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Interview: Monster Hunter Producer and Director Reflect on Monster Hunter World

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Monster Hunter World Iceborne Interview

Monster Hunter: World has been a monumental success, surpassing over 15 million units in sales as of January 2020. Available on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One, this entry has introduced an entirely new player base to the long running franchise. And true to form, during the lifespan of Monster Hunter: World, and its subsequent expansion, Iceborne, numerous free updates adding new armor sets, weapons, and legendary monsters have continued to roll out. We had the opportunity to talk to Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Executive Director Kaname Fujioka about the development of Monster Hunter: World and what they’d like to carry over into the new announced Monster Hunter Rise.

Kazuma Hashimoto, Siliconera: What played a part in your decision making when choosing which monsters would make the cut and be added into Monster Hunter: World and Iceborne through the Free Title Updates?

Fujioka: Back when we were still working on Monster Hunter: World, we created a list of the most popular monsters that represent the series. When Iceborne planning began, we wanted players to feel the history that we’ve built through the years of making the Monster Hunter franchise. We then made final decisions based on the expectations and the demands from the fans after we released Monster Hunter: World, the free title updates for that base game, and the 15th Anniversary Exhibition held in Japan.

What was the most difficult monster to implement in World? In previous interviews it was mentioned that the organic nature of the world and interactive environments had proved to be something of a challenge.

Fujioka: The most difficult part of the process in any Monster Hunter title is when we create the benchmark for a monster. For example, in the original Monster Hunter, the benchmark for all large monsters was Rathian. In Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), we focused heavily on underwater hunting and used Lagiacrus as the foundation for all underwater monsters. For Monster Hunter: World, in addition to constructing a proper ecological representation for each monster, we also had to think about the monsters’ behavior based on the seamless complexity of the surrounding terrain. The Ancient Forest was the blueprint for those organic interactions, and designing its inhabitants Anjanath and Rathalos took a lot of time and effort.

What was the most challenging thing for the developers to tackle over the years of development?

Fujioka: It’s difficult to compare with other Monster Hunter titles as every title has a concept and a goal that we set. For the first Monster Hunter, there were some challenges on network structure and the game cycle that we had to build from the ground up, and then when we developed for the portable hardware, there were some challenges bringing the series to a portable device. For Monster Hunter: World, we wanted to make sure that all game design decisions were helpful for introducing new players and international audiences to the series without altering the core experience, so it’s always a challenge to overcome these hurdles to achieve our goals.

Monster Hunter World Iceborne Fatalis

What were some monsters that you wanted to add, but couldn’t due to limitations?

Fujioka: For Monster Hunter: World, we knew there were strong demands for Lagiacrus, and we were looking into it. However, the seamless and complex terrain design versus the posture and stance that Lagiacrus has would have taken a tremendous amount of time and effort to make it look natural. In the early phases of development, we had created the 3D model already and had tested animation and all that, but… it was a tough decision to make.

What are some key features that the Monster Hunter team might borrow from Monster Hunter: World/Iceborne going forward with future Monster Hunter titles?

Fujioka: I appreciated systems such as the Scoutflies and the Raider Rides where Tailraider monsters navigate complex terrains for you, because I’m super horrible with directions. I think it’s an important feature when it comes to designing seamless terrains. Also, I think it’s very important to be able to interact with these monsters, not only in terms of attacking each other, but also understanding their biology and their interactions with one another. For example, luring monsters into turf wars and using the ecosystem to your advantage would be a gameplay element we would want to continue exploring.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Tsujimoto: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne has just released its “Final Stand” title update featuring the ultimate battle against the Black Dragon Fatalis. We hope everyone plays this challenging and unique monster to celebrate the final monster update. There were a lot of learnings across both Monster Hunter: World and Iceborne and I think it was a very important experience for the series. We couldn’t have achieved this level of success without the support of our fans.

The world of Monster Hunter continues with Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2, which we announced in September. Please stay tuned for more info on those games.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

Kazuma Hashimoto
Translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs.