Have you ever felt like the universe was trying to keep you from something? That game you’re trying to find always sells out just before you get there. That person you want to talk to just left. That’s how I’ve felt with Monster Hunter. For years, I’ve been curious about this long-lived Capcom series, but it’s either been on a console I just put away or a handheld I didn’t own, because handhelds hurt my giant hands. But now, Monster Hunter is coming to consoles and it’s in a prime position to hook me like I’ve always assumed the series could.
As I mentioned, handhelds were a big reason I haven’t touched Monster Hunter. Perhaps the biggest change in Monster Hunter World is that, instead of appearing on a Nintendo or Sony handheld, the game is cropping up first on consoles. This is the first time since Monster Hunter Tri in 2009, I believe, that the series is seeing a console-original entry; about nine years.
Now you’re playing (Monster Hunter) with power
With Monster Hunter World having all that extra hardware to play with, it seems like the game is going full ‘open world’ for the first time. The game is set on a newly-discovered continent with much larger regions than the game has seen in the past, with no loading between them during travel. There’s even a day-night cycle that will offer up a whole new set of monster behaviors.
The behind-closed-doors demonstration I watched at E3 this last week was an extended version of what we saw during Sony’s show, and it suggests a greater focus on solo play. The hunter was going after a monster we’ll call “Sinus-Congested T-Rex.” The hunt to find the beast involved plenty of investigation and showed off some of what’s new for the series.
Because the world is more interconnected and has more power to work with, Capcom is promising a deeper ecosystem this time around, with monsters that interact with each other regardless or, often, because of your intervention. During the tracking segment of finding Sinus Congested T-Rex, the player ran across a monster we’ll call Giant Scary Iguana. After using something called Scout Flies to help track down the beast, the player started the battle.
As this was just one player, though, things quickly went sideways, and the player ended up running. A bit of ingenuity managed to bring us back to the Giant Scary Iguana, giving the player a short respite to heal up and some time to analyze the situation. Later, the player forced the fight up into what turned out to be another beast’s nest. These instances seem like great ways to use the world around you as a strategic piece, letting you deal with big beasts on your own without having to chip down their health or make them seem weak.
We also got a quick peek at some of the new items on offer. A grappling hook looks like it could be a great way to speed up movement, while different cloaks offer different benefits in battle. One cloak looked and acted like a giant fish lure, attracting the attention of beasts just by simply being worn and moved around in. A ghillie suit offered some much-needed camouflage.
At times, the combat reminded me vividly of one of my favorite games from the last generation, Dragon’s Dogma. That game was a fantasy RPG, but it featured giant, powerful monsters that required a much more vertical approach to combat, finding high ground or simply climbing the beast, as well as finding its weaknesses and using those against it. I’m not sure if we’ll see Capcom approaching Dragon’s Dogma for a proper sequel anytime soon, so I’m thrilled to see it coming to life anywhere I can.
While there does seem to be an emphasis on making solo-play viable, by no means is Capcom doing away with multiplayer. Cooperative play for up to four players will be available. This is, I think, the most exciting part of Monster Hunter World. The prospect of cruising around a giant, open world, looking for monsters to take on with a few friends is appealing. Thinking as a Dragon’s Dogma fan, that’s the one thing that game was lacking, in my opinion, and it feels like Monster Hunter World is bringing my favorite bits of that game and Monster Hunter together.
Monster Hunter World doesn’t have a hard release date yet, but Capcom is looking at an early-2018 release window, so it’s likely we can expect to be playing it before E3 next year.