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Monster Hunter: World is an action role-playing game developed and published by Capcom, and the fifth main installment in the Monster Hunter franchise. The game was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles worldwide in 26th January 2018, with a Microsoft Windows version released in August 2018. Kaname Fujioka and Yuya Tokuda served as directors, Ryozo Tsujimoto as producer and Sayaka Kenbe as artist.[1] In the game, the player takes the role of a Hunter, tasked to hunt down and either kill or trap monsters that roam in one of several environmental spaces. If successful, the player is rewarded through loot consisting of parts from the monster and other elements that are used to craft weapons and armor, amongst other equipment. The game's core loop has the player crafting appropriate gear to be able to hunt down more difficult monsters, which in turn provide parts that lead to more powerful gear. Players may hunt alone, or can hunt in cooperative groups of up to four players via the game's online services.

First announced at Sony's E3 2017 conference, Monster Hunter: World adopts the series' standard formulas from its older home console roots and recent handheld games to take advantage of the higher processing power provided by modern consoles and computers. Changes made in Monster Hunter: World include creating environmental spaces that are fully connected and removing the "zones" that were necessary for the PlayStation 2 and handheld games, more advanced monster artificial intelligence and physics to create seemingly living ecosystems that could be taken advantage of during hunts, a more persistent cooperative multiplayer experience, and a refinement of the game's user interface, menu systems, and tutorials to help with bringing new players into the series. These changes led Capcom to plan for the game's simultaneous release across both Japan and Western markets, since Monster Hunter as a series has generally languished in the West compared to Japan partially due to disparate release schedules. Capcom also opted to support online play between these different geographic regions for similar reasons. The delay for the Windows release was attributed to Capcom seeking to make sure its first foray into the Windows market was optimized for players on computers.

Monster Hunter: World received critical acclaim upon release, with critics praising how Capcom was able to make the game more accessible to new players and to Western markets, without detracting from the series' core gameplay elements and enjoyable difficulty, and fully taking advantage of the computational capacity of modern consoles to create living ecosystems, with some even calling it the best in the franchise. Monster Hunter: World is the best-selling game in Capcom's history, with over 14 million copies shipped by October 2019. An expansion pack, titled Iceborne, was released for console in September 2019 and will be released on Windows in January 2020.

GameplayEdit

Monster Hunter: World is an action role-playing game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. Similar to previous games in the series, the player takes the role of a Hunter that travels to the "New World", an unpopulated land mass filled with monsters, to join the Research Commission that study the New World from their central command base of Astera. The Research Commission tasks the Hunter to hunt down and either kill or capture large monsters that roam outside Astera to both protect the Commission and to study the monsters there.[2] The player's character does not have any intrinsic attributes, but instead these are determined by what equipment the character is equipped with. This includes a weapon which comes from one of fourteen archetypes (such as long sword, bow, or hammer), which then further defines the types of combat moves and abilities the player can use, and pieces of armor, which can lead to beneficial or detrimental combat skills if matched properly. While some basic equipment can be purchased using in-game money, most equipment is built from loot obtained by slaying or trapping monsters, rewards from completing quests, or items gathered while in the field. This creates a core loop of gameplay that has the player fight monsters they can beat to obtain the right loot to craft improved weapons and armor to allow them to face more powerful monsters and the potential for even better equipment.

Monster Hunter: World includes all fourteen weapon types from Monster Hunter 4 and Monster Hunter Generations.[3] However, the Hunting Arts, Styles, and the Prowler Mode from Generations are not included in World's gameplay.[4] The player is still able to mount and try to topple monsters, and in some scenarios, able to use their primary weapon for these toppling attacks.[4] All hunters gain access to a tool called the Slinger, which can be used as a grappling hook to reach higher elevations or pull down rock formations, and also can be used as a slingshot to launch bullets that can damage or have debuffing effects on monsters or can be used to distract monsters to allow one to escape.[3] The player can also use a Mantle, similar to ghillie suit to either stay hidden from sight of a monster, or to lure a monster into chasing the hunter into a trap or into an area occupied by another monster and having them fight each other.[3][5] The hunter can use Scout flies to track down monsters; after finding enough signs of a monster's presence such as footprints or mucus piles, the Scout flies then help lead the Hunter directly to the monster. They can also be used to search for other resources, and can be trained to be more effective at their tracking skills.[6]

