February 17, 2018

Monster Hunter World - Review

When Capcom announced a new Monster Hunter game, the odds that it would be vastly different from the norm, were low, but Capcom were promising big changes for the series, did they succeed?

You play the role of a hunter, who sets out with the 5th fleet to the new world, along the way, you get to interact with a bunch of characters, some of which will stand out and some are just background. It is here that you will craft your character, you will not only define their look, but also the type of hunter they are. Once you have done that, you will then need to choose the look and attributes for your feline friend, your Palico, these decisions may not seem important, as there is not a single reason to choose one of the other, except for personal preference. However, as the game moves on, you will need to ensure that each of your choices works for you, so taking the time here to really decide on what you want, is very important. Once you have done that, your ship is hit by something and you and your partner are left stranded upon some rock with lava around it and as you flee to higher ground, you discover that it is one of the worlds largest monsters.

After the exciting opening, the game throws the breaks on, hard and sadly the game is back to being just plain old monster hunter, of course there are a few tweaks, but it was not the radical departure that was being hinted at. Once you get the nickel tour of the town, that the other fleets have settled, you are then told to get out there and scout the behaviour of a nearby species, by killing a set number. This is where the formula has not changed, you kill with a light or heavy attack, skin the monster and then mission done, the game still gives you a mandatory time limit, even on the earlier missions and while I can understand on some of the larger hunts, having the easy hunts give you a time limit seems strange, more so when the game wants to be open.

Once you have completed a good number of missions you are able to take your monster parts to the blacksmith and start upgrading your weapons, this is crucial if you want to survive some of the larger and more dangerous beasts. The strange part is that once you start upgrading your selected weapon choice, the game will do nothing to remove others from the list and I get why, it makes sense to let player swap between any type of weapon, whenever they want. But once you have upgraded your sword, gun or what have you a few levels, going and getting a level 1 weapon again seems pointless. Sometimes though, the weapon you are wanting to upgrade will be one or two items short of the required materials and that is where the fun, at least for me, comes in.. free roaming.

Getting out and exploring the island, without a mission is the best way to experience the game, yes a mission gives you a specific task to achieve, however just wandering about will reward you with the best items. Getting specific materials can be a long slog, especially when you need to wait for the source to respawn, so taking the time between exhausting a mine by taking down some Jaggies or such, really does help. Sadly though, the gameplay still revolves around hunting and yes, I know the name implies that, but I was hoping giving that this is the first major shake up since you could swim, that they might allow for observation missions, or just pure tracking, without the killing portion, but sadly not this time.

What happens is that the game enters a cycle, take a mission, complete the mission, prep for the next mission and occasionally you might free roam out on your own. You can take the game online and play with a friend or three, but the experience does not change, you are just with friends and for some people that might be enough for me, it was not. I don’t expect games to change drastically when playing with friends, but I would like to see more differences between what I can do solo and what I can do with friends.

The game absolutely shines though with its visuals, for the first time Monster Hunter looks like a world you would want to explore, thanks in part to how well its rendered. The town itself is massive, multiple levels, people wandering about, going about their business, it really is a sight, the best part is when you first walk into the town and you see a ship perched upon a cliff, which calls your attention skyward and then as you look back down, you see just how large the town is.  Once you leave the safety of the village and enter the wilds, you will see some really great sights, there are lots of trees yes, but plenty of caves, each brimming with items to acquire and each as unique as anything else you see on the island.

The creatures themselves, are the weak point, thanks in part to a lot of the designs coming from other Monster Hunter games, yes there are plenty of new creatures to marvel over, but the problem is they are usually the large and very dangerous kind. The game still suffers from a cheap animation system, skinning a kill or collecting something from the ground, offers no interaction with the world itself, just your character going through the motions. It really is a shame that the game has improved the most with its presentation, for this antiquated method evident still. The other downside is while there are lots of people around town, they are fairly robotic in their motions, no one is really approachable, they are all going about their tasks, unless of course its one of the npc’s that you can buy something from.

From an audial perspective, the game barely shines, the music is as catchy as before, with specific scores for when you are in town, wandering and such, of course once you enter into a big fight with a creature of a larger size, the score does become suitably epic, which is always nice. The problem is the tunes, feel like they were taken from older games, they are nice, but sound like I have heard them many times before. Combine that with the stunted vocal presentation, which is a shame as there are a few times when they will speak full sentences and then they will go back to the odd grunt and hey comment and text on screen.

Monster Hunter World is a good game, it does offer a way for those new to the series to join the action, without feeling like you are going to be punished for the simplest mistake. The problem is, apart from a shiny new coat of paint and a more ‘open’ world, the game is still Monster Hunter and for some people, that might be enough, but I was wanting more and I did not get it.

Review copy supplied by Capcom

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