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Monster Hunter: World (PC) artwork

Monster Hunter: World (PC) review

"Plagued with some connectivity issues, I still find this game a great balance between challenge and fun factor."

This review contains spoilers.

The benefit of playing a port months after the game initially hits consoles is that there are a host of guides available, which I recommend if you want to take this game moderately seriously (bit of an oxymoron there but bear with me). I don’t typically like games that require you to have extra study material to understand but to its credit, all I had to do was watch one video guide about the mechanics of my favored weapon, the Light Bowgun. After which I was probably fifty percent better every hunt after that. So I certainly recommend looking into that.

The story begins with your highly customize-able character on a ship to a ‘new world’, previously undiscovered in other games of the franchise. Your ship gets waylaid by a mountainous “Elder Dragon” who came up from sea. His back is full of magma and volcanic spouts and you climb his back in order to escape. Once you’re in safety, you find out he’s one of many that have migrated to this place for mysterious reasons. Typically one every few hundred years, now it’s one every decade and that has caused some turmoil in the ecosystem. Your job is essentially research. Kill monsters, stabilize the ecosystem, and arm yourself while doing so.

Eventually there is an extended epilogue. Once you discover that Elder’s goal and what it might mean, you enter a “High rank” hunt mechanic because the ecosystem has changed and you react accordingly. Monsters in these quests are tougher and more aggressive, and you continually work your way up.

This review may maintain some comparisons to Dauntless. As I mentioned in that very review, my only experience with MH as a franchise was during a brief road trip with my friend back in the PSP days. I have little memory of it and I doubt I was any good or understood any of the minutiae of mechanics. As such, a majority of my experience in this genre comes from Dauntless, the free-to-play variant with far more simple mechanics that you couldn’t shake a stick at. Veterans of MH are calling World dumbed down. Ha, I say! If only they knew how far that could actually go.

My immediate first impression of MHW was actually quite positive. There’s something I can do here that I never really could at Dauntless: Actually solo monsters. Dauntless was fairly unforgiving, only giving you five (count them: five) potions per hunt. If you burn through those without burning the monster down properly, then you were done. Mercifully, you not only get dozens of different types of potions of varying degrees of usefulness, you can also craft more on the fly or withdraw some from your loot in various camps set up around the impressively large zones. While some monsters give me more trouble than others (most flying types can do a one-two knockout by rushing me, putting me in a twelve hour stun animation, then merely swipe at me for an instant death), I’ve been in awe at what I’ve actually been able to accomplish on my own.

…Unfortunately, I am forced to do a handful of things on my own. Let me tap into some of the problems I have before diving back into the meat and mechanics of the game. Steam reviews are mixed for a couple of reasons. Bad controls and connectivity issues. The bad controls are a remnant of the fact that it was originally a PS4 game and the menus really show that. The UI itself is very controller friendly while the M/K is barely given a second thought. I had to rebind my weapon draw to left click like it is with melee because I’d find myself engaged in too many fights, frantically clicking only to find out I was actually just using a slinger and tossing useless rocks at the monster. In addition, the radial menu might as well not exist, as it is bound to your various F1-F4 keys. It’s very clunky and not at all the quick menu that it’s supposed to be. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing “just get a controller” from my friends. I don’t think I’ve touched a controller since 2008.

Next is a problem that Capcom and Steam are already looking into. While I’ve been able to progress, just last night I lost out on three high ranked hunts because it kept dropping me from the group. From what I’ve read, the monster’s hitpoints balance towards groups (instantly doubling when a second person joins your hunt) but doesn’t go back down if anyone leaves. At the time I was replaying what was basically the main story’s ending, fighting the last boss over and over. Thankfully his mission doesn’t have a lot of open combat and is mostly just firing cannons and ballistae at him over and over. Still, it dropped me three times and had little to show for it overall.

There’s no direct party system, just player listings and hubs. You have to find a convoluted “Session ID” in the menus for your friends to copy and eventually join together. Someone posts a quest and everyone joins it. You won’t physically see anyone outside of a hunt unless you visit the gathering hub on top of the main town. The whole Session ID is just a pointless extra step that the likes of Capcom just love throwing in there. I am reminded of Black Desert Online. Despite being a different country than BDO, it still has the same idea behind its mechanics.

One does not simply just craft or buy potions. First you have to press thirteen buttons just to get a stack of them. Then they might be put in your storage box, not personal pouch so you have to remember to take them out before your hunt. Then there’s the canteen mechanic, where you’re encouraged you to eat to gain decent buffs before every hunt. Why not make that a single item you can use midhunt? Like Dauntless, pretty much every important thing in town is far apart and forces you into miniature loading screens. After every hunt you’re plopped on the bottom level but you still have to run up to the Blacksmith to fetch some upgrades. One does not simply make armor, too. In the higher levels you have to micromanage “decorations” to socket into your arms and armor to increase various passive skills. Why not just make those skills up-gradable like the armor itself? Indeed, one does not simply upgrade their armor! You have to collect “spheres” that you get from bounties and hunts in order to do so.