Monster Hunter: World has several different areas to hunt, divided into a set of numbered zones. However, unlike previous games where there would be a loading screen in travelling between each zone, making each zone isolated from the others, World offers seamless travel between zones in the area.[3][7] This alters the nature of some gameplay elements: for example, with zones, a player could temporarily escape a monster by leaving a zone entering the next, giving them time to drink healing potions or prepare other equipment. With the connected world approach, the player does not have this immediate escape option, so some gameplay elements are tied to the fact that the player cannot easily escape danger. One such change is allowing the character to drink a healing potion while walking rather than having to stand still and remain vulnerable.[8] The game includes a dynamic weather system and day-night cycle, which can affect the behavior of some monsters mid-quest.[3] Parts of the environment are destructible by Hunters and monsters alike, such as breaking down walls to create new routes or causing a flood of water that washes creatures to a different area. The areas have what Capcom considered to be living ecosystems, with monsters reacting to the presence of other monsters; this can be used to lure monsters to fight and weaken each other, for example. When outside of combat, the player will have a way to quick-travel to the region's base camps – safe areas from the monsters – where they can change out equipment and restock on items before setting out again; new in World is the ability to change weapon class while out in the field.[3][6] Astera acts as a central hub where the player can buy and sell goods, craft new equipment, and gain new quests.[4]

The game supports both single-player and up to four player cooperative mode while being online; there is no local online multiplayer. The game's quest system is the same in both modes.[3] In single-player mode, the hunter can have a Palico (an anthropomorphic sentient cat species) assist them in combat, and if they are playing online, players can call for help from other players anywhere in the field by having their character launch a red flare, allowing other hunters to help, creating a drop-in/drop-out system.[3] The game also supports Squads, the equivalent of clans or guilds in typical massive multiplayer online games.[9] World allows players in different release regions to work together; it uses a pre-determined set of common greetings and commands that are translated to the various languages so that players can effectively communicate with each other.[3] However, players are limited to cooperating with those on the same platform, since World does not feature cross-platform play.[4] Players also need to register with their console's service (PlayStation Network or Xbox Live) to use multiplayer features.[10] With an aim to reach a wider audience than past games, World also provides more information to players, such as a companion that will warn the player when they are running low on health, and more details on the advantages and disadvantages of weapons and armors against specific monsters.[6]

World features a story mode offered through the quest system. Unlike previous games, where the story mode led the player through and to complete the "Low Rank" quests, before opening the game to more difficult "High Rank" quests without a story driver, World has a narrative that continues into the "High Rank" quests.[11] The game's complete story mode is estimated to take between 40 and 50 hours.[12] Instead of quests that required the player to slay a number of smaller monsters or collect resources, World offers these as Bounties or Investigations that can be achieved alongside the main quests.[9] A player can have up to six different Bounties or Investigations active, and which provide rewards when they are completed.[13]

In addition to quests shipped with the game, there are free downloadable content quests, similarly featured in the handheld versions. However, with the greater degree of connectivity offered by modern consoles/computers compared to handheld systems, Capcom anticipates offering time-limited event quests that players can easily jump in on through the new matchmaking system.[11][10][14] Capcom also anticipates on adding new monsters to hunt through free downloadable content.[15][16] Capcom also expected to provide paid post-content material as well;[13] however, Capcom does not see World as a type of service, as they don't expect players to continue playing the game five to ten years after release.[17] The game will not include any type of microtransactions; Tsujimoto said that as Monster Hunter is meant as a cooperative game, they did not want to create any type of "friction" between players due to some having simply purchased better equipment with real-world funds compared to those that spent the time to work through challenges to acquire the equipment.[18]

SynopsisEdit

In an unnamed high fantasy setting, humans and other sentient races have set their eyes on the New World, a separate continent from the populated Old World. The New World is an untamed wilderness where many powerful monsters roam, and where researchers have been drawn to uncover new mysteries. Several ocean-bound Fleets have been sent already to establish working bases, safe from monsters, and operations are led by the Research Commission.

