In Monster Hunter, the most pressing danger is usually the target of your hunt. While ambient wildlife and environmental hazards can be obstructive, you're most worried about the giant beast charging you headfirst. And while they're still terrifying, Iceborne poses a new stumbling block in your path: the weather.
In my gameplay demo, I ventured out with three other hunters to find the mighty Banbaro, a new monster for Iceborne. Picture the body of a T-rex with the head of a reindeer, and you're pretty close. The Banbaro loves to charge headfirst, dragging terrain with it as it goes. Normally, you can just dodge roll and be alright, but the Banbaro doesn't just have size and strength on its side, but the environment as well.
The biting cold of Iceborne paces all of your hunts. While searching for your target, you have to drink hot drinks to keep warmed up, or your stamina will start to drain faster. Spend too much time in the extreme cold or get hit by a particularly freezing attack, and you'll be covered in ice and frost, slowing your movement. Eating a Nulberry or diving into a hot spring will help, though be careful that monsters don't strike while you're slowly thawing out.
This environmental dynamic shifts big fights because now, you have to be worried about ambient status effects as well as what the monster is throwing at you. I found myself having to play more cautiously and watching my status, rather than just swinging away with my dual blades. It is thankfully not that tedious to stay warm, as it rides the fine line between manageable and annoying fairly well.
Though these factors may sound like they impede your movement, Iceborne adds another tool to enhance your movement in exchange: the clutch claw. Part of your slinger loadout, the clutch claw lets you latch onto monsters and zip at them, gripping onto their hide if you successfully land it. You can then follow up with an attack or with a move that will direct the monster's path, forcing it to move.
The clutch claw is wicked fun. One of my favorite things to do in any Monster Hunter is jump on top of the monster and start doing some damage while rodeoing, so having a tool that allows constant access to that ability is a blast.
Reward does not come without risk, however. Multiple times I would try to zip onto the Banbaro, only to meet his antlers head-on and take huge damage. The game suggests you wait until the monster is stationary, wounded, or tired, and I'd have to agree unless you like getting dunked out of the air by a giant Banbaro footstomp.
This mobility gives you a way of getting around and towards the monster while dealing with the massive snow drifts and hazards of Iceborne, which will hinder your movement at the most inopportune times. While the hunting is the same as always, just putting an added layer of things to worry about in my immediate vicinity immensely ramped up the tension. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne looks to expand the world, add more monsters, and really bolster the base content of an already solid game. But I'm most excited—and terrified—of the two enemies I'll have to face on every hunt: the monster and its uncaring, merciless frozen abode.
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