The number of monsters with interesting mechanics, new skills and new gear seem far and few these days.
Unlike many when Monster Hunter World released, I didn’t immediately jump on the hype train. Instead, upon trying the demo and judging the combat to be too clunky, I decided to steer clear. Though knowledgeable about Monster Hunter titles and how acclaimed they were (especially Monster Hunter Tri and Monster Hunter 4), I was a little wary about taking the plunge. A few months later, however, I gave in. When my teeth were actually sunk into Monster Hunter World, I just couldn’t get enough.
Everything about the game was simply radiant. The multi-level environments which held untold possibilities for both discovery and hunting; the sheer ecosystem that these levels offered with various monsters fighting for turf when their paths crossed; the in-depth weapon system and sheer dedication required for mastering each type; the upgrade system which offered a strong amount of flexibility along with a clear path of progression; and most importantly of all, the hunts themselves.
"However, it felt like at the time – and now even more so – that the geniuses behind this stellar re-imagining for the franchise were running out of ideas."
Whether it was a story mission, an Arena quest, a 9 star quest or an Investigation with incredibly overwhelming odds, Monster Hunter World‘s hunts were (and still are) simply fantastic. The excellent feedback behind the combat system combined with the attention to detail and sheer diversity that many large monsters offered with their move sets was simply incredible. Yes, I found certain elements like roars, slight brushes resulting in knock-backs and interrupts to be incredibly annoying. When a Tempered Azure Rathalos easily dispersed of me, there was a good modicum of rage to be had.
But that was also part of the appeal for Monster Hunter World. Its challenge didn’t feel arbitrary – it was organic and seemed to progress in line with my own character’s power increase. So in the midst of all this praise, it’s probably funny to sit here and criticize this game which I’ve played for several hundreds of hours.
I haven’t played Monster Hunter World since embarking on yet another playthrough in the PC version which launched in August. That’s because, for all intents and purposes, I was done with the game. I felt like I had experienced everything it had to offer. Considering that Final Fantasy 14’s crossover event, which added Behemoth as a large monster to Monster Hunter World, was going on for consoles, it felt a little strange to be done.
However, it felt like at the time – and now even more so – that the geniuses behind this stellar re-imagining for the franchise were running out of ideas.
"More experienced, Tempered monster tracks for Investigations, currency, Gold Crowns – there seemed to be something available to grind out and feel intrigued by in the early going."
When Monster Hunter World first launched, there were so many things about it that we didn’t understand. The monsters, how they functioned and interacted with each other, how to manipulate the environment against them, how elements worked, what skills worked best, how to farm Investigations, Streamstones, melding and so on and so forth. It’s not like the game became any less deep when we fully grasped these concepts either. If anything, the full extent of what was possible in terms of combat builds was exposed.
Capcom would release Deviljho in March, bringing the stampeding and relentless brute into World for the first time. It was our first introduction to a new set of monster interactions, armour and weapons. The Tempered Deviljho quest still remains one of the toughest till this day. Meanwhile, several adjustments were being made to the various weapon classes, balancing them to feel better and eliminating any annoying bugs.
In April, Kulve Taroth arrived. This was fundamentally different from anything in the game till this point. Kulve Taroth introduced a new type of quest – the Siege – which required gathering tracks, breaking off parts and raising the Pursuit Level enough to effectively corner her. Once that was done, players had to progress through four different stages of the fight and finally break her horns. The quest took on deeper meaning when 16 players, four in each instance, were working cooperatively to bring about Kulve’s ruin. Random weapons were doled out, some being better than base game weapons and others presenting interesting new options for those who didn’t want to spend hours farming for a Light Bowgun or Greatsword. These new “Melded Weapons” sometimes carried cool bonuses and increments that weren’t present in base weapons.
It’s also worth noting that Capcom was adding different Event Quests in between for Layered Armour and new gear based off of properties like Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Horizon Zero Dawn and whatnot. More experience for one’s Hunter Rank, Tempered monster tracks for Investigations, currency, Gold Crowns – there seemed to be something available to grind out and feel intrigued by in the early going.
"The Arch-Tempered monsters felt more damage-spongey than challenging with the increased damage feeling like a cheap challenge."
In May, Lunastra arrived. This Elder Dragon functioned differently from others as she fought alongside her mate Teostra. Aside from their team-up attack that was essentially a double Supernova, Lunastra also kept players on their toes with her tendency to leave fire everywhere. Oh, and her ultimate attack was like a massive damage-over-time from hell. It was awesome and along with some great gear with plentiful slots, Lunastra weapons would become some of the best in the game. They further introduced cool concepts like weapon skills – you could essentially use bonuses like Guts or Razorsharp from sets like Bazelgeuse and Xeno’jiva on a weapon. This changed up preexisting builds by a significant margin.
