'Monster Hunter: World' lives up to its name, takes the series to new heights

'Monster Hunter: World' lives up to its name, takes the series to new heights

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True to its name

'Monster Hunter: World' lives up to a series of promises

There’s something that’s always been wondrous about the world of Monster Hunter. From the original on PlayStation 2, to the series’ portable outings, the games have been massive, layered adventures. But they’ve always been held back.

In some cases, it was the technical limitations of the platforms each entry was on. In some cases, portability leveraged a more cooperative experience, so titled on the PSP and Nintendo 3DS were easier for players to manage. Sure, it didn’t look great and the controls were clunky, but at least we had it.

Enter Monster Hunter: World, a game that feels like an egg cracked open, bringing the layered, vast adventures of the monster hunting franchise to platforms with the technical prowess to really show it off. And with the expansion comes simpler controls, a navigable hubworld and an online multiplayer system that at least works. This is the Monster Hunter game we were always promised.

The world

There’s nothing quite like climbing to the highest point you can find in a given area and looking out at the pretty amazing skyboxes in this game. Couple that with a diverse amount of creatures, big and small in each environment and you’ve got yourself one of the best looking current generation games.

Sure, Monster Hunter: World has some hiccups, in frame rate or in load times, though those are less likely on stronger hardware (i.e. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X).

The different areas in the game cover a lot of ground, from deserted wastelands filled with underground-dwelling behemoths to snow-capped hills and jungles with giant electric flying squirrels scuttling about. This is a game where you don’t feel like you’re at the center of it -- and that’s OK. You’re a part of this world.

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You take on the role of a hunter, part of a numbered wave of what are essentially colonists to this “New World.” You and your Palico (the Monster Hunter series’ wonderful cat companions) team with a designated Handler and go out on missions -- split between gathering expeditions, monster hunts and camp settling.

The world is packed to the brim, and you won’t find yourself bored all too soon.

The monsters

This is what you really came for, though. And Monster Hunter: World really does prove true to its name, offering up tons of original monsters and series classics for players to team up with their friends to take down. But it’s not always quick and easy. You’ll be maxing out time limits and spending close to an hour taking down many of these creatures, looking to farm gear while also running for your life.

And the personalities of these monsters really seal the deal. They are living, breathing enemies that react to most things in the world. They eat, sleep and get into turf wars with sometimes bigger monsters -- something you can absolutely use to your advantage.

Sure, the AI can bug out sometimes and you’ll find yourself victim to an ill-placed jump or faulty hit box, but for the most part the game is challenging, diabolical and it totally works. If there’s anything to really be upset about -- its the online play.

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Getting to play with friends shouldn’t be as hard as it is in Monster Hunter: World, and while it truly works when it works, the game gives you a bit of runaround before it lets you have fun with your friends. What could be a simple invite system is bogged down by things like quest posting, story locks and the “Gathering Hub,” a hub within the game’s larger hub -- and the only one you can actually roam with your friends in. It’s weird choice.

The verdict

The Monster Hunter series has come a long way since its early days. With Monster Hunter: World the series has earned mainstream success, and the developers have built a mostly accessible, vast world for players to explore.

This is the Monster Hunter game we’ve all been waiting for.

Monster Hunter: World is now available for the PS4 and Xbox One. A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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