I’ve never been a fan of Monster Hunter for a lot of reasons, the main one being the games have a long history of being absolute trash. It’s always been a series that was held back by nothing but false “challenge” entirely brought about by mushy unresponsive controls, notoriously awful hitboxes on both monsters and player characters, looking like a muddy smeary mess making it both aesthetically terrible while also making seeing what the hell was going on impossible, and having a billion awful concepts forced in due to shitty hardware like load screens every 5 feet and ‘areas’ that spanned a whole 10 seconds of running. As for the loop and gameplay – I never saw a problem with it and even grew to really enjoy some of the knock-offs but never stuck with them.
When Monster Hunter World got announced at Sony’s E3 conference I knew it would be HUGE for them, and more importantly the fact it was finally coming out on a real console which hadn’t happened aside when the series originally began got me slightly interested. It was a chance to give the series some sort of rebirth instead of just being a niche game that only had a following due to people thinking they were special for pushing through how shit the games were to brag about it, like the Souls community only for a game series that was complete ass instead – just as annoying but far more pathetic. That chance was taken, and Monster Hunter World isn’t just the top selling MH game of all time – but Capcom’s highest selling release in their history and it achieved that in only a couple weeks, and obviously from that it’s the most widely acclaimed title in the series as well.
I’m not going to get into the faux-elitist fanbase any deeper than saying what I did already – it’s just a bunch of people trying to feel special for pretending to like an objectively shitty series of games because they knew nobody else played them because they were fucking terrible games. There’s no point in talking about that here and I probably won’t say much about it in the comments either – I don’t care more than pointing it out and it’s not relevant to the game at all especially now that the majority of them have shut the fuck up after finding that this IS the Monster Hunter they’ve always loved, just not made like shit and forced onto an awful Nintendo device. Just because it’s popular is not a sign that it was babied down or ruined, but that the clunky garbage it was has finally been fixed resulting in a game that feels “easier” because it’s actually playable.
As for me, while I often say things like “one of my favorites” about anime and games, Monster Hunter World is something I can definitively say is in the very top tier for me. There’s just something so incredibly rewarding and purely fun about nearly every moment spent in it and the feeling of adventure and the thrill of the hunt never ran dry even now 120+ hours into it. Maintaining that standard is nearly impossible for anything, but it’s even more unbelievable here because most of the game is doing the same shit over and over again. Go to these same locales, fight these same monsters, check with the same NPCs and do the same things with them, then repeat endlessly. It’s simple and yet feels very intricate and thoughtful even with only the fairly lackluster story occasionally pushing you into new areas and against new monsters.
Absolutely all of my top 20 or so games are really there due to their story, characters, and things related to those – Monster Hunter World now stands alone in that number as something uniquely lacking in both. Hell, even the characters that do exist and make up the entirety of the story have no names beyond their titles like background characters in a Persona game. Really the only thing named besides human players and their cats are the monsters – keeping the focus where it should be. Even the plot itself is pretty basic and really only there as an extra way to entice you to keep pushing on – and it works, but this is a weird game where because of the way the story is presented and how just sort of there it is that it feels like a gameplay mechanic more than an actual plot.
Another amazing thing about this game is how personal everything feels even with no named characters, an average and fairly generic story, and no real “role playing” as far as the west views the term. Every fight, every weapon and piece of armor forged, every expedition and side mission to pick mushrooms, and even the fleeting 10-30 minute bonds you make with random players; it all really ends up feeling meaningful and special in a way that will stick with you even when, if the time ever comes, you completely leave the game behind.
A big part of that personal feeling comes from the rewarding feeling I mentioned earlier – at almost exactly 120 hours I defeated the final monster (well, final in the story – there are several that you never have to fight within the story and many being patched in over time as well as free extra content) and concluded the story and I actually got kind of teary-eyed as the credits came and showed various places and things from the world and eventually just a sunrise over the ocean. Not because of a character or story element, but because it felt like I had actually done something worthwhile with every minute of those 120 hours by tackling the beast that was this game and finally coming out on top. It sounds cheesy and melodramatic to say things like that about a video game, but it’s absolutely true – beating this game made me feel like I really did something more than just played a game.
