What's New In Monster Hunter: World

For Monster Hunter fans, the way that you describe the game to others has never really lined up with how it actually looks to people who don't know what's going on. I'll breathlessly describe epic, exhilarating, 35-minute face-offs against the series' trademark towering beasts to a friend, but when I show them the game, all they see is a little guy with an oversized sword running around a low-res screen, thwacking a dragon that doesn't fit into the field of view. That, and long minutes spent in extremely complex menus.

The Wii's Monster Hunter Tri came closest to actually representing on-screen what's happening in the heads and hearts of Monster Hunter fans, but even that didn't look great. For years and years I've been hoping that Capcom would make a Monster Hunter that looked as impressive as it was to play. Monster Hunter: World is that game -- but the visuals are not the only change.

Last weekend's beta introduced some big changes to Monster Hunter. Much has stayed the same; the weapons I played with (and their combos) were largely untouched, but they were perfect already.

There was enough new stuff, though, to make me feel a bit like a novice player again: Overwhelmed, but excited.

Scoutflies

Tracking, scouting, and preparing for fights by foraging and crafting has always been part of Monster Hunter. In Monster Hunter World, all these activities are aided by Scoutflies, greenish fireflies that highlight things in the world that you can pick up, harvest, forage or track. Before you can find a monster, you have to find its tracks or markings and examine them. This fills up a little bar, and when it's full the Scoutflies will lead you to the target with a glowing green trail.

In previous Monster Hunter games, you'd have to explore every area on the map looking for your target and then chuck a paintball at a monster to keep it marked. This is a more natural-feeling tracking system.

Nonetheless, I'm in two minds about the Scoutflies. It's useful to have mining points or forageable plants highlighted in the open world, but the glowing green trail monopolizes my attention and takes me out of my surroundings.

Scoutflies also take away the frantic, enjoyable process of chasing down a monster and locating its lair towards the end of a fight. They disappear as soon as a fight breaks out, but I'm kind of hoping they will be optional in the full game so I can use the map instead if I like.

No Zoning

I didn't expect this to have as big an impact as it does, but there are no loading screens between different areas of Monster Hunter's massive map, which comprises everything from ocean to jungle to desert. This means there are no breathers whilst the next area loads and no safe zones for you to disappear into when you need to use a potion.

You really feel like you're chasing your quarry down when you have to pursue it back to its lair across half the map.

Creatures don't disappear once they enter a different section of the world, which means you can actually follow them around. You can trail stampeding herbivores to see where they're going or see a Rathalos gliding around in the sky in the distance and spot where it lands. The absence of loading screens keeps the tension high.

The flipside of this is that I spent a lot of time chasing creatures around the map rather than fighting them. Monsters are suddenly a lot more mobile, happily dragging you all over the map, running away after just a couple of minutes of fighting. Using traps and items to actually keep a target in the same place - especially the flying ones - will probably be a big part of co-operative hunts in the full game.

Monster Behaviour

Since Monster Hunter Tri, the series has been working towards a believable, living ecosystem, where the creatures and environment feel like they exist interdependently and without your interference. In Monster Hunter 3 and 4, a Rathalos might fly off and grab a herbivore before returning to its lair to feast and restore its strength. Creatures limp when they're hurt and sleep to heal themselves in the middle of fights, if they can get away from you. Occasionally, another giant creature might show up unannounced and interfere with your battle.

Monster Hunter: World takes that further. In the beta, there are a Diablos and a Rathalos (two of the bigger, scarier creatures in the series) running around in the world too. If one arrives whilst you're in the middle of a fight, it will take the other creature on. The first time this happened I was so taken by surprise that I just hid in a bush and watched the two enormous beasts roll around in the dust, clawing and biting at each other. It's a sight to behold.

HDR and 4K

There is some irony in the fact that Monster Hunter has finally, finally made its way onto top-end consoles right after Nintendo has released the first genuine portable-handheld hybrid, which would be perfect for the series.

After playing the beta on a PS4 Pro and a big ol' 4K TV, though, my mild resentment at having to play Monster Hunter whilst rooted to my couch has diminished significantly. Monster Hunter World lets you prioritise resolution, framerate or detail, and supports HDR. It looks brilliant.

Mantles

You can now equip cloaks that give you different time-limited buffs. Ghillies are like an invisibility cloak: pop one on and dive into some shrubbery, and angry dragons will have a tough time spotting you. The Rocksteady mantle is a minute-long boost to attack and defence.

I loved the gliding mantle, which works like a squirrel suit -- it enabled an awesome moment where I swung from a series of vines right onto the back of a Barroth (think really pissed-off rhino crossed with a T-Rex) and rode it around.

Your Cat Can Now Ride Dinosaurs

Palicoes are the little cat-friends you take out with you on monster hunts. They have typically functioned as a way to make single-player a little less intense, drawing the aggro of a target so you can get some hits in or giving you little health buffs. I've come to almost ignore them over hundreds of hours.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was mid-fight with the hardest monster in the beta, the fire-breathing Anjanath, and my little cat buddy suddenly showed up riding on the back of a raptor. It was awesome.

Palicoes can now talk to the smaller monsters and to the wild cat-tribes that live around the place and enlist their help. In the middle of another fight, a crowd of cats suddenly appeared and flung ropes at the Barroth I was facing, holding it down for a few seconds so I could charge up my gunlance and blast it in the face. Thanks, cat-pal!

