The Monster Hunter series has always been big in Japan, but the franchise has struggled to catch on in the west. Monster Hunter World is Capcom’s attempt to broaden the franchise’s appeal by making it more accessible to newcomers. We’re happy to report that Monster Hunter World succeeds in its goal, and it does so without alienating longtime fans by delivering an experience that is still purely Monster Hunter.
As its name suggests, Monster Hunter World is all about hunting monsters. The designs for these beasts are varied and impressive, so that no two monsters feel the same. They all have their own quirks and abilities to take into account, ensuring that every hunt feels unique and forces players to switch up their strategies if they want to remain successful.
The battles against the game’s titular monsters are the main draw of Monster Hunter World, and they deliver in a big way. Each encounter feels like an epic boss fight, with players having to utilize their wits and skills if they hope to survive. These battles are full of awe-inspiring moments, like the first time you mount a monster or when two monsters get into a fight with each other, which tends to play out like a scene from a kaiju film.
Some players that are new to the franchise may become frustrated when they find themselves fighting a particular creature for nearly 30 minutes without any health bar to whittle down, but the monsters in the game don’t need health bars. The damage they take is visual, with players able to destroy parts of their bodies to not only serve as a sign that lasting damage is being done, but also to limit the monsters’ attacks as the battle continues.
It’s true that there are still aspects of Monster Hunter World that may turn off potential newcomers to the series. However, it’s also true that Monster Hunter World is the most accessible entry in the series to date, with players given a huge number of tutorials to help them better understand the game.
There’s still a learning curve in Monster Hunter World, but it’s not quite as steep, as the game gradually introduces new concepts to players over time. This means that players will still be discovering brand new gameplay features and the like 20 hours or more into the game, which is a testament to just how deep the whole experience is.
Monster Hunter World is truly a game where it’s almost impossible for players to run out of things to do. Even after the lengthy story missions are finished, players will still have a ton of optional quests, investigations, and special limited-time events to complete. Players can also grind for materials to improve their headquarters or craft better weapons and armor.
Crafting weapons and armor is one of the main driving forces of Monster Hunter World‘s gameplay, and why some players will feel compelled to repeat hunts against monsters they’ve already killed. Killing these massive monsters takes some time, but players that make the effort to defeat these beasts are rewarded with special crafting materials that are used to create some of the best armor and weapon sets in the game.
The crafting system alone is rewarding enough that players can easily dump dozens of hours just trying to craft new weapons and armor pieces. Beyond weapons and armor, though, players can also craft new outfits for their Palico companions or create plenty of other helpful items as well.
Palicos, which are essentially talking cats, are definitely a highlight of the Monster Hunter World experience, and lend plenty of charm to the game. Not only are players tasked with creating their own hunter at the start of the game, but they are also given the chance to customize and name their Palico as well. For some players, the result is that they will find themselves more attached to their Palico than they would be otherwise.
Palicos aren’t the only cute critters running around in Monster Hunter World. While it’s true that the core gameplay revolves around killing some rather impressive and deadly creatures, players will also encounter other wildlife. These creatures can be captured with nets and transported back to the player’s room at headquarters. There’s also the returning Poogies to take into account, which are cute, customizable pigs that can find treasure.
Whether players are capturing creatures to add to their collection, exploring the game’s many beautifully designed areas, or taking on intimidating monsters in its story missions, players will always have something to do in Monster Hunter World. Better yet, players can experience it all with others online through the game’s many online co-op options.
As far as co-op implementation goes, Monster Hunter World is both one of the most incredible co-op experiences available on current-gen consoles, and one of the most frustrating. Players have to jump through hoops to play with their friends online, with weird restrictions that make going through the story in co-op a bit of a chore.
While these frustrations definitely put a damper on the game’s co-op, every other aspect of Monster Hunter World‘s online multiplayer is well executed. Jumping into optional quests and special event missions with friends is easy enough, and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a random online player answering an SOS flare to help take down a particularly challenging monster.
Playing Monster Hunter World in co-op is the ideal way to experience the game. It allows for more variety in battle strategies, and makes it so less-skilled players can progress through the game easier. However, that doesn’t mean playing solo is a complete bust. Unlike other online-focused games, Monster Hunter World is still wildly entertaining when playing alone, and players will still find a massive, fulfilling adventure waiting for them.
Whether going solo or joining up with friends online, Monster Hunter World is a top-tier game, and arguably the best entry in the series to date. It manages to be accessible to those new to the series, while also delivering plenty of challenge to keep veterans on their toes. Its monster battles are intense and thrilling, and the wealth of content available should keep players busy for weeks, if not longer. Simply put, Monster Hunter World is a must-play game.
Monster Hunter World is available now for PS4 and Xbox One, with a PC release planned for later this year. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox One.