Monster Hunter World – Review
2015, Bloodborne sucked up most of my time. 2016, I got obsessed with DOOM. 2017 my energy was drained by Breath of the Wild and Persona 5. I somehow hoped to get some rest from obsession for once, distributing my time over multiple games. But no. 2018 already threw me a game I couldn’t get away from for quite some time. This game is Monster Hunter World. But how good is it really?
The Monster Hunter games have been very hard to get into in the past. I tried twice, I failed twice. The mixture of opaque and complex mechanics, a lack of proper tutorials and the time pressure in missions made me give up on prior installments of the series pretty fast. But Monster Hunter World is different in so many areas that this is finally the one Monster Hunter game to play if you’ve ever had any interest in the series. The game loop itself is rather simple and perhaps boring. You hunt monsters to get materials; you use the materials to craft better gear; you use the gear to hunt stronger monsters. Rinse and repeat. There is a story, but it’s neither presented very well nor is it that interesting. The NPCs are pretty one dimensional, and there is a lore but it’s barely important or teased well. All of this sounds like a very grindy game, and that’s because it is. Monster Hunter World is game that embraces the grind, but it does so in a way that makes grinding really fun for the most time. Let me explain.
If a game relies on grinding, its gameplay mechanics become the main measure for the game’s quality and most grindy games just fall flat when it comes to this. That’s because grind works in two ways: it’s the player doing the same to grind through the game, but it’s also the fact that one thing repeats a lot that will grind through the hull of a game to expose what really matters. Grind is in most games to a certain degree if you look at the concept on an abstract level. Let’s take Doom, where all you do is searching for the exit of a level and fiight enemies. This grind exposes the nitty gritty of Dooms combat and exploration which is what really turned this game into an unforgettable classic and masterpiece. In Monster Hunter World the grind soon exposes the core of 90% of the game’s activities which is the fight against hunted monsters. And it reveals a core that shines bright.
Monster Hunter World features 14 different weapon types and most of them actually feel completely different. So different in fact, that playing with the Insect Glaive weapon type is a completely different experience than playing with a bow. Many weapons are pretty easy to get into as well so from the start you can experiment with different weapon types and continue to do so until you’re finished with the game. The combat feels technical and meaty at the same time, a quality that many people so far know from the Soulsborne games which is probably why there are so many comparisons of Monster Hunter World with those games. Those comparisons don’t do either of the games justice though. The Soulsborne games feature a very deep lore, great worldbuilding and tragic stories. Stuff, that – as I wrote – is missing from Monster Hunter World. Monster Hunter World on the other hand features those different bioms which are all about the differen monsters living in them with lootspots, and all those little tasks that you can take on to get more and more materials.
Another abstract concept that fuels comparisons between Monster Hunter and the Soulsborne games is the growth of the player. The idea, that something that seems overwhelming at first can be overcome by hard work and learning about your enemy. Together with the great and varied combat system that’s the meat of Monster Hunter. It’s what will make you coming back to the game, no matter if your recent experience has been a glorios victory or a shattering defeat. And if you really are not able to take on a monster by yourself, there’s a great multiplayer system in place for you. If you’re on a mission, you can always shoot an emergency flare which will open up your game to strangers who want to join. Some missions are more popular than others so your partner slots will fill up differently depending on the mission you’re on. But usually if you’re firing that flare early in the mission, you’ll have 2-3 coop partners in a matter of minutes. You can also group up with friends in the first place and of course you can look out for emergency flares to help other players. The system is very flexible and I’ve played with friends, strangers and even took part in one of the Easy Allies Weekly Hunt streams which are open until the max. amount of players per room (16) is reached.
But so far, I’ve only talked about the combat when first I said the problem of prior Monster Hunter games laid in other areas. There are still some mechanics that are poorly presented (or not presented at all) but for most mechanics Monster Hunter World introduced many quality of life improvements. It starts with the gear crafting where you can basically scrap gear to get materials back to craft other gear which saves you a lot of time because you don’t have to get materials by hunting. The process of actually hunting down the monsters is also made more enjoyable. In older titles you would have to use some kind of paintball gun to mark a monster. That’s because monsters will flee to their nidus if you do enough damage and if you didn’t mark them with paint which will drop to the ground to let you track down the monster you would be completely lost. Especially because the areas in older titles were actually separated into different levels that had to be loaded which means an injured monster could get easily away from you if you didn’t mark it because it would flee across multiple areas. In Monster Hunter World, you have some kind of tracking flies that will lead you to a monster once you found enough tracks and once you found the monster the flies will automatically show you the way to it if it got away. It works beatifully and allows you to focus on what makes the game fun rather than forcing you to have all sorts of stuff on your mind at all times.
You can also have a wishlist for gear you want to craft and the game will let you know everytime you lootet some material needed for crafting the gear and also specifically if you’re ready to craft it. You can at any time in a mission (when you’re not in combat) open up the map and fast travel to a different camp. The game gives you some items for free for each mission to help you out a bit (you have to look into your mission chest in a camp however – which too many players still don’t do) and your Palico is basically a really cool way to support single players and two player groups. Palicos are basically humanized cats that you can equip with their own gear and they will help you in combat, heal you and just overall provide some moral support because they’re so cute :-)
Conclusion: 3.1 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Monster Hunter World is – like Destiny – a game that is easy to spend a ridiculous amount of hours and like a lot. But it won’t make you wonder about its world and story. You probably won’t get obsessed with the game which means in the end the game will be something that gives you a good time but not stay with you for years to come and brag about long after its release. It’s not a stellar game, not an alltime classic. It’s just good and fun. But how could that ever be a bad thing? ;-)