‘Monster Hunter World’ is all style and even more substance


The balloon bat, Paolumu. Photo credit: Ulises Duenas

“Monster Hunter” has been delivering addictive and long-lasting experiences for years, but confusing mechanics and difficult combat made it hard for new players to get into it. “Monster Hunter World” takes some big steps forward in multiple areas while still retaining the core of what makes the series great.

Like “Destiny” and “Diablo,” “Monster Hunter” is all about the grind. Hardcore players spend hundreds of hours in these games over months. That time is spent killing monsters, crafting new weapons and armor and gathering items. The basic loop is simple: Kill giant monsters, use their parts to make stronger weapons and armor and then use that to kill even bigger, tougher monsters. The hooks that the game dig into the player are felt immediately. Carving up monsters in hopes of getting the last item you need to make a new weapon never gets old.

Having such a varied roster of monsters to hunt helps a lot. Aside from having unique looks, each monster behaves differently in combat too. The player can’t approach any two monsters; in the same way, each one has different attack patterns and weaknesses that must be learned. Some fights are unnecessarily annoying since monsters will get into a loop of only doing a couple of moves over and over. This isn’t a game that can be charged through by using the same tactics and that’s what makes the combat so interesting.

Past games have had distinct solo and multiplayer modes with their own set of quests. This time around all quests are tied together and can be done alone or with up to three friends. This can get frustrating because the host player has to get to a certain point in a quest before others can join in.

A game like this needs good flow in order to stay addictive and fun so interruptions like this become a nuisance over time. Even with the weird online functions, multiplayer is still the best way to enjoy “Monster Hunter.” Taking down a huge monster with friends using teamwork feels great and it’s a way for inexperienced players to get some advice and learn about the monsters as they hunt.

The story of the game is the weakest aspect of the package. The writing is dull and mainly used as a vehicle to introduce the next monster. Major characters are given placeholder names like “handler” or “commander” and aren’t fleshed out at all. Even the monsters have more personality and depth as characters than the humans in the story. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem if the gameplay wasn’t constantly interrupted by unskippable cutscenes and dialogue. With all that being said, the world that the game takes place in is still interesting and charming. It’s a shame that the stories being told in that world don’t do the setting justice.

This is the perfect entry point for anyone who’s been even remotely interested in this series. Even veteran players will find plenty of reasons to come back to this. The combat is fun and flashy, but the story is constantly getting in the way of the game’s addictive nature. I enjoy this game more than anything I’ve played in the last few years, but its flaws are too big to ignore. It’s shortcomings in the story and online functions bring a great experience down to four stars.

[Final Score: 4/5]

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter.