Listen, I sat down with every intention of playing Monster Hunter: World and loving the hell out of it. It's a game that's beautiful and grand, but this grandiose beauty got lost in the game's playability. I also walked into this game blind - having never played a MH game before in my life. And sure, that definitely hindered my experience - because I know that this series has specific conventions, but that shouldn't matter.
A big game like this should be able to appeal to more than just fans, and obviously it has, but I feel like there are some key issues that need to be addressed. While the world is beautiful, and the character designs are fun and funky, it gets screwed over by clunky fight controls that overshadow the game's more innovative moments.
Monster Hunter: World takes place on a continent called The New World, a mostly uninhabited continent filled with a lush, harsh environment. Several fleets have come to the island and created settlements for both research and obviously hunting and tracking the many creatures that inhabit the island. You take control of your Hunter, and along with your Handler, are called with the Fifth Fleet - which has been summoned by the Research Commission.
Upon arrival, you barely survive an encounter with a massive Elder Dragon, Zorah Magdaros, and make it to the settlement of Astera. Once you settle in, you are told that the Fifth Fleet is responsible for figuring what draws the Zorah Magdaros to this lush, new world by tracking it's movements and setting up camp based on where it goes. And by clearing out other hostile monsters, of course.
There's a lot of good in this game, obviously. It's received massive acclaim upon its release. I think the biggest part has to be the lush world design and the active environments within that world. From the very beginning, I was treated to a world so beautiful and vibrant and got I mesmerized by it. It's very difficult for an open world to feel so alive - and I'm thankful that these guys made it such an important aspect of the game.
I know that when I travel around this world for a hunt - I'm going to interact with an environment that reacts to me, and that matters! It mostly works really well, it makes the hunts very dynamic and if it weren't for the controls - I'd keep singing praises.
Of course, the environments aren't the only thing that this game has going for it. I was surprised at how much I liked the character designs. I'm usually a less-is-more kind of guy - growing up with Enix's out-there designs would do that to you - but there's a certain charm in the way Monster Hunter does things. The big weapons seem small next to the large enemies - and the freedom in the character creator helps you make whatever kind of character you want! It's nice.
The bad part of this game concerns me the most. In a game that revolves Monster Hunting, the controls just need to be better. A lot of this bled through from previous games - and I understand that, and I'm sure that a lot of people have gotten used to them. And obviously a lot of other people have managed to power through - but I just couldn't. From the first fight - I struggled.
I didn't struggle because the game was hard (or harder than a game like this should be), I struggled because the fighting mechanics were annoying. The combo system felt slow and obnoxious - even with the so-called fast movement weapons like the sword and shield.
New controls should be a learning curve, but I feel like there should be a level of intuitiveness that just wasn't there for me. It really breaks the immersion and makes the game less fun, which is unfortunate, because there is a lot of really good stuff here. But games need good controls and I don't think Monster Hunter: World has them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This game is hit or miss. It was a definite miss for me, and I won't be purchasing my own copy. I'm glad my little brother has his! I do think that some people will find it fun, and the obviously already have, so I'd definitely say rent the game first. In some way? Maybe? But yeah, I didn't enjoy it, because the controls weren't fun.
I don't care how beautiful a game is - it has to be fun.
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played games since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any games you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!
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