Monster Hunter is one of those series that has always passed just under the radar. Despite installments making their way from Japan to other regions from the very beginning, starting with the PlayStation 2 Monster Hunter in 2004, it has remained something of a niche property. Perhaps it is because of it typically being limited to certain platforms, with earlier titles appearing mostly on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable and later ones sticking to the 3DS, Wii, and Wii U. But now, it seems we are on the edge of an opportunity. With Monster Hunter: World appearing on major platforms worldwide at once, we are on the verge of it becoming the next hottest video game.
After all, it has been years since a Monster Hunter was on a console, and even longer since it was on a non-Nintendo system. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was the last Wii U console installment in 2012, and Monster Hunter Portable 3rd had its PlayStation 3 port in Japan in 2011. That means a lot of people haven’t been exposed to the series at all! And those who do know what it is like may not have seen all the recent changes and improvements made in the Nintendo installments in over five years. Monster Hunter: World is a big splash that exposes PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC owners to the game and its unique style of gameplay. That’s a significant population who will be hunting for the first time. And guess what? They’re going to love it.
Part of what is going to make Monster Hunter: World take the world’s attention is the gameplay. Dark Souls and the other FromSoftware games took everyone by storm because of the way it is set up. It is difficult, yes, but there is a pattern to everything. People who think logically and pay attention will succeed. The same happens with Monster Hunter. Each weapon works in a different way. Every monster has its own traits and habits. If you rush in and start button mashing, you will die. If you don’t pay attention to the creature and your surroundings, you die. But, if you watch what you are doing and play smart, you will thrive in this environment.
Which is good, because the Monster Hunter series is known for its detailed creatures. Every game basically has a virtual ecosystem of animals, though the level of interaction between them varies from game to game. The little herbivores, like Kelpies, may give some meat and run from you. Bigger herbivores only attack when provoked and perhaps provide pieces of hide that can be used to craft armor or weapons. The larger predators are most fearsome, as they are aggressive predators who will attack on sight, but attempt to flee if they see you are getting the better of them. These are the ones you’ll need to learn to hunt and defeat to progress. The detail that goes into each one’s AI can be quite extraordinary. It gets you excited about each new hunt, because every fight is going to be different and test you in new ways.
Then, there is the crafting. Much of the fun of Monster Hunter comes from figuring out what needs to be done to defeat a specific monster, seeing what kind of armor or weapon you can create from materials taken from it, then continually going after that specific creature so you can build elaborate and powerful equipment. After all, you don’t level up in Monster Hunter. The game has a set difficulty, and you need to rely on your own skills and ability to eventually get you the bits and pieces that allow you to be a little stronger and sturdier for every hunt. It’s satisfying to know that you are the one who is in charge of everything, your strength is carrying you through, and you just need to occasionally forge new suits of armor or improve existing weapons to bolster your existing abilities. The collection element can make things quite compelling.
It seems like Monster Hunter could be on the verge of possible worldwide hype, just like the FromSoftware Souls-likes. After all, Demon’s Souls did well and attracted a devoted fanbase, but was a PlayStation 3 exclusive. That line didn’t blow up until Dark Souls appeared everywhere, followed by its sequels and the similar Bloodborne. Even though Monster Hunter is huge in Japan and beloved by people who have kept up with it on Nintendo platforms, I bet Monster Hunter: World is going to be the installment that makes it the next big thing.
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