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Previously, Monster Hunter was a console exclusive series of action-RPGs. However, this E3 brought a surprising announcement that the next entry in the series, Monster Hunter: World, is going to finally come to PC, albeit at a later date than the currently announced early 2018 console release. Here's the announcement trailer that, apart from lush jungles, big swords, and even bigger monsters, has a machine gun for some reason:
Now, Monster Hunter is a series that a lot of people are passionate about, and as a result there is no shortage of E3 coverage for it. For those of us who have very little familiarity with the series, The Verge offers an article explaining what Monster Hunter is, why it's a big deal, and how the new game differs from the rest of the bunch. An excerpt:
WHAT IS MONSTER HUNTER?
Monster Hunter is an action-RPG series developed by Capcom. It started on the PS2, but really took off in Japan when Capcom developed the Monster Hunter Freedom games for PSP. The heart and soul of Monster Hunter is co-operative multiplayer in which players, yes, hunt monsters together, and the four-player local wireless play made the PSP games a legitimate phenomenon in Japan. Overall the Monster Hunter series has sold over 40 million units, mostly in its home country.
HOW IS MONSTER HUNTER WORLD ANY DIFFERENT?
Well, where do you want to start? Judging by the trailer and brief press release, Monster Hunter World is the biggest overhaul yet for the series. It’s by far the most advanced on a technical level, and marks the first time that Capcom has developed a brand new Monster Hunter game for a system anywhere near this powerful — the original and 2 were on PS2 first, 3 came out on Wii, while 4 and Generations were developed for the 3DS. (I’m not counting the spin-off Monster Hunter Frontier MMOs.)
This doesn’t just mean that World is the prettiest Monster Hunter yet, although it undoubtedly is — it means that Capcom has been able to change major elements of how the game plays. World maps are no longer segmented, meaning you won’t come across any loading times when transitioning from one area to the next; Capcom says the environments feature a “living and breathing ecosystem” that can be used to your advantage.
But the biggest difference, at least in the trailer, comes down to style of play. The trailer sees a solo player making his way through a level and using stealthy techniques to locate a monster, climb on it, and take it down, which is about as far from the typical Monster Hunter approach as you can get. The game does feature multiplayer, but it’s using a new drop-in system where you head into the world yourself and can send out flares to signal to other players that you’d like them to join in. That’s a big change from previous games, where you had to form groups before deciding which quest to head out on, and it could help make Monster Hunter World a lot more accessible to a Western audience.
Then, in a GameSpot feature we get an overview of the live demo presented at E3:
Judging from the debut trailer alone, it's easy to tell that there have been a number of changes from past Monster Hunter conventions--such as the focus on more solo-oriented experiences, more traversal options, like the grappling hook, and some more action oriented gameplay. With that said, Monster Hunter World is still about finding resources and slaying tough beasts.
During the demo, we saw our hunter take on a quest solo to find samples of mucous from a new monster known as the Anjanath. A cross between a giant feathered lizard and a T-Rex--with some fire-breathing capabilities--the Anjanath is one of the apex predators in this region, and many of the smaller beasts avoid it. One interesting thing about this demo was that it showed off the dynamic AI present in the monsters. The developers refer to it as a living ecosystem, and monsters will react in real-time, either avoiding apex predators, or engaging with weaker or weakened monsters to find an easy kill. During one moment, the Anjanath was on the run after the hunter sprung some traps and weakened it, and the smaller monsters took the opportunity to jump in to try and finish it off, only for it the take them out swiftly.
Like in past games, hunters will have to utilize materials and other gadgets to stay ahead of the game. While in the field, the hunter can find material such as the new scout flies to track particular beasts. Over time, these scout flies will level up and become more useful in their tracking skills. In addition to new materials, the hunters now have new gear and gadgets to use. Much like the grappling hook, which allows for easy traversal and for staying on top of beasts that try to shake you off, ghillie suits are now a thing for the hunters. One suit allows the hunter to stay invisible from monsters, while another will create aggro from all large monsters in line of sight.
