LAN Mob Game Review - Monster Hunter World

Whether you ask a veteran or a newbie, I think anyone would agree that Monster Hunter is a pretty in-depth and complicated game series. Ever since its inception in 2004, the Monster Hunter series is pretty synonymous with unique systems and menus, mechanics, grinding and of course killing giant monsters. Monster Hunter: World stays relatively true to what one would expect from a Monster Hunter title, but manages to be an entirely new and fresh experience, not to mention an excellent way for new players to enter the franchise. That being said, Monster Hunter World is not only a milestone for the entire franchise, it has genuinely reminded me of why I started playing video games in the first place.

Released January 26th, 2018
PlayStation 4 + Xbox One
Coming to Windows Q3-Q4
Available at LAN Mob!

Monster Hunter is as much as its own genre of games as it is an RPG adventure title focused around well...hunting monsters. Players are tasked with eliminating/capturing a robust cast of creatures ranging from fire breathing dinosaurs, poison clawed Wyverns and even lava fish, and while the core gameplay is completing these tasks, there's a plethora of other gameplay systems to help you accomplish these goals. Hunting is definitely the primary focus but taking down these beasts would be ten times harder without utilizing a multitude of other gameplay systems such as fishing, gardening, and even cooking. 1 to 4 players can participate in hunts but the game will crank up the difficulty accordingly, so communication and teamwork is definitely the key to success while playing in a group.

I have nowhere near the sheer game time that Enrique has, but this is my Hunter as of right now! 76 hours and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.

Outside of the incredible amount of preparation and resource management pre-hunt, hunts themselves are no simple task. These missions far exceed loading in and slapping around a monster until it's dead or weak enough to be captured. Depending on the task, players are dropped into a huge territory, such as the massive and beautiful Ancient Forest or the eerie and carcass littered Rotten Vale. Once you enter said zone, you (and possibly your pals) have to track down the monster you're looking to hunt before you even get to start battle. Thankfully all hunters are equipped with special "Scoutflies" which act as a sort of hunting dog, which help lead the way to the monster after you find a track or two by illuminating the next track or general sign of the beast. Once you finally pin-point the beast's location, it's up to the player how they choose to attack and ultimately defeat the creature. Each monster requires different strategies to take down effectively and quickly, and each monster has body parts that can be broken or severed to make the fight easier/provide better and more plentiful rewards after the hunt. Every Hunt rewards players with a number of materials from said monster, whether it be horns, claws or tails, and these materials are used in crafting to create better and better equipment, but more on that later. As I said earlier, Monster Hunter is pretty synonymous with grinding, and MHW is definitely no different. You'll be finding yourself going toe to toe with a lot of these monsters a TON of times, whether it be grinding for materials, optional quests or simply on a whim. However, thanks to Monster Hunter's learning curve, hunting the same monster over and over takes quite a long time to become monotonous. There is a large number of variables when fighting a monster, whether it be in your own equipment load out, environment, turf wars (turf wars are when two monsters in the ecosystem start to fight each other) and general strategy evolution. There's something to be said about how absurdly well designed each and every monster actually is in MHW. Sometimes these creatures feel like just as much as a main character as the hunters you interact with do, with personalities of their own and incredible design. It's fun to discuss what everybody's favorite and least favorite monsters are and why. (My favorite monster by far is Pukei-Pukei, but I can't stand a few others).

One of my favorite additions in MHW is the "Hunter's Guide" , which is essentially a detailed Bestiary of each monster you encounter in The New World. The Hunter's Guide fills out as you gather foot prints, mucous, feathers, claw marks and everything in-between for specific monsters, and upon reaching a certain threshold, unlocks more information relating to said monster. After a certain amount of data is collected, it's really nice to be able to open up your Guide and check out elemental susceptibilities, weak parts on the body, behavioral tendencies and even drops + drop chance! 

Monster Hunter World's plot follows the player created Hunter and Palico on their trip to The New World, as they study the ecosystems and get a better understanding for them. The New World is a relatively untamed wilderness where many new and powerful creatures roam, and the Research Commission tasks hunters with quests that end up particularly focusing on a mysterious event known as "The Elder's Crossing". Every ten years Elder Dragons (some of the most powerful beasts in the entire Monster Hunter universe) migrate from The Old World to The New World, and The Fifth Fleet (the fleet your hunter arrives with) is tasked with ultimately understanding this migration. The plot is relatively loose with some pretty cool cutscenes and NPCs to interact with but offers little more than a few epic story missions and a general narrative focused reason for why you're doing all this monster slaying to begin with. The narrative won't blow you out of the water, but it certainly does the job. Outside of the narrative, the real reason why you get so invested from a gameplay mechanic is equipment.

"Astera" serves as the main hub of Monster Hunter World. Basically if you're not out in the wilderness, you're spending time here preparing to do so. Astera is home to the blacksmith, the Meowscular Chef (it's a ripped cat that cooks you food), your garden, various NPCs and shops. There's a whole lot of support to make you the best hunter possible!

A Hunter is completely naked without equipment, and thankfully Monster Hunter World is filled to the brim with plenty of it. Every Hunter is equipped with a special wrist mounted "Slinger" which can fire a plethora of special ammunition. It sounds simple enough but the Slinger is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Flash pods can stun flying monsters out of the sky, Screamer pods can pull monsters out of the earth, rocks can be fired to trigger environmental traps and you can even use it to zip line on special beetles. The world is your playground! Your Hunter is also equipped with one of 12 weapon types, all of which are available right from the get go. Each weapon comes with a completely different moveset and quite a learning curve, and I can't help but compare these move sets to fighting game strings. Weapons range from a simple sword and shield to greatswords to bow guns, and everything in between. These weapons can be upgraded via the materials you collect in the world/from the Monsters you hunt, making them more powerful, sharper and even adding elemental effects, not to mention turning them into amazing trophies from the monsters you hunted to create it. Armor works the same way in the sense that hunters can forge pieces of protective armor out of the various materials they've hunted and gathered. Armor also has the additional benefit of coming with "skills" which modify your gameplay and synergize with your playstyle. For example, my favorite weapon is the insect glaive, a spear like weapon designed for mid air mobility. Some armor pieces have a skill called "Jump Master" which prevents my hunter from being knocked backwards mid-air. A perfect fit! There are a surplus of special builds and synergistic gear combinations that can help make each monster a total pushover, but be prepared to grind hard to build and upgrade all the gear you'd like to build, it's definitely no easy task.

For me, Monster Hunter World's strengths don't just lay in the game's impressive depth and complexity, but MHW's ability to immerse you so deeply in this "New World". As I mentioned earlier, Monster Hunter World helped remind me of why I even started gaming in the first place - adventure. I think now more than ever it's so easy to get wrapped up in eSports, competitive gaming and "being the best" that sometimes we can forget one of the most important aspects of gaming; immersion. The world of Monster Hunter World (heh) is one that I feel like I can't get enough of, and I'm constantly learning and growing as a player that resides in it. Monster Hunter World is an all consuming adventure, and no amount of writing can do justice to the thrill of a successful hunt, and the sting of a failure, especially when playing with a group of friends. Capcom has not only created the most audacious Monster Hunter title to date, but did so in a way that the established Monster Hunter fandom and newcomers alike can enjoy together. It's funny to say that in late February I already have a strong bid for game of the year, but that's how strongly I feel about Capcom's masterpiece. I'd strongly recommend giving Monster Hunter World a shot, regardless of how you feel about the past entries in the series. We've got the game loaded up on every PlayStation right here in the shop, so come on down and give it a shot!  

Mandatory fish picture.
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