Monster Hunter: World preview: Bigger, badder and meaner than before

[Credits: Capcom]
[Credits: Capcom] /

The Monster Hunter: World open beta took place from Dec 9, 2017, to Dec. 11, 2017, exclusively on the PlayStation 4 for PlayStation Plus Subscribers.

Monster Hunter is one game series that I would have to state can be mildly overwhelming for newcomers to get into. None of the previous titles took the time in order to explain the games mechanics, hunting techniques or even the basics of the games. The only exception was Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, which attempted to do so through the games story mode and gave players a hint at what they should expect.

Luckily, it seems that Monster Hunter: World will be changing the franchises status quo when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in just over a month from now. In the beta, the game wastes no time getting players started. It introduces players to a few preset characters, a Palico companion, and even your gear loadouts before your hunt commences.

Once in the saddle, the game will opt you to choose one of three hunts. Two featured two of the games newest creatures, one being the Great Jagras. The Great Jagras is one of the most astonishing of the two thanks to its unique design that presents it as an iguana type creature that moves unpredictably and packs a bone-crushing blow. The other included a franchise favorite that has returned by the name of Barioth, a hulking creature made of hard bone and scales.

But surprisingly so, I was greeted warmly by another franchise favorite: Rathalos who bound down from the forest’s canopy only to send dust about with the flap of its wings. But something here is unique when you have to discuss one such game; how different it is compared to its predecessors.

Credits: Capcom
Credits: Capcom /

Monster Hunter: World is a purely fleshed out and organic experience

Unlike previous titles, Monster Hunter: World is a major departure from what we came to know, love and appreciate in earlier titles. During the game’s approximately hour and a half-long experience, it’s hard not to take note of how alive it is, how lush the environments are, but also just how organic they feel compared to previous titles.

During the opening minutes, I couldn’t help but stop to take note of the kelbi roaming about before me. They were calm, collected and paid little attention to my armor clad hunter as he began to lumber forth in their direction. It was peaceful, tranquil even. I could hear the soft howl of the wind brush through the few patches of living flora brush about me while specks of dirt blew about in the air.

While trekking across the Wildspire Waste, I couldn’t help but appreciate the ecosystems around me. At one point, I couldn’t help but trek quietly through the stream before me, watching the few bass like fish brush past my character as a barioth emerged from the depths of the stream about me and disrupted the tranquility of what I was witnessing.

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  • Even with smaller creatures about me scurrying for safety, I couldn’t help but let my jaw go slack as the creature fully emerged from its muddy hole. Before I knew it, the air was quiet. I no longer heard the subtle sounds of kelbi around me. I only heard the barioth’s vicious cry fill the air as his unfathomably large body turned my direction, letting me see every inch of detail to its body. In contrast to previous titles, the graphics have been massively improved, allowing the barioth to look more real than ever before and appear as a creature that should appear in a Hollywood budgeted film.

    Its scales were massive in the sense of detail. I could see the small droplets of water running down its leg as it emerged. I could even see that this creature has had a few romps in the wild before. Even as my katana met its hardened flesh, I could see the cracks in the armored skin appear, each one of them breaking as I chipped away at it, only to be tossed about like a rag doll before meeting a nearby tree.

    Just on sheer scale, I was terrified of this creature I had hunted so many times before. I had never witnessed something so vicious, something so unforgiving and something so large in comparison to its 3DS cousin. After a solid ten minutes, Monster Hunter: World advised me that my time in this hunt was coming to an end and that the Barioth itself would need to be captured or eliminated.

    But even as I began to hunt this creature down, I couldn’t help but let my jaw tighten as I took note of the Rathalos flapping its wings above. But even with these subtle changes, Monster Hunter: World translates rather well from its former hand-held focus. The use of dual joysticks is a welcomed change. While Nintendo’s New Nintendo 3DS allowed for a wider focus on having dual joysticks, it didn’t work out as expect and left the games feeling rather jumpy. This time around, that isn’t the case.

    Credits: Capcom
    Credits: Capcom /

    Let’s talk improvements made to Monster Hunter: World

    Capcom has done just as one would expect with a new version of an established franchise. Thanks to a few adjustments made to the structure of the game, controls are butter smooth and translate quite well to the DualShock 4. First off, walking, running, and maneuvering has been improved across the board. Thanks to the responsiveness of the DualShock 4, players can easily clamber about a cliff face or hanging vines.

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    Even onscreen queues have been optimized. Thanks to having a larger display than before, the game’s use of scout flies, which are glowing green swarms of insects that help notify players of items to be gathered. However, these useful little buggers can also be used to help notify players of a creature’s tracks to help them gain a foothold in the pursuit of their target.

    While roaming the open world has seen a rather large overhaul including the user interface, world map, and consumable items there is another large change that was made and could only be just for the beta. At camp, players can change their equipment by entering their tent, but players can also partake in eating a healthy course of food which offers them a random set of buffs depending on the meal they choose. But that does not address a few of the games missing features.

    Not everything was absolutely designed well

    Just like any Monster Hunter title, gathering crafting materials in order to craft new special ammo for their light bowgun or even their medium bowguns. Another feature missing was the ability to actively craft healing items, food, barrels or even sleeping powder in order to knock an injured creature out.

    But what was more problematic is a feature that should have been thought through a bit more unless this was purely implemented for the beta: lobby codes for private lobbies. During the time with the beta, private lobbies were extremely hard to jump in and out of. Some of the codes for those lobbies were massive, absolutely gigantic and slightly frustrating to become part of.

    Lobbies required codes; those codes could be almost as long as your standard WiFi access points. Hopefully, this will change when the game launches in just over a month. While these minor design choices may have only been made for the beta, it doesn’t help that they do exist and that they could be rather problematic in the pursuit of an optimal online experience.

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    Even with these minor irritants existing, Monster Hunter: World shows promise that it could be one of the biggest games of the franchise and even one of the biggest titles in 2018. So polish your swords, pack your bags and get ready to hunt some of the biggest creatures ever. Monster Hunter: World is scheduled to release on January 26, 2018, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version is scheduled to launch mid-2018 and will be available on Steam.