Review: Monster Hunter World – The Dark Souls of Destiny games
I kid. In all seriousness, Monster Hunter World is something really special that is completely unique.
Monster Hunter is a series that I don’t have a very good history with. I own a few versions of the game but the massive learning curve, stupidly long load times and general lack of, well, any sort of direction, had me bow out before finishing an actual hunt. I didn’t think this series was for me. However, I went and bought this on launch weekend because someone at KnowTechie should probably cover it, right?
I’m 65 hours into the game now, I’ve completed the primary story, and I’m gearing up to start the second tier of the end game. Surprisingly, I can’t help but gush on this game, and I’m about to give you a whole bunch of words about why you should be playing this, despite the drawbacks.
In Monster Hunter World, you play as a member of the Fifth Legion, a line of explorers that hunt elder dragons to learn more about them and the world itself. This has brought you to the New World, an uncolonized continent with all sorts of monsters and threats unknown to the Fifth Legion. While spending time hunting monsters on the New World, your mission will have you team up with your Handler and meet members of the First through Fourth Legions as well. Despite your Handler being an absolute liability, there’s a lot of cool stuff that happens throughout the main story, and there’s a decent cast of characters without any names.
Monster Hunter isn’t a series that is known for story whatsoever, but with all that said, I’m satisfied with the story that Monster Hunter World tells. It’s a “greater good” story that gives you a lot of motivation for hunting massive beasts throughout the New World that delivers some beautiful and also action-packed moments. It’s not going to win any awards for the writing and some of the coolest moments wrest control right out of your hands, but, overall it’s a pretty dang intriguing adventure.
Monster Hunter World gives you immediate access to all 14 weapon types within the game. There are ranged weapons like the light or heavy bowguns. Technical weapons that trade speed for power by utilizing their unique gimmicks, like the Charge Blade. Light weapons are meant for hitting hard and fast but lack a huge punch, and of course, there are heavy weapons that are massively slow and powerful. Perhaps the coolest thing about having access to these weapons is that you will find that different tools are better for different hunts. The amount of flexibility and easy upgradability mean that you can keep a few tools on standby if you need them and switch to them mid-mission or expedition.
I started my game with the Long Sword as a giant katana sounded like a lot of fun. After that, I moved over to my favorite weapon, the Charge Blade. This bad boy absorbs kinetic energy into vials that allow you to turn this sword and shield into an explosive ax with elemental properties. There’s a lot of buttons to remember to press with the Charge Blade, but getting the proper combos down and caving in an Odogaron’s head with your most potent attack is an incredible feeling.
After spending a lot of time with the Charge Blade, I ended up getting into some hunts that had me dealing with monsters that just shrugged off the elemental effectiveness of the weapon. I moved into the Heavy Sword, a weapon that would make Cloud blush. This weapon is all about hitting things so hard that you can recover while they writhe around in pain. Finally, I had to fight some monsters that punished me for getting too close, so I picked up the Light Bowgun and learned all about how the different ammo types caused all sorts of chaos and how the blowgun’s wyvernshot made a destructively excellent trap.
Something that is pretty cool about Monster Hunter World is that you have to learn how to utilize these weapons to their fullest. It’s a lot like picking up a real weapon and trying to use it. You may be able to cause some damage, but someone with more experience is going to be far more effective entirely. That’s the thing here, you will pick up all sorts of weapons in your time with Monster Hunter World, but the odds of staying with one weapon is astronomically low.
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All of this leads into actual hunts in the game. There are a collection of different areas for you to explore and while there, you can find trials for your quarry. This will allow you to track your hunts and plan what you need to smash them. While there is a lot of massive monsters to kill, there are also tons of little monsters to catch as well. The big beasts have weak spots you can break and appendages you can lop off or crush. These usually end up giving you much better awards, but some weapons don’t allow you to damage monsters in that way. It’s a matter of knowing what drops you are looking for so you can bring the weapons you need to get them.
As an overall game, Monster Hunter World is all about that grind. You will kill many of the same monsters over and over again, but with the total amount of time I’ve played, I’ve found that my strategies improved each time. I also started working with other players to work on posted hunts with them, and that helped me learn about weapon synergy as well.
At least twice over, right as you feel like you are hitting a point where you are hitting the limit of what the game can throw at you, they throw another tier of difficulty at you. Initially, there are hard hunts, which yield better rewards but after you have mastered those, there are high-tier elder monsters that will take all your abilities to bring down. The best part of Monster Hunter World is that playing with other players is quick and easy, but it isn’t without its pitfalls either.
For everything Monster Hunter World does right, there are a ton of things that it falls short on as well. Perhaps the most significant issue with the game is that while they made it so awesomely welcoming to new players, is that all the cool stuff that you need to learn in the game isn’t entirely explained. Weapon stats aren’t taught at all, and some of those things are incredibly important. In fact, I didn’t even know what elderseal was until I saw a 10-minute video from a YouTuber that explained that weapons with a high rating would stop the highest tier monsters from one-shotting you with their super-abilities.
The game doesn’t tell you that there is a training area, nor does it tell you about how to actually use all the abilities weapons and gear feature. Most of what I learned throughout the game was supplemented by YouTube videos and the Monster Hunter subreddit. It’s so unclear of how to do things right sometimes that new players could be quite discouraged.
The other issue that I found in Monster Hunter World was that there ultimately feels like a lack of variety. There are three different levels of a few dozen armor types, those types look the same but have some different color differentiation. These gear pieces are crafted by hunting the same monsters over and over. At higher tiers of hunts, these monsters may get a few extra attacks or look a little bigger or smaller, but they are still mostly the same monsters. The exception to this rule is the Elder Monsters that each zone has a few of. These guys are incredibly tricky and are meant to be farmed with a group of four experienced players. So if you wanted to really stand out with some unique gear, you’ll need to get gud quickly.
The final issue the game has is anytime playing online, it is possible for a player to ruin your experience. When playing with a friend of mine, we went to tackle some high-end targets and fired an SOS flair to invite other players to our game. Soon enough, we were running with a group of four and getting ready to take down the target. Unfortunately, one of the players that joined our game thought it would be funny to run off and intentionally get themselves killed three times before the three of us could kill our target. This caused our hunt to end and for us to get kicked out and start from the beginning. While we thought this was a fluke incident, another player did it on our second attempt, so we jumped servers. After we did that, we nearly beat the monster before one of the unskilled members of our team died three times in the last phase of the battle. I’d rather have seen the game boot hunters than die three times from the hunt instead of ending the hunt altogether.
I’d like to say I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before. I’d also like to say that I haven’t purchased three different iterations of the series and played a grand total of maybe 90 minutes in total. Hell, I’d even like to say that I had been highly anticipating Monster Hunter World before launch week. There’s a lot I’d like to say about my prior experiences from Monster Hunter that were positive, but there literally isn’t a single thing I can say.
Instead, while at E3 last year, when Monster Hunter World was unveiled, I leaned over to J and said: “Oh, that’s neat, I guess.” However, credit given where credit is due. The incredible hype from those of you that were anticipating Monster Hunter World is what got me interested in the game. The people that tweeted me messages like “don’t sleep on this one!” or the conversations I’ve had with buddies that told me this was their expected game of the year, weeks before launch. I took time to play this because you all said it would be good and you know what, you were all goddamn right.