The Slinger

Even if you're not using a ranged weapon like the Bow or Bowgun, you now have the Slinger, a catapult thing that lets you fire rocks or whatever else you can find. I picked up some glowing goo and found that I could use the Slinger to fire it at walls to light up an area. I saw a video over the weekend of someone using it as a grappling hook; I don't even know how they did it. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with it.

Fast Travel

The map is so huge that getting from one end of it to the other isn't always actually fun. Happily, you can jump between the various base camps, from the mountains to the marshes, for a snooze, some food or some crafting.

Region-free Online Play

This is definitely not something to shout about in 2017 but hey, this is Monster Hunter! Online play was grudgingly adopted on the 3DS, but it was never all that great. Monster Hunter: World will be out all over the world at the same time, and players won't be segregated by region, which means it will be much easier to team up.

This is one area of the beta that needs significant improvement, though. Nobody wants to fiddle around with annoying lobbies and multi-digit codes to get a game going.

Making Better Use Of The Environment

Knowing your surroundings has always been key to good hunting, but there's so much more detail in World: ledges from which to fling yourself onto monsters' backs, pits and traps that you can lure them into, plants that emit healing or attack-boosting spores when hit, shortcuts, hidden spots… This was the area I barely explored during the beta, due to the strict 20 minute time limit on the missions.

Already we're seeing footage of people managing to drop massive rocks on a Rathalos from the ceiling of a jungle cave.

Easily Shareable Video

This is a gamechanger for Monster Hunter: streaming and video sharing was very difficult from 3DS, but the PS4, Xbox One and PC's easy tools will allow everyone to share Monster Hunter moments. These games are extremely funny, which they rarely get credit for, and we're already seeing some of the best Monster Hunter players show off some amazing skills.

Given that one of the barriers to entry for Monster Hunter has always been that it's hard to learn at first, shareable video like this shows people how brilliant the game is when you know what you're doing, and can also teach people how to git gud themselves.


Comments

    Loved it and cant wait for the full release.

    A big one is they have stream lined the Armor Skill system.
    Previously you needed to gain 10 points in a skill to gain a Level 1 skill (Attack Up SMall etc)
    Now there are 7 tiers to the skill and as long as you have at least 1 piece of armor with that skill you gain 1 level within the skill tier (1 Attack = Level 1 attack +5 dmg)
    Obviously the idea is to build a Armor sets that synergise with your play style (dodging, critical hits, dmg, status effects, tanking, rapid fire etc)
    Eventually you'll unlock/hunt for higher armors with sockets which open up the amount of skills you can gain immensely or even just increase your skills tier
    However clown suiting (mixing armor sets for specific skills) is still available for all those minmaxers out there, in fact it seems to be a lot more flexible for this

    Also weapon paths are way easier to understand now, we can finally see the full weapon tree! which means working towards that ultimate weapon is much easier to plan for and if you make a mistake you can go back! instead of wasting all those precious rare resources.

    Last edited 14/12/17 12:36 pm

    Monster Hunter: World is looking really, really good. What's so incredible is that this is the game nobody thought would happen, myself included. If anyone brought this up as a possibility just 1 year ago, the reply would be "nah, Capcom hates money and they're too committed to handhelds for MH. And if they did, would they even localize it?"

    Now, they're making a new MH, keeping all the good stuff, adding cool new stuff, focusing on the international aspect of release, and even releasing it on P-freakin'-C. Was there a regime change in Capcom or something? Was there a coup? Should I call the police? What happened!?

    I remember that Deep Down, that Dark Souls-esque multiplayer thing, got cancelled. Is it possible that this project took over what they were trying to do there?

    I’m glad I played the beta, having never played MH before. The controls seem floppy and button-mashy. Yes yes - I’m sure I’m doing it wrong, but I’ll wait to see the final release in action, rather than preordering.

      Yep, you doin' it wrong :-D
      there is more tactic involved than button mash watch some 3DS gameplay videos etc.

        That’s a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, I want it to be good. The crafting in particular looks like it could be amazing.
        Also, playing from the start (rather than dropping you in fully-geared as the beta seems to do) would probably help me better understand the mechanics.
        Dammit I think I’ve just convinced myself to preorder.

      A large part of MH's combat is that attacks and other actions make you vulnerable, which is where the challenge comes from. In situations where monsters are dealing quite a lot of damage (the beta seemed to give players pretty good gear for the monsters you fight, especially for the first 2, so it wasn't as prevalent there) you can't afford to be as button-mashy. Once you get into the swing of things, the difference in what attacks do becomes a lot more important.

      Some weapons have more nuance too, for what it's worth. For example, I find the longsword to be repetitive and spammy, whereas a weapon like the hammer has a few meaningful choices for attacks/combos in any given situation.

      The fundamentals are very Dark Souls-esque, but without a focus on lock-on mechanics.

    Never played any iteration of MH before - but I can't wait for this!!!!
    Looks like a seriously good franchise.

    Having never played a MH game before, even I found myself wishing that Scoutflies could be turned off. I get "why" they're included, but it seems to take a lot out of tracking something that should be fun.

    Blah, I'm getting tempted. I tried to get into MH3 but the gameloop was just too obvious, it felt like a Dark Souls Facebook clicker. May give the series another shot with MHW. :O

    re: chasing monsters down

    So, it's still less frustrating than trying to hunt Rathalos in the Gen2 games?

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