As Monster Hunter: World prepares to get a major expansion later this year, it would seem to have little to prove. It's Capcom's bestselling game ever; it successfully elevated the series outside of Japan, and it helped kickstart a new Capcom renaissance. Still, hardcore fans have questions.
The biggest points of criticism leveled against Monster Hunter: World surround its monster count and its difficulty. Simply put, it didn't have enough monsters, and it was a little too easy. How well will Capcom be addressing these points in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne? That's what we wanted to find out.
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In an interview last week, we asked executive director Kaname Fujioka and senior producer Ryozo Tsujimoto about Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's difficulty; about the introduction of more flagship monsters, and about which weapons need to be improved for the expansion. Here's what they had to say.
USG: The general consensus in the community was that Monster Hunter: World was a little too easy at various points. What are your thoughts on that?
Kaname Fujioka, executive director: Arch-Tempered Monsters were presented as challenging endgame content for Monster Hunter: World players who had been through the story and wanted to get a meaty challenge. The thing about the Monster Hunter: World difficulty curve is that we knew we had a lot of first-time Monster Hunter players. Also, for returning players, the Monster Hunter: World system was a bit of a different feeling from the previous titles. So we needed to get you onboard with that.
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The onboarding difficulty curve was rather gentle compared to previous titles. It got high towards the end, but there was a gentle slope before. Coming into Iceborne, since by definition you have to have finished the story in Monster Hunter: World, we know you're already here [gestures upward]. It's not so much that this is Arch-Tempered and it's going to keep going up. Arch-Tempered is still quite a challenge, but the difficulty curve in Iceborne is sharper for sure because we know where you're at.
How does Clutch Claw change the approach to combat?
KF: The Clutch Claw is definitely a new tool at your disposal. You're going to want to get to grips with it. That's not to say that's it's going to be a solution to every problem. It's just one more card in your deck. It won't work every time. You shouldn't be spamming it, but I think it's a great addition to Monster Hunter: World's concept of using the environment to your advantage. People have always tried to push a monster, to knock it into a wall or into a trap you've set. The Clutch Claw will let you more-directly control that aspect, your ability to position the monster. There's a lot depth added to every weapon, since they'll all be able to build on the Clutch Claw.
The snow looks fantastic in the game, how much work and effort did it take to get that up and running to Monster Hunter: World's standards?
KF: It was something that we took a lot of time on. Right from the beginning of the development of Iceborne, we knew that the concept was to have an icy snow stage, because it was something we wanted in Monster Hunter: World. It would let us bring new styles of monsters. One of the most obvious things was to have that great feeling of deep snow. Trudging through it, leaving a path behind. Implementing that and the trial-and-error process pretty much the whole way through Iceborne's development. Towards the end of development, we were finally happy with how it looked and performed.
Partying up could be an awkward experience in Monster Hunter: World. What are your plans to address this in Iceborne?
KF: We've heard feedback from people since Monster Hunter: World came out. They want to have a smoother partying up experience and we're trying to improve that. We haven't gone over the details of the new gathering hub just yet. We have shown the new home base, but we intentionally didn't go into the gathering hub. In the previous game, one of the gripes was that all the facilities that you need to prep for your hunt weren't available in the gathering hub. By necessity, you had to hop back to the base and then your friends weren't there.
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We're trying to make it so that, as much as possible, all the facilities you'll need to do your hunt prep are going to be contained in the gathering hub. While it's still the case that the gathering hub is the only place you'll see your friends, we think it'll be much easier to stay there while you're playing multiplayer. Stay tune to more details in the coming months."
"[T]he Hunting Horn [...] Maybe Needed a Few More Options"
What weapon did you feel needed the biggest boost in Iceborne and why?
KF: We did think that the Hunting Horn, while it's a great weapon that's amazing for supporting your team, maybe needed a few more options. It needed more strategies that players who use the Hunting Horn could have in their arsenal in terms of powerful moves and combos. We thought we could push it further and go deeper with the Hunting Horn, for people who felt that they couldn't use it or it wouldn't fit with their playstyle. I think hopefully it should suit more players' playstyle now."
What steps are you taking to ensure that older gear remains viable with the introduction of Iceborne gear?
KF: The upgrade trees have brand new extended parts for Master Rank. You're going to be going into your Master Rank hunts, and as you defeat monsters, you'll get the Master Rank-level materials, which will let you do those upgrades. As for the armor, I know it'd be weird to be like, "Here's Iceborne, now wear this. This is the new starter armor." [gestures at Iceborne artwork] This is actually a layered armor. The one you see in the artwork is there for atmosphere. That isn't actually a skill-based build.
This is what you're given because, in story terms, it's going to be cold out there. But inside, because it's layered armor, you can wear whatever skill build you want. If you got your favorite, just bring it. Inevitably, there does need to be transition into your new Master Rank gear, because the fun of the game is the cycle of hunt, craft, and loot. It's definitely viable to bring your high-rank gear into the Iceborne opening segments.
Can we expect more flagship monsters to be revealed?
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KF: We're not done with returning fan-favorites. Stay tuned for further details. We're not done announcing monsters.
There have been a number of collaborations with others brands like The Witcher and Final Fantasy 14. Can we expect to see more of those?
Ryozo Tsujimoto, senior producer: We are definitely interesting in more collaborations. But because it's not something we can just make on our own, it has to be something that you get someone onboard with. They kind of tend to come out of the blue to be honest. They're not something we super plan on. Sometimes the timing is just right. The partner is just right. We have nothing to announce or confirm at the moment. As with World, we are definitely planning post-launch support with title updates.
Is Monster Hunter: World coming to Switch?
KF: [laughing] We have no plans.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne will be out September 6 on PS4 and Xbox One. Read more about how the icy weather affects the combat in the upcoming Monster Hunter: World expansion.