PlotEdit

The player controls a hunter that they can name, supported by an assistant handler, who are a part of the Fifth Fleet which has been summoned by the Research Commission to provide more support to the New World. A particular focus of the Expedition is to study Elder Dragons, powerful beasts that can affect entire ecosystems, and why they migrate to the New World every ten years in an event known as the Elder Crossing. While traveling to the New World, the Fifth Fleet encounters Zorah Magdaros, a massive Elder Dragon the size of a mountain. After being rescued and arriving at the base camp, known as Astera, the Hunter and their Handler undertake various tasks to explore the area and study Zorah Magdaros at the behest of the Commander of the Expedition.

The Expedition determines that Zorah Magdaros is dying and is migrating to a massive graveyard, known as the Rotten Vale. An Expedition-led capture mission against Zorah Magdaros is foiled by Nergigante, an Elder Dragon that feeds on other Elder Dragons, and is protecting Zorah Magdaros as its future meal. After escaping the ambush, Zorah Magdaros unexpectedly enters the Everstream rather than traveling to the Rotten Vale. After further investigations, the Expedition learns that if Zorah Magdaros dies within the Everstream, its released bio-energy will destroy the New World. With no time to evacuate, the Expedition develops an emergency plan to intercept Zorah Magdaros and drive it to the ocean, where its released bio-energy will form a new aquatic ecosystem. Nergigante once again interferes, but this time is driven off by the Hunters, and Zorah Magdaros is successfully driven into the ocean.

However, when Nergigante flees to the Elder's Recess, an area in the Everstream with massive amounts of stored bio-energy, the presence of Nergigante drives away its Elder Dragon prey toward neighboring locations, upsetting each individual ecosystem. With the help of the Admiral, the true leader of the Expedition, the Hunter is able to track down and kill Nergigante. With Nergigante dead, the Elder Dragons calm down and return to the Recess. After their defeat by the Hunter, the source of energy within the Elder’s Recess is discovered: Xeno'jiiva, an infant Elder Dragon, which had been incubating within the Elder's Recess, and was feeding on the bio-energy of dead Elder Dragons. Xeno'jiiva hatches upon being discovered, and at the behest of the Admiral, the Hunter defeats it before it can wreak havoc on the world. With the Elder Crossing now fully understood, the Expedition is considered finished, but members are offered the chance to stay in the New World to continue their research.

IceborneEdit

When a mysterious song is suddenly heard across the New World and spurs a mass flock of Legiana, monsters native to the Coral Highlands, to suddenly migrate beyond the sea, the Commission decides to investigate. Tracking the Legiana, they discover an entirely new polar subcontinent and set up a base of operations there, which they dub the Hoarfrost Reach and Seliana respectively. As the Hunter and Handler explore the new land, they discover evidence of unusual seismic activity which seemingly caused the ecological changes that prompted Legiana migration. Meanwhile, the Tracker conducts her own investigation into her mentor, who went missing decades prior while looking for the New World. Her search proves fruitful, as she finds her mentor's ship's wreckage and a scrap of cloth containing information he left behind; writing on the cloth denotes the existence of a creature known only as the "Old Everwyrm," which seemingly links the song and seismic action.

Back in Astera, the massive ecological changes have caused more powerful monster to appear, including an ice Elder Dragon; Velkhana. As it freezes environments all over the New World, the Commission decides that, lest they fight back, the ecosystem will become too hostile to continue their expedition. The Hunter is send to confront the Elder Dragon and is able to drive it back to its home in the Hoarfrost Reach. However, this causes it to begin encroaching on Seliana, forcing the Hunter to once again drive it back; later tracking it down and finishing it off once and for all. Upon Velkhana's defeat though, the song is heard once again and causes more seismic activity. The Commission find a pattern in the places where the song appears and predict where the it will appear next. Traveling there with the Handler and Tracker, the Hunter finds the Old Everwyrm, an Elder Dragon that emits sonic vibrations from its wings; Shara Ishvalda. The fight between it and Commission is interrupted, however, by a Nergigante, which slays the Elder Dragon. This causes the Admiral to figure out the Nergigantes' role in the ecosystem: killing Elder Dragons that threaten it.

