Hello, Hunters! So, as I continue to adapt and adjust to some changes in my fibro (Editor’s Note: you curl up in a ball and mew like a kitten when the weather changes abruptly) SHUT UP…ahem, ADAPT and ADJUST, I was given an unexpected treat. My Eldest Evil Offspring ™ decided that he wanted to spend some of his Christmas money on a copy of Monster Hunter: World and leave it at my apartment to play when he and his younger co-clone are here plotting with me.
Now, I’ve tried on a number of occasions to “get into” Monster Hunter games. Dating back to some of the PSP outings, and even most recently with Monster Hunter Generations on the 3DS, I have wanted badly to like them. The general concept – take assassination contracts on various monstrosities, harvest their parts, wear them as trophies – appeals to both the maniacal evil genius, and the grinding treadmill gamer, sides of me. (Editor’s Note: “Genius” might be a bit of a stretch…do I need to recount our personal life choices?) …Point taken.
The point, dear humans, is that despite my efforts, I just have heretofore been unable to really enjoy my time with previous Monster Hunter games. Everything about them just felt…slow. Clunky. I know in part this is by design – these aren’t designed to be fast-paced hack-and-slash games – but sometimes it also felt like an artificial and unnecessary frustration inducer. In short, I would inevitably play for a while, over several sessions…but invariably put the game aside for something else and not really miss it. They were never able to capture my devotion long-term.
Now I’m hardly far enough into the game to call this a “review” but in my early and not-so-humble opinion, Monster Hunter: World fixes just about everything I’ve ever really disliked about the series. Is the combat still measured? Yes, but not in the same frustration-inducing way that I remember. Instead, each of the 14 Hunter weapon styles is distinct in its speed, timing, combos, and visceral impact – the combat rewards changing not just your weapons for different fights, but also your mastery of each weapon’s distinctive play style. If you have been using the lightning-like dual blades exclusively, and then notice that a particular target is weak to blunt damage so you grab a hammer and go after it without spending some time altering your approach to suit your new tool…you are going to get painfully destroyed in short order. But unlike my past experiences with the games, this stops short of feeling unfair or frustrating – just intelligent and challenging.
I also LOVE the open-world expeditions that you can choose to embark on as an alternative to the more traditional timed missions that are a hallmark of Monster Hunter. Don’t get me wrong – the missions are still the primary bread-and-butter of the game, and I’ve never had any issue with the mission-based structure of previous games – but the open-world exploration and sidequest elements supplement the larger-scale missions perfectly, allowing you to take a break from difficult tasks and relax or grind up some bones and scales to improve your equipment. As someone who has many (Editor’s Note: many, MANY) times lamented the seeming glut of games that just decide to throw in an open world because it’s “the thing to do,” I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how well done this is. There is freedom, but not lack of direction or sacrifice of world building and level design. It is just so well balanced – a tremendous testament to the development team.
Suffice to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised (and mercifully distracted) by this unexpected addition to my PS4 library. I’m looking forward to further hunts, more harvesting, and bringing you my additional thoughts as I continue to delve deeper into Monster Hunter: World. Plus, you get an anthropomorphic cat as a personal bodyguard – this automatically makes it awesome.
Until next time, humans, remember – next time you may be feeling down about yourself, you pick up that chin, because this is America, a land where anybody – ANY-FUCKING-BODY – can do anything, even be president. Yes, even a horrific, abhorrent, orange-skinned, fake-haired, petulant, raving, rambling, syphilitic, moronic, illiterate, misogynistic, raging dumpster fire posing as a human can. And if HE can, then YOU can. Unless, you know…he gets us all killed first. Then you can’t. – EWE