Monster Hunter World (Xbox One Initial Impressions)

Monster Hunter World sets itself up as an offshoot of the main series, even though it really isn’t. It still feels like a kind of spin-off to help form a foundation for newcomers like myself to be welcomed into by setting aside prior intimidating and preferencial factors such as possible story continuity, players own experience and, for some, the lack of interest in handheld gaming. The doors are now open to all us console dweebs to sink our freshly sharpened blades into. And with my Palico by my side, I can finally set off into the universe that’s been teasing me for over a decade now. And Monster Hunter World doesn’t disappoint, at least from a gameplay perspective.

Though before we can really get into the nitty-gritty of monster hunting, we of course need to view the obligatory opening cutscenes that establish the world and our hunters place in it. Other hunters detail the trials set forth before us, and what could happen if we fail to set up roots in Astera—Monster Hunter Worlds’ hometown—while creating as sense of importance and understanding of our role. However, I can’t help but feel a lack of interest in Monster Hunters own trifling story. I mean, it says on the box ‘Monster Hunter’, so I get the gist of what I’ll be doing for the next 100+ hours. And anything Monster Hunter force feeds me inbetween is just flavouring—that in my case—sours the overall experience.

Cutscenes are overly intrusive when it comes to just getting things done but the most heinous example of these compulsory cutscenes ‘monster-blocking’ you is when you try and engage in a bit of merry multiplayer. Right off the bat, it forces players to partake in most missions solo, or at least ahead of your preferred co-op partners, to ensure all necessary story details have been divulged to the host player before their pals can join the fray. This often leads to moments where friends could sit idle until the ending breadth of the mission is within arms reach, only to then be allowed to tussle with the monster for the last 10 minutes.

And this form of exclusionary multiplayer absolutely baffles me. It had me speechless and rather angry too if I’m honest. For all of Monster Hunter World’s enticing elements, multiplayer monster hunting was by far the most promising aspect. And to see it handle so strangely—and as far as I’m now aware, this isn’t new for the franchise—ultimately tempered my expectation right off the bat. And I’d end up taking everything with a pinch of salt moving forward.

Well, at least for the next 30 or so minutes, until I got lost in Monster Hunter World’s gorgeous scenery and locales. A serene wanderlust took me over as I was in sheer awe of the huge jungle before me The Ancient Forest: a maze of vines and leaves intertwined with flowing rivers and capacious caverns. Large monsters roam free in their natural habitat, getting into turf wars with equally more exciting and aggressive creatures. I would often get sidetracked from my main objective simply because of how enticing and sometimes beguiling the local fauna is. Some animals seem perfectly docile with you around, while others may paralyse you as a defensive mechanism for getting too close.Regardless of whether I was in dense jungles, arid wastes or rocky highlands, never once was I dissuaded from playing due shoddy design or bland scenery. It’s quite obvious a lot of love and care went into Monster Hunter World locations. Even the monsters are a pleasure to feast your eyes on. That is until they try to rip them out, of course.

And that’s justifiably where the chunk of Monster Hunter World’s gameplay takes place—in pitted battles against increasingly larger and stronger monsters. These larger creatures can sway back and forth, giving players little breathing room as they charge in using simple stomping attacks. These see you having to dodge roll your way out from under the monsters toes to anything from fire breathing and muck spewing, all dependant on the type of creature you are facing. A large Jagras (Giant Lizard) may often claw and bite and you where as a large Ajanath (T-Rex) uses its mighty fire breath to toast you to a crisp. And even then, when you fail at taking them down, the rush of excitement from that last engagement still lingers, encouraging me to hop right back in.

And tackling these brutes ain’t so easy, that’s why it’s important to choose the appropriate equipment for the job. With 14 weapons to choose from, you can’t really go wrong—unless you’re feeling overly confident and want to try master the more technical weapons like the Insect Glaive or the Charge blade. Both of these require a fair amount of study and prep beforehand to make good use of them in combat. Instead, I ran in half-cocked only to eat my words seconds later as I could barely understand how I was supposed to wield it. But alas, I endured, defeating monsters here and there until I could harvest enough materials from them to create some incredibly cool and practical armour. This will be your main reason for plodding along—to get better materials for progressively upgrading your armour and weapons.

However, if you’re a person that doesn’t particularly like this form of gameplay loop of loot, craft and repeat,- then Monster Hunter World might have you by the short hairs. Even so, if you decide to take the plunge, the better option would be to do it on Xbox One X. While The Xbox One version suffers from some poor online connectivity issues it far outweighs the alternative as Monster Hunter World doesn’t run terrible great on the original PS4 (unsure about Pro) or even the standard Xbox One console. Though the graphical quality isn’t staggeringly different, its consistant framerate drops can be a problem and can hamper the overall experience for many.

Though, I still have plenty of hours to go before I can say I’ve reached the endgame but all in all, Monster Hunter World is stacking up rather nicely. My main gripe is about how Monster Hunter World handles its drop in/out co-op and its overly clunky way of setting up party hunts, You could potentially get used to it. Disregarding that last fact, Monster Hunter World is fantastic, and though intimidating for newcomers, you should still check it out

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