Featured image credit: Capcom
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Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
PC Release Date: August 9, 2018
Genre: Action role-playing
Reviewed on: AMD RX 580, Intel i7-4770, 16 GB RAM, Windows 10 x64, Build 1903
AMD Drivers: 19.9.2
After many, many years of neglection, PC gamers have finally been blessed with a Monster Hunter game coming to their platform. That game is Monster Hunter: World, a Capcom’s 2018 flagship game that has so far managed to sell an impressive number of 15 million copies worldwide. Besides being a first Monster Hunter game on PC, World also seems to be franchise’s greatest entry, and as such seems to be appealing to all sorts of gamers across various gaming platforms. Early doubts that World will oversimplify series, and make it interesting to the western audience looking for casual experience, prove to be wrong. Under the hood, World is still an authentic and pure-blood Monster Hunter game.
To begin with this Monster Hunter: World review, let’s start first with the basics. For many PC gamers World represents their first contact with this Japanese action role-playing series in which you hunt monsters and beat the hell out of them. Provided that you don’t have any clue about previous games and their stories, World at first shows itself as a high fantasy game with a bit of steampunk aesthetics. It depicts a world inhabited by humans and dinosaur-like creatures roaming around wilderness. But besides just exploring and hunting monsters, World’s story revolves around the discovery of a new continent and the migration of Elder Dragons to this New World. In that context, player is put into a role of an adventurer who is a part of the so-called Fifth Fleet. Being a bunch of explorers, Fleet’s assignment is to study the ecosystems in the New World and find an answer to the mysterious migration phenomena.
At the very beginning of the game, player will encounter its main point of interest – Zorah Magdaros – a great Godzille-like mountain-sized dragon who plays a significant role in the World’s story. As the story progresses, player will encounter other explorers from the past expeditions to the New World and will engage into difficult battles which will sometimes mobilize entire colonies of the new settlers.
With the help of Admiral, a true leader of Expedition, and other fellow hunters and explorers, player will eventually succeed in driving off Zorah Magadaros from reaching New World’s underground. This will, however, prove to be counterproductive, as will cause disruption of New Worlds’ ecosystems and will cause hatching of a new elder dragon. Fixing those problems will finally conclude Expedition and give humans a chance to study further this new world.
Hardcore fans of the series will be pleased with subtle references, symbols and motives that refer to the previous Monster Hunter games, as well as with the mythology that game builds using various archetypes from Japanese folk tales. In your adventures you also won’t be alone, as you will receive help from your Palico, a cat-like companion, and Handler, somewhat irritating young girl who will feed you with information and act as a smart, yet irresponsible younger sibling.
Besides the main story, World also features various side-quests, some of which require you to give aide to the researchers, obtain certain biological samples, or improve canteen in Expedition’s first settlement called Astera. Capcom also introduced crossover events and side-quests, in which characters from other games participate in the world of this new Monster Hunter game. One of such side-quests features Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s Geralt of Rivia, in which he accidentally enters a wrong portal and ends up in a Monster Hunter: World’s realm. Other notable examples also include characters from Final Fantasy XIV and Devil May Cry 5.
Although Monster Hunter: World’s story might seem complex at the first glance, it is in fact very much marginal, and at times seems to be too childish and bloated with weird Japanese humor. Nonetheless, it offers a solid amount of context for the gameplay itself, which really shines compared to other Monster Hunter: World’s aspects. Like the game’s subtitle suggests, World really does feel like an open-world game. It features amazingly designed large scale maps that feature dense jungles, rocky deserts, drained coral reefs, bottomless depths and lava-filled mountain plateaus.
There are no pausing loading screens between zones in hunting areas and maps feature surprising levels of vertically which shows just how they big are. Traversing the space also feels easy. Once you build all hunting camps, fast travel across the map becomes a breeze. There are also many hidden shortcuts that can provide an escape route from a hard battle, and there are even zip lines which can shorten your travels significantly. Navigating the vast spaces is also made easy by scoutflies which automatically track your prey or show way to a specific location.
Although Monster Hunter: World might prove to be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, as you delve deeper into the game and start to understand it, you will experience more satisfaction by realizing just how this game deep really is. In short, it is just a game where you hunt monsters. That’s pretty much it. You start the game with a chainmail and flimsy weapon, but with each monster you kill, and resources you gather, you quickly become a competent hunter whose successes just can’t stop. In a way, it is similar to the Dark Souls. Your main goal isn’t to save the world, or obtain immense amounts of cash, but to master an art of killing to perfection. At your disposal you have 14 different weapons. Using each one feels like playing a different game. Some of them, such as great swords, or insect glaives are hard to master, but for beginners long swords and hammers are good tools to start with.