Later, the Hunter and the Handler track the Nergigante to a brand new subcontinental island, which is an amalgam of different habitats and ecosystems; dubbed the Guiding Lands. The Commission elects to continue exploring this new land until they've solved all of its mysteries as well.

Development Edit

Monster Hunter: World is considered a main installment in the Monster Hunter series, according to the game's senior producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and director Yuya Tokuda.[8] Along with executive director Kaname Fujioka, Tokuda served as a director for Monster Hunter 4 and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.[19] Development of World started about three years prior to the E3 2017 reveal, following a year of brainstorming on what the next main game in the series would be.[7] With the series more than a decade old, Capcom re-evaluated where they wanted to take the series, and realized that with the hardware capabilities of the new consoles, they could realize a different vision compared to the handheld entries.[7]

Tsujimoto said that past games typically had arcane rules, and the zoned-area structure made each zone feel isolated, and wanted to change that approach.[20] They have also wanted to implement living worlds and ecosystems, with complex artificial intelligence interactions between monsters and the environment but have been limited in the past by handheld gaming hardware.[8][7] The team determined that they would pursue highly detailed worlds that felt realistic, eliminating the disconnected zoned-map approach.[20] This created a "ripple effect" of changes in gameplay; for example, elimination of loading screens meant the player could not use the tactic of jumping to a different zone to heal in safety, and thus allowed the player to drink healing potions while walking.[21] Tokuda noted that with these changes, the pace of the game also became quicker.[21] A prototype of this more open world approach took about 18 months to complete by November 2015 with a team of 50-70 developers to test the seamless transition in the map, and how monsters would behave in these varied environments.[22] This also helped the team recognize that player survival during hunts by effective use of the environment, either for protection or as means to harm monsters via destructible components, and of monsters themselves, luring one to an area to draw out another, could be a key part of World's gameplay.[23]

While the game features monsters already created from previous games in the series, the developers also crafted new monsters that took advantage of the benefits from more powerful processing hardware. A design of a new monster typically began around developing a certain gameplay challenge or mechanic for the monster's behavior that the player may need to exploit to defeat it, and then working with the level designers to find or help craft an area in the region maps to have that monster inhabit that allows for that behavior to be shown off. This in turn helped to establish the look and other behavior of the monster so that it felt like it belonged in that particular region.[24] Individual features of the monsters could now be more directly animated compared to the previous games, such as showing feathers on bird-like monsters having natural-appearing movements, or having monsters take on different forms. In one case, the monster Nergigante was designed to have thorns all over its body that grow over time as it becomes more aggressive; with the ability to render monsters in more detail, they could show each of these thousand-some thorns moving and growing on their own, which directly affects how the player interacts with it in combat, making it a creature they could not have previously used in early games.[24] Monster animation was developed in part with motion capture, with human actors acting out some of the various monster actions.[25] Sets of rules were developed for the monsters to follow to interact in their environment, but they did not resort to any type of scripted event. This often created unexpected monster behavior when testing or demonstrating the game to public audiences.[14] Once monsters were created, then they used those to develop the various weapon and armors that could be crafted from those monster parts to give a consistent feel to the game.[24]