The only other moment that had me feeling something so strongly was a feeling of pride when me and my friend took on the most feared monster of the game – Bazelgeuse, with just the two of us against the already hardest monster in the game now tweaked to “multiplayer” difficulty which is balanced for 4 players. We were under-ranked (barely past halfway through the story), under-armored, and under-powered with weapons that were absolutely not the right ones for fighting something that most people don’t take on until they’ve beaten the game, have the best armor, have a top-tier weapon, and have 4 players probably in a fucking discord jerking each other off and pretending the game requires that much communication and are all HR100.
For us it took several hours a day over the course of a few days dying again and again communicating through in-game stickers and the signal button, it was brutal and most of the time we were just destroyed, one time we even captured him – but capture wasn’t enough. Eventually we took him down and carved away at him – and it was one of the best feelings I’ve gotten from a game because the effort and the will and the rivalry that formed with that time was real even if it was only in a game. I probably won’t ever take off the chest armor I made out of what I gathered from him because of it (and because it looks cool) – and every time Bazel shows up I feel that rivalry stir again and have basically a head canon that just by playing the game became a big deal.
Yet at the same time there’s so much more to the game than I tackled and probably ever will. Loads of other weapons to learn, plenty of armor I never made, harder and harder quests to take on, and an endless amount of investigations to take on for more free-form hunts (as well as straight up just free-roaming and doing whatever). They’re even adding in more monsters and more quests over time – plus some fun side stuff like a Sakura skin from Street Fighter 5 or Dante’s weapons from the real DMC – so even months from now there’s always going to be an excuse to return to the ‘New World’.
My only real complaints are minimal and very specific. First a very small one – the Poogie. It doesn’t really DO anything. It’s just kind of there and serves no purpose, not even some irrelevant little side thing at all beyond “you can have it find clothes for itself if you pet it enough”. I dunno, I’d like maybe if they made it similar to the tailraider safaris where once you rank him up enough he’ll go search for items in the field or maybe after each hunt he’ll be at home with some mid-rare non-monster material he finds in town, or hell just have him come and sit around in camp with Handler during missions and stuff. Instead he’s pointless and I found myself completely ignoring the pig pretty much once I realized there was nothing to it and spending more time squishing around the mosswines than I ever spent with my poogie I named Poogle.
Another similarly “why is this pointless” issue I had was with cooking. I found no reason to ever eat anything aside the Chef’s whatever the first option available in the cooking menu – it gives you max HP, max stamina, and always some nice buffs like large attack up and defense up boosts. I tried doing custom meals and nothing is nearly as good, it was completely pointless to have the option of making your own meals or even of the other pre-made ones – they are all literal shit in comparison making the entire mechanic kinda stupid. I mean the eating thing plays into the game especially if you die because then you lose all that HP, stamina, and other boosts and can’t eat for awhile to get it all back…but why not just have an eat button instead of all these options that only let you make it shittier if you aren’t going to make it so you can really make anything better?
As for a more legitimate complaint – some of the monsters in this game, only a few, are VERY badly made and just plainly unfun. Hilariously enough most of the bad/less-good ones are monsters that are not original creations for this game and have been in prior MH games proving even further how shit the old games were and how the “challenge” was primarily from bullshit and badly designed monsters. The most egregious is absolutely the Kushala Daora who at first seems like a cool design but then is just obnoxious and not in a challenging way but a “look at me I’m sitting out of range for all melee weapons for about 98% of the fight and the only times I’m close enough to hit I only stay there for about 3 seconds total”. To make it worse it just spams giant tornados that bonk you – half the time getting you completely stuck in a corner or just sitting around waiting to be able to do something at all. It’s not fun, it’s not challenging, it’s not thrilling like every single other monster because there IS NO COMBAT. There’s sit there and walk around playing with emotes and stickers in the chat while this dumb fucking bird sits in a tornado for 20 minutes. There are ways to knock him down, like with all monsters in the game, but it doesn’t really change the formula of the fight at all because he just sits a whole FIVE seconds then until you’re out of what you need to make that happen. What a ‘surprise’ it was to learn he’s been in every game since MH2.
The only other monster I found nearly as annoying was Legiana (who IS new) – while it’s much more enjoyable to fight than the Kushala it has the obnoxious tendency to fly ALL THE WAY UP this thing that takes fucking ages to climb (even abusing wedge beetles) and then flying all the way down THEN GOING RIGHT BACK UP AGAIN after like 2 fucking hits. Not fun. Oh, right, the Kirin is a similarly boring fight to the Kushala because of it randomly turning on pretty much what amounts to invincibility for a very long time unless you’re a ranged weapon user – and it lasts for awhile. Boring!
