2018 has come and almost gone, and with it came one of the best gaming line-ups in years. There were so many amazing games to choose from; God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tetris Effect, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Celeste, the list goes on. However, by majority picks in our Games of the Year choices (even by a tiny margin), one game rose above the rest: Monster Hunter World. If you have yet to play it, you might be asking what makes it better than the likes of God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2? Why has Capcom's unassuming title managed to make its way onto several game of the year lists? Let's take a look at why you should definitely play Nexus' (by majority vote) best game of 2018.
The Monster Hunter Legacy
It's a wyvern, not a dragon... apparently...
World marks one of the many iterations of the popular Monster Hunter series, which has since garnered critical acclaim across the franchise for multiple reasons. We're gonna explore a handful of them today, but most importantly, World also marks the best entry in the series for many fans. This is the first major leap onto traditional consoles since the series has survived on portable devices, like the Nintendo 3DS, for many years. World utilizes new tech to give the series a much deserved graphical upgrade, making the game pop in visuals, gameplay, and quality of life. If this is your first time jumping into the series, then you've surely picked a great time to do so.
Addictive Gameplay Loop
This is actually how we kill lizards in South Africa
The Monster Hunter series is famous for its highly addictive gameplay loop, with World being no different. The concept of the game is unorthodox: it's both simple and intricate. Your objective is to hunt and kill monsters, which you are then able to skin and carve so that you can acquire materials to craft new weapons and armour. The monsters scale in size, difficulty, and diversity as the game goes on, meaning you'll have to constantly upgrade your equipment to ensure you're ahead of the difficulty curve. You may not get all the materials you want on one single hunt, so you'll be spending a lot of time hunting the same monsters over and over again to get that sweet gear.
If that sounds repetitive, worry not. Monster Hunter World thrives on its fun factor. Thanks to each monster's unique designs, abilities, and moves, no one hunt ever feels the same. You'll always be surprised by how much the tides of a fight can shift in either yours or the monsters favour, so there's a high risk/reward system that also punishes careless players if they aren't willing to put in the 110% effort needed for a successful kill. With every victory comes great rewards. Before you know it, you're sucked into a perpetual loop of hunting, carving, crafting new gear, and repeating. To add to the extraordinary diversity of the gameplay, there's also your weapon classes.
Incredible Combat, Diverse Weapons
They wanted a puppy for Christmas, but Santa has a great sense of humour.
World fleshes out Monster Hunter's great combat and takes it a step further. The combat accommodates well over a dozen playstyles, accentuated by the 14 different weapon classes available from the get-go. If you're a tank character that likes big, heavy-hitting weapons, there's weapon classes built for you. If you prefer being a speedy warrior with fast-hitting, stylistically flashy weapons, they have that too. Best of all, there's no wrong or right way to play the game. The game is built with the intention of players exploring and experimenting with its various weapon classes, and when teaming up with friends, you'll be surprised at how well these classes work together.
The combat itself is a beast in its own right. Some gamers have expressed that the combat is too slow, clunky or "Dark Souls-like" (I guess that's the go-to comparison for every new game that features methodical combat now), but with enough patience and playing through with every weapon in the game for extensive periods of time, you'll come to adapt and love their intricacies. As a person who enjoys hack and slash games, for example, I found the Dual Blades to perfectly encompass my need to zip around the environment at ninja speeds while dishing out quick, precise slashes - the monsters never see it coming (well, most of them). However, the ranged classes like the Bow make you feel like Legolas on steroids, while the heavier Greatsword gives you massive damage attacks like Guts from Berserk. Hell, there's even gun classes such as snipers if that's your flavour.
Great Monster Variety
Yes, it's a unicorn, and it will destroy you...
The heart and soul of the Monster Hunter games are its monsters, after all. World may not have as many monsters in its roster as previous titles, but at around 40+ unique creatures in the game now, there's enough amazingly designed monstrosities here to keep you busy for hours (and I do mean a lot of hours. I've sunk around 250 hours into the game, and I'm still learning new things about the monsters). I can't begin to describe these monsters, which all range from fire-breathing T-Rex's, giant lizards, and huge lake-dwelling fish to towering gold-plated beasts, ravenous flying wyverns, and steel dragons that can literally create tornadoes in the environment.