Everything just has a pointless extra step, but I admit these are all nitpicks in what I do believe is a pretty damn good game. I have adjusted to the controls (even though it takes twelve clicks to get anywhere in the menu, but the combat is fine) and I can stomach the connectivity problems… for a time. Everything else is just a niggling annoyance that I have to deal with before I get to the real heart of the game: Expeditions and hunts.

To its credit, there’s a lot to do. Expeditions are the closest thing this game has to an open world setting. You will keep everything you acquire, gather materials and hunt the local monsters at your own leisure (though once you attack, they enter a sort of timer where they will flee the area if you fool around too much, but the mode itself will never kick you out). You can pick up quests on-site and continually remain in the zone you’ve chosen. Admittedly I haven’t explored expedition mode to a severe degree, as doing the various optional quests and bounties give me more than enough gameplay on their own. I never really need to piddle around the same zone for that long.

I mentioned earlier that I was happy that I can actually solo a handful of monsters in this game as opposed to Dauntless. There’s a lot more to that, the “simplest of MH’s” claim be damned, I embrace convenience if it comes alongside actual fun. You can farm the same monster a few times but I found that the game offers you a handful of armor sets that can be crafted from bones and minerals alone. You can pick up bones from piles around every map and mine at little alcoves and continually gain materials to sets that will be perfectly passable for a time. I wore the basic “bone” armor for a while before getting into the more specialized stuff. Revered is the Anjarath, the game’s T-Rex who has a fire breath attack that will absolutely one-shot you and serves as the game’s first difficulty wall. His armor, however, gives fire resistance so if you can stomach fighting him a couple times (ideally in multiplayer), then you can likely build yourself up to handle him properly. Fun fact: I’ve yet to solo him myself.

Certain monsters have given players trouble that have instead given me more fun. The Radobaan for example, a sort of mid-game encounter in a zone called the Rotten Vale. It is a place where many monsters go to die and their essence feeds the Coral Highlands above it. The Radobaan covers itself in the bones of dead creatures and is thus highly armored, and you must burn through that in order to do some raw damage. I know of players who find this armor annoying but his movements are highly telegraphed and he’s a fan of stumbling himself which gives me a lot of free shots at him. So far he’s been one of my favorite monsters to fight.

I did not realize this was the franchise’s first foray into big name consoles and even PC, the rest were evidently all handheld games. The intro into this hardware allows for a lot more powerful mechanics to come into play. New to the franchise, as far as I’m aware, is animal behavior. I can’t speak for the other games but I noticed a few things. There’s a turf war mechanic where two big bad monsters will encounter each other and start their own duel regardless of your presence. Each monster has its own “rating”, and I doubt a Great Jagras (the first and easiest monster) ever wins any of those.

In addition to that, I’ve found that docile animal mechanics can occasionally tip me off. You see it in a cutscene a time or two but even before my scoutflies (the game’s justification for a “go this way” mechanic) start tracking the monster, I’d be going down a path and find herbivores running the opposite direction. Sure enough, down that path was a large monster. Part of the hunt or no, animals do react accordingly. Sometimes they’ll take defensive positions as you initiate combat, or sometimes they’ll fly down and knock you over in a moment of monster camaraderie that I wish they hadn’t bothered with. Still, its moments like this that help the world feel like an actual world, appropriate for the game’s namesake.

I know I droned on a bit about the problems the game had but some of them (the controls) can be mitigated. I’m enjoying myself, spending a good majority of my time responding to SOS flares or pushing myself in the high rank hunts to see what exactly I might be able to handle. I rarely push myself to see what exactly I’m capable of in gaming, but MHW pays that off so well. Maybe I can’t handle that flying Rathian on my own, but managing to take down a tunnel dwelling Diablos was a thing of beauty. The hunts can be long and exhausting but finally watching a beast get taken down after a couple of deaths can be very exciting.

This genre of boss fights as main set pieces may not be for everyone. If you’re story driven, you’ll find the one here is short and weak and mostly just serves as a framework for the gameplay. If you like content, then there’s plenty to do that should be varied enough to keep you around, and I’m sure they’ll update more monsters in as time goes on. Even after I get my fill, I’m sure I’ll keep an eye on this one.


Zydrate's avatar
Community review by Zydrate (August 18, 2018)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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Follow_Freeman posted August 21, 2018:

Man, I wish I had a good PC...

But at least I could read this review to give me another good reason to work towards getting one!
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Zydrate posted August 24, 2018:

It's a lot more fun than I expected it to be. It can be considered a bit of a grindfest... Had to kill one of the endgame dragons like 15 or 20 times to get his full set but it was quite an adventure in doing so and the feeling of 'mastering' their moveset was an exciting prospect. At first he annihilated me with a specific attack that caused an instant-feint... But after a few go's I understood it better and evaded it more often, until eventually it never gets me at all because I've mastered the positioning.

Now to master the other six or so :P

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