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Monster Hunter: World Review-in-Progress

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While I would have loved to get a final verdict to you in time for international media it was just impossible, plus the online features for Monster Hunter: World is not online yet so I wanted to test that out before giving you my thoughts seen as the online side of the game accounts for a quarter of the content. With that being said, I have played 12 hours of the game so far and polished up some of the campaign, extra missions and I have invested a good amount of time into my character.

Four years really speaks volumes for Monster Hunter: World as it is a very big game. Right from the start, you are introduced to a blockbuster campaign that takes you across various regions of the New World. You play as a hunter from the Fifth Fleet and as the name implies you are the fifth fleet of people to arrive at the New World, a land of unexplored areas where secrets and mystery awaits. The people that came before you have successfully set up shop in a city called Astera.

This bustling wooden kingdom acts as the game's hub where everything happens before you set out on a mission. You and your handler come into some unfortunate events while tracking down Zorah Magdaros, the biggest of all the Elder Dragons. This monster has been moving to The New World along with the other Elder Dragons. Things happen and you end up stranded in the Ancient Forest, but before long you make it to Astera after a quick introduction to the game's mechanics.

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Like all Monster Hunter games, Monster Hunter: World is based on key features. Monsters, hunting, multiplayer, gear. I was able to test at least three of those and they are all fantastic. Astera acts as the game's hub where, after a few tutorials, I was able to find my way around it pretty easily and know what NPC gives me what and where I go to buy things and craft weapons. Astera is a stunning area to explore and the bustling of the people and sounds you hear around the town give you this feeling of it being a thriving city. 

Monster Hunter: World has fourteen base weapons on which you built upon throughout the game. You can change them at any time before a hunt and if you get tired of one the game's core class system keeps the opportunity open to moving to another without feeling as if you wasted time on a specific one. I am a giant sword fan and I spent the entire time using it. I do, however, plan on moving to other weapons as I progress through the game, but lucky enough the game allows that quick change. 

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Weapons in the game act as your class. If you use the giant sword then you are basically a tank that keeps the aggro on the monster. However, other weapons include ranged, fast dual blades, and even a support weapon that doubles as a hammer and a horn that can play tunes that buff players around you. Combat with all of these weapons feel fantastic and although some may take time to master, they all have a unique fighting style that will resonate with your preferences. 

Crafting weapons is easy and upgrading them is even easier. In Astera there is a smith that will give you the option to forge or upgrade. Upgrading lets you choose a specific path for your weapon and all depending on what materials you have and what monsters you have slain will depend if that tree path is open for you yet.

The Barroth, for example, drops specific items that let you craft Barroth-styled weapons and armour. You will firstly need to get enough of it and secondly make sure your weapon is at a specific tier before you can specialize in that forging. A nice thing about this is that if you feel that you want to go back and change to say the Pukei-Pukei weapon style then you can and all the materials you have put into the current build will be refunded to you.

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Every large monster you kill unlocks a specific weapon type and armour type to pile all the materials that said monster drops into and the perks of the items you make will also depend on the monster. Barroth has high attack perks in a weapon but will decrease the critical chance and Pukei-Pukei is a poison monster so the Giant Sword I made had a 20% to poison monsters. 

It was exciting to kill a new large monster and then head back to town to see what new weapons I could make with its hide. I would often need more iron or other crafting materials because weapons and armour are not just made from hide, but I could easily add the recipe to my wishlist to track what I needed the next time I went off on a quest or exhibition.

Armour upgrades a little differently. You would craft it the same way you would weapons but instead of using materials to upgrade the stats, you will use Armour Points that are obtained from completing the dozens of bounties given in the game. Armour only has a specific amount of times it can be upgraded so after a while I had to craft a whole new set from new materials. I kind of wish that you could stay with a set longer though, as soon enough everyone will look the same with the same end-game gear on. I would prefer to really invest in a set and see it grows from "okay" to fantastic.

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A typical session of Monster Hunter: World would see you take on a hunt, cook some food, head off on the mission while you gather materials and kill your monster. It is a smooth experience and I find no fault in the way the game plays out. There is actually a lot of freedom. Much more than in any Monster Hunter game in the past. My favourite activity has to be expeditions that allow you to go to different regions with freedom of no timer and explore, gather items, hunt for monsters and most of all complete bounties.

