Monster Hunter World is back again, and this time we’re heading somewhere new. Ever since the original reveal of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, I know myself and many other MHW fans couldn’t wait to hop back into the lands of Astera and beyond. And after months of wait, it’s finally here. After all, there’s always more beasties to hunt. So how does this new beast stack up to the competition, let’s find out.
Alongside the release of Iceborne on Steam is a free update for all PC players titled Update Ver. 10.12.00. This free update also includes a handful of new features that operate independently of the expansion. One of the new features is that PC players will now be able to toggle between different UI button displays. So if you’re using a Dualshock 4 or Xbox One pad, you no longer have to rely on mods to alter the UI elements to reflect that. The last major change is the addition of DirectX12 support. This newer graphical API should offer slightly better performance on modern hardware. Those running closer to the minimum specs for Iceborne may want to stick with DX11 though.
Capcom has also said that the events an other updates already on the console version of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne will be pushed to the forefront to maintain feature parity going forward.
Of course there’s tons of new monsters. And yes, series fans will be delighted to know that many old favorites are more fun to fight in this new world than any previous incarnation. The improved animations and more immersive landscapes certainly aid in this regard. Teh gameplay is just as easily accessible as ever. Group up, track the monster and hit it till it dies.
But alongside all the new monsters to slay comes a host of new tools too. The Clutch Claw is a gamechanger, it will literally be impossible to go back to the older style of hunting after this, even if you could. An interesting choice for Capcom is to bring more customization options into the mix. Much like the player room in Astera, there’s customizable player housing here too. Finding new things to put in this new pad is one of the many distracting elements in Iceborne, but in a good way. The additions of new hunt types, in-game events and other distractions help break up the grind too.
There are some problems for even experienced players who only really dove in with Monster Hunter World. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne offers such a breadth of choices in terms of gear, that it becomes very daunting. The upgrades to the gear with the new Master Rank + gear, as well as the new Tier 4 decorations adds a lot of new levels to understand.
The story here is pretty standard for Monster Hunter. The main missions are a lot of fun, but there are moments where the pacing is a bit jarring. Some of the missions in the mid-game definitely fall into the filler category. And yes, some of the monsters aren’t as fun to fight as others. But the new challenge of environmental hazards an exploring new lands helps alleviate that a bit.
The combat itself is just as fast and unforgiving as ever, if not more so. It’s not too difficult once you get the hang of it though. Expect to feel a bit like you’re playing the game for the first time again, as you’re going to cart a lot.
The polish on this expansion is evident from the start. The improved graphical fidelity offered by DX12, makes a pretty big difference over the console versions. There’s also apparently support for AMD’s FidelityFX CAS although I wasn’t able to test this on my hardware. There are some reports that the game is experiencing hitching, or freezing regularly, although these seem inconsistent. I didn’t notice any of this in my testing. Buyer beware though, reports are coming in nonetheless.
There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had here for veterans. The increased challenge of the new monsters and gear helps keep them invested. The challenge is solid, but not impossible. The rewards are just as vast and customizable as the base game, and it’s all very fun.
The problem I find myself wrangling with is how to recommend brand new players approach this game. Together, the base game and expansion would run you $100 USD brand new on PC. If you get it on sale, the base game I mean, you could possibly save $30 or so. Still, a $70 investment is pretty big for a game that’s as deep and sometimes cumbersome as this.
So despite spending hundreds of hours between two different versions of Monster Hunter World, I think this is just what the game needed. More complexity, but not too much. More mechanics and fun to be had for hunters of all ages.