We’re barely into the 2018 but already have a game-of-the-year contender.
Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World is the latest entry in the notoriously unforgiving RPG-meets-hack-and slash saga.
The series is insanely popular in the Far East, with a majority of the 45 million copies sold, coming from Japan and other Asian countries.
This year, though, Capcom set their sights on winning over the West. In doing so knew they would have to make a number of changes to make the previously menu-laden and brutally difficult experience appealing to a new, more casual audience.
Thankfully, against all odds, the Japanese developer has pulled it off – managing to delicately walk the tightrope between staying true to its ‘JRPG-esque roots while providing accessible pick-up-and-play gameplay.
Here are four reasons why you should consider going for a hunt.
Monster Hunter games have always served up huge open expanses to the player – but technology limitations often meant visual fidelity fell well short.
Monster and level design was hindered by blocky, dull visuals and framerate dips – most notably on 2009’s Monster Hunter: Tri on the Wii.
World has no such problems – and, if you’re armed with an an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, you’ll be treated to one of the brightest and beautiful games on the market.
Levels are brilliantly detailed – and while it’s hard to ignroe clipping and textures issues, there’s so much going on that each stage really does feel alive.
Hares skip around, fish dart through shallow pools (You can fish, too, which is great fun), huge birds soar through the sky – it’s all incredibly inviting.
Thankfully, you’re encouraged to explore every nook and cranny, with plenty of flora and fauna able to be scavenged and used to upgrade weapons and gear.
There are also plenty of smaller, docile monsters running around – which will flee or attack if provoked.
So much time has been spent on their animation and personality that it feels wrong inflicting any damage on them – but should you not be able to resist the urge, you’ll be rewarded with materials to craft items.
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The shining light in the game are the huge beasts themselves – which are a joy to behold (if and when you track them down).
Levels will see you accept a mission before engaging in a hunt. Here you’ll have to use your instincts – and a swam of helpful ‘scout flies’ – to track the beast.
Large footprints, slime – every monster will leave their own unique marks – often guiding you further and further away from the safety of your camp.
When you do finally spot them, you’ll have to decide the best plan of action.
Perhaps you’ll stumble across some of them taking a nap – so waking them up with an explosive barrel may do some serious damage.
Or do you don a gillie suit and sneak up to one while it’s feeding? Maybe you throw tactics out the window and tackle it head on?
The choice is yours – and while the game encourages you to think strategically and plan your attacks, you’re rarely punished for going in without a plan (at least to start with, anyway). Monsters often fight each other, too – which can be used to your advantage.
One thing to note is that there is no health bar – so you need to judge how much damage you’re dealing to the beast by how it reacts.
The most memorable beast is your Palico – a cat-like creature who you can have accompany you on hunts.
Now, they’re not that useful – serving more as a distraction than an ally proper, but they are incredibly cute.
The best thing about your side-kick is that you can make it completely your own – so, if you’re cat owner, chances are you could recreate your feline friend in the game.
The same goes for your Hunter, too – who can be rebuilt from the ground-up to look just like a better-looking version of yourself.
We’re not complaining.
Weapons and multiplayer
There is a plethora if weapons available that will suit loads of play-styles. Huge swords, spears and hammers are perfect for those who prefer getting up close.
However, ranged weapons – such as the Bowgun – are great for those who prefer attacking from distance – and are perfect more accessible to first-time players.
Combos are simple to learn but hard to master – so you’re encouraged to make use of the brilliant training area.
The good news is that nearly every quest can be tackled with up to four players.
It’s not perfect, but mutliplayer quests are seamless – making it easy to plan attacks.There’s even an SOS flare which calls other players into battle should you be on death’s door.
Be warned though – monsters’ Hp levels up depending on the number of players on the hunt.
The worst case scenario will your team drop out, leaving you battling an insanely powerful foe.
Still, if you fancy a challenge?
Monster Hunter: World is out now on Xbox One and PS4 (PC version arriving soon).