Monster Hunter World’s Beta From the Perspective of a Hardcore Fan

Our Monster Hunter correspondent Bob Mackey explains what Monster Hunter World has to offer to both the hardcore faithful and more casual fans.

Analysis by Bob Mackey, .

Speaking as a Monster Hunter fan, breaking a newbie into Capcom's highly complex multiplayer RPG offers more than a few barriers to entry.

The intricate controls, the often obtuse rules, and the non-ergonomic nature of holding a flat handheld in your hands while staring at a tiny screen for dozens upon dozens of hours: the many issues Monster Hunter fans have inured themselves to do a fantastic job of pushing newcomers off the learning curve before they can crest it. Though Monster Hunter has carved out a healthy niche in the States, it remains a curiosity made for only the hardest of hardcore RPG fans.

This may all change, though, when Capcom reboots the series with the upcoming Monster Hunter World-effectively, Monster Hunter 6-on January 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (with a PC port coming later down the line). Though Monster Hunter started on the PlayStation 2, the series soon found a much better home on portable consoles, where it became an absolute sensation, influencing storied properties from Metal Gear to Dragon Quest to Final Fantasy. With the 3DS on its last legs and the Vita long dead, Capcom has decided to go big by retooling Monster Hunter for modern consoles, giving it a graphical makeover far prettier than its 240p predecessors. But it's not just a new look that will aid Monster Hunter in finding a bigger audience.

Wanting More from Monster Hunter

I fell in love with Monster Hunter thanks to an unlikely release: The Wii U version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate-a port of a 3DS game that was itself an enhanced version of a 2009 Wii title. For a while, this oddball stood as the definitive version of Monster Hunter, with cross-save and cross-play functionality-which hasn't been repeated since-as well as the first truly online multiplayer mode. And even though further releases like 4 Ultimate and Generations only improved greatly upon the experience, I missed getting to play on much larger screen with a proper controller, even if it cut the whole "portability" aspect out of the equation.

To keep Monster Hunter relevant, Capcom needed to bring a major change to the series. For close to fifteen years, Monster Hunter has been constantly iterating and improving on the same basic experience, and while many series have done that and thrived, so much of the series' design is rooted in the limitations of the PlayStation 2 era. World represents one of the first major breaths of fresh air since Monster Hunter's inception; one that applies the series complex design to the possibilities present in hardware developed beyond the dawning of the our current millennium.

Still, Capcom hasn't rocked the boat too much. Underneath the extremely pretty exterior lie the previously established mechanics in all their glory, and anyone who jumps in thinking they can hack and slash their way to glory will soon be dealt a harsh lesson. While the essential actions of Monster Hunter aren't all that complicated-find, attack, and kill or trap the monster(s) in question-the means of achieving this goal present a multitude of options. The game offers 16 different weapon types, each with their own specific movesets, along with other important variables like armor, accessories, and item loadout choices. Planning for a hunt is essentially like packing for a camping trip: you want to be prepared for every possible outcome.

Even if World doesn't back away from the series' trademark complexity, it offers the friendliest helping hand in Monster Hunter history. Of course, as with any other Monster Hunter sequel, World makes previous games obsolete with its many (and extremely granular) quality-of-life improvements that are honestly too numerous and, frankly, inside baseball to list here. World's improved training mode-a very slight feature in past games-goes a long way to help players grow accustomed to using the many weapon types with the help of contextual, on-screen button prompts. Even with (roughly) 500 hours of Monster Hunter under my belt, I never felt all that comfortable using the available assortment with projectile weapons. After tooling around in the training mode with a few of them, I felt much more confident than I did in the past, when I looked up guides online and hoped for the best. This improvement may sound like a minor-if-obligatory addition, but it's honestly been a long time coming for Monster Hunter.

