Monster Hunter can be an intimidating series. It is one that requires you to analyze monsters’ movements, replay quests to collect materials for equipment, work with other people to face gigantic threats and eventually become a master. It is a lot of work. Monster Hunter: World is no exception. There are times when it can be a demanding game. Fortunately, it also has a number of new features that all make it very beginner friendly. Even if you have never hunted a monster before, Monster Hunter: World feels like it goes out of its way to help you.
The scoutflies are rather revolutionary. Some might wonder if they make the game easier, since they help alert you to items in the vicinity and help you find your way to specific items or monsters. But it is handled tactfully. There are so many things in these environments that having a little alert on the side letting you know you’re near a certain material and it is right there can be helpful. And when it comes to the monsters themselves, it is a wonderful way to help guide you to their favorite locations or dens the first or second time you are tracking them, and aid you should one lumber away from you. What I liked is that unless you are absolutely tracking a monster or searching for a specific item, the scoutflies aren’t really directing you anywhere. They just sort of hover around a point of interest to let you know that it is there in a nonchalant way.
The tracking is handled quite well too. As you look around a location, you will find evidence a monster was around. Maybe there will be scales. Perhaps footprints are leading you somewhere. Marks could be left on walls or trees. You might even collect dung. This eventually leads you right to them, as well as provides information about each monster. These tidbits accumulate and increase research levels for each one every time you track and hunt them, which is reported back to the researchers in Astera when you return. An example is a Great Jagras page I took a screenshot of during my first three hours. It specifically tells you all materials you can collect and shows the parts of its body that can be broken to collect specific materials. It is all well collected and very visible. But, it is also handled in a way where you can stop going out of your way to keep up with tracks and ignore them if you prefer.
But how do you know which parts you should keep targeting? You use wishlists. Wishlists are amazing. If you visit the blacksmith and see things you want, but don’t have all the bits and pieces for yet, you can add a few of them to your wishlist. The moment you collect them while out on an expedition or mission, you will get an alert letting you know that you are all set. It came in most handy for me once I decided I wanted to get some full sets of armor. For example, part of the Kulu-Ya-Ku armor requires Wingdrake Hide. I had previously been using the Mernoses I saw in areas to travel. Killing one got me the hide I needed, showing the alert. Now that I’m waiting to finish my Tobi-Kadachi armor, I’m excited whenever I see the a pelt or sac that I need.
Going out on expeditions is great for collecting parts for equipment or general crafting. This is the open world element. You can bring up the map from Astera and go to any location you have already unlocked and any camp that has been set up. Once you reach a camp, you can head out into the area and look for ingredients, fight random smaller monsters or track down one of the bigger monsters in the area. For example, the initial forest tends to have three monsters roaming around when you go on an expedition. The Rathalos tends to be a constant, but it also seems like the Great Jagras, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Anjanath and Pukei-Pukei often hang around. As long as you aren’t in the midst of a fight, you can quick travel back to any camp or head back to Astera from one of these other locations. And, in case you have been out a while, you can have the Handler make you a meal at a camp to increase your stats in the field. What I found really nice is using them as practice for facing certain monsters ahead of their main quest, as I took down an Anjanath for the first time on an expedition, rather than on its mission. Knowing that there is no limit on fainting really removes the pressure when practicing.
Monster Hunter: World’s unlimited use mantles are another boon. When you go to hunt Tobi-Kadachi for the first time, you will receive the Ghillie Mantle. This temporarily hides you from view, unless you attack or are attacked. With how fast this creature is, it is a perfect first hunt to introduce the concept. You can quickly throw it on, then take a moment to heal and regroup, then launch a surprise attack. But really, it is most handy when a second monster crashes your hunt, because it is very easy for a tussle between two titans to suddenly lead to two creatures assaulting you. The Glider Mantle is another handy one, since it makes it easier to mount a monster for a brief while or reach new locations with your jumps or by gliding on wind. The ones I have seen feel like handy ways to deal with situations we may not have seen in a Monster Hunter game before.
Finally, there is how easy Monster Hunter: World makes it to get help from allies. Our own Palicos are amazing little buddies, in part because they are quite liberal with Vigor Wasps. These are wasps that restore health. They will just leave these guys in the field when you need it in a fight, so you or your party can use it to recover. Strange Palicos are also a big help. Whenever I go on an expedition in the forest, it seems like I have no trouble finding a Tailrider, a random Palico who will join you for a brief time. Having sessions and in-game chat that works well is helpful too. You can have up to 16 people around, with the session’s quests all shown on the board, which should make it easier to find people to play with. (I never saw more than three people in a session prior to launch.) There is even an SOS Flare that can be set off while on a quest to ask for help. However, sending an SOS Flare also means you have to open the menu, navigate to the “accept” option and choose it to let someone in. This can prove exceptionally difficult in the midst of a fight.
It really feels like these new systems and options add up to make Monster Hunter: World a little friendlier. The scoutflies are a great way to help recognize when there is something you may need in the field, what with locations being so large and full of life now, and track monsters. Wishlists allow you to better keep track of what you need and when you need to visit the forge. Expeditions are great for learning about monsters and the area, collecting materials and fighting without fear of time limits or fainting. And now it is so much easier to gather with people. Monster Hunter: World is still a challenging game, but has accoutrements that may make it easier for newcomers to adapt.
Monster Hunter: World is available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will come to the PC in Fall 2018.