Then E3 2018 arrived in June and Monster Hunter World‘s presence was kind of…low-key. Yes, we got the announcement of Behemoth coming as a crossover event but no other information otherwise. Capcom had taken to introducing new Arch-Tempered Elder Dragons to keep fans busy. Arch-Tempered Kirin and Vaal Hazak came with their own Gamma sets and Layered Armour options. The sheer one-shot death risk of the former along with the environmental hazards and involvement of Tempered Odogaron in the latter made them feel interesting and challenging.
However, they were far from the G-rank beasts encountered in, say, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. They didn’t possess new attacks or patterns. Instead, they had more health and did more damage. You could point to any speed-running attempts by experts and see how trivialized some of these fights became. However, for the majority of players, they were a chore. The Arch-Tempered monsters felt more damage-spongey than challenging with the increased damage they could deal feeling like a cheap addition to their arsenal.
Of course, Behemoth would arrive in August. The mechanics behind his fight were interesting and something unseen in Monster Hunter World till that point. Players had to actually take on designated roles, draw the monster’s aggro, avoid its Ecliptic Meteor and the certain death it brought and so on. This was a group activity but soloing it didn’t feel terribly difficult. Again though, for many players, this felt like a fight with too many different elemental attacks, negative status effects and other nonsense to deal with compounded by a boss that did tons of damage and had tons of health.
"Many will point out that Monster Hunter World lacks a large selection of monsters like previous games and that hinders its replay value."
Extreme Behemoth seemingly doubled down on everything that made the regular version aggravating. While Behemoth did offer a good weapon and armour set, that was essentially it. Anyone who didn’t use an Insect Glaive could still utilize the set for interesting builds. But this was far from the influx of new items that Kulve Taroth, Lunastra and Deviljho brought in (unless you count new Layered Armour). It also didn’t help that Behemoth is a timed event while at least Lunastra and Deviljho are permanent additions to the game.
Heck, even the Arch-Tempered monsters failed to really ignite the loot pool with interesting new possibilities, forget memorable new mechanics. Teostra was next and functioned pretty much like regular Teostra except – you guessed it – more damage and health. Kushala Daora was also the same except – what a surprise – more damage and health. The scenarios weren’t even slightly altered to make the fights more interesting. Sure, Arch-Tempered Kushala came in to harass Arch-Tempered Teostra that one time but come on, Capcom. We’ve seen that trick already, especially among Elder Dragons.
Many will point out that Monster Hunter World lacks a large selection of monsters from previous games and that hinders its replay value. The fact that most of the best skills and weapons are restricted to certain monsters doesn’t help. If the gear pool was opened up to make almost everything viable in their own unique ways, we’d probably have something. If transmog was a thing, allowing players to actually create their own unique cosmetic looks from any monster’s armour, we’d have something. Maybe we just need more outlandish concepts for monsters like Valstrax from Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.
However, this wasn’t huge problem in the beginning when Monster Hunter World was doling out interesting new fights and scenarios every month. Much as I disliked Behemoth, it was something new. When it came two months after Lunastra, the gap didn’t feel so pronounced. It’s now been more than two months since Behemoth’s addition and the solution for new, interesting scenarios seems to be just bumping up the damage and health for Arch-Tempered Elder Dragons. Cue the impending arrival of Arch-Tempered Lunastra and Arch-Tempered Zorah Magdaros (which should be interesting but only because he’s more of a scripted mission than actual hunt. Plus, aside from increased damage and health, a preview of Arch-Tempered Nergigante is probably all the intrigue it’s going to offer).
"Maybe Capcom has an entire end-game structured and ready that will keep players occupied for the better part of the next 12 months."
For the record, I’m happy that Capcom continues to support the game. I’m happy with the vast amount of content in the base release and how fun it can be. It’s great that you can invest so much time into the game learning so many different weapons and build combinations. The topic of something to grind towards or a proper end-game like G-rank continues to surge in the community and while that would be welcome, I believe the base package is well worth experiencing for many hack and slash fans.
However, Monster Hunter World seems to be lacking lately when it comes to interesting ideas. For me, being able to experiment and try out new things, further livening up hunts – both old and new – in interesting ways is what keeps me coming back. It also helps when grinding for gems and Streamstones.
Maybe I’m just being paranoid and there’s a whole well of new content on the way like a new area (and new ways for existing monsters to interact with it). Perhaps there will be new mechanics, new and returning monsters and even more interesting skills to grind towards. Maybe Capcom has an entire end-game structured and in development that will keep players occupied for the better part of the next 12 months. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll receive some new content that forces us to play a little differently rather than simply throwing a higher damage-dealing target with tons of health to hack and slash at.
It certainly doesn’t seem like Capcom isn’t busy. After all, just when things seemed silent following the game’s console launch in January, we received near monthly updates, Event Quests and Seasonal Events. If things have been relatively low-key for this long and the development team is simply churning out tougher versions of existing Elder Dragons to keep players busy, it has to be for a reason. Hopefully, that reason comes to light sooner rather than later…and it isn’t just an Arch-Tempered Nergigante and the inevitable Winter Festival as we head into the game’s first year anniversary.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.