More Than Just a Graphical Upgrade

Despite existing solely on underpowered hardware for an entire decade, Capcom has always done a great job making the most of the technology at hand: their 3DS Monster Hunter entries are far and away the best-looking games on the platform, with impressively huge creatures and detailed environments that couldn't even be matched by developers like Nintendo. Replete with 4K options, Monster Hunter World stands as an absolutely gorgeous game, and this drastic increase in fidelity makes it a much more playable experience than previous games. For one, the play space is much less cramped, making it much easier to keep tabs on your surroundings. The increased screen space also lets Capcom add useful UI features, like a display of what the most vital buttons do given your current context.

The most drastic change to Monster Hunter brought about by more powerful technology comes in just how each map is laid out. Previously, Monster Hunter worlds consisted of interconnected "rooms"-each with their own very brief loading times-that, when stitched together, conveyed the illusion of one large space. World makes every monster hunting arena one large area, though your in-game map still splits it up into different zones for the sake of communicating with fellow hunters. How you track monsters has also changed: instead of running from zone to zone until you stumble upon the target, World allows you to track their movements via tracks, dung, and other telltale signs. Once you find your first sign of the wanted monster, your army of scout flies (essentially, a glowy trail) will lead you in the general direction of the next one. This may sound pretty simple, but it adds an extra angle to the guesswork involved in finding monsters in past Monster Hunter games-and your scout flies can always lead you towards the wrong monster.

Above all, the increase in fidelity makes it easier to know just what's going on at any given second. The monster's tells are easier to read, your teammates are easier to see, and visual elements are much less likely to get lost in background clutter. More importantly, it's much more effortless to get a read on each monster's array of hit boxes, which is very important in a game where you're often aiming at specific parts. And landing a blow on a monster has never felt quite as satisfying as it does in World: special effects, animation, and sound design all combine to make finally connecting an attack so rewarding.

A Fresh Start for Monster Hunter

In searching for a wider audience, Capcom could have betrayed its audience and went the Destiny route by making an extremely straightforward and frictionless experience built on instant addiction. Instead, World retains the series' status as the crab dinner of online RPGs: it takes a bit of effort to dig into the meat, but once you do, it's more than worth it. With about six hours of the beta under my belt, I feel pretty confident in saying this is the best Monster Hunter to date, and one that those intimidated by the series should definitely try. Even without all the addictive systems upon systems all of the hunting feeds into, I couldn't help but jump back into the three hunts the beta offered, each time trying out a new approach or a new loadout. Monster Hunter has needed a shakeup for years, and World looks to be the perfect mix of old and new to keep it relevant for another decade.

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Comments 20

  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #1 KaiserWarrior 4 months ago
    As a series veteran dating alllll the way back to the 2004 original, I was initially very worried that World would go too far in making concessions to people that simply didn't want to play a Monster Hunter game. The beta, though, allayed those fears almost entirely.

    I'm actually very, very pleased with what Capcom has managed to pull off here. They've made a game that is simultaneously MUCH more inviting for new players, and easier for them to get to grips with, while simultaneously still feeling like a Monster Hunter game for seasoned veterans. The scout flies are just about the only change that I don't like, but that's only because they're constantly filling my screen with distracting glowy crap -- I do hope there's a way to turn them off or unequip them or something in the full version.

    Everything else, though? Any gripes I might have, they're either totally optional (like the new, permanently-tracking lock-on camera ala every other action game out there) and I can just ignore them, or I can turn them off if they interfere too harshly with my decade and a half of muscle memory (like the new stick-based radial menus for item selection -- it's possible to completely disable them so that items work exactly the way they do in every previous MonHun game).

    The new additions to the weapon movesets add a very pleasing amount of depth to the game, as with every iteration, and the game feel is the crunchiest, most satisfying it's ever been. I'm really looking forward to World. It looks like Capcom has managed to do the impossible and make a Monster Hunter game that can appeal to just about everyone.