Each monster requires a bit of a steep learning curve, as memorizing their move sets, weaknesses, and ailments are essential for a successful hunt. They also help you better prepare for what kind of items you take into the fight (perhaps berries that combat poison damage from certain monsters), and also what kind of upgrades you can embed in your armour and weapons depending on each monsters weakness (fire monsters are weak to water-based weapons, etc.). It's all very complex, but this level of careful calculations and planning is exactly what makes Monster Hunter World so supremely enjoyable and one-of-a-kind.
Breathtaking World Design
Aww that's so cute- oh my God! Stay away!
Monster Hunter World isn't necessarily an open world game. It's semi-open world featuring various segmented biomes that can be accessed at certain points in the game (each populated with about 3-4 monsters at any given time). However, these biomes are so sprawling and meticulously designed that the environments themselves become key parts of the hunt. For example, in areas where there's hanging boulders, you can break them off on top of a monster's head for massive additional damage.
There are some absolutely gorgeous locales in World, each as diverse as the next. The Wildspire Waste is a baron desert area with rocky terrains, cave networks, and slippery sand slopes; the Ancient Forest is a dense forest area with enormous trees to traverse and vines to swing around; the Rotten Vale, located below the Earth in a decrepit recess, is actually the skeleton of a colossal fallen monster (yes, they grow big enough to actually become maps); and my favourite area in the game, the Coral Highlands, is a luscious, vibrant above-ground aquatic area featuring gigantic glowing pink and blue coral reefs.
Free Major Updates
Oh, she's a gold digger.
Capcom has managed to put out their most pro-consumer title ever with Monster Hunter World. This may also be due to the fact that the team behind the Monster Hunter games aren't fans of the paid microtransaction and DLC models (outside of major expansions, but we'll get to that in a bit). However, World has received some great free updates since launch in January, which have all included new monsters, weapons and armour, items, events, hunts, crossover collaborations with the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, Megaman and Devil May Cry - basically everything EA would gladly (and excessively) charge for through microtransactions.
Massive Expansion, Iceborne, Coming Next Year
The new Ginyu Force pose.
On top of a collaboration with CD Projekt Red on The Witcher 3 coming early next year, Monster Hunter World will see its first major expansion, Iceborne, release in Autumn of 2019. This is exciting for any veteran fan as major expansions in the series means new content that's actually around the same size of the base game. Iceborne will be slightly smaller, however, it will include an entirely new tundra-like continent with new biomes, monsters, a new difficulty rank, and of course, new weapons and armour. We're basically getting Monster Hunter World 2, which is a very exciting prospect. As history dictates, this expansion will also presumably cost half of the full price, or slightly more - but trust us, it's worth every penny.
Multiplayer or Single-Player Experience
They asked for another puppy for New Years, but Santa wasn't done laughing...
While Monster Hunter World sells itself as a multiplayer experience, you can also play through the entire game solo, and even do end-game content solo as well. What initially grabbed me about World's multiplayer was how team-focused everything was - in all the right ways. This wasn't a case of Overwatch or Call of Duty that had "teams" acting of their own accord. Instead, you feel like an integral part of a hunting team when in a squad. Every person matters. Even in a situation where you want to act of your own accord, you're still ultimately contributing towards the end-goal of taking a monster down. No one is here to outshine another with their skills, but effortlessly makes you work together as a team, even when you don't realize it. If one person wins, everyone wins, and the end result is always the same depending on if you put some backbone into your hunts.
Multiplayer doesn't make the fights easier, though, as monsters do scale in difficulty according to the number of people on the team (save for a couple of monsters). As a long-time naysayer of multiplayer games, World made me realize just how fun and rewarding it can be. Instead of causing fights which results in salty and bitter attitudes, you're tasked to become a unified killing squad. If someone fails, everyone fails, but if you all put your minds together to formulate strategies, then it becomes an incredibly rewarding experience that you simply can't find in any other multiplayer game.
Monster Hunter World is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Make sure you read our review here.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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