As they worked towards this, Capcom found that this more open world would be something better appreciated by Western audiences. The Monster Hunter series has generally languished in sales in Western markets due to the complexity of the game, high learning curves, and the preference of console and PC gaming in Western audiences compared to the popularity of portable gaming in Japan.[20] The team felt the new approach to the game would be something that would mesh well with Western markets, and starting adopting the game to include more Western standards in controls and interface design. They also looked to provide more tutorial information as well as making these fully voiced, as to avoid unskippable dialog boxes that had been used in the past.[20] With these changes came the decision to make the game a worldwide release with inter-region play, as they believed they would be able to draw more Western players with the gameplay changes they have made.[20] Tsujimoto and Tokuda recognized that World would be the first Monster Hunter game that many in the Western regions will likely play, so wanted to make sure the game was accessible to those players without having played any of the previous games. They also were aware of past criticisms that the games were very hard to learn though provided a rewarding experience once learned, so aimed to include means to help ease the learning curve and provide more information to the starting player.[8]

Fujioka responded to some initial criticism of the Western-driven changes to the game that they were not trying to make the game easier just to drive sales: "We're not taking things that people in the west hate and fixing them to make western players buy it. People sometimes make that assumption, or they've got that fear, but that's not the case at all."[5] He continued that some of the changes that were seem to favor Western audiences were necessitated by the highly interconnected maps, and that "the new gameplay has to mesh with the new concept or else it would just be a mess."[5] Tokuda said that they were not simplifying the game, but instead "It's more that [the team] want to have this great core action gameplay where players observe monster behaviour and then learn how to take advantage of that and manipulate that to assist in hunting them. [The team] want to make it so that if [the players] make mistakes they don't feel it's unfair but instead think that it's their mistake and they have to grow and learn."[14] Most of the changes made were thus specifically to reduce the difficulty curve to make it easier for new players to grasp the concepts of the game, but otherwise not changing the core difficulty.[14] Tsujimoto also said that as they have been working on the series for more than a decade, they are aware of what fans expect of a Monster Hunter game, saying "we want Monster Hunter fans to feel like this is a Monster Hunter game through and through when they play it".[5]

The subtitle World alludes to many facets of the game's design changes from past Monster Hunter games: it reflects that the game had a worldwide simultaneous release, that it plays on worldwide servers rather than segmented by region, that the maps are no longer connected zones but wide-open worlds, and that these maps represent living worlds.[8][7] Capcom opted not to use a numerical title, such Monster Hunter 5, as that would give the impression that players needed to have completed other games in the series to play this one.[21] Tsujimoto and Tokuda said they add a unique gameplay element with each Monster Hunter, and as such, the "Hunter Arts" and "Prowler" Modes from Generations were not included. However, they have re-evaluated all the existing weapon classes to add new moves and abilities to provide a fresh take on the series for veteran players.[7]

While their main Monster Hunter development team from Osaka developed the core, Capcom brought in other programmers familiar with the newer consoles to help with bringing the game to those systems.[8] The game uses a modified version of Capcom's internally developed MT Framework engine which provided a minimum of 30 frames per seconds on all platforms.[26] The PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One version includes ultra-high resolutions and other improved features for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.[7] When they had started development, neither of these console refreshes had been announced, and by the time the specifications for both were released (around 2016), Capcom recognized they did not have time to evaluate the specifications fully without changing the release window, but were aided by support of both Sony and Microsoft to help make World run efficiently on these newer consoles. For these, the game includes options to run between a detailed graphical version, lowering the game's framerate, or with reduced graphical details to maintain a high framerate.[14]

Tsujimoto and Tokuda said the delay on the Windows version release is "to make sure it's optimized and fine-tuned for the PC as much as possible", with all work being done internally within Capcom to avoid treating the game as an outsourced port.[27] They also seek to have Monster Hunter: World support a wide variety of personal computer configurations, and need the additional time to achieve this broad range.[21] Additionally, the Windows platform lacks the built-in matchmaking that is in Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, requiring them to build their own version for this.[28] Tsujimoto announced in January 2018 that they are aiming for a Windows release in the second half of 2018,[29] looking to get the console versions released so that they can spend their full attention towards the Windows port.[28]

There are no plans for Monster Hunter: World to be released for the Nintendo Switch. Fujioka and Tokuda said that development started well before the Switch was announced, and had focused the game to best play on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[30]

