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Monster Hunter: World Review - Nothing less than phenomenal

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After seventy hours, hundreds of hunts and all while doing dozens of them with friends I am finally able to share a final verdict on 2018's biggest game. Well, so far. Monster Hunter: World is everything I ever wanted from a Monster Hunter game and it successfully delivered it all in a giant, content-filled packet of awesome hunts, gorgeous visuals and a deep customization system that will leave you grinding for days on end while trying to make the perfect set of gear to counter the game's toughest end-game monsters. I do not want to compare Monster Hunter: World to anything as although it bears some resemblance to games like Dark Souls and God Eater, it is in a league of its own. 

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.

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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. 

Astera is a big deal and everything you do in the game outside of hunting is done here. Crafting new gear, taking on bounties, harvesting mushrooms that you have planted in the botanical garden and even meeting up with friends in the dedicated Gathering Hub. After a few hours, I became so used to walking around the city that I figured out a route I took every time I got back after a hunt that would make sure I visited all the merchants and of course the canteen to order some tasty-looking fish stew that would buff me with health boost for the next mission. Later on in the game, you unlock new merchants and even a peddler that travels to the Old World in search of rare materials to sell you. All these things happen over time which in this case are quests. After a set amount of them, merchants will change their stock, Palacios will return back from a scavenging mission and even timed missions will offer new outcomes. 

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Monster Hunter: World has fourteen base weapons on which you build 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 most of the time using it. I did change to a longsword later on due to the sheer brutality of the game if you are using a Giant Sword and you are playing alone. It leaves you open for attacks much of the time, which does ruin your life. 

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. 

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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. If a specific tree path is open for you yet depends on what materials you have and what monsters you have slain. 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.

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 crafting tree will allow you to create a poison weapon if you reach the correct rank and you are able to farm for the right materials.

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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 from a set monster as the weapons and armour are made from multiple of each type of material that each monster drops. The Rathian can drop spikes, his tail, scales and hide. Each material has a drop rate and it all depends on what weapon you use and what body part you attack to see what material you will get out of it.  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 Spheres that are obtained by completing the dozens of bounties given in the game. You can also get these from missions. Armour has various perks that grant you different elemental resistance to specific types. It was a great way to create a wide range of armour loadouts that were best to take with me when fighting specific monsters. The Legiana is an ice monster so an armour piece with that stat would be best and the Rathian is poison and fire so I crafted a set of Anjanath gear to counter this. 

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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. Each region acts as its own open world with no loading times as you explore each section of it. Quests are timed but expeditions let you really explore the lands with no time allocation at all. 

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 Spheres 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 set of 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 and 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. At the end of the game, I had dozens of recipes that could help me buff myself before huge fights. Demondrug boosted my attack and Armorskin was the best option to make for damage reduction. I then made some food that further increased all these buffs for a set amount of time. All these preparations were necessary for a fight as the monsters truly are dangerous once you have completed the first story of the game.

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Multiplayer then changes everything too. With the ability to create squads and allow up to four players on most quests the game's play style becomes something completely different now that you have more people to take on different roles. Items that you would normally not use that can buff other people become part of your loadout and thanks to everyone's different weapons the battles are much more intense. The difficulty also take a massive climb as monsters become stronger and have larger health pools too. There was truly nothing as exhilarating as playing in a group of people taking on a Rathalon as well, all just went crazy with combos, buffs and all our unique attack styles. 

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Monster Hunter: World is nothing but the best entry in the series. Its new level of freedom opens up so many doors to explore the gorgeous locations and fight the new dynamic monsters. Every fight is different thanks to new ways to approach them and the environments available to be used as a weapon. Multiplayer then adds hours of grind to the game as you will always have the friend who needs help taking down a Poalumu to grab its fur so he can make a fancy hat. 

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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