I spent a lot of time doing this and familiarizing myself with the surroundings. It is also the best way to finish bounties which are lists of objectives given to you by the Recourse Commission. These include finding specific amounts of insects, honey, or even killing a specific number of small or large monsters. Once completed, these give you armour points and the tougher ones contain rare crafting items. I am sure these will be the grinding feature at the end of the game as you try and create the perfect Elder Dragon armour. 

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When on a hunt the scoutflies are your best friend. These green little bugs fly to everything of interest in the area be it mushrooms, insects, herbs you name it. The most important thing is that they help you track monsters. They will fly to footprints, mucus and even feathers scattered around the ground and after scanning enough of these markings you will be able to see the monster on the map you need to hunt down.

Scoutflies especially come in handy when completing bounties as they will make it easy to see items that you need to complete each one. It also goes without saying that each region in Monster Hunter: World is vast and detailed to the point where if you are looking for mushrooms then you look in caves and under trees. I kind of became a professional at knowing what plant and wildlife I would find at what parts of the map and that is the beauty of the game's world. 

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Hunting is fun and addictive almost to the point where I was so distracted by monsters that I never realized so much time passed by me killing a monster I did not need to kill. Monsters are magnificent and their behaviour is so dynamic, as the game takes into account everything you are doing and where you are doing it and the monster adjusts accordingly. A Barroth will be weaker on the sand but put him into the water and he coats himself with mud. A Pukei-Pukei will try and fly away but corner it in a cave and it will become aggressive and fight back harder. The best of all is when a few large monsters start to fight each other. This happened a few times for me and I just sat back and watched as three giant monsters were having a huge wrestling match against each other. 

When it is just your feline friend and the monster then you need to learn how to read it and how to attack to counter it. Each monster has a weak spot and some are even much sturdier than others. Attacking a Barroth from the front will do nothing but weaken your weapon's durability. While attacking its tail will cut it off so it cannot whip you with it. It is pretty irritating, trust me. With enough research done on each monster you will learn everything you need to know about it so when you face it again you can counter it without a problem. For example, Kulu-Ya-Ku, a giant irritating chicken drops his death rock when you blind him so if he picks it up, you just toss a blinding grenade, shoot him with a staggering berry or activate a firefly near him and that rock will be dropped.

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Capturing monsters is also very different from past games and much easier now too. As the monster loses health and starts to limp you can toss a shock trap on the floor, hope it walks into it and when it does spam tranquillizer grenades at it until it falls asleep. To be honest, I was a bit worried when I went off on my first capture mission as I thought I was going to fail terribly but I was wrong. I really enjoyed the new way to capture monsters.

Various items help you in the hunt too and again, knowing your foe is the best way to prepare for what is ahead. Weakness to elements knowing what will stagger the creature is the easiest way to tackle a fight and making sure you have the right items to counter any side effects such as poisoning and fatigue will make battles much easier on your rage meter too.

The rage meter is not something in the game, rather your own personal meter before you throw your controller at your TV. Monster Hunter: World often gets very frustrating especially when you are chasing monsters, and playing with weapons that are slow. The Giant Sword, for example, is a well, a giant sword that takes forever to attack and even longer to charge up. This means that you will spend half your time being knocked around, electrified, and stunned because you are always close to the monster and open for the attack.

Often it also felt that my character was just not listening to me. He failed to aim in directions I wanted him to and when climbing and traversing the environment while chasing a fleeing monster he would just not listen at all. This led to him jumping off the wrong ledge, or running into a wall instead of pulling himself up vines. While this is not a game breaker, I just wished for more polish and flexibility when it came to the game's movement and combat. There is nothing worse than charging up a slash to miss the monster and then be stuck with your sword in the ground for a few seconds.

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So far so good in Monster Hunter: World. I am really enjoying the game and I cannot wait for servers to be turned on so I can jump into the hunt with friends. I have more on the story to cover and a few extra game mechanics such as tools and all the multiplayer features. As I play these and test them out I will be sure to update this review score as soon as I am done. However, if I had to score the game now I would give it a: 

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This review in progress was based on a review copy of the game provided to us by Capcom

Available On: PS4, Xbox One | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 26 January 2018 | RRP: R1069

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