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Monster Hunter: World - title

In a Nutshell


  • Drop-in co-op actually makes thematic sense
  • Combat is very deliberate
  • Well-realized maps and ecosystems
  • The beasts themselves are quite impressive
  • Boss battles are long, drawn-out affairs requiring deliberate planning


  • Very poor at conveying information to the player
  • Lots of tedious grind, fetch, gathering, and busy-work quests
  • Monster hunts often degrade to a prolonged game of hide-and-seek
  • Time limit undercuts methodical approaches to battles
  • Most weapons are impractically large and lumbering
  • Why are we indiscriminately murdering all the wildlife?

Overall Impression : C-
I could maybe tolerate the unrewarding grind,
if not for the arbitrary timer and cumbersome U.I.

Monster Hunter: World - cover



PlayStation 4 < (via retail disc or PSN digital download),
XBox One (via retail disc or XBox Live digital download).
(< indicates platform I played for review)


Original release date:
26 January 2018

Fantasy role-playing hack-n-slash

ESRB Rating: T (for Teen) for:
Blood, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence

single player, with up to 4-player co-op

Official site:

I've been playing Monster Hunter: World off-and-on since it was released (which was a few months ago at this point), and I'm still just not sure that I get it yet. The game just hasn't clicked for me. Maybe I haven't invested quite enough time yet. In the past, I've come around to games that initially turned me off with their tedium and/or difficulty. Demon's Souls is perhaps the prime example, as that game took a few days (almost a week) of banging my head against the walls of the Boletarian Palace before things started to click for me. It certainly didn't take months! Once Demon's Souls started to click, the game almost immediately became one of my all-time favorites.

The Demon's Souls comparison is apt. Corners of the internet keep insisting that Monster Hunter: World is a game that should appeal to the same types of players who love Dark Souls (because everybody keeps forgetting that Demon's Souls did it first and better). Well, I'm sorry, but I just don't see how the two connect.

Yeah, there's the difficulty. But Dark Souls isn't good because it's hard. It's good because all the pieces around that central challenge make overcoming that challenge feel worthwhile. It's the world-building, the lore, the way that the obtuse characters and dialogue builds a growing sense of intrigue about the world, the sense of nervously tip-toeing into a dangerous unknown, the sense of leveling your stats into a character build that perfectly suits your desired playstyle, and that ominous sense of entropic dread that permeates every nook and cranny of the game. Those things make Dark Souls good! Those sorts of things are lacking in Monster Hunter: World.

The JRPG nonsense that usually turns me off of JRPGs

Sadly, Monster Hunter: World is bogged down by a lot of the kinds of JRPG nonsense that has frequently turned me off of playing these sorts of games. While I often appreciate that JRPGs tend to be more story and character-driven (something that I often wish western RPGs would focus more on), JRPGs also tend to undercut the seriousness of the stories they're trying to tell with lots of silliness and whimsy. Sometimes it's charming or endearing; other times it's juvenile or obnoxious.

You can track monsters by following their footprints or by studying their snot and turds.

I can tolerate this game's silly little cat side kicks. Monster Hunter's whimsical fantasy setting works well enough. What is less tolerable is that the game is littered with tedious, grindy, time-killer quests: harvest so many mushrooms, investigate a bunch of dinosaur footprints and [literal] crap, kill however many small monsters, capture yet more small monsters. and yadda yadda yadda. I guess, at a certain level, these activities make a certain amount of sense. Your character is, after all, one grunt in a whole army of grunt hunters being sent out to do the dirty work of the captains. But I have better things to do in real life than to wander around a forest picking flowers for 50 minutes.

Monster Hunter is loaded with grind quests.

Some of these sorts of quests are relegated to little ambient side-quests that you can perform while you're doing other major missions. These are the ones that are tolerable. Others (like the Investigations and other tangential story quests) require you to perform dedicated ingredient-gathering grind missions, in which the sole purpose of the mission is to fight monsters you've already fought and collect a bunch of stuff. Since my character doesn't have traditional stats or levels that improve as I complete these quests, the grinding just never really feels worth it.

