What’s that com­ing over the hill? We go hands-on with Cap­com’s crea­ture fea­ture

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Phil Iwa­niuk

“It’s even pos­si­ble to burst dams and send the flood to­wards the mon­ster”

We no longer have to pre­tend not to care about Mon­ster Hunter. For the first time since its in­cep­tion in 2004, the idio­syn­cratic and beloved se­ries makes its way to our plat­form, and with it comes a mega-grat­i­fy­ing game­play loop like no other.

It’s a se­ries sta­ple at this point: pre­pare your equip­ment for the hunt, eat food to buff your stats, track your mon­strous tar­get and de­feat it, then re­turn to camp and craft ex­cit­ing new gub­bins out of its body parts. Which will help you kill some­thing big­ger and nas­tier, nat­u­rally. This laser fo­cus on a cen­tral and es­sen­tial el­e­ment has long been Mon­ster Hunter’s big strength, and al­though this new kid on the block is still about you, your weapon, and the mon­ster, it also in­tro­duces the en­vi­ron­ment it­self as a vi­tal part of the equa­tion.

Dam good

Vines dan­gle invit­ingly, wait­ing for you to swing on them Tarzan-style. Tree branches and nets can slow up mon­sters as they be­come caught in them, of­fer­ing a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for the hunter. On a grander scale, it’s even pos­si­ble to burst dams and send the re­sul­tant flood to­wards the mon­ster to do your dirty work for you. Na­ture be­ing the way­ward en­tity it is, though, you don’t have it all your own way in Mon­ster Hunter: World’s wilds. Other crea­tures roam about, mind­ing their own busi­ness un­til you bring the fight in their di­rec­tion. What might have be­gun as a one-on-one scrap can soon turn into a royal rum­ble of mon­sters that ei­ther want to eat one of the other crea­tures in at­ten­dance, or, more likely, you – and there’s only so much vines can do to get you out of trou­ble.

To make sense of your sur­round­ings, Scout Flies are part of your ar­moury. These glow­ing green in­sects will swarm to in­di­cate points of in­ter­est – sev­eral patches of slime, in our case. The more you in­ves­ti­gate these, the more you fill up a bar which makes the Scout Flies more ac­cu­rate in track­ing your tar­get. Even­tu­ally they’re able to lead right to it.

For us, that tar­get is a Great Ja­gras – imag­ine Godzilla’s pet iguana. Select­ing a ham­mer from 14 to­tal weapon classes, we man­age to knock it onto its side and deal out some pain while it’s tem­po­rar­ily im­mo­bilised. Since there are no health bars here, the only in­di­ca­tion of a mon­ster’s state is in its be­hav­iour. So when we see a def­i­nite limp in its move­ment, we’re en­cour­aged to go for the kill.

Specif­i­cally, it limps off to a nearby cave in an at­tempt to sleep, thereby re­cov­er­ing its health. We’re hav­ing none of it. Re­mem­ber­ing that whole ‘use the en­vi­ron­ment’ mantra wo­ven into the game, we hit some fire­flies to pro­voke a flash ef­fect and stun the poor Great Ja­gras. It’s enough to give us time to fin­ish it off, leav­ing the cave with enough drip­ping Ja­gras bits to make a full set of ar­mour out of later. This isn’t the case for all mon­sters though – the fights get a lot tougher than this, we’re told, and you’ll need to kill sev­eral of the same mon­ster type in or­der to com­plete some ar­mour sets.

What our hands-on time showed more than any­thing is just how well this un­scripted, health-bar free, and busy ecosys­tem works. Mon­ster Hunter: World plays like noth­ing else, and while it brings plenty for hard­core fans who have en­joyed pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions, this looks like the best pos­si­ble start­ing point for new­com­ers to the se­ries, too.

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