    One minor correction though: 3 Ultimate was not the first appearance of full online support. The original PS2 game (and it's Japan-only sequel, Monster Hunter Dos) had full online play via the PS2's modem attachment. Monster Hunter Tri, for the wii, also had proper online play. It was the first instance of full online in one of the portable titles, though.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #2 mattcom26 4 months ago
    It’s Bob! More Bob please.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #3 riderkicker 4 months ago
    Sorry it took so long to beat that T-Rex on Saturday. Gawd that was tough! And for once this is a demo that got me interested in the series!
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  • Avatar for camchow #4 camchow 4 months ago
    Honestly just having the maps be open and seamless could have been the only improvement and I'd still be hyped. Honestly the one thing I've been hoping for since Tri. So glad they are back to console, beautiful HD world, a real controller, and now seamless areas, I just idk, there are no words, I am so hyped for this game. I can't wait to get back to hunting!
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  • Avatar for shurn #5 shurn 4 months ago
    I bought it but will never have time to play it like 3 on wii and wii u, it's hard to dedicate tv time to it for me like automata, persona 5, future tone metal gear 5 and re7. I haven't even finished my PS3 backlog and probably won't till retirement or a miracle. I expect a portable version with lower quality models on switch like portable 3 to tri ( more like hope ) not worried about missing out on the online content as I always solo the games ( plus its too complicated and repetitive for my circle of friends. ) would like capcom to consider the switch version of generations ultimate for localization cause it exists. People who complained about the 3ds exclusively and the low poly graphics better put their money where their mouth is this time.Edited 2 times. Last edited December 2017 by shurn
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #6 SatelliteOfLove 4 months ago
    Instant Mesozoic done right: just add Monkey Puzzles.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #7 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    Brilliant article. I played through the 3 quests and then rushed out to buy the digital edition because it's going to be in rotation for a long time. I've always wanted to love this series and I've bought MH games on at least 3 separate occasions: on ps2, wii and 3ds but was rebuffed each time by (what I considered at the time to be) a slow-moving and yawn worthy game. Why did I keep coming back after bouncing off each time?? Because I'm dense? Sure. Also because the core of the game is greater than the obstacles that have surrounded it in past titles. That's my take. I'm super grateful for Monster Hunter World personally.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #8 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    @shurn You mean MH XX on the Switch right? I know because I'm on the verge of importing it...I just don't know how far I'd be able to get with Japanese only language. I really hope they localize it too. The time is now to support the Switch.Edited December 2017 by chaoticBeat
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #9 VotesForCows 4 months ago
    New to the series - tried it and it seemed pretty good. Still on teh fence - I guess I tend to prefer more story-based RPGs. But its a hell of a beautiful game, and the core combat is really good fun. Like some of the other commenters here I'm not sold on those glowy flies either - feels like it would be more fun to just look for tracks, etc, and follow them by eye. Good stuff anyhow.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #10 Nuclear-Vomit 4 months ago
    When are they gonna add annoying monster rights activists that will screw up your hunt? Imagine going back into town and having a bucket of blood dumped on your head. "You're the monster."
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  • Avatar for kidgorilla #11 kidgorilla 4 months ago
    Did anyone play this on a PS4 Pro? I played the easiest mission the other night on my run-of-the-mill PS4 and it ran so loudly I thought a helicopter was landing on top of my house. Does the Pro alleviate any of that? Was I the only one with a PlayStation screaming in agony?
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #12 Mooglepies 4 months ago
    @kidgorilla I also had that issue, can confirm.

    I enjoyed the beta a fair amount and even liked some of the changes I thought I wouldn't, but two little issues remain-

    1) Is the challenge still there? Some of the changes (no need to load new ammo into the HBG, move while healing) seemed to diminish the minute-to-minute "what am I doing now?" Side of the gameplay. It was fairly easy to autopilot even against, say, Diablos, a monster clearly in the beta as a higher level of challenge. Time will tell with this one.

    2) I'd like to see more of the humour that I love the series for on show. The game is fun and all but when I'm killing the same monster for the 5th time (and the rest...) it's the smiles that will keep me from putting down the game. They've made much of the story in the trailers but if it's all stony faced hunters and dry delivery I don't think it's going to grab my attention.

