E3 2017 – Monster Hunter: World Preview – Back Home (PS4)

As someone who put a lot of time into the recent Monster Hunter games for Nintendo 3DS, there was always one thought in the back of my mind that kept me from feeling like I was getting the best experience possible. From the fluidity of the gameplay to the cool monsters I was fighting, it seemed like every aspect could’ve been better if it was on a console instead of a handheld. I got my wish, and now Capcom’s next main entry in the series, Monster Hunter: World, will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

World isn’t just a catchy subtitle, as there’s plenty of significance that it carries with it. One of the biggest new features is drop-in multiplayer that’ll allow players across regions to team up and hunt monsters together. That’s a big first for the series. The other reasoning behind the name is that MHW will feature a “fully functioning ecosystem” for players to explore. Wildlife will constantly be interacting with each other, and it’s a far more connected experience than previous games.

I was lucky enough to sit in on a live gameplay demonstration on the game, and got to see about 20 minutes of the world in action. From what I’ve seen, this is still very much the Monster Hunter that fans have come to know and love, but it’s also one that has been enhanced in a number of ways. For example, while the world is still split into areas, moving between them is completely seamless. There are no load times, and levels are completely connected from one end to the other. Now that the series is back on consoles, it really feels that Capcom’s series is back at home.

Watch and Learn

The demo I got to sit in on was played by the game’s video producer, and I was immediately impressed by how the game’s audiovisual presence. All of the conversation I saw was fully voiced, and the player was informed that on this quest they had to look out for mucus. By following the slimy trail, the player would locate the dangerous monster that they were attempting to defeat. As the producer tracked the monster, I got to see some of the small improvements Capcom has made that’ll make Monster Hunter: World a better experience than its predecessors. One long overdue change is the ability to use items while moving, so players are no longer a sitting target while attempting to heal.

Eventually the giant monster was found, and the battle that ensued really showed off how interactive the environment is. Large areas of the jungle were damaged during the tussle, and the player was able to trap the monster temporarily by getting it entangled in vines. This allowed him to hack away on the beast with his sword (one of the 14 weapons available). Taking advantage of the environment and luring enemies to different areas seems to be one of the biggest strategies in World, and what I saw next really sold me on the idea of the ecosystem.

In order to lure the fire-breathing beast into another area, the player hit it with a paralysis knife and then put on gear called the “challenger mantle.” This suit was adorned with a ton of noisy metal that constantly clanked together, and it immediately caught the attention of the foe. He then led it to an area higher up in the jungle, which just so happened to be the nest of a wyvern-type creature called a Rathalos. The player quickly switched to a ghillie mantle in order to hide, and watched the two beasts battle it out. Watching the two creatures go at it was awesome, and after the Rathalos did a ton of damage, he joined in by shooting his bowgun. Sadly, the demo timed out before I could see the conclusion of the battle, but I was sold on the action that I saw.


Console Power

I walked away extremely impressed by Monster Hunter: World, and it further cemented my opinion that the series belongs on consoles. The player has more ways to interact with the environment than ever before, as I saw the warrior parkour off tree ledges, climb vines, and truly use the wilderness to his advantage. Due to how alive the ecosystem is, there seems to be hundreds of ways that a potential battle could unfurl. I’m so excited to develop my own strategies when the game releases in 2018.

Monster Hunter: World isn’t a port or a spin-off, it’s the natural evolution of Capcom’s beloved series. While the developer has managed to keep its signature identity, there are so many new dynamic ways to interact with the world. It’ll provide a fresh experience for even the most hardcore fans, and it looks to be one of the early gems of next year.

Monster Hunter: World is set to release in early 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.