Why I’m Not Getting MHW: Iceborne

Monster Hunter World’s expansion is on the horizon for PC players in about a week at time of writing.  I won’t be buying it.  The last thing I said about World on this blog was this entry a while back, so I’d like to elaborate a bit with a mini-rant about the game and why I’m not sold on this expansion.

When I wrote that article, I was much more positive on World than I currently am.  My partner and I returned to it recently to break the rust off and prepare our skills for Iceborne.  After putting another 10 or so hours into the game, I went and looked up what’s going to be added in the expansion.  I then returned to play some more Generations Ultimate for comparison (original review here).  In the wake of this, my final position on this whole World thing is mostly one of frustration and disappointment.

For starters, to “get players ready for Iceborne” and ostensibly to ensure that everyone can have World’s main story beaten by the time it drops, Capcom added “defender” weapons and armor.  This stuff is vastly stronger than literally anything else you can make in the base game, and it’s insanely cheap.  In fact, it’s so cheap, requires so few materials, and outclasses everything else by such a large margin, that you might as well sell your entire equipment box and just make this stuff.  Seriously, to give an example, the Xeno’jiiva insect glaive (you know, one of the final boss’s weapons) is outclassed by the Defender equivalent by about 200 raw and 100 element.

Granted, that’s not as big as it would be if we were using the damage numbers system that actually makes sense (i.e. the Generations Ultimate system of normalized damage, which World rolled back on), but it’s a lot.  It’s enough to mean that farming the last boss (or any monster, really) and making weapons out of it is completely pointless.  And to top it off, the Defender stuff looks like rusty garbage.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the undisputed strongest weapons in Monster Hunter World

World already had a problem with samey and ordinary (or bad) looking weapons.  This is just a big middle finger to anyone intending to continue playing the base game.  And that’s the core of my problem, right there.  These weapons were not released to make sure everyone can beat the story.  That was already very doable, World is not a difficult game.  These weapons were released in order to completely flatten the progression curve of what’s already there, to sell more copies of Iceborne so you can get all the shiny new hotness that’s coming.  It’s engineered FOMO.  I’d call it power creep, but it’s more like power leap.

Except that the new hotness isn’t that hot, either.  Here’s 6 of the “new” Master Rank great sword weapons from 6 wildly different weapon trees:

Starting to notice a pattern?  Can you even tell what monsters these come from?  Iceborne, it turns out, has the exact same problem World did with samey, unimaginative weapon design.  Don’t take my word for it, though, go explore the wiki here.  The expansion has been out on PS4 for a long time, it’s fully catalogued (and that’s another issue, if you play on PC you’re forever behind in content updates).  Don’t get me wrong, there’s the occasional standout, but if you look at Generations Ultimate, every single weapon (and there are far far more of them) is visually distinct and usually interesting to look at.  But that’s okay, because when they release the next expansion after this, they’ll probably release new rusty-ass weapons with a thousand more attack that render all of this pointless anyway.

Speaking of engineered FOMO, I can’t in good conscience keep supporting this “live service” model of event quests.  The entire rest of the series has you downloading event quests to keep forever.  Only World rotates them out on a schedule, and that too is a slap in the face.  Oh sure, they have anniversary events where they bring them all back for a week or whatever, as if anyone has the time to grind out everything in a week.  Lemme just go find and train 3 other players to do Extreme Behemoth with me over a fucking weekend.  But the rest of the time, you’re stuck at the whims of whatever they decide to give you.

And when the servers eventually go down, you’re fucked.  With any other Monhun, you can still go back and play the old events.  I don’t even think you can play World offline, period, so you’re double-fucked in that case.  I could pick up Freedom Unite on my PSP right now and play ad-hoc multiplayer with anyone near me and access all the old events any time.  How is World’s model acceptable to anyone, in light of this?

Iceborne’s monster selection, like World’s, is again quite lackluster.  Look, I’m glad that they’re adding more monsters, that’s never a bad thing.  Counting small monsters, they added 35 things:

iceborne monsters
Not counting small ones or variants, they added 15.  What a “massive” expansion! OMG

So on paper at least, the grand total for “things you can technically hit with a weapon” in World with the expansion will be 86.  That doesn’t sound like it’s too far shy of Generations Ultimate’s 89, right?  It’s basically the same now!  Except there’s way too much shit missing for that 86 number to make sense.  That’s because GU’s 89 number is all large monsters.

Just for shits and giggles, take a look at this graphic of all of GenUlt’s small monsters, which is more than everything (large and small) that Iceborne adds, just by itself:

genult small

And now here’s the large monsters roster (I had to take 2 screenshots, click for big):

So yeah, you’re counting that right.  Generations Ultimate actually has 125 things you can hit with a weapon.  Nobody counts small monsters in their total except World/Iceborne, for obvious reasons.  And the stuff that’s missing is huge.  No Fatalis, no Lao Shan Lung, no crabs, no bears, no spiders, no Seltas Queen, no Malfestio.  No Mizutsune, no Royal Ludroth, no Zamtrios, no Chameleos, no Gore Magala or Shagaru Magala.  I could go on.  At this point, World has filled out its roster with basically all brute and fanged wyverns and a few flyers, and called it a day.  Hell, Iceborne even includes a giant deer thing but they didn’t include Gammoth… why exactly?  It’s nice to see Brachydios, the Nargacuga trio, Rajang etc. but they’ve got an extremely long way to go.

And yeah, G-rank is good, but World still doesn’t have an endgame!  We’re still grinding for decorations against tempered monsters that just hit harder and have nothing else interesting about them.  What about deviant monsters?  What about hyper monsters?  What about any endgame at all?  GU even has a better transmog system.  World makes you grind limited-time events for ticketed “layered armors” and there’s really not that many of them.  GU lets you transmog any appearance onto almost any armor, period, thus giving you a reason to grind out stuff that’s cute but has no stats/skills you want.

And here’s my beef, really: at the end of the day, Generations Ultimate literally already exists.  You can just get that and play it, and it’s a much better bang for your buck than paying for a base game and its near-full-price expansion just to get like half of what’s on offer in GU.  Plus it’s always online, it’s got temporary rotating events, and it’s likely to be subject to patches that flatten its progression and render all your efforts meaningless if it means they can sell you the next big expac that comes out.

Monster Hunter didn’t used to be like this.  It doesn’t have to be like this.  But I’m just an old lady yelling at a cloud at this point, because World and Iceborne are the best-selling thing Capcom has literally ever done, so fuck me I guess.

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