I was hoping that I could just power through the main quests and skip all the tedious grind stuff. No such luck. I got to a point where I had to hunt the T-Rex-like Anjanath, and got stuck. The beast would knock out 2/3 of my HP in a single attack (when it wasn't one-hit-killing me with fire breath), and I quickly ran out of potions (you can only take 10 with you into a quest or expedition). I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do at this point, since my character doesn't have any stats or levels for me to improve. My only recourse was to try to go back through some of the optional hunts and investigations, fighting more Barroths for the dozenth time. Hopefully I'd get some materials for upgrading my weapons and armor.

The massive weapons actually feel like the impractically-burdensome hunks of scrap that they are.

In typical JRPG fashion, the weapons in this game typically come in the form of giant, oversized, buster swords and lances the size of school buses. This is something that always bothers me a little bit in games in general, but it's usually a superficial complaint that can be easily dismissed because the characters wield these weapons like they are made of perfectly-balanced chunks of Styrofoam. In the case of Monster Hunter: World, however, these behemoth buster swords actually feel like impractically-oversized, lumbering pieces of scrap. Many weapons have lengthy wind-up and cool-down times that lock you into the direction that you're facing, and which can't be canceled. This leads to a lot of whiffed attempts at an attack. During these wind-ups and cool-downs, your character is also vulnerable to attack. Some of the weapons even slow down your character's walking speed while they are drawn.

Murdering dinosaurs in the name of science

The highlight isn't supposed to be the grindy missions that make up the bulk of the game. The emphasis is supposed to be the story missions that plop you into the world with the goal of hunting down a single giant dinosaur. This is where the game is supposed to shine. But I still am not seeing it "shine" -- at least not yet.

You fight a monster, it runs away, you chase it, you fight it again, repeat...

Once you find the target, a lot of these hunts degrade to prolonged games of hide-and-seek. You engage the monster, deal single-digit damage to whiddle down its health, it stun-locks you and hits you with annoying knock-down attacks, then it turns tail and runs away. You then have to either chase it down, or follow its tracks, bloodstains, or turds to find it again. Then you whiddle down it's health a little more before it runs away again. This repeats two, three, or even four times in a single hunt!

If you're lucky, you manage to kill it before the timer runs out. Yes, this game has an arbitrary time limit on all its quests. Arbitrary time limits are perhaps my single biggest pet peeve in video games, and is almost always an unforgivable sin for me. The game's mechanics and design encourage careful, deliberate play with lots of planning, but then it hits you with a time limit that prevents you from doing all that careful, deliberate planning.

Without the optimal weapon, you won't do enough damage before the timer runs out.

Monsters do not give any indication of how much health they have, or how close they are to dying. So as the time ticks away, you have no idea how close you are to killing it. Eventually, the monster might start limping or otherwise showing some obvious sign of injury. Even then, it's never entirely clear whether this indicates that the monster is low on hit points, or if it's suffering from some sort of status affliction (such as a crippled limb or something), which may be temporary. Often, the limping isn't even really noticeable. I almost gave up on the game after repeatedly failing a "Capture Investigation" (one of the game's grind quests) because the game didn't bother to warn me that the monster's health was critical, and I killed it instead of capturing it.

It's sad because the act of hunting the monsters and actually fighting them can provide fun (and catharsis). Setting up devious traps or using clever tactics to take down an overwhelming foe can be extremely engaging. And it would be, if not for that damn time limit putting unnecessary pressure on you to just forget all that clever trickery, and just use the biggest, baddest sword you have to take down the monster as quickly as possible. Even pursuing the retreating monster would be fun if not for the knowledge that every second I spend re-tracking it or scoping out its new hang-out spot is one less second that I have to kill it before the timer runs out.

You can trap monsters in order to get free attacks -- if you can hit them before they get up.

