Blades are about fast strikes and combos, while the Hammer dolls out slow, powerful slams.
Ranged weaponry is another significant category, offering options like the Bow, Gunlance, and the Light or Heavy Bowgun. These weapons generally deal less damage that melee weapons, but give you the advantage of striking at a distance. Ranged weapons rely on ammo that must be refilled during battle, another big consideration. To enhance your projectile attacks there’s a variety of ammo types to use, such as the Bow’s poison or stun arrows. With so many different types of weapons to choose from there’s a play style to suit just about everyone.
Tracking the beasts
Monster Hunter World features fully-connected map environments with no loading between areas. It’s one smooth, seamless experience. This makes tracking monsters way easier as you locate footprints, skid marks, or leftover carcasses pointing you in the right direction. As well, after you locate your target, if they try to run away it’s possible to follow their every move. The need to shoot monsters with paintballs to track their current location is thankfully a thing of the past.
Also helping you to track monsters is the game’s all-new scoutflies. These glowing green insects will point out any nearby monster tracks or harvestable items in your vicinity. As you discover monster markings it’ll fill up bar, and when the bar is full your scoutflies will lead you right to it. Monster Hunter purists might call this hand-holding, but I enjoyed getting into combat faster than we’re used to.
For the first time ever, Monster Hunter World features region-free online play. During the beta, and when the game releases worldwide on January 26, 2018, you’re able to play with gamers from around the world. I know this is something common to most modern games, but for Monster Hunter it’s a significant step forward.
Online you’re able to join up with three other players to take on quests. Performance was exceptional during the beta; I didn’t experience all lag or stuttering whatsoever. The only down side is joining your friends required inputting their 16-digit session ID, which is cumbersome to say the least. Thankfully I heard the final game will feature direct friend invites and 16-player lobbies. From my time with the beta, multiplayer is definitely the way to go.
Get ready to hunt again soon!
With a little over a month until Monster Hunter World releases, the beta came at the perfect time. The game trailers have been intriguing, but getting hands-on solidified this is a game to get excited about. My expectations were blown completely out of the water to say the least. The living ecosystem was most impressive but the stunning graphics and HDR were a close second.
If you missed the Monster Hunter World beta don’t worry—Capcom announced a second open beta! It’s happening from December 22 to December 26, exclusively on PlayStation 4.
Monster Hunter World is releasing on PS4 and Xbox One on January 26, 2018. Stay tuned for more coverage of the game as we approach the launch!