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Monster Hunter World – Video Game Review

I have no desire to stalk and kill big game across the savanna plains of Africa. To be honest, the whole concept of big game hunting; shooting and killing an animal just because it is a) there and b) I happen to have a gun and it does not, holds absolutely no appeal to me. If I am really honest, the whole concept is somewhat (wholly) repellent to me.

Monster Hunter World (cover)

However, hunting virtual dinosaurs? I’m all for that!

I bought, with my own money I hasten to add (though if any companies out there want me to review their games I prefer XBOX or PC? No? Ah well, worth a try), Monster Hunter World on the recommendation of a friend. He had not played it, but had played previous versions and spoke so passionately I had to give it a go. Clearly, I am easily swayed.

Downloading, installing and joining the game for the first time, I created my character. A grizzled veteran with a grey beard and hard eyes. The appearance customisation options are varied enough that you could spend a lot of time here – I didn’t, my fashion sense is lacking (so my wife says and she is usually correct). Once those dinosaurs see him, I bet they run for the hills to hide. Or eat him.

Probably the latter.

The first decision, and it is quite a puzzler, is the weapon you are going to take on your hunts. There are a fair number and all are different. Long swords which appear to be really long, around 4 metres or so. Lances which fire bullets. Dual swords, bows, hammers, glaives and bagpipes… who doesn’t hunt monsters with bagpipes? For each there is a short video to show it being used, so you can see how they work.

glaive

I did not choose the bagpipes. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

I chose a glaive because it came with a Kinsect (an insect companion) and that just sounded interesting. Also, with the glaive I can leap about and fly through the sky like an extra from House of the Flying Daggers. It spoke to me for some reason and having been issued my first quest, my first hunt, I headed out into the wilds.

At this point, I should say I loved the intro video which sets the scene and the story… though story might be the weakest part of this game. There’s a big monster that the ‘government’ wants to kill, capture or find out more about. Along the way, we’ve got to hunt and kill some other monsters.

dinosaur

Tracking monsters is, at the start, a little hit, miss and dose of luck, but as you get better your scoutflies get better too. These little creatures will sniff out your target and point the way. The more you hunt a species, the more tracks you find and investigate, the easier it is to find that monster.

As you hunt you can gather resources; herbs for potions, fungus for medicines, beetles, spider webs and ammunition for your slinger – a device attached to your arm which you can use to distract monsters or to set off some environmental traps and obstacles. Though I fear, should this device be real and observing the force with which the projectiles are… well… projected, every time you fired it you’d break your arm.

Later on, you can craft traps and are sent out to capture, not kill, monsters. This involves damaging the monster until the point they start limping away. Set a trap ahead of them to pin them in place, then throw tranquiliser bombs into its face until it collapses. There is something satisfying about this process… though it can be devilish at times.

trap

From each slain or captured (and presumably dissected) monster you accumulate resources. With these you can forge or upgrade your equipment. Want some new armour, you can make it if you’ve hunted the right monsters. The same with weapons. Each piece of armour or weapon comes with some bonuses or does a particular type of damage. These you can, if you’re more adept than me, mix and match to give you advantages depending upon your target monsters.

To add more variety to the tasks, though they all involve killing or capturing, you can take collecting tasks, investigations and delivery missions. The cut scenes are good, but repetitive and more depth is added with catering (food that gives stamina or health bonuses) and you’ve a home you personalise to a degree – I haven’t spent any time doing this bar releasing a captured pet in there.

bow

Strangely, for all the repetitive nature of the hunting I really enjoy it. I’ve moved from my Glaive and onto the bow. Long range and staying clear of danger appeals to me. My bow, the one I’ve just crafted does additional thunder damage. I do go back to my poisoning glaive and Kinsect (an insect which does damage and can harvest for you) for some monsters – the ability to jump onto a monsters back and repeatedly stab it is great and something the glaive is better for, because you can jump.

The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace would hate this game (if it were real). No consideration is given to the environment and biodiversity. You kill and kill and kill monsters, the apex predators in their food chain, to no impact. Every time you come back to the same area, the monsters are back – which isn’t to say you can find the one you want unless you take it as a mission.

Oh, and save often. You can’t just log out of this game – you have to save before you do. Which isn’t so bad as I started playing games on the ZX Spectrum, but when you forget it can be annoying. That weapon you just crafted… gone. You’ll have to craft it again. It is a bind and can be annoying, but you soon learn.

Monster Hunter World (gameplay)

So, a conclusion, I really enjoy this game. Fifteen hours and climbing – now, there’s a monster which breathes fire I need to go and kill.

I’ll see you out there.

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