Big game


As a fa­mous say­ing (al­most) goes, the big­ger they are, the more fun it is to make them fall over. One of videogam­ing’s most en­dur­ing fan­tasies is the gi­gan­tic end-of-level boss, but these days the rank and file fod­der are of­ten the size of build­ings, too.

In­deed, that’s pre­cisely the rea­son for Mon­ster Hunter’s suc­cess, and it’s a con­cept that’s be­ing taken to new heights in the se­ries’ lat­est en­try,

Mon­ster Hunter: World (p34). Yes, the world is big­ger and more open. There are myr­iad qual­ity-of-life im­prove­ments for se­ries fans to chew over. And it marks the se­ries’ re­turn to pow­er­ful con­sole hard­ware af­ter a decade on por­ta­ble de­vices. But the real hook here is the beasts – great wan­der­ing colossi which now, rather than kick­ing their heels and wait­ing for a team of hu­mans with melee weapons to show up, are part of an ecosys­tem, and will scrap be­tween them­selves. The ap­peal is ob­vi­ous.

Cap­com is joined on its quest by Phoenix Labs, a Cana­dian stu­dio whose de­but game Daunt­less (p50) is clearly in­spired by Mon­ster Hunter and its ilk. As a free-to-play open-world RPG, it nat­u­rally has a del­i­cate bal­ance to strike: of be­ing mon­eti­s­able with­out be­ing grubby, and of of­fer­ing pro­gres­sion with­out feel­ing grindy. But what will ul­ti­mately de­cide its fate will be how sat­is­fy­ing it is to kill mas­sive things. The fan­tasy has to come first.

A key part of that fan­tasy is pro­gres­sion: you don’t get to fight Godzilla at level one, but must work your way up to it. It’s a con­cept put into de­light­ful, sur­real con­text by Donut County (p52). Es­sen­tially an in­verted Kata­mari

Da­macy, you con­trol a small hole in the ground that ex­pands with ev­ery crea­ture or ob­ject that falls into it. Even­tu­ally you’ll be able to swal­low up things so large that not even Mon­ster Hunter would dare put them in front of you – and with­out a sword be­ing swung. If only you could loot the corpse.

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