Monster Hunter World is like an unofficial video game adaptation of Jurassic Park. A beautiful ecosystem of prehistoric creatures with a hierarchy of power and food chain. Prey and predators follow their natural instincts and hunt - sometimes you, other times your target. As a hunter, you can use this to your advantage, baiting your target towards another’s nest, pitting them against one another, or use the environment to trap your prey before striking its weak points.
You play as a hunter who has travelled to the New World as a member of the Research Commission, exploring new unknown territories. Every time you leave town to explore the open world island, you’ll need to scavenge and hunt rare creatures for materials, building new gear like a bowgun or armour set for you and your felyne - a cat-like companion that assists you on your journey.
Exploration and hunting require strategic thinking, extensive knowledge of the island’s bestiary and precision, but according to game director Yuya Tokuda, Capcom aim to deliver an experience that doesn’t feel as daunting for newcomers and single player fans. 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.
In one scenario, a group of small parasitic reptiles watched at bay as the hunter downed a T-Rex-like beast using a cluster of vines and their greatsword, emerging from the shadows to help take down the traditionally stronger foe. Later, the hunter cautiously led the creature to a bird wyvern’s nest, before the two enormous creatures fought each other, further weakening it as trees caught on fire and nearby critters fled the sounds of battle.
Running on Capcom’s MT Framework engine, the game looks utterly beautiful. Environments look rich and lush with detail, dynamic lighting and each location differs in flora and fauna. Foliage and particle effects add to your immersion in tight scenarios, and along with the new slingshot item, can be used to distract or stun enemies.
“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 want, not just in the environments but also in the monster AI and how they interact with each other.”
“The concept of the ‘open world’ is exactly what we’[ve] always wanted,” added Tokuda. “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.”