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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/XOne/PC Preview - 'Monster Hunter: World'

by Thomas Wilde on July 6, 2017 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

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.

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The Monster Hunter franchise has been a license for Capcom to print money, despite its checkered history. It began on the PS2, bounced around Nintendo systems for a while, did not succumb to the well-known curse of the third-party Nintendo developer, became a cult franchise in the West and a best-seller in Japan, and now, with its fifth game in the core franchise, is making a triumphant return to the PlayStation 4, the PC, and the North American market. If you've ever wanted to go hunting for dinosaurs with a greatsword — and let's face it, you have — Monster Hunter is the franchise you never knew you always wanted.

Monster Hunter World sends you, your fully customized monster-hunting avatar, and an NPC guide who is probably not but looks a lot like an alternate-universe Rebecca Chambers to a new, unexplored continent, where you and your NPC buddies will proceed to hunt down its local wildlife for food, sport, and armor materials.

World's presence at E3 took the form at a demo performance given at Capcom's booth, where the game's producer Matt Walker provided commentary over gameplay by the game's director, Yuya Tokuda. It was a simple enough mission: set out to hunt a brand-new monster called an Anjanath.

The biosphere in World is much more advanced than in past games, which they made sure to highlight as Tokuda waded through the underbrush. The key words they kept using were that it's a "living, breathing world," with an active day-night cycle, and plenty of wildlife that exists independently of you.

You can use a sparkling cloud of "scoutflies," which you can level up, to do your tracking for you. As in past games, the wilderness is also full of resources you can use, such as random nuts or other items you can load into your Slinger, a tool used to fire projectiles as an attack or as a lure. The Slinger also functions as a grappling hook, and most games are improved by the presence of grappling hooks.

Tracking the Anjanath was easy enough, as there's a big clue to its location at the start of the quest. When Tokuda found it, it was sleeping soundly in its lair, but it was also holed up in a small cavern. He proceeded to annoy it to wake it up, then led it on a wild chase through the wilderness, thus demonstrating the game's destructible environments. He was able to use the Anjanath to open up new routes for his own later use and have it knock down small trees for him. At the same time, the environment was full of items he could use as improvised traps; one small cavern was full of "flashflies," which exploded like stun grenades when he got close.

The Anjanath, in the tradition of the franchise, had a lot of health, but Tokuda then used bait and knowledge of the terrain to lure the Anjanath into a nearby Rathalos lair, then bring in another nearby monster to continue to participate in the fight. It turned into something right out of a Godzilla movie for a minute, and gave Tokuda a few free shots to the Anjanath's tail while it was distracted.

Finally, though, Tokuda fast-traveled back to his camp — which is possible at any time, whether you're on a quest or not — and refit himself in fire-resistance gear to finish off the Anjanath. He also grabbed a new weapon while he was at it; all 14 weapons from the last Monster Hunter game are making a return in World. He went back to finish off the Anjanath, which was wounded, missing its tail, and holed up in its lair.

I'm by no means a Monster Hunter expert, but I've played a little, and World looks like they didn't try to fix what wasn't broken. I didn't actually get to play it, but the demo highlighted a number of its new features, and frankly, they had me at the notion that I can get at least some of my hunting done by provoking monsters to fight each other.

Right now, World is coming off a fairly lengthy development cycle, and Capcom has yet to commit to a specific release date. It's coming out next year, and that's all they're willing to say. Monster Hunter has been the quiet backbone of their release schedule for years, however, and right now, it looks like exactly the same kind of game that's been dominating the sales charts in Japan. Sometimes, you don't need a plot, or characters; you just want to go out and punch a dinosaur in the face, and that's what Monster Hunter is for.

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