It's been over a decade since PlayStation gamers had the opportunity to partake in monster hunting and even longer for Xbox fans but the wait is over as Monster Hunter: World has finally arrived on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Monster Hunter: World opens with a bang but also with a couple headaches. It begins with a bit of background about a new land filled with monsters and even more are migrating every day. Your character is part of the Fifth Fleet who are traveling to the new world as requested by the Research Commission which is attempting to discover why this migration phenomenon is occurring. As you travel across the sea, you come across one of the massive Elder Dragons who disrupts your travels. During this prologue, you're able to create your character. There are plenty of customizable options that should allow you to really make your character unique. I've never really been one to agonize over what my character looks like but if you're like that, Monster Hunter: World should provide enough options. Oh, and you also get to customize and name your pet Calico.
At this point, I should mention that I'm an almost complete novice to the world of monster hunting. I've put a few hours into Soul Sacrifice and some of the Toukiden games. However, Monster Hunter: World will be the first time I really sink my teeth into the genre. I mention this so that you understand my background with the series. Anyway, the opening hours left me with equal parts awe and frustration. As a newbie to the series, I would rate the tutorials and introductions slightly above average. A lot of aspects are well explained and mostly put in words that are easy to understand (although the font could have been a bit bigger).
Upon getting started, you need to learn the layout of the home base (Astera), decide which weapon that you want to start with out of more than a dozen, train how to fight with that weapon, and learn about the different types of quests. I'll admit; I didn't understand everything right away but I highly recommend pushing forward and slowly absorbing the information as it's thrown at you. Also, don't be afraid to Google something if you're not sure as there are already plenty of beginner's guides up that can help you understand many of the more intricate concepts. Astera itself is an awesome-looking home base filled with NPCs and vendors who provide different benefits. It's a bit more spread out than it needs to be with the Smithy (weapon and armor upgrades) being particularly annoying to reach.
The combat feels good so far but it's noticeably slower than many action games. It definitely has a bit of a Dark Souls feel although it's not as exact and doesn't require as much patience and precision. I started using a longsword which didn't click with me at all so I've since switched over to the dual blades which are much faster yet understandably weaker.
After the first few hours, my only major criticism is with the co-op system. Story missions cannot be played cooperatively unless all players have already seen that mission's midpoint cutscenes. This means that you and a co-op pal can't start story missions at the same time together. You can still play optional missions and investigations in co-op but there aren't a lot of those available early on.
The workaround for story missions is for all co-op partners to start a story mission individually, play up until the point where all the cutscenes have played, then for all but one player to drop out of their mission and join in with the main player. This does work and mission progress is still counted for all players but it's a silly and unnecessary workaround that only has the benefit of ensuring cutscenes aren't being skipped. This is especially silly when you consider the fact that many Monster Hunter players just want to slay monsters and grind loot for hours on end and don't necessarily care about the storyline and cutscenes.
Despite that major annoyance, I'm still excited to dig deeper into Monster Hunter: World and start upgrading my character to become a force to be reckoned with in the new world! What are your thoughts on Monster Hunter: World so far? Leave a comment below.