Just about every system has been retooled, fiddled with or completely overhauled, all in the name of helping players better understand and engage with the game. For newcomers, this will be a godsend while for veterans, there are so many wonderful quality-of-life changes that it's difficult to imagine going back to earlier games after playing it. Monster weak points, elemental weaknesses and item drops are all laid bare in the Field Guide, with increasingly detailed reports as you grow more familiar with each creature; crafting systems are far simpler, with success rates abolished and a novel new system that automatically converts materials found in the field into useful consumables; weapon upgrade trees are all fully visible in-game, allowing you to plot a path to the gear you want and even letting you track the required materials via the Wishlist; items like the Whetstone (for sharpening your weapon in the field) and gathering supplies are now unlimited and always in your inventory, accessible through either the traditional item menu or a new, quicker radial option.
Even the Scoutflies – the friendly bugs that lead you to your quarry once you find enough clues to pick up their trail – serve to develop the tracking side of each hunt far better than in previous games. As a veteran hunter, I feared this particular system might be a step too far into hand-holding territory, but it's actually oddly satisfying to pick up and follow a trail rather than just running to where you know the monsters spawn (or running around aimlessly until you see one) as used to be the case. And anyway, these little allies can only hold your hand so much. Once the target is in sight, they flee back to their pod and it's just you and your skills against something at least a dozen times larger. Often more. Sometimes, much more.
Weapon Of Choice
Just as you'll need to develop a full working knowledge of your own attack options, you'll also need to learn and adapt to those of your enemies. The more you fight a particular monster type, the more you'll come to recognise patterns, tells and openings, gradually turning near-impossible encounters into ones that it's possible to overcome without so much as a scratch. It's somewhat passé to name-drop Dark Souls when discussing difficulty such as this, but there are clear parallels to be drawn between the two franchises in this regard. As there, deliberate attack animations mean you need to commit to your every move, utilising the brief invulnerability window of the dodge roll to slip through incoming attacks before countering with exactly the right moves so as not to overextend or leave yourself open. Missions typically operate on a three-strike policy so you can even pick this stuff up in the course of a single mission if you're paying attention, returning to the fray after a defeat or two with a better understanding of the fight. Failure is only a bad thing if you don't learn anything from it.
A Whole New World
It's already been confirmed that furious pickle Deviljho (an end-game nemesis that will eat anything) will join the roster soon, so expect even more marks to be added over the course of the year and hopefully beyond. It's not as if there isn't enough to do in the meantime, with hundreds of regular missions, special arena quests, and randomised Investigations with extra modifiers, tougher monsters and greater rewards. You could comfortably hit the 100-hour mark without seeing every monster, let alone the time it'll take to grind for all the best gear to deal with end-game threats.
- Packed with incredible encounters
- Open environments work brilliantly
- Quality-of-life improvements everywhere
- Online systems still a little clunky
- Relatively low monster count
- Likely to devour all your time
Monster Hunter World Review (PS4)
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