The Monster Hunter series has always a strong and dedicated following in the world of JRPG fans. But it admittedly has catered to a certain type of player that enjoys not only the thrill and challenge of the hunt, but also tweaking and crafting away at the minute details that help plan the perfect execution of their prey’s capture. Admittedly, I've tried in earnest to wrap my head around the more nuanced details of the series myself and have come up short on patience at times. This time around though things are looking a little bit different for me and all the other potential hunters out there who had a little trouble with the learning curve.
Monster Hunter World is looking to position itself as a more approachable version of the game while still maintaining what hardcore fans have to come to love and expect from the series. And while at PAX I got to experience that accessibility first hand in the form of a brief hands-on demo.
While MH has been a long running series, this may be the newest it has been since its initial inception. For starters, the controls have been mapped to be more accessible to modern console players who might be new to the franchise, but it’s been done in such a way as to not interfere with the traditional control scheme. Some of the more tedious issues for the series have been rectified as well.
For instance, you can now fast travel back to your encampment from the field instead of making the trek on foot and you’ll be able to change equipment while out in the field. Players will also get a new objective and point of interest assistant in the form of a sparkling green “scout fly”. The scout fly will hover over forageable plants and show you the general direction your prey lies, all without shouting “hey!” and “listen!” constantly.
Visually, Monster Hunter World is shaping up to be the most aesthetically pleasing it’s ever been. Environments are strewn with plant life from its grassy open plains, to the thicker jungles with massive, vine-covered trees look to provide cover and camouflage as stalk your prey. The world definitely comes to life in ways it never has before and can be used in so many little nuanced ways while hunting. There’s also no loading zones and enemies will not be confined to only certain areas of the map, giving them more options if and when they finally turn tail and run.
When it was time to finally throw down and take out the giant, hairy lizard we’d been stalking in our demo combat was familiar but faster, more fluid, and more varied. New moves have been added and combat feels like it has a new balance to it. Every move you make still carries weight and intention, and even with the enhanced fluidity of the combat, there's almost a tactical feel to each attack. And that’s whether you’re using the slower, larger melee weapons like a hammer or something more frenetic like a dual blade set-up.
My overall feeling is that Monster Hunter World is the Monster Hunter game we’ve all been waiting for. And by that I mean it feels like it’s shaping up to have all the minute details that hardcore fans of the series have come to love and expect while offering up a good hopping on point for people who may just want to smash giant monsters with a big mallet. If our demo was indication, this is definitely one that should stay on your radar.