Monster Hunter World hands-on

Like being a crocodile hunter, but less Australian and much bigger.

The Sony E3 2017 Media Briefing did not feature as many shocking moments as previous years, but one reveal definitely dropped some jaws across the internet. Monster Hunter World will see Capcom’s long-running adventure franchise make its way to consoles and PC, bringing its hallmark hunting action with it while adding a few new elements. The extended demo shown on the E3 2017 show floor shed even more light on what’s to come, and there’s a lot for hunters to sink their teeth into.

The demo begins just as the Sony briefing trailer did, with a single hunter on a beach preparing to hunt. The full game promises full customization and the choice of male and female like previous games, but for this demo a male in preset armor serves as our hero. The map is sectioned off into zones, as Monster Hunter fans are no doubt familiar with, but Monster Hunter World removes the loading times between zones. This turns the map into one giant hunting playground instead of bite-sized chunks cordoned off behind loading screens, which is a major shift from previous games. Our hunter begins tracking his prey using both Scout Flies and fresh mucus left by his quarry, eventually leading him straight to it.

The journey to the monster is dotted with all kinds of flora and fauna, as these maps are teeming with all kinds of wildlife. At one point we see a giant buffalo-like creature minding its own business, only for a larger reptilian monster called the Great Jagras swallow it completely whole. Following the reptile leads us to a group of smaller Jagras, where the big beast regurgitates its meal for the smaller ones. Disturbing this would result in a major headache for the hunter. Time of day also plays a factor with the full day/night cycle during hunts, meaning that there could be any amount of new dangers that only come out at night. These worlds can be very hostile if given the chance, so careful hunting is the best way to go.

The hunter finally finds his target, the Tyrannosaurus-like Anjaneth from the trailer, and wakes it from its slumber. As the Anjaneth attacks the hunter lures it into an open space, creating a wall between him and it with some hanging vines and branches and hiding amongst the brush using the new Ghillie Mantle suit. Here the new destructible environment comes into play, as the Anjaneth eventually breaks through the barrier, sniffs out the hunter from the tall grass and charges right for him. It turns out that the open space the hunter found is also the nest of the feeding creatures from earlier, who are not happy with the invading Anjaneth and attack it themselves. The distraction gives the hunter time to plan another environmental strategy, this one a more offensive approach.

The hunter produces a Paralysis Knife using Monster Hunter World’s one-button radial wheel and sticks the Anjaneth in place while it’s distracted by the Great Jagras. He then walks up a small hill and aims an arrow at a group of vines along the ceiling. The arrow strikes the vines, which break and cause the giant boulders being held up to crash on top of the Anjaneth for massive damage. Every area in this new game has some kind of environmental element that can be used like this, so hunters will benefit from studying the surroundings while planning an attack.

Direct combat proceeds just as other Monster Hunter games have before, with fourteen different weapons like the Greatsword or the Heavy Bowgun available for hunting. Weapons can be changed at will by traveling back to camp, but that runs the risk of the player’s quarry having a chance to recover its health. Engaging the monster will once again require quick dodging and careful attacks, though a hunter can now grab onto a monster and score some extra strikes in a mechanic very similar to fellow Capcom series Dragon’s Dogma. Hunters can also now call in friends to help with bigger hunts via Monster Hunter World’s drop in/drop out multiplayer feature. Even in the most barren of worlds, a hunter is never alone in this new game.

Monster Hunter World looks like the most jam-packed game in the series yet, with a deeply strategic hunting system and worlds that are equally beautiful and dangerous. The hunter has plenty of tools both old and new at his disposal, giving players plenty of ways to take on every massive creature in the game. Monster Hunter World will unleash a whole new monstrous adventure on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.