Monster Hunter World is a pretty fantastic experience that sadly lacks a satisfying endgame. I have definitely gotten what I would consider my money’s worth out of this title, and I can’t call it a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an earnest of things to come, and as a Monhun fan since Freedom 2, it gives me a lot of hope and excitement for the direction the series might take in the future. However, while it is hands-down the most accessible and smoothly enjoyable introduction to the series one could possibly hope for, I would not consider it a complete MH experience on its own, in its current state.
If you’ve never played a game in this series before, World will definitely hook you in. It has a compelling story, with lots of beautiful cutscenes and a few key characters that are well-developed, to help draw you into what’s happening. The combat is fast and fluid, the open maps are gorgeous and inventive, and it is in these aspects that World shines and stands head and shoulders above the rest of the series easily. The level of polish, the high production values and the very smooth quality of life features, are the best they’ve ever been. Ranged weapons in particular are far more enjoyable and accessible than they’ve ever been in the past, but every weapon has been tweaked and made more mobile and fast, simpler to wrap your head around. You can kind of just flail around with any weapon you like, and they all feel good to use.
Where World tends to falter is in its monster design, minor NPC charm/dialogue, and visual personality. It’s unfortunate that the massive engine overhauls sapped all the available time and money from the development, leaving very little left over for the inventive monsters and weapon designs that are the hallmark of the series. They went with a more “realistic” and “grounded” design for the visuals that leaves weapons feeling very samey. There’s only really one or two silly armor choices, and most weapons look literally exactly the same until you reach the very end of their upgrade trees (and even then, only some trees get this treatment). Visually, the game feels muted and tame. It especially suffers from direct comparison with MH Generations Ultimate, which was recently released on the Nintendo Switch and is an “all star” title incorporating basically the entire history of Monster Hunter.
The monster design also suffers from this comparison. Fights in World tend to be easier, less involved, the monsters slower-moving and clumsier, than elsewhere in the series. There are “tempered” variants of every monster that deal more damage, but have no more HP or any new moves. The three “deviants” included (pink rathian, azure rathalos, and black diablos) are extremely similar to their base types. Diablos himself charges around at a snail’s pace compared to his incarnations in other games. Openings are larger, stuns happen more often (for players as well as monsters), and overall the game sacrifices a lot of its more interesting mechanics for the sake of accessibility. Gone are the bears, crabs, birds, and snakes. Some monsters (lavasioth, jyuratodus, and great girros in particular) receive little to no attention and seem almost entirely skippable.
While tempered monsters can deal impressive and annoying amounts of damage, they have no new armor or weapons, serving only to fuel the RNG decorations and augmenting endgame, where all the drops are so rare as to render the entire augmenting feature completely pointless and frustrating. There isn’t even any dialogue or follow-up to completing the final Assignment quest to uncap your hunter rank. You just come back to town, and nothing else happens ever again.
There are also some balancing issues with some of the weapons, leading to very samey optimal play. I’m thinking in particular of the charge blade, where its strongest attack no longer dispels your shield charge. Great swords also suffer from needing to use the true charged slash constantly, requiring much larger openings to do any real work and rendering the old critical draw builds useless in comparison. Other weapons received much-needed buffs and feel much better to use, however, so it’s a mixed bag.
I strongly recommend Monster Hunter World to veterans who might have burned out on the series back in the day and want something to remind them of why they used to love the series so much. I also recommend it to newcomers who have never heard of Monster Hunter and want an accessible introduction to show them why everyone loves these games. However, I recommend that both newbies and vets bail out before the endgame burns you out entirely. The samey weapons and fight designs are a recipe for burnout that’s nearly unparalleled in the series, and so I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone subject themselves to the endgame here. But the 130 or so hours I got out of the game going up to that point were some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a MH game.