Our E3 2017 experience began as the first people to see Monster Hunter World‘s gameplay live. The beloved action hunting RPG from Capcom is finally making its way to the heavy hitter platforms of PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2018. How does it look in the heat of battle? Pack your provisions and whetstones, and let’s find out.
In classic Monster Hunter fashion, you will be taking on hunts from NPCs in the world and in the demo, we were able to see a timed hunt in a biome known as the Ancient Forest. These environments will have differing considerations, such as heat and cold and will have to be planned for when packing your consumables for the trip. Once the mission begins, you get a look at how the different monsters in the world interact, with the game’s beasts all following an interesting hierarchy that governs how they behave: who is the hunter and who is the hunted, who attacks and who runs away. This makes for some emergent moments, where the monster you are stalking may very well be fodder for another more deadly beast who will interrupt your battle. This is also a wonderful opportunity at tactical trickery as you can simply lure your target into the lair of something much more deadly. But beware of course, as this can backfire, leaving yourself caught in the middle of some wild savagery.
The game is not simply a reskin of past installments in the franchise. The new seamless and vast world is beautiful and eliminates the loading screens between zones within the biome, which was one of the most annoying elements of past games, so the seamless nature is a huge breath of fresh air. Everything else is very familiar, as far as the control scheme and mapping goes. Consumables are mapped to the d-pad and stamina management is very important. Scoutflies help you navigate the world by locating clues that lead to your monster objectives, such as tracks and other clues that your targets lead behind. The more clues they find, the more they level up and improve their ability to lead you in the right direction.
In the demo, the target was an Anjanath who had to be lured from its cave lair. Hunters are given a few new tools with which to take the beast down, in addition to series standbys. The slinger, a crossbow fused with a slingshot allows you to make clever tactical use of luring and distraction and pair with your weapons, of which your familiar greatswords, bowguns and the rest of the game’s 14 weapon types. As expected, hunting and using the spoils of battle to craft better and better gear will be the driving force of the game and the gear looks as impressive as it handles.
Once you track and come face to face with the monster, the game’s signature and challenging combat takes over and that’s where the fortitude of the player is tested. The monsters are going to be progressively more beastly to tackle and the bigger foes are going to require a lot of planning and coordination, and luckily in this iteration when you take damage you can make use of your potions while moving. Using your evade, traps and resources are the foundation, as well as climbing on the larger foes and holding on while you deal enough damage to bring them down, opening them for an onslaught.
In the demo, the Anjanath was able to be lured out of its cave into a more open clearing to allow for a fairer fight, but as mentioned before, sometimes the hell you know is better than the hell you don’t. The flying beast of death, Rathalos made an appearance at this point and put the drop in, drop out coop multiplayer to the test, both in how it is tackled and in coordinating the movements of your team to avoid friendly fire. Rathalos was a bit out of reach for the party, but it’s easy to see how well multiplayer works and how gratifying this will be to experience with friends.
The battles are just as intense as they have ever been, and the game’s impressive graphics and interactive environments only add to that immersive intensity. These are good things because if Monster Hunter World is anything like its predecessors, players can anticipate some seriously lengthy battles where failure is not uncommon. It’s important to be engaged both in gameplay and setting and this seems to be where Capcom has made its largest strides with the game. The focus here is on facilitating the hunt, and a lot of the annoying barriers like loading, clunky controls or mechanics have received a streamlining pass over.
Monster Hunter World is the big console experience that hardcore fans of the series have been waiting for. No longer relegated to the handheld toy arena, the game is a perfect fit for the big screen, high powered experience of console gaming, so much so that one has to wonder what took them so long. When this drops early next year, it is sure to arrive with a growl that would make the most ferocious of the game’s monsters proud.
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