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July 2019

Monster Hunter: World

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


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Monster Hunter: World - Iceborne'

by Thomas Wilde on June 12, 2019 @ 10:00 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.

Pre-order Monster Hunter: World - Iceborne

Over the course of a surprisingly short period, Monster Hunter: World raced up the charts to become Capcom's best-selling title of all time, knocking Resident Evil 5 out of the top spot to do so. At E3 2019, Capcom isn't showing much to speak of besides the first major expansion for MHW, Iceborne, where the game's widescreen battles head further north.

Iceborne is set in a new zone, Hoarfrost Reach, which gradually expands as you play through it until it becomes the largest region in MHW. In order to head off to the Reach, a player must have reached hunter rank 16 and cleared MHW's main campaign. Iceborne is deliberately not a starting-character-friendly experience.

What it is, on the other hand, is a full-contact giant monster rodeo.

Also, you can equip your Palico cat sidekick with a full snowboarder outfit, complete with a mask that has a scary face drawn on it. I feel this is important to tell you. However, it's mostly about the giant monster rodeo thing.

Specifically, your old slinger has been upgraded in Iceborne to come complete with a handy grappling hook. An enraged monster will just throw you right off, and probably into the next area code, but if you pick your shot carefully, you can actually enjoy a period in which you can steer the monster to where you want it to go. This can include sending it straight into local hazards, toward any traps you or your team have set up, or into ambushes. Alternatively, you can punch it right in the back of the head a couple of times, score some free damage, and call it a day.

Much of the rest of Iceborne can be usefully summarized as "Monster Hunter: World, but colder and more of it." While it features the same 14 weapons to choose from as the base game, each weapon has picked up a couple of new tricks in the transition, such as new combos or a new special attack. The hammer can actually combo into an attempt to grapple onto a monster's head, for example, and with the greatsword equipped, players can launch a special attack called Slinger Burst that inflicts a short stun on its targets. The sword and shield in particular get a new combo, Leaping Slash, that can end in multiple different ways based upon the buttons you push.

Naturally, each weapon also has a new look in Iceborne, created by hunting the new monsters of the Hoarfrost Reach and fashioning them into your new equipment. This comes hand in hand with new suits of armor, as well as a new mechanic where you have to be careful about the local temperature. You'll lose stamina faster in colder areas, but you can counteract the drain with a stop at a nearby hot spring or a sip from a hot drink in your inventory.

Hoarfrost Reach is an icy polar zone, full of ice to break and giant caverns to explore, with a host of new inhabitants to find, kill, skin, and make into random hats. One particular newcomer, so to speak, is the Tigrex, making its triumphant debut in Monster Hunter: World after a few appearances in earlier games in the series. It, like several of the other monsters in Hoarfrost Reach, isn't necessarily a native to the zone, which Capcom's representatives gently teased as a mystery for players to solve.

To sum it up, Iceborne was pitched as a true expansion. There's nothing to reinvent here and nothing to fix. It adds more of everything that makes Monster Hunter World the all-consuming megahit it became: more giant monsters to smash and get smashed by, more equipment to make from their bones, more combos to master, and more silly outfits for your little cat sidekick. It's another big helping of Monster Hunter stew.

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