Every once in a while a game comes around that is absolutely life-consuming, but none so much as Monster Hunter World. World is actually the sixth mainline game in the Monster Hunter, but the first to reach mass success with western audiences selling five million units in the first week. This is partially due to the simplification of its many in-game systems like gathering, crafting, hunting, cooking and capturing. The game at its core, is about stalking monsters sometimes as big as mountains.
You play a character who wields a comically large weapon who must go and hunt comically large monsters. You galavant around active volcanoes, jungles, tundra, dried up coral reefs and the skeleton of a monster the size of a city. If those sounded fairly interesting it is a perfect sign of the game’s biggest strength: its ecosystem. The game lives and breathes like absolutely none other. Every monster has to eat, sleep and even drink water from time to time, which means your options in taking them down are near limitless. But it is just how closely these monsters resemble living, thinking creatures that is the most enthralling.
One personal anecdote I experienced was a monster who had injured itself, causing some of its scales to face the wrong way. It looked incredibly painful, so it began to rub its back against a tree to right the scales and shift them back into place. The design is so carefully constructed to ensure that each monster acts realistically and will do anything to survive.
Monster Hunter World also boasts a plethora of weapons, categorized by fourteen weapon archetypes each of which has a wholly unique playstyle and look. Of those fourteen archetypes any given weapon will have up to 50 variations all with different stats, crafting materials and abilities. The same applies for armor. Every large monster in the game has their own unique armour that can be built. Each weapon has a unique set of abilities and fighting commands that can be used that feel different enough to resemble different characters in a fighting game.
But that doesn’t even start to describe the charm this game manages to have. Your companion, referred to as a ‘Palico’ is a calico cat who is bipedal and fights monsters with you. The hub world also sports a notable Palico simply named ‘Chef’ who cooks all your food in some surprisingly hilarious cutscenes.
The game itself constantly manages to surprise visually. It isn’t the most graphically intense game I’ve ever played, but its use of colour, especially around twilight is absolutely stunning. This is exceptionally displayed whenever you are in one of the more creative locales – especially the dried up coral reef. The area is swarming with sea creatures that can also survive on land like crustaceans and lizards and feels like one of the most unique areas ever put to a game.
For any fan of the franchise, it is no surprise as to just how fun this game can be. Furthermore, now perhaps is the best entry point the series will ever have – and it is unabashed fun.