Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter is a long running cross-genre role playing game (RPG) developed by Capcom. The Monster Hunter series started on the PS2 in 2004 but its most recent success has been in Asia on handheld machines where the ability for casual co-op play has made it highly popular. The game is advertised as an Action RPG but lacks the features that make the best ARPG’s and includes many of the features found in Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs. The experience for me felt like an unusual Japanese style RPG with ARPG combat in an MMORPG mission structure. I could say that it takes elements of these genres and blends them into a new experience and whilst it feels like a fairly unique game the way these parts fit together felt a little clunky to me.
Part of this clunkiness may have been due to the fairly hard learning curve. I know three fairly experienced gamers who have all bailed out on this game at about the same point. That point arrives quite quickly, about 3-5 hours in when it becomes clear that (in the best J-RPG style) this game is all about the grind. Ok, it’s all about hunting monsters but each hunt is a grind; following the same steps to attack monsters repeatedly (and I do mean repeatedly). You don’t have to go far on YouTube to see that the “most effective combat style” often involves repeatedly spamming the same attack. I was rubbish at this and was (inefficiently) trying to mix up my attacks to create combos as you would expect to in an action RPG.
I also seemed to spend a very long time running around the forest chasing the monsters. Now I could be generous and call this “hunting” but it definitely didn’t feel like a hunt it was literally running around the map following the quest marker (provided in the form of glowing bees). What it reminded me of most was the traditional RPG quest where you are instructed to walk to X to pick up an item and walk back. Perhaps necessary but left me cursing and grumbling rather than enjoying the “hunt”.
However Capcom has really embraced their sadistic impulses and have created a multi-layer grind in Monster Hunter: World. Not only is each hunt a grind but you really need to repeat the hunts to gather raw materials which are essential to upgrade the character. There isn’t a traditional leveling system. No experience points and no abilities or stats to boost. The way your character improves is through upgrading equipment and upgrading equipment requires those resources you gathered earlier whilst out hunting. Again if you love this game and enjoy the hunts then this system works perfectly.
One way to make the hunts more varied is by changing your weapons. Monster Hunter: World has a huge selection of weapons and they really do play differently. I was simply rubbish with the first weapon I tried, I struggled even to hit the barrels in the training room so I definitely recommend experimenting with the different weapons to find what works best for you. This is also where the online co-op feature starts to come to the fore. Whilst the game can be played solo it really is designed to for co-operative online play and does all it can to encourage you down this path. As mentioned there are none of the character classes found in an MMORPG but some of the weapons are designated support weapons and this, along with bows could lead to a nicely balanced band of hunters. Although public open worlds exist the most fun would be found playing with a regular group of friends.
Visually the game is quite weak. I mean, let’s be honest here, console gaming is at the point that even the worst games look visually astounding compared to just a few years ago but Monster Hunter: World looks washed out and faded in a very unsatisfying way. I expect it’s on purpose to make the monsters more visually unique but if I was designing this game the jungle would have been lush and vibrant with monsters blending into the undergrowth. Still it isn’t right or wrong; just a design choice that doesn’t quite gel with me.
And that pretty much sums this game up, it is relatively unique using elements from different RPG genres and not quite blending them flawlessly together. It’s a relatively tough game to learn and takes quite a bit of commitment to get the best out of it. Personally I prefer an RPG with more character development and a storyline to drive exploration but if you are looking for something different or have a few mates keen to pick it up there is certainly a lot about Monster Hunter: World to recommend.
Well apart from the fishing mini-game, I definitely can’t recommend that. It makes no sense and isn’t as well implemented as Final Fantasy where it also made no sense but was at least a satisfying mini-game.
Rating: M Violence.