MONSTER HUNTER : WORLD
What’s that coming over the hill? We go hands-on with Capcom’s creature feature
“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.
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.