Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's Final Boss Makes for a Brilliant and Terrifying Finale

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's Final Boss Makes for a Brilliant and Terrifying Finale

Shara Ishvalda caps off Monster Hunter: World's excellent expansion with an outstanding battle.

I am scared and awed by Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's final boss. The feral wolf-looking behemoth with six long, spidery arms protruding from its back is so weird that it doesn't even have a name the first time you face off against it. Even now, after besting the climactic boss of Iceborne over a dozen times (yes, I love the grind), I still dread going back and facing that damn thing. Monster Hunter: World excels with its exceptional creature design, and Iceborne isn't afraid to make things a bit weird.

The 'Shara Ishvalda,' as it is eventually named by Monster Hunter: World's Research Commission, is a towering behemoth that can shoot soundwaves out of its, erm, tentacle things sticking out of its back, which sounds cool until you find yourself on the receiving end of it. Usually we only get to fight monsters of these proportions in scripted scenarios involving cannons, cannons, and more cannons (looking at you, Zorah Magdaros), but this time your team of courageous hunters are actually let loose on a level playing field with a monster the size of a house.

The climactic boss of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne starts out looking like a dog encased in rocks. Shara Ishvalda lumbers around the battlefield with slow, deliberate movements, the spidery arms on its back-also encased in rocks- act like a pair of giant hands, sweeping the ground in front of the beast to pummel any poor souls.

To uncover the true form of the Shara Ishvalda, you and your allies have to literally hack off its outer shell. You need to rip the rocks off its head with as many swords, axes, bombs, daggers, and even falling boulders that you can muster. Saying that the true boss fight starts here would be doing the first phase a disservice, but there's an element of truth to it. The final phase of the Shara Ishvalda is like nothing we've ever seen in Monster Hunter before.

Imagine a team of trained professionals going into battle with the infected dog in John Carpenter's The Thing, but it's also the size of an office block, and you're nearly there. This version is a lot faster and deadlier than its first form, and it has some moves that really drive home how much of an excellent team-based game Monster Hunter: World has become over the last 20 months.

Ishvalda's signature move-the one I've died to the most-brings all six of its extra arms together in front of it, a bit like Goku pulling off a Kamehameha (except not with six arms), and fires off a giant shockwave of energy right across the arena, like a mammoth hadouken. Everyone who's done this fight by now knows what's coming, and the only way to avoid it is to sprint around Ishvalda as quickly as possible. Picture Scooby Doo and co. running cartoon-style from a monster, and you've got an idea of how this looks.

Shara Ishvalda will occasionally make you think it's retreating underground. Popping back out of the ground on a random side of the arena, it'll summon a giant ball of energy above its head, which causes the middle 90% of the arena to explode. The first time the retreat happens, there's an air of hesitant optimism; the second time, everyone is busy sprinting for the nearest wall. If someone gets caught in the blast, there's an unwritten rule that one member of the team needs to go back and help them back into fighting shape with an area of effect healing item like a Life Powder. Monster Hunter: World has always been a game about helping one another-with the "thanks for the help!" auto response flashing up whenever someone heals a teammate-but everyone needs to work together to survive the towering Shara Ishvalda.

A Monster Hunter Setpiece Done Right

All of this adds up to a boss fight that is remarkably successful as a setpiece. Monster Hunter World's previous setpiece fights included several missions where you needed to stave off Zorah Magdaros, a monster of Godzilla proportions, by running around an arena to fire off cannons against the behemoth. Arena setpiece fights like these simply aren't fun, because after 100+ hours of letting you bound around colorful terrain fighting monsters in fields, deserts, and mountains, forcing players down a set path in scripted scenarios just isn't enjoyable compared with what's come before.

Iceborne itself features one lackluster setpiece fight against the Velkhana. The icy dragon featured on the cover art of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, is bearing down on the new hub area of Seliana, and it's up to your team of hunters to keep it from wreaking havoc. To repel Velkhana, you need to madly dash around a small area, with two players bringing up ammo to a massive cannon at the top of the ramp, and anyone that's left baiting the Elder Dragon into staying in the middle of the arena.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's final boss makes the The Thing's dog monster the size of a house | Screenshot by Hirun Cryer/Capcom

It's a bit of a mess. The players distracting the Velkhana have to stand in the cannons' path, creating as big a diversion as possible, hoping they don't get ripped apart by flying ice shards or the razor sharp tail of the Velkhana. While they're acting as live bait, two players need to run to the side of the arena, grab cannon ammo, and haul it up a huge ramp. Oh, and they can't run or dodge attacks while carrying the cannon ammo, so good luck staying in one piece if the Velkhana spots you.