    A PC release date would be nice.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #13 VotesForCows 4 months ago
    @kidgorilla me too. To be honest it might put me off buying it. I play mostly at night in a small house and that could easily wake up my kid!
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #14 KaiserWarrior 4 months ago
    @chaoticBeat Honestly, the language barrier isn't very high in Monster Hunter. You won't understand any of what the NPCs are saying, which can be a bit of a bummer if you enjoy the series' writing, but none of it is critical and Monster Hunter isn't a story-focused game to begin with.

    Quests mostly have obvious targets from their pictures, and a little bit of series knowledge will see you through the non-obvious ones (Picture of mushrooms? This must be a "deliver special mushrooms" quest!). Picture of little crabs with a number 10 in the quest target spot? Okay, that's kill 10 hermitaurs. Picture of a giant crab with a number 1 on the quest target, and an unusual color/shape along the top of the quest card? That's a "capture 1 Daimyo Hermitaur" quest.

    The menus are laid out the same as they always are in the series, so muscle memory can serve you well there, or maybe a little bit of experimentation. You might not know exactly what parts you need to make this or that weapon or armor, but you can usually either tell it's a part from the same monster (same color and monster parts icon), or some common part and you can match symbols.

    Being able to read Katakana/Hiragana will go a LONG way, as many menu items and nearly all monster names and most common resources (ores, mushrooms and the like) are spelled out in recognizable names, just in kana -- though you may need to know the Japanese names of monsters. For example, there's a "Deliver 3 Gargua eggs" quest, which is an egg icon and has the number 3, but also mentions Gargua in kana if you can read it, so you know which eggs to get even if you can't really 'read' Japanese.

    Ultimately though? Kiranico will see you through. You can hit up and change the language to English with the drop-down in the top right, and if you've got Japanese languages installed on your machine (which I believe is there by default on Windows 7 and above?), you'll get both the Japanese and English of every monster, item, piece of gear and quest in the game.Edited December 2017 by KaiserWarrior
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  • Avatar for moochan #15 moochan 4 months ago
    "This may all change, though, when Capcom reboots the series with the upcoming Monster Hunter World-effectively, Monster Hunter 6"
    I fucking hate being that guy but it's actually 5. Generations is a spin off like PSP games where. Anyways I'm excited but sadden that I have to wait for the PC version since all of my friends are going to play on that and I really don't want to balance two characters in a game about farming loot.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #16 Kuni-Nino 4 months ago
    The hell is Bob doing here?
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #17 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    @KaiserWarrior Wow that sounds great. Thank you so much for the good information and resources!

    My buddy and I have gone from Splatoon 2 to Resi Evil Raid mode. He doesn't have a ps4 and I don't want to leave playing online with him behind when MHW drops. Getting XX would be a great answer.
    It could help build my MH skills and I'm much more interested in the MH legacy now, which XX might represent (better than World).
    You're right, I guess I am worried about understanding quest information and knowing which weapon does more damage and which armor offers better protection. That website sounds extremely helpful.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #18 KaiserWarrior 4 months ago
    @chaoticBeat Yep! While we cannot know for certain what Capcom's plans are post-World, at least for the immediate future, MHXX is the last 'traditional' MonHun game, with the oldschool mechanics and systems in place. X/Generations (and by extension, XX) is basically an "all stars" release to bridge the gap between 4th gen and 5th gen (World), bringing back all of the old towns and NPCs and such. World is the largest departure the series has had to date.

    And don't worry about equipment stats: though the words for Attack Power, Sharpness, and Defenses are in Japanese, the numbers and sharpness bars are very obvious and easy to compare. Kiranico will have you covered on skills.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #19 Nuclear-Vomit 4 months ago
    @Kuni-Nino USgamer has some scandalous photos of him.
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  • Avatar for discohospital #20 discohospital 4 months ago
    @kidgorilla I did play it on a PS4 Pro and experienced the same. Freaked me out a bit. It stopped the moment I closed the application. Hopefully it's something Capcom can alleviate by the time the full game is out.
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