Monster Hunter: World review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Before I dive into this review for Monster Hunter: World, I would like to address the potential new players eyeballing the first big console release for the series in the West since Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U.

This is still Monster Hunter.

I say that because I feel like there?s been a bit of an online narrative that seems to indicate this Monster Hunter game will magically be the most accessible one in the series, but that?s not entirely true. I absolutely urge anyone interested in Monster Hunter: World to play the game though, because I do think it?s great. But you?ll still be hit with a number of small learning barriers in your first few hours that have pretty much been present throughout the series. So if you?ve picked up a Monster Hunter game in the past decade, played about an hour, and then decided that it wasn?t for you, there?s a good chance you?ll have a similar feeling here.

That said, I do LOVE this game. There have been a number of small improvements that have simplified certain aspects of the overall game, but I think those are more noticeable to longtime players and less so to newcomers. Hopefully you?ve already tried the game out via one of the few ?beta? demos on the PS4 over the past month or so, which at least does a good job of getting you accustomed to combat. If you enjoyed those sessions, then I don?t think there?s anything else about Monster Hunter: World that you?ll have a tough time figuring out.

Given half a chance, here?s what I think you?ll enjoy about Monster Hunter: World on PS4 and Xbox One.

For starters, it looks pretty darn good. Like I mentioned before, this is the first big console release for Monster Hunter in a good, long while, at least over here in the West. The 3DS was generally the home to the series over past few years, and it worked out pretty well there, but boy oh boy these visuals really help to drive home the appeal of hunting down and fighting giant monsters. It?s also nice having a standard controller, which helps a bit when it comes to inventory management, especially when out in the field.

Another big plus is that Monster Hunter: World is a brand-new game, and not some sort of enhanced port. This is a new adventure, a new story, with new zones to check out. There?s definitely repeated content via monsters and weapons, but even those have slight additions or changes helping make Monster Hunter: World feel like a fresh experience for everyone. I personally dig the new maps, they?re super detailed, have some degree of verticality, and also contain a surprising number of interactive elements that can trigger during battles.

Going back to combat, which is definitely one of the more defining aspects for Monster Hunter as a whole, Monster Hunter: World is extremely satisfying. Regardless of which weapon you end up selecting, everything has weight and power to it. Smacking a monster with the Great Sword or Hammer feels and looks outstanding, and even shots fired from ranged weapons have a remarkable amount of heft and impact built into their animation and sound. Likewise, seeing monsters interact with each other in the field is a spectacle unto itself, and will lead to numerous screenshots and gifs in the coming months.

As far as additions and tweaks go, the use of Scoutflies in Monster Hunter: World feels like a pretty big deal. In previous Monster Hunter games, when you would spot a monster you could toss a paintball at it in order to mark it on the map temporarily. Paintballs are now gone, instead you?ll track a monster throughout the map using Scoutflies, which will highlight monster footprints, feathers, or other markings. Once you?ve gathered enough of those markings, the Scoutflies will then helpfully pinpoint where a monster is, and will keep track of them until a battle is finished. Scoutflies are also useful for highlighting resources, which helps a lot considering how detailed the environments are.

Multiplayer has always been a big component in the Monster Hunter series, and so far I feel like Monster Hunter: World represents that fact well. Playing prior to release I haven?t run into a lot of online players, but in the few instances where I have teamed up with others, everything has run smoothly. You can definitely play offline if you choose to, but creating or joining an online lobby will pair you up with 16 players total, allowing you to run around your hub with other players, make 4-player parties, and socialize via actual voice chat or in-game chat options and emotes. It?s not groundbreaking by any means, but helps make the overall world feel lived in when you encounter other hunters in the wild, and allows for larger groups of friends to get together with various privacy options.

In closing, I again absolutely urge you to check out Monster Hunter: World if you have any passing interest in the series, or have been wondering what all the talk is about. It can be a difficult experience at first, but I definitely do not think it?s impenetrable to newcomers. With a little bit of patience, time, and maybe a bit of light online reading, you?ll have little trouble coming to terms with Monster Hunter: World?s various systems and mechanics. And the end result in learning those mechanics is remarkably satisfying in a way that few games often are. So yes, Monster Hunter: World might not be for everyone, but it?s still one of the best Monster Hunter games I?ve ever played, and will stay in my personal rotation for months to come.

Grade: A+