Release Edit

Announced at E3 2017, Monster Hunter World was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 26, 2018.[31][32] In addition to digital and normal physical releases, the game was shipped with a Collector's Edition that includes an art book, a CD with the game's soundtrack, and a statue of one of the monsters from the game.[33] A limited run of PlayStation 4 Pro consoles emblazoned with Monster Hunter: World art was released in Japan on December 7, 2017.[34] A three-disc original soundtrack of the game's music was released in Japan on February 14, 2018, composed by Tadayoshi Makino, Zhenlan Kang, Akihiko Narita, and Yuko Komiyama.[35]

A limited demo, exclusive to PlayStation Plus members, was offered from December 9–12, 2017; the demo included practice areas for all fourteen weapon types, and three hunting quests that can be completed using the networked cooperative support planned for the full game. Players that completed the three quests received bonus in-game items when the main game was released.[36] A second demo period for PlayStation 4, no longer requiring PlayStation Plus, ran between December 22–26, 2017,[37] and a final beta period, adding one additional quest, ran from January 19–22, 2018.[16]

Originally announced alongside the console versions, a Microsoft Windows version was released on August 9, 2018.[38][39] Tsujimoto said while they will try to release new content updates for all platforms as soon as possible, the Windows version may see updates come out later; for this reason, they do not anticipate supporting cross-platform play between versions.[40] The initial version was released with graphics parity with the console versions, with plans to offer a post-release patch for graphic updates;[41] this patch was released for free in April 2019, and included both high-definition textures and additional graphics options for players.[42]

Tencent managed the release of World for personal computer users in China via its WeGame platform. However, less than a week after its release, Tencent was forced to pull sales of the games, after there were numerous complaints made to Chinese authorities about the online content of the game. Normally, the State Administration of Radio and Television (SART) would have issued a license for Tencent to distribute the game after reviewing it for content, but SART has not issued any licenses for video games since March 2018, after the agency was reformed by the government to strengthen the government's oversight of online activities.[43] While players could still play the game in offline mode, Tencent offered full refunds over the following two weeks.[44]

Cross-promotional contentEdit

As with previous games in the series, Monster Hunter: World has offered limited time quests that involve cross-promotion of other Capcom properties and from other third-parties.[7] PlayStation 4 players can play as Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn.[45][46] Since release, other events have offered costumes and other elements based on Mega Man,[47] Street Fighter's Ryu and Sakura,[48] and Devil May Cry's Dante.[49] On August 2, 2018 version 5.00 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was released adding Behemoth from Final Fantasy XIV.[50]

A cross-promotional event for Monster Hunter: World and Final Fantasy XIV was released in both games in August 2018. Players of Final Fantasy XIV may fight Monster Hunter's Rathalos, while players from World may fight the Final Fantasy monster Behemoth.[51][52] This collaboration had been several years in the making; during the rebuilding of Final Fantasy XIV around 2011, Tsujimoto contacted Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida, a friend from years prior, and, recognizing the scope of rebuilding, offered any help they could from the Capcom and Monster Hunter teams. While Yoshida declined the offer at the time, both recognized they wanted their respective games to be of equal quality and success. Yoshida later met with Tsujimoto at the start of Monster Hunter World's development. Learning that Capcom was seeking to expand Monster Hunter to a global audience, Yoshida offered the idea of the potential cross-promotion between their games, and the two began working out the details and implementation.[53]

A cross-promotional event with the Assassin's Creed series in late December 2018 gave the player the opportunity to gain armor pieces to mimic either the character of Ezio from Assassin's Creed II or Bayek from Assassin's Creed Origins.[54] Another cross-promotion event first released in February 2019 includes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, allowing the player to hunt as Geralt of Rivia or Ciri.[55][56]

Similar cross-promotion content continued with Iceborne, with a crossover with Capcom's Resident Evil series in November 2019 bringing character outfits based on Leon and Claire and other elements from the series.[57]

Related mediaEdit

Viz Media published the artbook for the game, Monster Hunter World Official Complete Works, in Japan in January 2018, and has planned to publish the book with English translations in Western regions in mid-2020.[58]

Capcom has published the game's soundtrack as both retail packing, digital downloads, and part of several of its properties' soundtracks to streaming services like Spotify.

