The Monster Hunter franchise has long been on Nintendo consoles so it was quite a pleasant surprise to learn it was getting a new game on the PS4. Playing the games on Nintendo consoles was fun but they were visually lacking thanks to the underpowered hardware. Now we have Monster Hunter World that has thrown out the comicy look Capcom has been using for the franchise for something more realistic.
Monster Hunter has never really had much of a story and this time, it's not much different. It's still quite shallow but more voice acting involved. Elder Dragons are suddenly migrating to a land called "New World" and it's up to the hunters to stop them wrecking havoc. You end up arriving as part of the Fifth Unit to do just that.
So, after a cutscene and some forced tutorials you're left to wander around Astera, your new base just like other MH games. Not much is different here with your usual range of NPCs selling items, a blacksmith, garden for growing combination items and canteen area.
Other than the odd voiced cutscene, the game flow hasn't changed much either. Go to a quest board, post something, go complete it. Most of your time will be spent collecting materials to forge better gear as usual.
The main charm of MH games has always been on the multiplayer aspect but before we go into that, note that you require a PSN Plus subscription to enjoy the game online. It's quite sad to learn of this having been used to playing online for free in the Nintendo games. It also adds to the cost of the game too of course but if you haven't used your 14 day free trial then lucky you. You can enjoy it for a while but be sure to either cancel auto-renewal or cancel in time or you'll get charged later.
Brushing that aside, the new way the multiplayer works is quite interesting. The hub where you can visually see other players still exists but you're no longer restricted to that single small area to party with other players. Instead, you create an online session as soon as you start the game (or choose to join one) and then whenever someone posts a quest up, you're free to join in.
It works well because you can still go about doing your own things while waiting around.
In the past, you could hop online and do quests with other players to speed up gear farming then, use that overpowered gear to speed yourself through the offline story quests but now there's no need. Another great new feature is you can now send out an "SOS Flare" so that other players can join in while you're a quest now. You don't have to wait for enough players to make sure you have enough fire power before leaving. Saves a lot of time than previous games!
Other than that, there's been some changes to the item system too. While you still have to combine items to make better versions such as mega potions, you no longer have to re-stock on whetstones all the time. A single whetstone can now be used infinitely. You can also make better use of the environments now such as leading the monster to run into a vine so that it gets trapped for a while instead of depending on trap tools.
Instead of running around trying to find the monster, you also have the aid of fireflies that magically (and helpfully) point you in the direction of resources you can use or footprints that help you hunt it down.
Good thing because while out and about there's no longer any zoning thanks to the PS4's higher amounts of RAM no doubt. It's quite easy to get lost and with so much detail it would have been hard to know what you can interact with. You still have to wait for a map to load which can take up to a minute. After that however, you don't have to wait for a zone to load when you hit the exit. It's still not open world but you've got a bigger sandbox to play in now.
Graphics wise you can see at a glance how good the more realistic visuals look. This might be also the reason why they decided to scrap the comicy character animations MH games have been known for which is a shame because they were fun to watch. Signature monsters such as Rathian are back and look great in their HD makeovers along with quite a few new monsters.
Overall, multiplayer from the franchise remains the greatest charm in Monster Hunter World and they have greatly improved it to the point where you can jump in and play - if you don't mind the PSN Plus subscription fee. On the other hand, now that even Nintendo is charging a subscription fee for the Switch to enjoy multiplayer online it will probably be the new trend you will have to get used to.
- Multiplayer hunting is as fun as always.
- New "SOS Flare" saves waiting for enough players to join.
- Investigations help reduce farming for materials.
- Some of the more tedious things such as repeatedly buying whetstones is gone.
- The more realistic looking visuals look great.
- Fireflies help guide you in the large maps.
- You need a PSN Plus subscription to play online.
- The old comicy character animations were more fun.