By Hannah Sexton
A game once just popular in Japan has now exploded into western markets. The franchise “Monster Hunter,” developed by Capcom, has always been fairly straightforward.
The game consists of hunting and gathering in a world where giant dinosaur-like monsters and even god-like behemoths threaten the very survival of humanity.
The hunter can equip different kinds of weapons, each more fantastical than the last. Unlike most Japanese role playing games (JRPGs), there is no class system and no leveling up system. In order for the hunter to get better they must hunt big monsters and take materials from them to craft better weapons and armor.
Instead of a class, the various weapon types determine what a hunter does. For example, a hunter who uses a bow hunts differently from one who uses a hammer.
The games have always been simple in terms of plot. The player is a new hunter who has just arrived when suddenly the village they are assigned to is attacked by a giant monster.
The player must learn to survive in the area by doing quests that involve gathering herbs, ore, and insects, as well as hunting small monsters. Then they gradually build up to bigger and bigger monsters as they advance in the game until they finally hunt the god-like monster. “Monster Hunter: World” follows this formula as well, but the gameplay mechanics are really what made this game different from all the others in the franchise.
Before, the area where the player (or players, in multiplayer) would hunt would be divided into different zones. When a player reaches the threshold of one zone, the game took them to a loading screen and loaded the next zone. “World” no longer has zones, so players are always potentially within reach of a monster.
Another key difference is the use of the environment against monsters or even the player. A few games before “World” took advantage of cliffs and trees to allow the player to jump onto a monster’s back and ride it. But in this game there are poisonous plants, toads that produce paralyzing toxins, and spider webs that entrap monsters.
‘“World” is allowing players to take advantage of the environment to use against monsters. Before, there were single use items that players would have in their inventory that they used that fulfilled the same purpose as these environmental hazards. But now a player must pay close attention their area to maximize the use of these traps, without getting hurt themselves.
“Monster Hunter” games have also traditionally been on a console, but “World” is the first to be released on PC. To veteran hunters who are used to holding a controller, using a keyboard and mouse is a new challenge in an already challenging new world.
Overall, however, “World” is showing that “Monster Hunter” games can adapt. Instead of just adding new mechanics like riding, or new weapons, Capcom has shown that the franchise can receive a complete overhaul but still keep integral parts of the game intact.
The game also still has a sense of deeper lore than what is being told on the surface. Experienced lore divers will know that even though “World” is indeed taking place in a brave new world, there are still mysteries and unanswered questions that could take hours of research to look into.
“World” can be challenging to both new and veteran players alike but the games have always been known for their steep learning curve. If the new gameplay mechanics have seemed worrying, the game is still the same. The player is still hunting and gathering. And, in the end, there will always be a bigger and more frightening monster to hunt.