Monster Hunter World: IceborneEdit

Monster Hunter World Iceborne - Story Trailer

Monster Hunter World Iceborne - Story Trailer

Story trailer.

At the end of 2018, Capcom announced a major expansion to Monster Hunter: World as "Iceborne", which was released on September 6, 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and is expected to be released for Windows on January 9, 2020.[59][60][61][62] Iceborne adds new hunting areas, monsters, quests, and additional story content taking place after the events of World, at a size estimated to be similar to past expansions that they have added to previous titles.[55][63][64] Limited time beta access to Iceborne content (not requiring the base World game) was made available to PlayStation 4 owners in June 2019.[65] Iceborne is the only major expansion planned for Monster Hunter: World as it completes the game's story,[66] with only minor, but free, downloadable content being produced for it afterwards.[67]

The development team have equated Iceborne to the previous expanded release games from past Monster Hunter games, such as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in comparison to Monster Hunter 4. Like these games, Iceborne added a third overall rank for hunters; while past games have called this "G rank", the team opted to use "Master Rank" because of the lack of familiarity with the G rank term in Western releases. Master Rank hunts are even more difficult than High Rank, but offer more lucrative rewards towards better weapons and armor equipment.[68] The development team said that the difficulty curve for Iceborne is expected to be steeper than for the base game, as with the base game, they knew they needed to bring players unfamiliar with the games with a gentle approach, while players entering the Iceborne content would have been experienced already.[69]

Iceborne offers a new tundra-like area, requiring players to deal with the effects of cold weather and crossing through snow-filled fields. but new tools and equipment was added for support. For example, certain smaller monsters can be tamed and ridden upon to either travel to a designed point on the map or to track a monster, with the player able to still gather certain resources while in transit. Iceborne introduced new layered armors, allowing players to equip additional armor pieces atop their existing armor sets to customize the outward appearance of the hunter, while keeping the same equipment skills.[68] Existing armor and weapon gear gained additional upgrade levels; new armor sets are introduced that players can make from looting the monster types, both old and new, under "Master Rank". All weapons archetypes gained expanded upgrade paths, as well as additional combat moves to help improve their potency. Among major gameplay additions include the Clutch Claw which can be used to pull or push monsters around the arena, though is not meant to work all the time.[69] As the developers have anticipated that some players may not have finished World's core content prior to Iceborne, the expansion includes features to help players more easily complete World to get into the new content; for example, Iceborne's new weapon moves and the Clutch Claw is available across the base game and expansion, and players are given an advanced armor set that can help with more difficult World content and works for initial Iceborne hunts.[70]

Some gameplay changes introduced in Iceborne were a part of free updates for the base game. A specific change impacts the multiplayer hunting difficulty. In the base game, hunts were scaled to either a single player, or to a party of four; hunt difficulty was dynamically scaled upward if additional people joined, but if they departed before the hunt was over, the hunt remained at that difficulty. The Iceborne patch includes a third difficulty level for two-player parties and the hunt dynamically scales downwards if players depart.[71]

Reception Edit

Monster Hunter: World received "universal acclaim" from critics;[72] generally, reviewers praised the game for being able to retain and not sacrifice the core Monster Hunter formula while opening it up to be amenable for new players to the series, being able to take advantage of the higher processing power of consoles compared to handhelds to make the game's worlds feel more alive, though still noted that there are elements of learning the game mechanics and the difficulty curve that can still be somewhat daunting to inexperienced players.[73][74]

Prior to the game's release, long-time fans of the series established an unofficial "Adopt-A-Hunter" program, where players experienced to the series would be paired up with novice and new players to help teach them about many of the core gameplay strategies and subtle features of Monster Hunter: World. The program was created by fans recognizing that World would likely be the first game in the series for many in the Western regions, and was designed to help these players understand the game and manage the steep learning curve as to help bring more players to the community and make the series successful in the West. While such efforts have been part of the Monster Hunter community since its release, the broader distribution of World was expected to be more amenable to this adoption program.[75][76]

Iceborne has generally received "universal acclaim" according to Metacritic,[77] with critics praising the scale of the expansion, being nearly equal in content size as the original game.

