It’s finally happened. After years of curiously observing the Monster Hunter series from a distance, Monster Hunter: World laid a trap with the perfect bait: accessibility and scope. And I chomped on that appealing lure like a hungry [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE MONSTER]. After pouring a handful of hours tracking and slaying beasts, I’ve got some thoughts to share about my adventure thus far.
After spending WAY too much time making my appropriately named hunter, Marcus Beastly, and his lovable Palicoe sidekick, Chester A. Tabby, I encountered my first surprise: a story cutscene! Of all the fuss I’ve heard about this series the narrative has never been one of the talking points. Either World introduces a campaign for the first time or previous storytelling efforts were nothing to write home about, but I didn’t come into this expecting any kind of narrative. It hasn’t impressed me at all so far, but it indeed exists.
After getting familiar with Mr. Beastly’s hokey companions, the ship he’s traveling on gets rocked by a massive beast. This led to a brief but kind of sloppy escape sequence. For a game about hunting monsters in an expansive, unpredictable world, beginning with a bland, linear chase sequence didn’t exactly light my BBQ spit on fire. See, I’ve played enough Monster Hunter now to make a clever reference.
Business picks up big after crash landing on the lush New World. I immediately wanted to ditch the chatty tutorial girl and explore everything. Catching glimpses of roaming monster herds felt made me feel like I’d been dropped onto one of Jurassic Park’s Isla-whatever islands. The beautifully designed home base of Astera intimidated me initially with its many staircases and elevators. Thankfully, it’s deceptively compact. Before long I was running to various shops without pulling up the map.
Monster Hunter: World promises to be the most newcomer friendly entry yet and so far I’d say it’s delivered on that. The myriad of tutorials, in both text and video form, have done a nice job of getting me up to speed. I just wish there weren’t so many of them popping up every few seconds. The first hour or so threw a lot of information that, at times, overwhelmed me. Though the explanations themselves were mostly easy to digest, I simply grew tired of reading. I just wanted to smack dinosaurs with a really big sword and learn things as I went.
On the subject of weapons, the Proto Iron Axe became my weapon of choice which switches between an a giant ax and an equally humongous sword. Combat controls differ from most third-person action games I’m used to but I’m beginning to wrap my head around it. What isn’t sticking is having to sheathe my weapon to pick anything up or sprint, which just feels tedious.
After slaughtering smaller critters, taking on my first big quarry was an exciting and chaotic affair. I don’t yet have the finesse to lay traps or use the environment to my advantage, so wildly slashing at everything has been my go-to strategy. As fun as that has been, catching glimpses of the finer systems at work excited me enough to want to master them. For example, while hunting a Great Jargas I inadvertently caused it knock down a tree and ensnare itself in vines, leaving it vulnerable for attack. Learning about a beast’s weak points during and after battles revealed the plethora of ways I could have conquered it. Given that I already grabbed secondary quests asking me to hunt more of the same monsters, I’m glad to know I don’t have to go through the exact same motions again.
Scooping up crafting materials got its hooks into me rather quickly. The lack of a traditional leveling system seemed unappealing until I found joy in forging/upgrading armor and weapons. Right now, Chester and I are rocking some killer bone gear. Despite having other types of armor available to craft, none seem superior to what I’m wearing which I hope changes soon. Upgrade trees for equipment appear deep and the amount of craftable items seems staggering. Whether or not I’ll ever actually need all of those things remains to be seen.
My most recent activity was establishing the second camp. Thus far I haven’t tried the multiplayer; I’d like to become semi-competent before sabotaging my friends’ hunts. Some weird little quirks irritate me (grabbing quests could be a more straightforward process) but Monster Hunter: World sucks me in further the more I play and comprehend it. I still have a ton to learn and have a long journey ahead but enough promise has been shown to entice me to embark on the many hunts to come. If you’ve been looking from the outside in like I have, Monster Hunter: World stands as the most ideal entry to finally determine if the series is your cup of tea.