Fighting giant dragons, wyverns, and god-like monsters: that’s the core premise of Monster Hunter: World, in case the title didn’t give it away. In the newest entry to the series, some changes are introducing Monster Hunter to a whole lot more people, so here’s a quick primer for what to expect with Monster Hunter: World. Given there’s a beta available on PS4 this week, it’s a good time to prime yourself on what we know so far.
What is Monster Hunter?
The first Monster Hunter game came out in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, and while there’s been a host of games and spin-offs since then, it’s totally understandable to not know what’s going on. Bar a couple of games, it’s mostly been on Nintendo consoles – if you’ve not been playing with them, chances are the series has passed you by up until now.
You play a Hunter who is tasked with defeating monsters that are, typically, terrorising a local village, with those monsters slowly getting bigger and badder as you progress. Progression isn’t like typical role-playing games though, all of your progression is through the armour and weapons you hold, which are crafted using parts gutted from the monsters you kill. Murder monsters, take their hide, make better gear to fight bigger monsters. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
When is Monster Hunter: World coming out and on what platforms?
Monster Hunter: World is coming out on PS4 and Xbox One January 26, 2018. It will also be coming to PC, but the release date for that is still to be confirmed, and it’s coming out after the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
When is the beta?
Yes, it was announced at Paris Games Week! It’s functionally very similar to the demo that was released for Monster Hunter; generations, where you’ll be able to play three quests against three different monsters of varying difficult. The Great Jagras is seemingly the easiest, similar to the Great Jaggi from previous games, the Anjanath is just a little more challenging, then the Barroth (which seems to be a lot tougher nowadays) is the final option.
It’s exclusive to PlayStation, requires PlayStation Plus, and starts December 9, ending on December 12. Both solo and co-op play will be available.
Where do I download the beta?
The beta will be available to download through the PlayStation store.
Why is it coming to PC later?
The official reason for PC’s postponed release seems to be because it’s just quite hard to do. The effort required to port to PC and get it running well means it needs extra time. This is also the first time Monster Hunter is coming to PC, not counting Monster Hunter Online which was developed by Tencent Games rather than Capcom.
Have you previewed it?
We got to play Monster Hunter: World for 10 hours, fighting all sorts of monsters along the way. Tom Hoggins played through the preview, and despite not being a huge fan of the series so far, he’s been really impressed by the game.
Sitting down with Monster Hunter: World for its opening dozen hours at Capcom’s offices in Osaka, you realise that the famous Japanese developer is presenting its latest entry with a degree of confidence and swagger. This comes from a definable shedding of some of Monster Hunter’s excess baggage and less endearing idiosyncrasies. Series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto has said the team has ‘reviewed and revisited key design decisions’ in order to build this latest entry. The shift shows and it is to the benefit of newcomers and old hands alike.
What’s new in Monster Hunter: World?
Previously Monster Hunter has primarily been on Nintendo consoles, specifically the 3DS. This has meant there was a hardware limitation – as Monster Hunter: World is making use of the beefier consoles and PC rigs, a lot is changing. First up – the game is now in a kind of open world. There’s different maps to visit (probably an ice map, a fire map, and so on), but there’s no loading times or pauses when moving between areas on that map. In previous versions, you’d have to watch a loading screen when moving between ‘zones’ on each map, this is no longer an issue.
The series has often focused on co-op play, allowing you to hunt bigger and more dangerous monsters with friends. In Monster Hunter: World, there’s drop-in/drop-out co-op, you’re able to call friends to help you out in the middle of a hunt, rather than organising team before going out. There isn’t, however, any cross-platform play: PS4 players can only play with PS4 players. This co-op play now also directly plays into the single-player content, whereas they were previously completely separate.
What weapons can I use?
There’s no new weapons being added this time around – the full list of weapons being the Great Sword, Long Sword, Dual Swords, Sword and Shield, Hunting Horn, Hammer, Switch Axe, Charge Blade, Insect Glaive, Lance, and Gunlance for melee attacks and the Light Bowgun, Heavy Bowgun, and Bow for ranged attacks. Some of these weapons will be changed up, though, as new ammo has been confirmed for the bowguns – the extent of these changes haven’t been revealed yet.
The previous game in the series, Monster Hunter Generations, added a new feature called Hunter Arts and Hunter Styles – those are not in Monster Hunter: World, as this is seen as a new generation for the series. Instead, there’s a new grappling hook to use for world traversal and mounting monsters, mantles which can grant abilities like being able to glide on wind tunnels, and scout flies for, well, scouting.
What is the combat like?
This definitely depends on your weapon of choice, but generally, think of it as third-person action. Each weapon has strengths and weaknesses – we’ll go through them very quickly here.
