Monster Hunter World... One Year Later
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Hoo boy what a year it has been, with the currently running appreciation festival, this marks a year since Monster Hunter World burst through like a raging Rajang hopped up on Demon Drug. For me, this was the year Monster Hunter stepped away from being that super niche Japanese game you played on your handheld to a massive community of hunters across Playstation, Xbox, and PC. For me, I would technically be what you’d call a member of the Third Fleet. My first Monster Hunter game was Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, admittedly I never got as into the series as I am now… mostly playing casually through Tri and eventual Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. When I started dating Hannako, who was a much bigger Monster Hunter fan than I was, she got me to pick up Monster Hunter Generations.
Something clicked in me that never did playing Tri or 4U, I never played with others on either of those games but with Hannako I got my first taste of just how fun it was to play Monster Hunter with another human being. As a solo player, a game like Monster Hunter can grow tiresome before you get to the satisfying end-game loop. I found that having others I could just talk to about Monster Hunter made the difference, it’s like I didn’t have to geek out on my own anymore.
Fast forward to today, I’ve racked up over 700 hours (and counting) in Monster Hunter World and thanks to Arrekz and his Weapon Workshop series I am proud to say that I am proficient with 12 of the 14 weapon types. So for me, while over the last year I have stepped away to play other games… I just wrapped up Kingdom Hearts III in fact… Monster Hunter World is where I always go back to, even if it’s just to test out a new build or hunt Nergigante for the 350th time.
Team Monster Hunter and their constant stream of content updates kept me coming back. From seasonal events to crossovers with the likes of Devil may Cry and Final Fantasy XIV, there was always something new to do. Once I hit the end-game loot grind, I came back to craft new armor and weapons while satisfying my collector/completionist nature. I especially enjoyed the challenge added with the Arch Tempered monsters, highly challenging variants of the game’s Elder Dragons… arguably the hardest monsters to hunt in the game.
Monsters that were added post-launch bolstered the roster, from old favorites like Deviljho and Lunastra to new monsters that offer unique gameplay elements like Kulve Taroth and Final Fantasy’s Behemoth. While Monster Hunter veterans may have experienced Lunastra and Deviljho before, I want to sing the praises of both Kulve Taroth and Behemoth for a bit. Both hunts offered something new to the typical hunt. While both Lunastra and Deviljho could be soloed, I felt like hunting Behemoth and Kulve Taroth… at least comfortably… required a team. Kulve Taroth was a whole new world for Monster Hunter, this raid boss is played with up to 16 hunters on a single play session, split across groups of up to four hunters. Everyone who hunts Kulve Taroth shares in the spoils so while physically you’ll be hunting with three other hunters, you will be working together with up to fifteen others. Behemoth started a bit rocky but once everyone started to get used Behemoth, this hunt felt way more manageable. What it did for the community though was open up the possibility for hunters to put together support builds. After Behemoth I noticed more players building for supporting not just themselves but also their fellow hunters.
The biggest takeaway I have of the last year with Monster Hunter World has to be in how pro-consumer the team approached downloadable content. I know a bunch of people were thanking Capcom, but before thanking the company as a whole we need to remember some of the anti-consumerist ways they handled DLC in other franchises. Rather, I want to thank Ryozo Tsujimoto and the whole team behind Monster Hunter. They never bowed to what the rest of gaming was doing at the time, things like locking content behind DLC pay walls or implementing predatory loot boxes and micro-transactions. To me, Monster Hunter is about crafting armor and weapons from monster you actually hunt. To quote those shortsighted dickheads over at EA… I got a sense of “pride and accomplishment” playing Monster Hunter World. When someone who ask me what gear I was using or wanted me to share some of my builds, I loved feeling like I wasn’t just playing the game… but I was contributing to it in my own little way. Sure loot boxes may be in almost every game these days (but maybe not for long), in a way Monster Hunter has always had a loot box mechanic. Much like loot boxes, you never know what you’re going to get after a hunt… so in a way, in Monster Hunter the loot boxes bite back.
Looking forward, Fall of this year marks the release of the Iceborne expansion… what traditionally would be the Ultimate or G-Rank version of the base game. With how massively popular Monster Hunter has become in the West, this franchise has been able to take more risks while still offering a quintessentially complete Monster Hunter experience. At least I have a few more events leading up to Iceborne that can keep me busy, Geralt of Rivia makes a cameo this week during the Witcher III crossover and this Spring we can expect the final Arch Tempered Elder Dragon with the game’s flagship monster Nergigante. I’m honestly so jazzed for that one, Nergigante is hands down my most hunted monster in the game, on top of needing his materials I just love that hunt.
This year has been a long and hard one, I’m sure like me many of you walked into 2019 with a feeling of relief that 2018 was over and/or anxiety that 2019 will turn out to be just as shitty. But hey, despite all the shit that 2018 did give us, one thing’s for certain. Monster Hunter World was one of the best parts of last year, at least for me.