It takes a special game for me to play 80+ hours of it on console, get it for PC eight months later, and be driven to play 80+ hours all over again. It’s just a shame about the port itself.
Following its release on PS4 and Xbox One in January, Capcom brings Monster Hunter World to PC in a somewhat spotty port, but the gameplay at 60fps has never felt so good. As a member of the fifth fleet you have travelled to the New World to investigate the migration of elder dragons – a migration known as the Elder Crossing. Various monsters stand between you and your goal, and brutally murdering them, cutting off limbs, and breaking wings will be your only way past.
Often I find that JRPGs cram too many mechanics and systems into themselves. It often feels like the developers brainstorm a bunch of mechanics, and then just do all of them. That’s not the case with Monster Hunter World. Sure, there’s a lot to keep track of, but its mechanics never get on top of each other; they’re introduced slowly enough to not overcrowd the player early on.
However, as was my experience of the first six to ten hours on PS4, my friends on PC were pretty overwhelmed with the initial gameplay of Monster Hunter World. The PC release aggravates the early experience because of server issues, as well as bizarre decisions in the controls using mouse and keyboard. I’m primarily using a controller for the PC version – the muscle memory from console is still there – but I have tried a few hunts using mouse and keyboard and was royally confused by some of the decisions made for default controls.
Thankfully, the monster-to-monster gameplay is still excellent. Though the monsters themselves ramp up in difficulty, your understanding of the systems increases to garner a better level of proficiency – not just in combat skills, but item use and preparation before fights. There are moments when the best parts of Monster Hunter World all come together. You’re low on health, drinking a mega potion while your friends try to distract the monster, but just as you start to drink the monster is preparing an attack on you. One friend tries a leaping attack to get on its back and fails; the other manages to blind it temporarily using a flash pod just as the monster is inches from you. At its best, Monster Hunter World is exhilarating, and there’s nothing else quite like it.
Any gripes with the game’s combat can often be resolved by a change of weapon. Don’t like how slow you’re moving and dodging in fights? Well, get rid of that Switch Axe and try out the Dual Daggers! Some of the joy of Monster Hunter World comes from working out which weapons you enjoy most, and building an extended arsenal for each type. On console I utilised the Switch Axe, Dual Daggers, Hammer, and later on the Bow. On PC, I’ve fallen in love with the Great Sword – or the Tail Destroyer of Worlds. There’s a weapon within Monster Hunter World to suit every playstyle, and while the lines between tank, dps, and healer may be blurred here, there’s enough crossover in some weapons for those players who prefer utility over damage.
Keeping track of your items and constantly adding to your inventory adds a lot of strategic management to the game. Preparation for fights is key, and making sure you have some of the most useful items at your disposal makes you a better hunter, and will make those fights easier. There are a heck of a lot of items strewn across the world, and realistically you want to pick up everything because they all have their uses – whether that’s now, or in another 10 hours’ time.
The world itself has moments of beauty, but the PC port has some inconsistencies. Some of the textures on PC look woefully low resolution – I’m talking PS2- era low res. For some reason, whenever I you use a weapon that does thunder damage the framerate dips to below 30 on every hit. Some customisable settings that enabled should have a noticeable visual difference seem to not even work. Pair the performance issues with the awkward controls and server hiccups and you’ve got a PC port that’s mostly functional but disappointing in key areas for a PC version.
Unfortunately, grouping up with friends is still unnecessarily complicated in Monster Hunter World, too. Tying the in-game guilds to the Steam community system didn’t help matters either. Currently, your friends can only join your private session by sending them its unique ID. Inviting them through Steam is supposed to work, but it doesn’t. Even in a private session, SOS flares can bring randoms, and the continued server disconnects have caused numerous collective sighs in our group.
So, the PC port of Monster Hunter World isn’t perfect. But despite its flaws, no other game compares to the thrill and sheer wonderment that beating a monster in a perfectly co-ordinated group can bring. In its purest essence, Monster Hunter World is simply about killing monsters to make better gear to kill bigger monsters. But boy, when it all comes off – which it does impressively frequently – no game comes close to it.
Monster Hunter World is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. We reviewed the PC version.
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