Considering Capcom’s long-running Monster Hunter series hasn’t had much of an impact in the west, save perhaps for mild success on 3DS, this latest iteration generated a surprising amount of excitement prior to release.
Curiously, it wasn’t just the fans who were thrilled to see a current-gen Monster Hunter game – something a long time coming – but also those who had always admired the series from afar.
This is the entry Capcom hopes will push the series into the big leagues, achieving mainstream success by breaking down barriers to allow for an accessible experience. The draw, of course, being the ability to team up with online chums to track and take down colossal primaeval beasts, using a huge variety of weapons, poisons, and traps.
2K Games tried to tap into this ethos in 2015 with the quickly forgotten Evolve. Although there are similarities, especially when it comes to tracking down and chasing after creatures, MH: W achieves more than Turtle Rock could have ever imagined. A living, breathing, vivid world full of rampaging monsters, with a deep crafting system, a lively online hub and a remarkably long list of quests and other busywork to ensure 50 hours of play at the very minimum.
The whole thing centres around a carefully woven gameplay loop. Prepping for adventure with a hearty stat-boosting meal, taking down colossal beasts or completing side-quests, crafting new weapons and armour from the fruits of your labour, and repeating the process ad infinitum. With every passing quest, the unfolding story – which entails charting a new, unfamiliar, world – throws a new beast or two into the mix, putting the focus on upgrading equipment to deal with the next threat, be it a poison-spewing bird-brained foe, or a screen-filling giant that would make a tyrannosaurus rex whimper.
You aren’t alone in this pursuit either, joined by a feline friend known as a Palico. As well as collecting scraps and dealing a small amount of damage to enemies, they can also be commanded to place health stations. There’s no finer hunter than an inquisitive cat.