Monster Hunter World

I was admittedly pretty nervous about Monster Hunter World. While the trailers and previews I had seen looked excellent, they had made one thing very clear to me: Capcom was changing things up with this game. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the changes seemed like they might be affecting core of the series and could change Monster Hunter into something else. While there are certainly things about the series that could use some updating, altering the series too much runs the risk of losing what made it so compelling in the first place. Luckily, Capcom managed to focus on just the changes that needed to be made, making a completely modern feeling Monster Hunter game that still plays like a Monster Hunter game. Maybe the best Monster Hunter game.

Monster Hunter World is still Monster Hunter. The game removes a lot of the seams from the game, but it still plays largely the same. Some of the smartest moves Capcom made were about the stuff that the game didn’t change. The array of weapons are the same as they have been for the last two games. There have been adjustments to how each weapon works, but they are same ones that have been there for years now. It is a familiar base to build from as other things are altered. The structure also hasn’t changed, it is still up to four players hunting a beast or two, it still has the same rhythm. You take a quest, you eat a meal and then you go out on a hunt. The combat is the weighty, measured affair that it has always been. Afterwards, you take your rewards and try to build better gear to kill bigger monsters. That repetitive, simple core of the game is what makes it so easy to lose yourself in. After every couple of quests you can make some new weapon or armor and you will be a couple of piece closer to making the next one on the list.

Monster Hunter World takes the bones of the series and then takes advantage of the greater power available to them with the current consoles. That means that the graphics are significantly improved. Which is to be expected; the last few games were on the 3DS and the last console one was originally made for the Wii (it did get a WiiU upres, but it was still working off of Wii base graphics). It also allows for the maps to be more intricate and layered. Instead of just a dozen screens to run around in, the areas in this game are dense, dynamic environments. The game has removed the loading screens between areas, meaning that each map is now one big playground, albeit a playground with a lot of interesting little areas to explore. Aside from looking better, the monsters have more fluid arrays of behavior, especially when there are more than one of them about. Monsters seem to truly interact with each other, getting in fights and acting according to certain characteristics. The big alpha monsters of each area scare off the smaller game, roughly equally powerful monsters fight it out. Before, the only monster that really acted anything like that was Deviljho (someone will correct me with monsters I forgot). The game just feels more alive than previous games in the series have.

The other thing that Monster Hunter Word added was to the hunting part of the formula. Before the hunter part consisted of a lot of tedious, mostly fairly simple systems. Bring a spit to cook meat on, Paintballs to hit a monster and mark it on the map. Just a lot of little systems that don’t add a whole lot, but also weren’t all that much of a hassle. Now, the game adds some track checking and some fireflies that after you find a monster’s trail help lead you to it. Of course, those fireflies do more than lead the player to monsters, they also lead players to any sort of item that you need to forage out in the wild. They are a really elegant edition.

The biggest problem I have with Monster Hunter World is that there really aren’t as many monsters as previous games. That is to be expected with the jump to new hardware, but it is still a little disappointing. The new monsters are mostly really cool, but I really miss some of my old favorites, like Brachydios and Zinogre. Hopefully, Capcom will add some of those back in later editions, that I am sure are coming, or sequels. As it stands, Monster Hunter World is excellent.

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The Ultimate Monster Hunter

So it has been more than a month since I last posted on this blog.  There are several good reasons for my absence.  First, I had a couple of 65+ hour work weeks, leaving little time for anything but work or sleep.  Then there were two games that simply consumed me.  The first was Etrian Odyssey 4, which I will write about later.  The second, and the one that took up much more of my time, is Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.

I was really waffling on whether to buy MH3U or not.  I was also considering plunking my April video game budget down on Lego City Undercover.  I am still thinking of picking that up at a later date.  Despite not really enjoying the demo at all, I rolled the dice with Monster Hunter.  MH has always seemed like something I would like, but playing the series has never really worked out.  I didn’t have access to a PSP for the early games, and Tri came out for the Wii when I was short on cash, so I passed on it.  Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has been a revelation.

Something about this game has just grabbed me like few games have.  Despite my heavy work load I’ve managed to put more than 100 hours on the game since its release.  There are so many different monsters to hunt, so many different weapons to forge (even if sticking to just one or two types) and armors to make.  Then there is the deliberate, methodical pace to the fights.  You swing big weapons at big monsters, the point of the game is to pick and choose the ideal moments to swing to deal the most damage and avoid the counterattacks.  It is a fairly unique combat system, slow and heavy that seems simple on the surface but there is plenty of depth in the different elemental damages, status effects, stunning and traps and capturing.

Where the game really shines is in making the player feel awesome.  You start out hunting small things, herbivores and little raptor looking dinos.  Then you get your first big hunt, the great Jaggi, a large version of those little dinos.  For a new player this is a significant challenge.  This is the first monster that actually fights back in any real way.  It is legitimately dangerous.  After you beat it and move on to bigger and tougher monsters.  When you next encounter the Great Jaggi, it has went from being a threat to being fodder.

Then there is the Lagiacrus.  This water dwelling beast is the big boss of the first half of the game.  It is first seen in a gather mission where the player is unable to damage it.  It is scary, significantly larger than anything faced previously.  The big scare is when you run to the supposed safety of dry land, only to have the monster follow you right onto the shore.  It is some time before you face the beast again.  This time there is no fear.  You fight it on land and it flees to the water, then you chase it right back into the sea, diving in after it to finish the fight there.

Moments like this just keep happening.  There is always another level of awesomeness for the player to attain.  There is always another giant beast to hunt and slay.  It hooks you and just keeps you coming back.

This is also the first game I’ve ever played online in any significant way. I played some online games in college, but that was usually just hopping on with my roommate for some Halo 2.  This is my inaugural online experience.  And there is nothing quite like getting a good group of players together for some monster hunting.  Sure, you get some dicks.  People who like to blare crappy music over their mics or only want to do the “required” quests, but for the most part the experience has been great.

I guess what I am saying is I love this game, and will probably be playing it for some time.  If anyone want to do some online hunting, my NNID is RascallyBadger and my hunter name is Skoce.