Hardcore Gamer talks about the ways in which World revitalizes and revolutionizes the series. Check it out:
All said, Monster Hunter World appears to have taken some potentially controversial quality of life initiatives to make the game more palatable to a wider audience. The new scout flies still require the player to observe the environment to gather information, but some might argue this removes part of the charm of the game. This could be valid for long time fans, but their addition, along with the removal of continuous load times, are part of why I now find myself heavily interested in what World has to offer. The lands are still sprawling, the battles are still long and strenuous, but now the annoyance factor has been removed. We’ll be keeping an eye on this title as its development continues towards a release date sometime next year.
VG247's coverage is more detailed than the rest. They start with a demo preview of their own, where we get to read about the game from a perspective of a relative novice when it comes to Monster Hunter. Quite a smart approach, if you ask me. A few paragraphs:
If you’ve not been into Monster Hunter thus far, there’s plenty to like. This is an epic monster-battling game just as before, but these quality of life changes are for you more than the hardcore MH fan.
Characters move more swiftly, you can now use a grappling hook to swing around and reach higher areas, and generally this looks and moves more like a Western game. Another point of comparison would be how dynamic the excellent Dragon’s Dogma could look at its best – there’s a hint of that here, which is no bad thing at all.
This is not an open world game: there are still discrete ‘levels’, but they’re larger in size and each is completely open between its zones, free of loading screens. Within this world there’s a lot of stuff that can interact including various types of beasts and the environment itself.
In one chunk of the hands-off E3 demo one bigger omnivore monster gobbles up a couple of herbivores before slinking off to its nest. Once there, it regurgitates the meal for a swarm of its young to feast on. There’s a food chain in action across the map, and a smart hunter will be able to use it to their advantage by playing creatures off against each other.
Your objective might require you to pass through an area populated with violent, hungry creatures, for instance, but you might be able to organize a distraction so that you can sneak past them to your main objective.
Other interactions are more driven by the player. Battling an enormous T-Rex like creature in a cave means you can use a slingshot to launch a well-placed rock at an unstable formation in the ceiling to bring part of it down atop the monster.
If you’re not careful a raging monster might also smash through a wall, revealing new paths. If you’re meticulous you might be able to cause a monster to trap itself in a world hazard such as tangling vines.
Then, they offer a detailed breakdown of a Japanese livestream that brought the E3 demo footage to the general audience. We get links to the transcript of what was said during the livestream, a couple of new pieces of video footage, the demo itself, and an interview with two of Monster Hunter's community managers. I'll let you explore that one on your own, just to avoid a roundup within a roundup inception(note: I am aware that this is not what the word inception actually means; direct all complaints to Christopher Nolan).
And to end it all on something only tangentially related to the main topic, Polygon now has an interview with a couple of Phoenix Labs developers, who are currently working on Dauntless, the game that previously positioned itself as Monster Hunter for PC. Here are their thoughts on the Monster Hunter: World announcement:
For its part, Phoenix Labs appears unfazed by the news. Speaking to Polygon during E3 2017, Dauntless executive producer Jesse Houston said he is “super excited” about Monster Hunter: World and not concerned with the competition.
“The more AAA products that are coming into this genre, the wider it’s going to get,” Houston said. “Historically, the hunting action community has been fairly niche in the West. I’m personally super excited that we’re going to get more than one title in the space on non-mobile platforms.”
Beyond welcoming more games in the genre, Houston also believes Dauntless and Monster Hunter: World are notably different in other respects.
“They’re still predominantly single-player,” Houston explained. “We’re kind of taking more of the Destiny style. We’re focused on the cooperative experience and always online.”
In Dauntless, players are technically able to take on hunts solo. However, the fights are tuned differently for that experience, and some are extremely difficult. Houston says they welcome players to attempt single-player challenges but are “unabashedly” focused on co-op gameplay.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Labs marketing manager Nick Clifford believes there may be less crossover between Dauntless’ playerbase and Monster Hunter’s than people might think.
“We asked everyone from the alpha to list some of their favorite games that they’re currently playing,” Clifford said. “Monster Hunter does come up a lot, but surprisingly it’s mostly games like Warframe and Path of Exile — other player-versus-environment co-op games.”