The Monster Hunter: World Beta, which ran Dec 9th through the 12th, is exemplary gaming fun at its best. Massive beasts that fight each other as well as your party, adorable cat companions called Palicos that wear armor, trap enemies, and crank out the jams. Varied weapons with unique move-sets, special attacks ranging from gun-blades to giant Katana weapons with chargeable tiers of power. Large hammers, swords, shields, transforming weapons, Hunter bows, guns, dual blades and gigantic musical weapons that can buff your party or put monsters to sleep, there’s definitely a weapon for everyone in this game.
The Monster Hunter franchise has always been on the edge of the niche market of gamers. You hunt beasts, you party up and grind out new weapons and armor to craft so you can take on beasts of increasing magnitude and terror. It’s a gameplay loop designed for those who appreciate combat, strategy, timing, and preparation. The franchise has been around for a long time, originally appearing on the PlayStation 2. I’ve many times heard from friends that this was a series I was missing out on. After playing each mission available in this Beta multiple times, I can 100% confirm that truth.
Monster Hunter: World exists in its own, well… World. Even the small area you can explore in the Beta is wonderfully designed. There’s an ecosystem of creatures ranging from big to small that all seem to have their own interesting AI and personality. Even fighting the same monsters over again invited new challenges as they reacted differently to where you found them and where they took the fight. Sometimes you would fight them on rocky terrain, attempting to leap on their back for a monster ride (which is always stupid fun) and knock them down, only to have them charge into you destroying the rocks and sending you flying. Other times you would be in an area of poison spores to avoid during the fight. Another time still, you would be atop winding tree branches that could lead to easily being knocked to your doom. Each encounter brought different experiences depending on your choice of arena, and each made me anxious to see what the full game has to offer.
The experience itself felt very unique compared to other games. Grouping up in a party is definitely the highlight of this game. Sitting down at your camp to eat various meals that grant boosts before battle, finding the right gear to equip for the hunt, mixing and matching each party members weapon type to balance your damage output and usefulness. This is the meat of the Monster Hunter fun. Coordinating attacks and health boosts while all struggling to evade and attack some gigantic dragon that travels underground to burst on your team from below. Setting up traps or placing explosive barrels around it if you can put it to sleep. The feeling of teamwork and accomplishment when you slay a beast together after 20 minutes of non-stop action as the music swells up behind you is nothing short of exhilarating.
Capcom seems to have crafted a beautiful and unique world with creatures just as well designed to populate it in Monster Hunter: World. The music, the charm, the combat, the monsters, the party play. These are all features that have left me greatly anticipating the game’s release on January 26th when the hunt can commence. Look for our review when the full game releases in January for PS4 and Xbox One.