Monster Hunter: World could be considered a hidden gem in gaming’s plain sight, or perhaps the series as a whole. Up until now, me as a reviewer, has never played a game in this series, and this review is not strictly comparing this game with other entries. If one thing is for certain, you can always count on Capcom to make some crazy hack and slash games, and while this isn’t Devil May Cry… it certainly has the charm of something more mainstream like DMC can give. Hunt monsters, gather loot, and upgrade your gear to rinse, lather, and repeat? No, this game is more than that and while the grind may be real, there is a lot to master and surely a lot to learn when venturing into this mega quest.
MATCHMAKING AND INTERFACE
New players be warned; you will not be hand-held for the majority of the systems in place for Monster Hunter: World. That isn’t to say there is a plethora of tutorial videos and a nice intro level to help ease you into the game, but the menus, over-all hub world, and navigation from menu to menu is more than a little over-whelming. It can be a spaghetti mess and especially when trying to find ways to connect to friends. For the ease of people who are just starting, you can form a squad to access your friends more easily when you go online, but you must do so from the Gathering Hub. In fact, you wont even see a single soul unless you are in an online season AND go to the Gathering Hub.
It makes sense that the hub world constantly changes as, based on your progress, new things pop up all around, but still it does make it even more confusing for new players who won’t understand why they can’t find anyone in their lobby at spawn. So first you need to join an online session. Then you need to coordinate which quest you want to do and Capcom help you if you have problems there (and you will). You see, the Assignments are story missions that basically lock the other players out for a majority of the mission. Even if you and your friends are the same level trying to do the same mission… it will say you haven’t progressed enough in the story to join them.
The headaches are enormous and the fact you have squad options in the controller enabled options menu, on the in-game quest board and whatever else… it, no joke, took over an hour to figure everything out. I’m sorry but on Steam, that would leave some big room for refunds since 1-2 hours goes by and they can’t even play a co-op game with their friends. Now, with that out of the way, you can still go on optional and side-quests with your friends rather easily later on… as long as you fit the Hunter Rank and Quest Level. It’s just as shame that the biggest barrier is the whacked up interface and too many things in your face with no visible stream-lining. The hub world itself can feel kind of sporadic too, but is that just a feeling projected by the previous issues stated above? We will let you play and decide.
So maybe we’ve given this game a tough start, and not that its undeserving to a degree, but it doesn’t define the whole game. This game is a GREAT co-op game once you finally manage to team up with up to 3 friends (and you makes 4). You can play with strangers too if you’d like and join their quests from the mission board or even respond to an urgent SOS of theirs. The premise, as you guessed, is hunting monsters, gathering loot, and upgrading your gear. That may sound too Destiny 2 for you but what makes this game is the combat and the wild variety you can pull off hunting these monsters.
Want to hunt monsters with and insanely huge bastard sword or giant oversized Gatling gun? You can do that. Want to use a lance that acts as a gun as well? You’ve got that too. In Monster Hunter: World there are 14 different weapon classes to choose from and each one comes with its own unique abilities and move set.
Unlike Destiny 2, you aren’t locked into 1 character build for 40+ hours before changing it up and even upgrading your weapon set to unlock new options is WAAAAY more vast and expansive. Even better yet, the variety in armor choice and mix-and-matching is very except-able… granting different buffs and de-buffs based on the monster you crafted it from. Did I mention you get to create your own feline chibi companion who will fight along side you? Well, yes, you can and you can even customize them. The cuteness overload factor makes this game ridiculous in the best of ways.
So that is all well and good, but we need to have a serious talk about combat. Now, some people might say these are fighting words but in a Dark Souls flavored world… this game will remind you a lot about Dark Souls (or Bloodborne). You can mount beasts, dodge attacks, score critical hits, and even score some sweet visceral attacks if you stay mounted for long enough. Sure, its not exactly an apples to apples comparison but the point is that combat is VERY SATISFYING. I’ve killed the same monster over and over using different weapon sets and not once was I bored doubt of my mind (and neither were my friends).
Yeah, there is always exceptions to the rule but for most of the game, it was a great experience due to how open the combat choices went and ability to load-out exactly as you see fit. There is definitely a learning curve to Monster Hunter: World’s combat (some classes more than others) but there was never a single time I was playing and felt like learning how to implement the class was to much of a chore (even talking about you Hunter Horn).
Monster Hunter: World is a gorgeousness game. Even on base systems like the original PS4, the visuals and world structures hold up with just enough variation and great use of color. For a monster hunting game, the world needs to feel alive just as much as the monsters, and it does. Speaking visual variety, the options given to customize your own character are pretty expansive for the new-game and after the fact with your guild card. Capcom knew where to put the right details and while its not super realistic, we know it wasn’t trying to be and did its art-style justice.
But, overall its not this that makes the game, its the whole picture. Sure, the convoluted menus, hub world, and party making system put a big dent on the start of the experience, but if you can stick around… you will love it the more you play it.