Platform: Windows 10
Version: Unlisted (Launch Version)
Time: 108 hours (at the time of writing)
Monster Hunter: World is the latest release in Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise. The core game-play loop sees players taking on quests to kill, or capture, a variety of larger than life creatures for the purpose of making better equipment. This is all done under the guise of studying the monsters for a research commission. While a simple premise, Capcom has managed to perfect a formula that makes what is ostensibly a never-ending series of fetch quests into one of the most enthralling action role-playing games I’ve played in years.
One of the biggest strengths of Monster Hunter: World is the weapons. The game features fourteen types of weapons which have unique play styles. Slowly mastering what situations call for which attack is engrossing, and with so many weapons available players can spend hundreds of hours fine tuning their abilities. Each weapon feels different enough that learning all the subtle details can provide an additional avenue for player engagement beyond simply grinding for better gear. With how formulaic the game-play loop of World is, having depth to master makes what would be a pedestrian experience into a highly engaging one.
Mastering weapons isn’t the only thing players will spend time doing, as many of the monsters also feel just as unique. There is a range of attacks and behaviours that players will need to study in order to best each new challenge. Simply running in head first while spamming buttons will result in a swift death, which is doubly true with the later game monsters. Observing your foe to learn when and where to strike, similar to mastering weapons, makes the combat element of Monster Hunter: World feel thoughtful.
The depth of combat is further enhanced by the environment design in World. Each of the game’s maps have a variety of zones divided up by corridors that seamlessly flow together. The more familiar you becomes with each zone, the better you’ll be able to fight within it. Vertical space is used effectively across the map providing several vantage points for aerial attacks against your foe. Further, certain areas contain traps, like precariously perched boulders, that a careful hunter can utilize for additional damage. The combination of the map design, weapons, and monsters all create an engaging experience across the whole of Monster Hunter: World.
The other major strength of Monster Hunter: World comes from gear progression. Each weapon type has different upgrade options that players can utilize as they discover which types of strategies they prefer. Additionally, each piece of equipment has skill points that go toward activating passive boosts such as greater attack power, resistances, or reduced stamina consumption. Each point invested will improve your proficiency with the skill up to a set threshold, so mixing gear to best compliment a particular strategy can be as enthralling as hunting the monsters for the necessary parts.
Despite my praise for Monster Hunter: World‘s creatures, there is a lack of variety to the monsters visually, which becomes especially noticeable in the latter half of the game. Three of the monsters in the final area of the game are direct reskins of monsters from earlier in the game with only minor differences in their attack patterns. This makes things feel repetitive in the latter half as there is less to learn. In addition, many of the monsters have reptilian features, which can make them look similar. I’d have appreciated a greater variety of monsters to keep the game as interesting as it starts.
The story is also nothing to write home about. Story isn’t the focus of these games, but it constantly interrupts the flow of game-play. The stakes feel artificial, and the game repeatedly tries to tell you why you should care rather than letting you continue to hunt. The result is an annoying blockade to players continuing to progress into the depth of all that World has to offer.
It should also be noted that the multiplayer component of Monster Hunter: World is contrived. To play with your friends one of you must create a session and the others join said session. Then someone needs to post a quest for everyone to join, which is repeated for every subsequent mission you want to do together. This cumbersome system adds unnecessary overhead to online missions, while providing no tangible benefits. Capcom’s failure to implement a co-op system that works as seamlessly as other games makes playing online in World frustrating.
It’d be remiss of me to not mention the PC specific issues that have plagued the launch of World. In addition to the contrived implementation, the online also had stability issues on PC. Every single session of Monster Hunter: World that I played resulted in several server disconnects whether I was playing solo or co-op. What’s worse is sometimes a full restart of the game was needed to even get back online, which further compounded the frustration. At the time of writing there has been a patch to address this issue, which has improved my online stability, but the state of the multiplayer for the majority of my playtime was unacceptable.
World also runs rather poorly. I was able to get the game to run at 60 FPS almost consistently by running on medium settings with frame rate prioritized by the dynamic resolution scaling. It should be noted that disabling the volumetric rendering setting is a must as doing so dramatically improves performance. Both the online and poor performance seem like massive missteps for a game that was delayed for seven months specifically to ensure the PC launch went smoothly.
Monster Hunter: World is a game I very much enjoyed playing. The depth to the weapons, monsters, and environment create a combat system that is satisfying to master, while tweaking gear load-outs kept me invested well beyond when I would have stopped playing The lack of monster variety in its latter half and terrible story are only minor inconveniences, and I can even look past the silly online implementation because of how well crafted the rest of the game is. However, the issues with the online and performance are absolutely shameful, so I can’t recommend Monster Hunter: World to anyone in its current state. With future patches this will be an easy recommendation, but for right now consumers should steer clear.