- Great Sword
The Great Sword is pretty simple, but slow to swing, probably because it’s generally 20kg of steel and monster parts. It has a high damage output, and doesn’t require complex strategy – almost entirely offense, it’s for those who like dodging around monster attacks and using their knowledge to find the right windows to attack.
- Long Sword
Similarly to the Great Sword, the Long Sword has a high damage output, but swings much faster. The issue, though, is that it has to be charged up to be used to its full effect. Deal damage and unleash a combo to level it up, gaining a damage boost – spend too long not completing the combo, and you’ll lose the boost.
- Dual Swords
Some weapons have elemental damage – the Dual Swords are often the best medium for these. They attack quickly, and so put out a lot of elemental damage on each hit. If you’re good at working out what element monsters are weak to, Dual Swords should be good for you.
- Sword and Shield
The most basic weapon is the Sword and Shield. It allows you to block effectively, deal a medium amount of damage, doesn’t leave you open to attack with slow swings, and doesn’t need charging up like the Long Sword. By far the simplest choice, but definitely a bad one – fantastic as a first weapon.
- Hunting Horn
For those who like to help allies, the Hunting Horn will offer other hunters bonuses like increased defense if you can play songs with it while attacking. It’s one of the harder weapons to get to grips with, as you’ll need a laptop open nearby to double check the available songs to play for each Hunting Horn variant.
Most weapons deal cutting damage – they can cut tails and body parts off. The Hammer, on the other hand, deals blunt damage, meaning a good attack can destroy armoured limbs or even knock a monster unconscious. It’s slow, but has this high damage output and a useful utility to boot.
- Switch Axe
Switch Axes are good for those who like to put together good combos of attacks – it lets you swap between an axe and sword form. You’ll get a limited time in sword mode before having to recharge it, but if you want to dance around a monster with a neverending combo, it’s the best choice.
- Charge Blade
Similarly to the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade also has an axe and sword mode, but is the reverse – it’s a sword by default, with the axe mode being limited by a charge that you must build up. This weapon comes with a shield in sword mode, and so can be considered more defensive than the Switch Axe.
- Insect Glaive
Insect Glaives are incredibly useful for mounting a monster – climbing onto its back to deal huge amounts of damage – using a pole vault attack. With a range and speed similar to the Long Sword, it also comes with a Kinsect, a small insect that can be used to deal damage to a monster from afar. Being able to know when to mount and how to use the Kinsect to its full potential can be quite tricky.
Lance and Gunlances are similar: a long weapon with huge range plus a large shield for you to defend yourself while attacking. Lances generally deal more damage with individual attacks, but Gunlances, as you might have guessed, can fire a projectile into a monster. It doesn’t fire far, and so it typically used while the Gunlance is already embedded in a monster’s flesh. Perhaps the most defensive options, if you want to stand ground this may be your best choice.
Bows are the easier form of ranged weapon to get to grips with – fire arrows at a monster, and use a special attack in specific situations. Some bows can fire multiple arrows at once, forcing you to think about how close or far you want to be, while others can pierce through a monster and damage multiple parts of the body. What’s difficult about the bow is getting the distance right – a flash indicates a good hit, which is usually about 10-20 metres away from a monster, but this depends on the bow. To use this type of weapon effectively, you’ll have to spend a lot of time practicing to know those ranges.
Bowguns, on the other hand, are about using the right type of shot – with limited ammo, you can fire at a monster from a great distance, using elemental or other special ammos to deal extra damage. The Light Bowgun allows you to be more mobile, while the Heavy Bowgun limits your movement while giving you huge damage output. These require a lot of preparation before a hunt, as you’ll have to decide on what ammo to take.
What is the story?
In the world of Monster Hunter, Elder Dragons migrate across to the New World. This year, a new research team are following the Zorah Magdaros, to watch its behaviours and understand the beast. Of course, something bad will happen.
A recent trailer from the Tokyo Game Show showed off some of the game’s cutscenes – it looks like you’ll be working for the Research Commission, researching new monsters by dragging their bodies back to camp, dead or alive. The old fashioned way to research.
There’s a lot that’s changed in the details and presentation of Monster Hunter: World, but it’s mostly the same game game in its design. There’s a series of new additions in the form of grappling hooks and gliders, making level traversal a bit more interesting, plus, of course, new monsters to kill, such as the Zorah Magdaros.
Otherwise, the primary change is that it’s all just a bit more accessible. We interviewed series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, and he said the team have “had to take a step back and examine certain things that were a bit idiosyncratic” for this new Monster Hunter game. For example, no longer will you have to search online to find out what monsters drop what loot: by researching them, the game will tell you what a monster will give you when it dies, making finding material for new equipment much easier.
Zorah Magdaros will, presumably, be the ‘antagonist’, often referred to as a flagship monster, and is likely the huge rock-like creature in the trailer from the Tokyo Game Show.