Something I’ve heard only from retarded “game journalists” as a big problem is being knocked out of carving by “trolls”. Again, I’ve played over 120 hours at this point and probably more than half of that was online in SOS groups and NOT ONCE did this happen to me or anyone else in the games I was in. This must be a problem for kids on Xbox or something because the PS4 community has been fantastic with the exception of rarely encountering pieces of shit who just sit nearby and watch you fight so they can win and carve without actually playing. This “problem” doesn’t fucking exist, nobody knocks people out of carving animations, you can say I’m just lucky but again the ONLY PEOPLE I’ve heard about this from are people who ADMITTEDLY ALMOST NEVER PLAY ONLINE like Giant Bomb or even more shitty similar sites. The fact they’ve spent maybe 5 hours total in online games and claim this “always happens” reeks of complete bullshit when I’ve seen practically no actual players mention it and spend at least 70 hours online. If it was happening it’d definitely be shitty, but it doesn’t. MONSTERS can cause that, but I’ve never seen a player actively hitting others out of the animation.
Sadly because they are fairly influential people the game is getting a patch that will probably mess up actual things that are meant to be able to happen – as Capcom has said they’re gonna patch it so you can’t be knocked out of carving which means there WILL be issues like people carving tails mid-fight, people carving other dead monsters mid-fight, and no more fun elements brought in BY other monsters like having Bazel show up and screech at you while you’re carving knocking you out of the animation then flying off just to be a dick. This patch is actually out now and I just think it’s stupid.
Another common complaint made by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about is how the monsters just constantly run away (seen mostly in comments of videos by people less than great at the game) when the game literally gives you everything you need to make it impossible for the monster to run away if you choose to use it. There are traps, there’s grabbing on, there’s flash podding it, and there’s whatever slinger ammo they’re weak against that if you shoot them will almost always stop them in their tracks and aggro them again and THE MONSTER ITSELF DROPS THAT AMMO during your fight with it. Also compare that to the old MH games where you had to run through 30 loading screens chasing a fucking paintball. Besides, the time spent chasing it down is time that you can use to your advantage to re-prepare.
Something you’ve also probably heard a lot (and that I mentioned already) is that the game is way more accessible – and while that’s true it wasn’t made that way by really compromising or changing any of what the game was, it’s just presented less fucking stupidly and they finally took time to make it coherent. It’s not “they dumbed it down” it’s “they made a menu that isn’t shit” and “put it on a system where you can actually tell what’s going on” really. However, the two things that I can only assume they changed (or old MH fans just suck at the fucking game) is how much it matters to change your weapons and armor per-monster. I never did this with the exception of taking my fire-elemental weapon off for fire monsters. That was it. Otherwise I just used whatever I had that had the highest stats or, and this mostly applies to armor, looked the coolest.
I never had to make certain armor sets for certain fights, never had to change my armor for this or that monster, I just wore what I liked and still do at this point. Decorations are the only thing I ever really changed for specific monsters and that I did maybe a handful of times at most which was just because “oh right being poisoned is ANNOYING (I’d probably list that as it’s own issue with the game too, being poisoned in this game is a nuisance in a very not fun at all way) so I’ll just put 3 antidote charms on so I can’t be poisoned at all”. There are 150 fucking loadouts you can save in this game – I didn’t save a single one, there’s no reason to. I both like it and dislike it, because the concept of having to really work out specifics per monster seemed like a cool idea but it’s not really NECESSARY here – you CAN do that but if you’re remotely good at the game you really don’t need to worry about it. The same applies to the food I mentioned earlier.
Speaking of weapons I’ve found an odd trend which is basically absolutely everyone in the MH playerbase claiming the charge blade is the most complex and hard to learn weapon in the game and it just fucking confounds me. Not only was it what I picked at random at the start, and the only weapon I used (aside trying for a few hunts with some other weapons halfway through the game), it’s not actually difficult to ‘get’ at all on any level. I’m not saying that in a “heh, plebs” way either, it’s literally “spam attack button until these things are super blatantly red (your sword is ALSO super blatantly red) and then push R2 and O”. That is literally it, beyond that the only thing is learning how long each attack takes and the direction it goes…which takes all of 1 mission to figure out from doing them. There are some more intricate things you can do with it, but even those are simple compared to most other video games and are more based around just timing things well. Meanwhile I found myself having a much harder time with every other weapon, and the “newbie friendly” bug spear thing was just a completely impossible thing to figure out.
