Over the years a friend of mine has regaled me with stories of the Monster Hunter series. “You hunt giant monsters,” he says. “You kill them and use the bodies to make armor and weapons.” It all sounds very cool, but I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing it myself until now.
The Monster Hunter: World Beta presented me with my first chance at trying the series. It was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up, so I dusted off my PS4, signed up for a month of PS+, and downloaded the beta.
The beta started with a character customization system that did not have many options. Keep in mind that this is a beta, and may not be an accurate representation of the complete product. In addition to customizing your character, you also get to customize a cat companion that helps you in battle. This was honestly one of my favorite features. I can’t wait to find out the story behind my cat friend.
Next you get to pick a mission. There were three to choose from in the beta, each with a different monster hunt and difficulty level. But before you enter the mission, you get to choose armor and weapons for both you and your cat friend. There were a lot of cool weapons to choose from. All of them felt completely different. They required different battle strategies to use, which really made the combat satisfying. Some of the weapons even had different modes to give even more depth to the combat.
The monsters stomp and fly around in a beautiful world as you chase and battle them. There were different areas with varied biomes. They were all interesting enough to force me to stop and just take things in at certain points. The coolest part of the environments was that each area actually affected the combat in one way or another. Whether it was monsters hiding in water, crashing into plateaus, or getting tangled in vines, I was always surprised and excited by what would happen next.
There wasn’t any story in the beta, but I wasn’t really surprised by that, nor was I disappointed. I’d rather get the full experience when the game come out on January 26th. I did get the sense from playing this game that it’s mostly a survival game. There were plenty of things to pick up, like herbs and stones. There seemed to be some kind of leveling system that I just didn’t have access to. I was accumulating experience for tracking and killing monsters. I imagine from the mission selection system that there are going to be rewards for killing monsters that will allow you to buy equipment. We’ll find out for sure soon enough.
I played through the three missions in increasing order of difficulty, so the first monster was weak and easily defeated. It was easily knocked down and wouldn’t have be any challenge at all if I was used to the controls. It was a quadrupedal creature that really didn’t stick out to me in any way. I spent more time chasing it around than actually fighting it, so I won’t waste any more words on it.
The second monster was much tougher. It had an incredibly thick skull and the ability to create a goo that could trap me in place. I had to carefully probe and search for openings as he could not be faced head on. This was the experience that my friend was telling me about. I was in a whole new world, a dazzling place I knew nothing about, facing a giant, fierce creature. This is where I fell in love. Unfortunately, this creature was able to hold me at bay long enough for me to fail the mission due to the time limit.
Last but not least, the third monster was the toughest by far. Armed with a long tail, huge jump distance, a lot of speed, and fire breath, it was no push over. I picked double blades for this mission, so I tried to match its speed, but I was never able to get more than a hit or two in before I had to dodge to avoid an attack. Let me tell you, it’s unwise to get hit by a fire breath attack. I spent a lot of time rolling to put out the flames on my clothes. Through perseverance and a lot of dodging, I was eventually able to take this one down, probably within seconds of the time limit.
Overall Monster Hunter: World is captivating. It was so difficult to explore with time limits looming, but I desperately wanted to. The monsters were varied in every way possible, each cooler than the last. The combat gives you so many options to develop strategies against your prey. So far, I can’t find a bad thing to say about this game. I, for one, am excited. If you are too, or if you have questions about the beta, let’s talk about it in the comments.