There is an impressive amount of combo techniques that you can perform with each weapon, and upgrading options seem almost inexhaustible. Fully upgrading and mastering a certain weapon grants dealing insane amounts of damage, and will get you ready to tackle high-ranking and tampered monsters. Also, there is a wide variety of armor equipment that you can craft and equip. You can wishlist new equipment, so you can easily track components and resources that you have to gather before you are able to craft it. Besides that, you can also apply various charms, buffs and perks to the weapons and equipment, and there is also tons of tools and chemicals that you can use to capture monsters or increase your stats. Featuring so many options and abilities, Monster Hunter: World will be very appealing to the fans of the RPG genre.
After defining what being a hunter in this game really is, now follows the part about your prey – the monsters. Although some hardcore fans might argue that World lacks the diversity of monsters that marked previous installments of the series, World still features a rather impressive number of 33 different monsters. This number, however, doesn’t include smaller hostile and non-hostile monsters, as well as various insects, fish and lizards that you can capture in the wild.
Compared to previous titles in the series, World also features improved monster artificial intelligence and physics models that make each monster’s behavior more unique. In that sense, some monsters will prove to be more defensive, or offensive, some of them will stay passive, unless provoked, and some of them will attack other monsters. Monster Hunter: World thus provides a variety of scenarios and unique situations which will make numerous encounters with monsters feel less like a routine and more like a real-life challenge. Also, each monster has its own weaknesses and strengths, which will require you to study them before you engage them in the battle.
After fighting Zorah Magdaros for the second time, you will finally be able to fight high-ranked monsters. This might prove challenging at first, but is nothing compared to fighting elder dragons and even tampered elder dragons. There are even more difficult monsters, such as the Behemoth or Kulve Taroth, which will make fighting a Rathian a piece of cake. At the end of this section, it is worth to mention that each monster’s sounds sound different, and as such are easily discernable among themselves. According to the sounds they produce, you can determine whether the monster is hostile or benevolent, or is exhausted and ready to flee to its den. In that sense, sounds quality is great, and thanks to the very solid soundtrack, epic battles with monsters feel very immersive and satisfying.
As shown in this review so far, Monster Hunter: World is all about hunting monsters. It is even more fun with friends and even other strangers. Although you can easily spend 70 hours playing the campaign alone, and not ever encounter other players, with time you will realize that there is a great deal of fun in cooperative play. World supports a maximum number of 4 players per battle and grants you the ability to easily hop in other player’s fights or answer SOS calls.
Joy of playing with others comes with the ability to utilize different strategies and play different roles. Some players will prove to be more efficient using bow guns or great swords, while others will provide support with hunting horns or laying down traps. Playing with others also makes cutting monsters tails much easier, as well as mounting them during the fight. It is also easier and quicker to obtain certain rare items from beaten monsters, however, there are some caveats. With each joined player to the fight, monster’s health also increases, so fights might become extremely exhausting, especially in the cases of tempered elder dragons. All in all, multiplayer integration on PC is very well made and provides much more simplicity than on consoles. However, Capcom still hasn’t addressed bugs that cause intermittent server disconnection, and as such multiplayer experience still tends to be quirky.
In terms of system performance, Monster Hunter: World runs surprisingly smoothly on PC, provided that you have solid system. As such, the game proves to be a very decent console port. Game, however, runs on an ageing MT Framework engine that Capcom first introduced in 2006 with Lost Planet: Extreme Conditon and Dead Rising. Altogether, graphics do look fine, but texture quality could be better, as well as overall lighting, tessellation and image fidelity. Luckily, there is an official high-resolution texture mod that improves general texture quality, so you can easily download it if you are not satisfied with the default textures.
Game does look impressive on maximum settings at 1080P resolution, but it still looks a bit too blurry. Game will run at 60 FPS on most mainstream graphics cards, such as Nvidia GTX 1660 or AMD RX 5500, but provided that you turn off volume rendering quality and set LOD bias to low. Most gamers who don’t like to tweak around the graphics settings might not be pleased with overall performance on high settings preset, however, lowering the aforementioned settings will significantly improve performance.
In December 2019, Capcom rolled out an update for Monster Hunter: World that introduced to the game an implementation of DirectX 12 API. According to early benchmarks, graphics cards that support DirectX 12 will greatly benefit from this update as it will increase overall performance levels by up to 15%. Also, one additional thing to consider playing this game on PC is that multiplayer loading times are significantly shorter than the ones on consoles, which might prove to be very useful for many gamers.
To conclude this review, it is worth to say that Monster Hunter: World really delivers, and offers an enjoyable, long-lasting experience that is easy to dive-in, even for newcomers to the franchise. Although its story is a bit incoherent, combat and RPG-like gameplay really shine in this game. Graphics could be better, but they are still visually very appealing. Functionality-wise, game does hiccup from time to time, however, this doesn’t undermine overall experience. Whether you like to play solo, or with friends, Monster Hunter: World will give you tons of reasons to keep coming back. If you like Souls-like games, or simply want to perfect the art of hunting the monsters, then this is a game for you. Otherwise, stick to your preferences, because Monster Hunter: World is a game that establishes its own genre, and it might not be up for everyone’s tastes.