Monster Hunter is one of my absolute favourite series, so when the trailer for Monster Hunter: World dropped I was overjoyed because Monster Hunter was both returning to PlayStation and returning to a home console. This meant that I no longer had to deal with the nightmare of having to play it on a 3DS or having to look for a half decent substitute on other platforms.
Monster Hunter is a series that is a cut above the competition, games like Toukiden, God Eater and Freedom Wars are all great games in their own right, but always paled in comparison to Monster Hunter, despite having the hardware advantage. So now that things are on a level playing field MonHun should be able to completely blow them out of the water...and it has.
Gameplay is King
“Gameplay is King” an old adage that I don’t necessarily agree with, but this was quite obviously the approach Capcom took when developing Monster Hunter: World. Monster Hunter: World has a gameplay loop so good that it’ll keep you enthralled on the same hunts or Investigations for hours on end. The various forms of weapons, traps, bombs and other tools at your disposal gives you countless ways to take down your prey.
In this case, Monster Hunter: World is quite similar to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, as you’ll end up replaying the same “missions” over and over again try to get better results and resources or because you want to try it a different way. Hunting the same monster over and over again to get enough materials to craft a particular weapon or armor set is something you’ll find yourself doing quite often.
It’s a good thing then that the gameplay is so good. Combat feels great and can either be really fast, really slow or somewhere in-between, depending what weapon you use. Monsters will also provide you with a fair challenge, which you can meet with brute force or you can use your wits. Luring monsters into traps or to other monsters is honestly one of the most stunning things I’ve seen in video games. Very little can compare to seeing two monsters duke it out or laying meat lures to draw a monster into a trap.
This combined with the scale of the maps and the visuals meld in spectacular fashion, however there are prices to be paid. When moving the visuals often become blurry, whilst it’s nothing major its still something that you’ll notice. The framerate also suffers as a result of the scale of the game. On PS4 the problem is noticeably more frequent whilst on PS4 Pro the framerate appears to be quite a lot smoother. Both of these issues seem like they’re something that could be easily patched so hopefully they are.
One of the best, and yet also worst, parts about Monster Hunter: World is the co-op. There’s very few things that can compare to getting your squad together and going on a hunt, a pity then that Capcom made such an unnecessary mess of it. It’s not that it doesn’t work as intended, it’s just that you have to go through so many hurdles to get to it. You have to be in the same online session, the same squad and then have to join the same mission. Overall, this is a rather unnecessarily complicated process but, one that you’ll quickly become accustomed to.
Thing is, when you do squad up it become that much more fun, making all the toil well worth it. Fooling around before a fight in the Gathering Area, arguing over how to take down your prey and gearing up accordingly is quite thrilling. Then there’s the actual fight, this can be epic for a variety of different reasons, mostly because of how many different ways you have to take on your prey. You can either pile on the pressure on a monster, dealing massive amounts of damage as a group or you can lay traps down and take it out within seconds of finding it.
Monster Hunter: World then has the potential to replicate the strong online community of the first Destiny game. It has an incredibly addictive gameplay loop, that is even better when experienced with others, and it has a great foundation to build upon. If Capcom support it right, at it seems like they will, this game could go strong throughout the generation.
The New Bar
Monster Hunter: World, like Persona 5 or The Witcher 3 before it, has raised the bar for its genre. However, whilst those two games are over and done with, Capcom has the ability to continue building upon Monster Hunter: World, making it even better than it is right now.
The “Monster Hunter clones” need to make some massive improvements if they hope to compete against Monster Hunter: World. Before they could’ve gotten away with things because Monster Hunter was both limited to weak hardware and exclusive to a single platform but now they have no hope if they continue to rely on half-baked ideas and minor upgrades.
Capcom have not only raised the bar but they’ve also set the standard, I couldn’t possibly go back to Toukiden 2, God Eater 2 or even one of my personal favourites, Freedom Wars. Not when something this good is waiting for me to return.
Monster Hunter: World is not without its faults, the framerate isn’t perfect, visuals aren’t always consistent and co-op is unnecessarily complicated. Yet despite all of the flaws, it’s still an incredibly fun game to play, solo or with friends. Monster Hunter: World has set the bar for the genre and once you try it you simply can’t accept anything less.
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