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8 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Monster Hunter World

www.theguardian.com
Monster Hunter World

It’s rare that a video game forges a connection with nature, but Monster Hunter World does so by returning players to a time when humans were a part of the food chain, casting you simultaneously as a hunter-gatherer and zoologist. Like a virtual Attenborough, the hunter heads out into stupendously gorgeous places, rich with natural life and untouched by human influence, to track and observe extraordinary creatures, gathering local plants, bugs and mushrooms to study their healing or offensive properties. Then, distinctly unlike Attenborough, they must battle to the death.

Monster Hunter’s foes range from fire-breathing dinosaurs to building-size elder dragons to fluffy bird-wyverns that look like a cross between a hamster and a bat. They are realised so convincingly, with such personality, that it’s easy to believe that they could be real creatures despite their fantastical appearance. Each of them exists within a natural hierarchy, feeding on smaller monsters and fleeing when larger ones appear in the middle of a fight. And beginners beware: they will feed on you, too, given half a chance.

Monster Hunter is all about these setpiece battles, dodging out of the way of giant, crushing jaws and poisonous claws before rushing in to land a few hits with an improbably enormous sword, spear or axe. The combat is fluid, honed to perfection over this series’ 14-year history; each weapon creates a different play experience, from a glaive that has you leaping and spinning like a murderous pole-vaulter to a sword that converts into an axe and makes you feel like a prehistoric Transformer.

What justifies the World part of the title is the organic familiarity that the player develops with the game’s ecosystem. Over time you become aware of exactly which plants and bugs are used to make restorative potions, where particular creatures nest and hunt, where to go to find wyvern eggs or fishing spots. At first you’ll consult maps, menus and friends for this information, but, by the end, you just know it. You feel like a part of the ecosystem.

It would be a stretch to call Monster Hunter World accessible. Many of the monsters are as challenging to defeat as they are impressive to look at. Up to three fellow players can be brought in at any time to lend a hand in soul crushingly difficult fights, but the monsters are gifted with extra resilience to even the odds. And though the premise is simple, considerable time must be invested in understanding the intricacies of weapons, armour and hunting techniques.

But, like your knowledge of the game’s beautiful and rich ecosystem, this knowledge accumulates naturally over time, and a game that seems intimidating at first quickly becomes one of the more rewarding gaming experiences of recent years. There is no feeling quite like taking down a dragon with nothing but a sword, your wits and sheer nerve.

Already, just a few days after the game’s launch, a knowledgable and populous community has formed around it to offer advice, in-game help and cat memes, revealing the humour and playfulness that counterbalances Monster Hunter’s challenging nature. This game will be played all year. There is no better time to join in.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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