I get it: the point of the time limit is so that you can't just spend literal hours nickel-and-diming your way through boss battles by farming healing herbs whenever you run out of potions. Of course, you wouldn't be able to do that if the game didn't keep respawning all the resources. In that case, attrition would solve that problem. Heck, even some survival mechanics that force you to retire back to base to eat or sleep would have been a better system than an arbitrary mission timer. Some kind of thematic soft timer would also have been better -- like the monster leaving the region, escaping where you can't follow, or otherwise nullifying your ability to fight it.

But Capcom wants you to farm the weaker monsters in order to get the materials necessary to forge the one elemental weapon that the next boss is most vulnerable to. No other weapon will cut it. The earlier you figure this out, the less misery you'll have to suffer through. At this point, however, the game just boils down to playing a spreadsheet, and the actual hunts feel like just going through the motions.

Grinding the same few boss fights for upgrade materials is basically half the game.

To compare this to Souls-Borne, restricting how many items you can bring into a hunt imposes a cap on your total HP pool, similar to Dark Souls' Estus Flask. In Monster Hunter, however, you can collect extra healing out in the world, similar to finding Blood Vials in Bloodborne (or Estus Soup in Dark Souls III). Either of these could act as attrition mechanics, and they do in Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Every drop of Estus that you spent in the level was one less that you could spend when fighting the boss. Should I spend a charge to top myself off now? Or wait until I'm more desperate? Even in Bloodborne, vials were only dropped by killing enemies, which forced you to put yourself at risk to earn the vials. Those enemies also didn't respawn unless you warped into the Hunter's Dream.

There's a cost-benefit, risk-reward system in both those games, and that is good design. In Monster Hunter, however there is no attrition because healing herbs (and all other gathering points and monsters) respawn while you are out in the field. You can farm them indefinitely (sometimes simply by just walking around a corner then turning back around), which forces an artificial time limit to be imposed in order to prevent exploitation. That is bad design.

Dark Souls' Estus, and Bloodborne's Blood Vials provided a sense of attrition that Monster Hunter lacks.

Keeping with the Souls-Borne comparisons: the only way to shorten a hunt is to bring in help. Unlike recent games like Nioh and Assassin's Creed: Origins, this game's Dark Souls-inspired (but actually Demon's Souls-inspired because Demon's Souls did it first and better) drop-in co-op model actually makes sense. You are, in fact, one member of a large ensemble of fellow hunters. It makes sense that other hunters would be out in the world to help you. So when I fired off an S.O.S. flare and had a character with Japanese text over his head show up (because they were always Japanese players) to help take down the beast, it didn't feel as out-of-place and non-sensical as in those other games.

Drop-in co-op actually makes sense in a game about an organized army systematically hunting the native wildlife.

The naturalist in me was also constantly wondering why a group of naturalists and researchers seems so committed to wiping out the local wildlife, and how the populations manage to maintain themselves. There's a handful of quests that ask you to capture some monsters, but the overwhelming majority of quests are "Hunt large monster X" or "Slay Y small monsters".

There are also absolutely no stakes at all. The shipwreck at the beginning of the game kills a whole zero people, the playable character and NPCs never die (they only ever faint), and the monsters themselves are basically always just minding their own business. I don't even recall there ever being a situation in which a monster attacks your base or camp. So with no threat, no stakes, and no established reason for why all these hunters are in the new world to begin with (other than to hunt everything for the sport of it, apparently, and maybe learn a thing or two about the monsters before they go extinct from over-hunting), I just don't feel particularly compelled to find out how this story will play out. There's not even any real intrigue or mystery to keep me interested, nor is there much of a sense of awe in discovering the new locations and animals (like what No Man's Sky was going for). There's not even really an emergent story like what you might get from Skyrim or The Sims.

This is the Monster Hunter game with the "good" U.I.?!

