The other addition of note is the Scoutflies. Each hunter in Monster Hunter: World is equipped with a cask of glow bugs that help track down monsters. The scoutflies pick up on scents fed to them from the previously mentioned clues you find around the map, and then provide a breadcrumb trail to the monster. Gone are the days of painting a monster and trying to track it across three zones all strung together by loading screens. It may seem like a small change but it saves so much time, especially for new hunters like myself who can get lost in the large maps. Tracking is fun, and contributes so much to the anticipation of the hunt; a feeling which is rare in games and I haven’t seen emulated anywhere else.
My favorite take away from the game has to be the living and breathing ecosystems in Monster Hunter: World. Level design doesn’t even begin to describe what goes into these maps, as they take into account far more than ledges to climb and the layout of the land. The environments are all extremely different, but are all full of life and ready to explore. Each requires varying amounts of preparation where gear loadouts specific to the region can be paramount to survival. The monsters are not always the only threat here; sometimes the environment itself is a danger to your hunter.
Within these wonderfully large maps, the creatures act on their own. Without hunter interference, the interactions between all of the organisms is beautiful. The Atropos drinking from a stream is peaceful and serene, until a Great Jagras swallows a young one whole. It is akin to watching an episode of Planet Earth, see the example below:
One of the more breathtaking encounters I witnessed was an Anjanath having a turf war with a Great Jaggras. As the Anjanath took the upper hand and tossed the Jaggras to the ground with its jaws a giant wyvern named Rathalos swooped in and snatched the Anjanath up in its claws. It was a devastating sight, but a perfect example of how the ecosystem is alive in Monster Hunter: World.
The core gameplay loop of Monster Hunter: World consists of three main tasks that you’ll be repeating over and over: track, hunt, and craft. Grinding is often the word used to describe this kind of repetition, but it is more than that here. Repeating hunts is necessary to get materials to craft specific gear, but more importantly, it provides the opportunity to study the land and the monsters. It is to the benefit of the player to repeatedly head into unfamiliar territory to learn shortcuts, speedy traversal, and environmental traps. Armed with that knowledge, the player must then watch and engage the monsters to learn their mannerisms, patterns, and attacks. This doesn’t come from a single foray into the wilderness, but from venturing out multiple times. It is the natural flow of the hunt; the feedback loop Monster Hunter is built upon.
Some of the appeal of Monster Hunter stems from player agency. The game allows players to set their own goals and decide where they go and what they do. Sure, the story mode is there, but it acts as a set of training wheels, easing the player into the Monster Hunter ethos. Hunt. Craft. Repeat. Those are the rules, but the rest is up to you. In designing Monster Hunter: World (and every other Monster Hunter) in this way, it brings longevity to the game. There is no raid to gear towards, but simply the goals you set for yourself each time you log in, which is why people will continue to play years after release.
Monster Hunter: World isn’t perfect, but it has the recipe for captivating a widespread audience. It is odd for a longstanding series to go this long without a resounding success outside of its core demographic, especially since Capcom hasn’t really changed the main crux of the game. The quality of life changes go a long way for both veterans and new players, making it easier to get in and learn how the intricacies of the game work, and fewer friction points lead to less players bouncing off. If you have been watching Monster Hunter from the sidelines, curious as to why people are obsessed with the franchise, then this is the perfect time to get in. You will be surrounded by helpful veterans and new hunters, like myself, who are ready to foray into the New World.
Now in true co-op fashion I’m going to turn it over to a partner hunter, Jason Love, who has a nice perspective on the co-operative experience through some great anecdotal examples.