Thing is, and this applies to the ENTIRE game and EVERY weapon – people keep claiming similar things about all of it while apparently COMPLETELY IGNORING every tutorial, the entire hunter handbook which is filled with in depth explanations of how to use each weapon including combos, timings, and any special specific things to that weapon as well as explanations of every single mechanic in the game, what it does, and how to do it. This game doesn’t “hold your hand” but it has literally every single bit of information you could need literally right in the options menu, and none of these people who pretend it’s so hard to tackle ever seem to realize that exists and any time they stream the game or do videos on the game you can see them just spamming through any tutorial pop-ups that the game gives them while then immediately bitching about how the thing it explained was never explained.
As for the good – I mean fucking everything I didn’t complain about just now really. The game looks beautiful, the soundtrack ranges from totally alright to awesome (most notably the battle music in the Rotten Vale), and boy did they absolutely nail the “feel” of everything your character does from just running around to the weight and power behind swinging a massive axe into the face of a T-Rex charging directly at you or lopping it’s tail off (they somehow made any time you do this really feel awesome).
Weapon designs are all really cool especially the higher level you get – my favorite probably being in I think the Rathalos tree of the Charge Blade which was designed to just look exactly like the face of a dragon when it was on your back with a blade that was always aflame. Armor designs ranged from really stupid (in a fun way) to badass. The same can be said of the cat armor which was more fun for the sillier looking stuff because it’s on a cat – which actually the cats were a great element too especially for people who solo or play co-op with just one person, they keep your journeys from any sense of loneliness while also adding a lot of very helpful aid in combat especially if you get them their other weapons (the most useful I’d say are the shield – which he can taunt and hold aggro with – and the traps). In fact they are one of the most strategic elements of the game once you unlock more of their weapons through helping tailraiders in expeditions on side quests they’ll give you. I found a combination in co-op of a cat with a shield to aggro monsters with and a cat with traps/flash cages to be perfect for most monsters. They stay distracted while also being stuck in traps constantly.
Monster designs were equally stunning with each one looking and acting how you’d expect from their varied designs – like one of my favorites, the egg stealing Kulu-ya-ku with his silly demeanor and look compared to something like my actual favorite, Bazelgeuse, which is super fucking intimidating and has the loudest most powerful roar of the entire game (except when it’s knocked down it just goes REEE REEE REEE in a small voice) as well as the largest body of all the monsters with the exception of the final boss. Plus the monsters were actually intimidating and felt enormous, unlike in prior titles.
I also really loved the world itself – not only was it fantastic to explore and really beautiful, it lent itself to great encounters both from players fighting monsters as well as monsters fighting each other resulting in sometimes just insane yet awe inspiring situations where you could end up with like 3 giant beasts fucking each other up feet away from you – especially once Bazel gets involved in the game. The world felt alive even with fairly easy to figure out basic nuances of each AI and their normal patterns.
Another element that really made this game fantastic to me was how the co-op worked in terms of making everything infinitely replayable. It’s a great game solo, it’s a great game with a friend, and it still manages to be a great game just jumping in and helping people who fire off their SOS flare and just being a group of randomly gathered people coming together to fight a big dinosaur. Of my now over 120 hours at least half that time was spent doing exactly that and it never got boring, and it’s especially fun when the others in the group are having fun too doing stickers and emotes, shooting each other with slinger ammo after the monster’s defeated, or swinging around on beetles while waiting for the timer to run out.
What I mean by that is they mastered the idea of disconnected people becoming quick friends in the face of something as treacherous as a dinosaur – it feels how it should feel. You’ll probably never see these people again but something about doing what you just did/are doing makes you feel like buddies for that short bit of time and proud of each other for doing it.
In the end, even with a few small faults, I still have to say this is one of my favorite games of all time and easily top 10 when it comes to just how much fun I’ve had with it and how personal the time I spent with it feels. It’s strange to think that if they hadn’t put that beta out I would never have bothered with it, which really speaks to how much demos still matter even now. I’m really glad I took a chance on Monster Hunter World and I can’t imagine that I won’t keep coming back to it from time to time in the months to come especially for new monsters and events – and hopefully even longer than that with how much keeps being added in and how many players there will still be. I kinda said all the stuff I usually would at the end really early on but I couldn’t help it, the game is just too good.