Monster Hunter: World boasts a beautiful open world that’s unofficially the video game edition of Jurassic Park, with a rich ecosystem, prehistoric creatures, and a hierarchy of power and food chain. Prey and predators follow their natural instincts and hunt. Sometimes they hunt you, other times your target.
In the game you play as a hunter who has travelled to the New World exploring unknown territories as a member of the Research Commission. Each time you leave town to explore the open world island, you’re tasked with hunting a rare creature or scavenging natural resources. From here, you can build new gear from a range of ten weapon classes; greatswords, bowguns, insect-controlling glaves, lances and dual swords (to name a few). You can also create armour sets for you and your felyne - feline warriors that assists you on your journey.
Exploration and hunting require strategic thinking, extensive knowledge of the island’s bestiary and precision. According to game director Yuya Tokuda, Capcom aim to deliver an experience that doesn’t feel as daunting for newcomers. Unlike past games in the series, Monster Hunter: World’s multiplayer is seamless. Up to four players can drop in and out of a game, even in the middle of a mission.
Every weapon feels tangible and plays differently, too. Bowguns play more like a heavy machine gun in a traditional third person shooter and the animation of swinging a greatsword is slow but weighted. The UI doesn’t show a target’s health, just how much damage you deal, so you’ll need to be aware of the change in your target’s movement and behaviour.
“Scavenging interactions, survival of the fittest… all that stuff is really important to Monster Hunter,” producer Ryozo Tsujimoto told Glixel. “We’ve always wanted to include it in the past but the technology limited us. Now, we can have as much detail as we want, not just in the environments but also in the monster AI and how they interact with each other.”
As a hunter, you can use the environment around you to your advantage. A group of velociraptor-like critters watched at bay as the hunter baited a T-Rex-like beast towards a bed of vines, temporarily trapping it and striking it with their greatsword, before the pack emerged from the shadows to help take down the traditionally stronger foe. Later, the hunter gradually led the beast - now weakened and staggering - to a bird wyvern’s nest, before the two enormous creatures clashed, gusts of wind and flames, catching trees on fire and flinging the hunter around as nearby creatures fled.
The game is running on Capcom’s MT Framework engine, and looks gorgeous. The island is separated into individual areas with their own flora, fauna and sub-ecosystem, rich and lush with detail. Each species is uniquely animated, and you can use the foliage and dust particle effects to your advantage along with the new slingshot tool, which flings rocks to distract or stun targets.
“The concept of the ‘open world’ is exactly what we’[ve] always wanted,” Tokuda told Glixel. “We’re always aimed to make each map a little compact ecosystem. We don’t want to have some massive space where you have to chase the monster for miles.”
“It’s not about having a big world,” he continued, “it’s about having a deep [one]. In a way, it’s the ultimate expression of what the concept that’s been there from the very start [of the series], but only now are we able to make it the way we want.”
Monster Hunter: World arrives on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime next year with a PC release scheduled shortly after. We’ll have more gaming coverage from E3 over the coming weeks.
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