None of these problems are helped by the fact that the game has a tremendous barrier of entry. The game throws a lot of information at you. Little green sparklies are flying out and highlight almost everything you walk by. NPCs are shouting "Come here!" to me, but I have no idea where they are, and the mini-map is so small and so cluttered with indiscernible icons that I have no idea how to read it. Pages of text (with tiny, barely-readable fonts) pop-up to explain mechanics, but they often come in clusters, and I can never remember what they said when it actually comes time to use those mechanics. This is not a beginner-friendly game.

The inventory is un-intuitive and confusing.

The entire inventory and quest system is obtuse. You have an inventory (which you can access through the Options button), but you also have two different forms of "quick" inventory: an item bar (which seems to just scroll through the items in your inventory, and is anything but "quick"), and an equipment wheel (which has 4 different sub-wheels and can easily cause you to select the wrong -- often consumable -- items or tools). I thought, "OK, I should put all my healing items and traps and stuff in the equipment wheel in order to free up my regular inventory for other gathering materials." Except that removing the items from my inventory pouch also disabled those items in the equipment wheel. What makes this more confusing is that many items in the equipment wheel (such as the BBQ pit and Whetstone) are not part of your inventory, so it's not entirely clear which items need to be equipped and which don't.

You can swap between different loadouts at the Item Box, which is convenient, but you have to go through a very inconvenient set-up process because each loadout also saves your equipment wheel configuration. So if you re-arranged your default equipment wheel, and want to copy that arrangement into other loadouts, you have to manually activate the other loadout, then manually re-assign each and every piece of equipment to the correct slot on the wheel. There's no way to quickly copy wheel configurations between loadouts. Oh, and weapons and armor are not part of your loadouts at all, so if you want to change your weapons or armor based on a specific inventory loadout, you have to do that manually every time you swap loadouts.

Inventory fills up very quickly.

I used these loadouts to differentiate between a sparse inventory intended for gathering expeditions, and a more varied inventory of traps, healing items, and consumable weapons for the hunting quests and investigations. Having to keep basic supplies such as Potions and Antidotes in your inventory pouch takes up valuable space that cannot be used to store items that you gather in the environment. After just a minute or two in a quest, my inventory is already full, and I can't pick up anything else.

Then when I actually complete a quest, there's a 60-second buffer period before you're automatically returned to base or camp. This time is supposed to be used for collecting any materials from the corpse of your victim(s). The timer, however, counts down in increments of 10 seconds! Why? With all the crap that's already on the screen, Capcom, you can't tell me that you couldn't just print a 60-second countdown on the screen. Do I have 9 seconds left to rush over to pick that mushroom over there? Or only 2 seconds left? I don't know because the U.I. only says "10", and then it says "0", with no in between! I'm not kidding. A countdown timer was too difficult a task for this studio to figure out!

Wait. There's no "Take All" button?!

It gets worse!

If you walk across something that you can pick up or harvest, but you have your weapon drawn, the game shows a prompt to sheath your weapon, but doesn't specify what the item is. Is it a super-rare component that was dropped by the monster you're hunting, and which I need to pick up ASAP because the 60-seconds I get after completing the quest won't be enough time to circle back and pick it up? Or is it a piece of crap slinger ammo that I don't need and which is probably worse than whatever ammo I currently have equipped? I guess I'll just have to sheath my weapon (possibly in the middle of a fight) to find out.

After completing a quest, there is no "Take All" button for your rewards. You have to click on each and every piece of loot one at a time, unless you want to sell it all (which I don't because I'm farming those ingredients for weapon upgrades and equipment). Is this Fallout 1? If you run out of a supply while on Expedition (like the Trap Tool that you can only carry two of), you can't buy more of it from camp. You have to cancel the Expedition and return to base (through a loading screen). When you're crafting at the Item Box, you can only craft using items in your Item Box. If you want to make Poison Meat using the Raw Meat that you just collected from a monster, you have to exit the Item Box's crafting menu, go into your inventory, and move the Raw Meat into the Item Box, then go back to the Item Box's Crafting menu. And there's more annoyances like this that I'm not even remembering. This terrible U.I. makes the game feel miserable to play!

