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Monster Hunter: World

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2018

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PS4 Review - 'Monster Hunter: World'

by Michael Keener on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Monster Hunter: World sees players take on the role of a hunter who completes various quests to hunt and slay monsters within a living and breathing ecosystem full of predators ... and prey.

Buy Monster Hunter: World

In Monster Hunter: World, players can step into the boots of a customized character, explore an expansive island, and go toe-to-toe with haunting creatures and monsters. The franchise isn't new, but this is the first time an entry has been released on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it'll see a PC release at a later time.

The basics of Monster Hunter: World are consistent with the franchise: hunt progressively larger and deadlier monsters; harvest materials; and craft weapons and gear. It's a cycle that makes sense and is fun to play through. What sets apart this game  are the refined systems of combat, crafting, and exploring. The title is visually stunning, and the journal of hunt quests feels worthy of your time.

After customizing your character and your Palico companion, you get some more story details. Expect to find a story that ranges between 30-50 hours, depending on the number of side-quests and endeavors you choose to undertake. The story begins as a fleet of ships sets sail for the new continent. You land on the island and set forth toward the main camp. The story varies, but its focus is always the conflict between humans and monsters.

While exploring the worlds, you'll be enticed to explore the environments. As you dart through dense bushes and climb tall blockades, you can't help but be distracted. You'll want and need to grab every material, since it's important to build up a supply to craft armor, weapons and other items.

There are different potion strengths, and they require progressively rarer ingredients. Luckily, the game encourages harvesting, as you can literally grab handfuls of randomness while running through environments. The days of sitting and waiting on long harvesting animations are long gone. You'll mostly craft gear from harvested monster parts. You may fight a giant feathery bird monster and receive different items each time you win. You'll need every part of that monster if you want to craft full sets. To improve your chances of getting the parts you need, hit the creature in different areas during the battle. Hitting the monster in the head could yield completely different materials than its tail or body. You can choose to capture monsters instead of slaying them.

There's a variety of monsters. Some take the form of giant bats and birds but have necks that act like a blowfish. There are serpents in the swamp that mimic crocodiles and Komodo dragons, and some monsters are more representative of what we know as dinosaurs. They're all beautiful, and even their interactions are noteworthy. I was in a battle with a giant dragon, and suddenly, a giant serpent monster came along, wrapped itself around the dragon's body, and bit it. This occurs randomly in actual gameplay, not in cut scenes.

Although the graphics are gorgeous, you'll see some noticeable stuttering in the frame rate. I wouldn't be surprised to see some post-launch optimizing for this. If not, gamers would still benefit from getting the game and enjoying everything it offers.

Games always say that everyone can play in a style that best suits them. Typically, that means you can fight with guns blazing or handle every situation with stealth, or you choose your character's replies in conversation with NPCs. Both are nice to have, but when it comes to the gameplay, nothing is actually different. In Monster Hunter: World, you'll find dozens of fighting styles that master the use of different weapons. There are no classes, so you're not permanently stuck with any one choice, and they can all be mastered if you have the dedication and desire to learn and practice.

For each weapon and fighting style, mastery is required to be at least halfway efficient. You could use the less complex ones, like sword and shield combos that balances defense and attack, two-handed greatswords that are slow but brutal, dual blades that are incredibly fast but weak, or hammers that are shorter in range but can knock out a monster. These weapons are geared toward beginners, but experienced players can still enjoy them and use them as primary weapons.

If you want something with a little more complicated, try the Gunlance, which removes the shield and equips the lance weapon with a big gun on the front; the Bowgun, which turns you into a mid-range sniper; or the Switch Axe, which provides better range, while the sword part delivers  damaging blows. Defense is more about not getting hit rather than blocking and dodging efficiently.

There are a lot of weapons, and the possibilities only branch further out as you progress. Match a Bowgun wielder with someone who uses dual blades, someone using sword and shield, and another who uses greatsword, and you can see how strategic and chaotic hunting parties can become.

This segues to the multiplayer aspect of Monster Hunter: World. It's a blessing to be able to hunt with friends. Playing in single-player mode is fun in its own way, and your furry companion makes it feel less lonely, but it's a different game when you partner with people. My brother and I played through our stories solo before meeting up, so it felt like we went through our own trials and tribulations, learning what we needed to learn without those wall-hitting moments.

When we grouped up together, it was great to share hunting stories while we hunted. He's not much of a crafting person in games, so I was also able to tell him which ingredients were important and where to find them. Likewise, when I tried out the lance, he was able give me some pointers and teach me some combos. You can invite up to three friends to your game, or you can join other friends. It's all done via a questing system or SOS flare, which gets the job done, but I foresee it getting reworked through patches soon. You can't participate in cut scenes that the host watches, and there's a bit of waiting time if someone is eating.

The end game is a story and experience all its own. Hunts will be more common, and because loot is tied to the hunts, you'll even hunt the same monsters as before. Some monsters are only encountered in the endgame, so again, the progression in all departments continues regardless of where you are in the adventure. There are a few free DLC packs available for those who'd like to try out new hairstyles, or you can purchase one of the DLC packs that offer other player customization options.

Monster Hunter: World sets itself apart from the competition in so many ways. It's a deep and rewarding RPG title that lives up to the franchise name and pushes some boundaries. It will be a contestant for Game of the Year, so get in and enjoy some monster hunting.

Score: 9.5/10

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