When I was growing up my brother was a fan of the Monster Hunter franchise; but for some reason, it didn’t click for me. I don’t know if it was the difficulty or the foreign design. When Monster Hunter World came around, almost everyone I knew was talking about it and purchasing a copy for PlayStation 4. Suddenly something clicked over-night and it became the only game I played for hours on end. Monster Hunter World’s latest expansion, Iceborne, has already brought back those endless sessions of fighting monsters back to back.
The Monster Hunter World: Iceborne expansion is a great reason to start back up with the introduction of the new Hoarfrost Reach region. The snow-covered landscape combined with new creatures around every corner is a sight to see. Except for the few areas where you have to trudge through deep snow, nobody needs those. Fortunately, most fights don’t take place in the deep snow. However, it’s frustrating when you can barely walk and need to dodge a giant monster in your face.
Introducing Iceborne’s Clutch Claw
A new device in every hunter’s arsenal arrives with the Clutch Claw. After 18 hours in Iceborne, I’ve discovered my favorite use for it is hitching a ride on monsters. Essentially it’s an easy, but minor mount attack. As long as I sheath my weapon, I can shoot the claw toward any part of a monster to grab on for a few attacks. There are a few other uses, but for the most part, it’s a neat way to attach without the full power of a normal mount.
Early on, I didn’t think much of the Clutch Claw since you can only do a minor amount of damage before the monster kicks you off. My most common use thus far is when a monster flees a zone. As long as they’re not too fast, especially when they’re in a tired state, it’s entertaining to hop on and off while they attempt to run.
Master Rank Might Be Tough, But It’s Not G Rank
This expansion functions as practically a whole new game when you combine the new region and monsters together. The first monster introducing us to Hoarfrost Reach is one of my most frustrating ones so far, the Beotodus. It might as well be a fish since it swims through the snow most of the time. This monster creates an interesting situation as the first Master Rank one in the transition to Iceborne.
I haven’t decided if Beotodus is difficult because I was undergeared or if they’re one hell of a challenge. The defense stat increase on Iceborne gear is significant enough that I felt underpowered until catching up. Meanwhile, I felt a drop in difficulty almost immediately after fighting Beotodus. As an Insect Glaive main, those who share my playstyle understand its outstanding mobility. It’s an easier weapon for learning fights since I can comfortably dodge most attacks.
There are still variants and new monsters I haven’t encountered that might test my skills a bit further. However, the challenge of G Rank is nowhere near the ease of master rank thus far. If I’m defeating every monster on the first try without rage quitting, I’m probably not playing G Rank. Regardless, the new variants of previous monsters are refreshing and exciting alongside creative fights.
Introducing Your New Home Base, Seliana
The new home base away from Astera is easily a new favorite in the transition to Iceborne. Seliana is designed as one zone instead of split into multiple floors like Astera. This prevents any long loading screens and chaos in running around. The new Gathering Hub is also excellent as it follows the same rule. You can access everything you need without going through a single loading screen.
A lack of loading screens isn’t the only great part about Seliana, don’t worry. Seliana has a neat little minigame where you can convert minerals into fuel for the base. The minigame doesn’t have much to it, but it rewards you with random goodies. The best part of Seliana, however, are the hot springs where you can play with your Palico.
Can I Ride it?
The real question to ask is how many creatures can you ride in Iceborne? Aside from mounting large monsters, you can ride certain creatures in each zone using the new Raider Ride mechanic. Before you can use it, you have to befriend the Grimalkyne of the zone you want to ride in. The Raider Ride action then appears in your quick bar for more than just another companion in battle.
When the Clutch Claw doesn’t quite do it for latching onto a monster, the Tailraiders come to your rescue. In the Coral Highlands, I rode a Shamos to chase after the monster and sharpened my Insect Glaive along the way. The new Raider Ride mechanic is minor, but saves time while you multitask to prepare for the next encounter. Instead of managing your stamina as you sprint across zones, it’s nice to let your hands rest for a moment.
The real creature that deserves attention for being more than a walking hunk of meat is the Popo. This wooly rhino looking creature is rideable for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I don’t know why, but kudos to Capcom for making the Popo rideable in Iceborne.
A Winter Wonderland of Neverending Monsters
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a great addition to the original version, providing new content in more ways than one. I’d like to see the difficulty ramp up further, but we’ll see as I get closer to finishing it. For my first impressions, it’s more of what I love from Monster Hunter World and I fully intend to grind it out.