It's common in Monster Hunter: World to fight a monster across a series of locales in one type of setting. Unless you're one of those god-tier hunters who can somehow slay a Rathalos in under 60 seconds, you're likely going to be tracking a monster throughout an entire region; for example you might start fighting an Odogaron on the flat plateaus of the Rotten Vale, before finishing the fight up in murky underground caverns when it retreats back to its lair.

With the Shara Ishvalda fight though, there's no actual "hunting" of the monster involved since it's there waiting for you in an arena the size of a soccer stadium. There's all the trappings of a set piece battle-a relatively small arena, no areas in which you can hide-but the Ishvalda fight avoids the nonsense of loading up cannons and traps that the Velkhana fight was beleaguered by. It's just you and your friends, against the most twisted, disgusting boss Monster Hunter has ever seen.

As a final salute of sorts to Capcom's best-selling game of all time, Iceborne has the best final battle any Monster Hunter: World player could have ever asked for.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Hirun Cryer

Guides Writer

Hirun Cryer is by far the most juvenile member of USgamer. He's so juvenile, that this is his first full-time job in the industry, unlike literally every other person featured on this page. He's written for The Guardian, Paste Magazine, and Kotaku, and he likes waking up when the sun rises and roaming the nearby woods with the bears and the wolves.

Read this next

Monster Hunter World Rajang - Track and Kill the Rajang, All Rajang Armor Sets

Here's our guide on tracking and killing the Rajang in Monster Hunter World, including all Rajang armor sets.

Monster Hunter World Hoarfrost Reach Camp Locations - How to Establish All Iceborne Camps

Here's our guide to the Monster Hunter World Hoarfrost Reach camp locations, within the Iceborne expansion.

Monster Hunter World Iceborne Master Rank - How to Increase Your Master Rank Quickly

There's a new Master Rank level in town for Monster Hunter World Iceborne, and here's how to increase it quickly.

How to Get Started in Monster Hunter World Iceborne

Here's our beginner's guide on how to get started with Monster Hunter World Iceborne, so you can access the new DLC expansion.

More Opinions

Why The Division 2 Is Still Hard to Jump Back Into

With the new Title Update and Episode, The Division 2 should be easier to get into, but it's not.

Starting Screen | Blizzard's Troubled 2019 Finds the Once Invincible Studio at a Crossroads

This past year has found Blizzard embroiled in one controversy after another. What does it say about its future?

"It's Hypocritical for Blizzard to Punish Blitzchung but Not Us"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Activision Blizzard has always been a vigorous advocate for freedom of expression.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is Still Lacking the One Thing Fans Truly Want

Hardcore fans want Breakpoint to be a harder survival experience.

More on PlayStation 4

Fortnite XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Increase Your Level

This is our guide to the new Fortnite XP system, and how you can earn XP to increase your overall level.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn New Medals and Refresh the Punchcard

This is our full guide to the new Fortnite Medals system, including how to earn them, and times for the Punchcard refresh.

Fortnite 2 Map - All Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

This is your overview to the Fortnite 2 map, including all the new landmarks and named locations on the Chapter 2 map.

Why The Division 2 Is Still Hard to Jump Back Into

With the new Title Update and Episode, The Division 2 should be easier to get into, but it's not.

G2A Representative: "Do You Really Think You Could Illegally Obtain 100,000 Keys?"

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, G2A's head of communication Maciej Kuc fires back at critics of the key selling marketplace.

Rhythm Game Avicii Invector Will Donate Some of Its Royalties to Mental Health Foundation

Owners of the original 2017 release of Invector on PS4 will receive the new version as a free update.

The Good Version of Sonic the Hedgehog Is Coming to Super Monkey Ball

The HD remake of Super Monkey Ball's Wii installment is getting a classic, blue-quilled bonus.

More Action Games

Fortnite XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Increase Your Level

This is our guide to the new Fortnite XP system, and how you can earn XP to increase your overall level.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn New Medals and Refresh the Punchcard

This is our full guide to the new Fortnite Medals system, including how to earn them, and times for the Punchcard refresh.

Fortnite 2 Map - All Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

This is your overview to the Fortnite 2 map, including all the new landmarks and named locations on the Chapter 2 map.

Control Gets a Free Photo Mode Update Tomorrow

Document your time as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control.