I've read in some other reviews that World makes a lot of "ease of use" improvements compared to previous Monster Hunter games. If this game is the Monster Hunter that has the "good" U.I. and the "low barrier of entry", then I can't even imagine how terrible the earlier games must've been, or how they managed to sell well enough to warrant sequels.

A living ecosystem, but not a seamless one

The one area where I did notice Monster Hunter: World excel is in its well-realized ecosystems and monster designs. Each map has multiple creatures operating within an obvious food chain that creates a seemingly functional ecosystem. Herbivores subsist off of the grasses and shrubs (some of which are the very same plants that you'll harvest for crafting materials), and carnivores will occasionally show up to hunt and eat them. All the animals behave with believable mannerisms (except for some of the more exotic boss monsters), and they interact with each other in believable ways.

Monsters can sometime be baited into battling each other.

While I admit that I didn't find too many ways to use the environment to my advantage in battles, there is the one obvious tactic of trying to lure a monster into the nest of a larger predator, and then let the predator kill or weaken your target for you. Just make sure that you aren't stuck dealing with the bigger, meaner monster! Of course, this doesn't apply once you start hunting a given region's apex predator(s), since they'll usually tear through any weaker monsters that you try to sic on them.

I generally don't care much for games that are open worlds for the sake of open worlds, but Monster Hunter: World is one game in which an open world might have been welcome. The individual map regions are fairly large, but not quite large enough to believably harbor the largest monsters that are present in them. It would have been truly impressive to have been able to see these creatures roaming freely within a more massive seamless map, travelling from hunting ground to hunting ground or migrating with changes in seasons or so forth.

A lot of those optional hunts could have been improved by requiring the player to hunt the same creatures again, but at a different stage in their migrations. This would change up the settings and open different strategies for engaging the monster. There'd be different environmental obstacles or traps, different hiding places, different prey to use to bait a predator, different predators to trick into doing your job for you, and so on.

Individual maps are fairly large, but this game could have benefited from a truly seamless open world.

Sadly, none of that happens, and I'm sure that technical limitations played a large role. The environments and creatures are very well detailed and animated, and keeping more distinct creatures in memory simply might not have been practical. What we end up with instead is a situation in which a large apex predator will have its nest in one corner of one map, and will have to walk across the map to the one pack of prey that is perpetually grazing in the other corner of that same map. There's also a lot of little details that break the immersion. For instance, monster spawn-ins and re-spawns can almost be seen happening. In quests in which I have to hunt 20 of some monster, I don't necessarily have to scour the map for 20 of them. I just find one nest that has 5 or 6 of them in it, then run around in circles or rotate the camera around so that new ones respawn behind me. It just emphasizes how much of a waste of time the side quests and investigations are.

Dashed expectations

I came into Monster Hunter: World with sky-high expectations. The internet was consistently telling me that it was the best JRPG since Dark Souls, and I was all ready to fall in love with the New World as much as I fell in love with Boletaria, Lordran, and Yharnam. Every time I boot up the game, I feel like I'm one more hunt away from hitting a "eureka" and falling in love with this game. It just hasn't actually happened yet, and I'm not sure if I'm willing to grind through any more to see if it does happen.

I'm not trying to say that this game is un-playable. It is certainly very playable. It's just too grindy for me, with too little reward. Monster Hunter: World is a game that is aimed at very specific audiences. If you're part of that audience, then you probably already know, and you'll probably love the game. I probably would have loved it back when I was 14 and had a lot more free time to go along with the patience that the game demands.

Can somebody explain to me why this army of "researchers" is so dedicated to wiping out the wildlife?

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A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

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Banished provides community through unrelenting adversityBanished provides community through unrelenting adversity10/10/2016 In between games of Madden 17, I need something to tide me over until the release of Civilization VI consumes my life at the end of October. As such, I did what I usually do in these situations, and I dove into my Steam backlog to look for something that's been sitting around, unplayed, for a couple years. Usually, I try to...

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