Sales Edit

Monster Hunter: World shipped over five million copies three days after release, including digital sales, which exceeded all other previous games in the series.[78] According to Famitsu, 1.35 million copies were sold at retail in Japan during these three days, and an estimated 2 million sales including digital sales; these were accompanied by a boost in PlayStation 4 console sales in the same week, with over 140,000 consoles sold.[79][80] Two weeks after release, Capcom announced that its overall shipment numbers had risen to 6 million, making World the fastest-selling Monster Hunter game and the fastest-selling game of any of their properties.[81][82] With this, World became Capcom's fourth highest-selling game.[83] NPD Group reported that World was the top-selling game in the United States within both January and February 2018.[84][85]

Capcom announced that the game's combined physical shipments and digital sales were over eight million copies by April 2018,[86] making World Capcom's highest-selling game and helping them reach their most profitable fiscal year in its history.[87][88] Just prior to the game's Windows release, Capcom reported that the number had risen to more than 8.3 million, which helped to raise its quarterly profit by nearly 50% from the previous year.[89]

Digital sales of the game challenged those of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on Xbox One's marketplace, which had held the top sales position for two months prior; in the United States, World surpassed Battlegrounds in the second week of its release, while it came just behind Battlegrounds for the United Kingdom charts.[90] On the PlayStation Network, World topped the store's online sales charts in both the United States and Europe for the month of January 2018.[91] World also ranked first in Australia.[92]

During the month of July 2018, following the announcement of the Windows release of Monster Hunter World, pre-orders for the game were regularly on the top 10 selling games on Steam.[93] Additionally, Tencent, which manages the WeGame distribution platform in China, reported they had seen over a million pre-orders during the month.[94] On release on Steam, World saw over 240,000 concurrent players that day, the largest concurrent player count for any game on Steam at launch in 2018, and the largest of any Japanese-published game on Steam prior.[95] In August 2018, Capcom announced that Monster Hunter World had shipped over 10 million copies between all platforms, elevating the total sales of the Monster Hunter series to over 50 million units.[96] With the Windows' release, the game once again ranked second in sales in the United States for August 2018, based on NPD Group's data.[97] World was one of the top twelve highest-selling games on Steam in 2018, and was one of ten games on Steam that had a peak player count of over 100,000 during the year.[98] Capcom reported that as of March 2019, the Windows platform was the second-highest for sales of World globally, which has led Capcom to identify the platform as essential for its further games, particularly for the European region, where the preferred platform of choice tends to be the personal computer compared to consoles.[99]

At a presentation at Tokyo Game Show 2018, Tsujimoto revealed that the game had crossed 10 million shipments worldwide,[100] the greatest ever for a Monster Hunter game, and that for the first time ever the shipments outside of Japan had surpassed those inside Japan, with overseas shipments accounting for 71%.[101] The success of Monster Hunter World was considered by Capcom to be one of the "driving force" for its profitability over the financial year ending March 31, 2019, reaching over 12 million in total units shipped and making the title the best-selling game in Capcom's history.[102][103][104] Total global shipments had surpassed over 14 million by October 2019.[105]

On a similar note, Iceborne has also generally received "universal acclaim" according to Metacritic,[106] with critics praising the scale of the expansion, being nearly equal in content size to the original game. Capcom reported that global shipments of Iceborne, including digital and retail copies, exceeded 2.5 million a week after its release.[107] Shortly after the Windows release of Iceborne on January 9, 2020, Capcom reported that total global shipments of the expansion on all platforms had exceeded four million, with total sales of World exceeding 15 million and bringing the total sales of the Monster Hunter series to over 61 million.[108]

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ReferencesEdit

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