Capcoms smash hit open world epic gets a massive new expansion that adds some unseasonably snowy monsters and a ton of new content.
An unexpected by-product of loot boxes becoming increasingly unacceptable in full price games is that many publishers have begun to retreat back to previous practices regarding DLC. The days of the giant-sized story expansion seemed to be behind us but everything from Borderlands 3 to Cyberpunk 2077 is planning them in the future, while also promising not to rely on microtransactions. And now heres Monster Hunter: World, with an expansion thats every bit as good as the original game.
We spoke to Icebornes creators a couple of weeks ago at Gamescom, where they explained their approach to DLC and why they refuse to have any kind of pay-to-win mechanic in their games. That alone is great to hear but it means that the obvious alternative is to create a giant, old school expansion thats almost a separate game in itself. And thats exactly what Iceborne is.
Whats also interesting about Iceborne is that it makes little attempt to pander to new players and not only requires the original game to run but you have to be Hunter Rank 16 to play it. That wont be any impedance to existing fans but if you only played a few hours of the original and thought youd jump back in with Iceborne thats not a good idea. Although Iceborne does provide a new armour set to help you get up to speed and you can use most of the new features and tools in the base game to make things a bit easier.
It all shows a level of confidence in Monster Hunters appeal that wouldve been unthinkable in the West before the release of World, but 14 million copies later and Capcom can be confident that they have a sizeable built-in audience. And the way theyve sought to appeal to them is by creating a brand-new open world area, most of which is covered in deep snow. As youd expect, there are new monsters too, including super tough elder dragons, as well as new variants of existing creatures that both look and act and differently.
You can read our original review of Monster Hunter: World here but as a quick recap, the series is a third person action game where… well, you can probably guess what the primary aim is from the name, but hunting the many and varied creatures – the majority of which look like dinosaurs or dragons – involves tracking them through the open world areas and slowly chipping away at their health like a freeform boss battle.
The hunts can be tackled alone but its playing together, with up to four people, that it really comes alive, especially when everyone knows what theyre doing and are able to use the environment and the monsters against each other. Many of the creatures will fight each other if they wander into their territory and as you crash through each area, sending smaller creatures scattering in panic, you guarantee that even replaying the same hunt twice will never turn out exactly the same way.
Somewhat surprisingly, Iceborne doesnt include any new weapon types, although youd be hard-pressed to pretend there werent enough already and there are lots of new individual weapons and new moves for existing ones. Instead, the focus is on the new monsters and the environment itself. The snowy wastes are more than just an aesthetic choice, as the deep snow impedes your movement and is used as an asset by many creatures, such as the shark-like Beotodus that seems to swim under the snow or the Banbaro – a cross between a moose and a T-Rex – that rolls great snowballs to fling at you.
The new map area is excellent, with the effects of the cold a constant additional threat that has to be combated in a similar manner to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, by mixing up hot drinks and wearing appropriate clothing thanks to a new layered armour system. The Hoarfrost Reach area isnt any bigger than any of the existing ones though and so many of the hunts still take place in locations from the base game, although all are changed to some degree in terms of new monsters or new resources you can gain from old ones.
Not all of the new features necessarily have anything to do with the new setting and one of the most useful additions is the Clutch Claw, which is used to latch onto a creature so you can either climb on to attack it or, if youre lucky, steer it around so it smacks into a wall or off a cliff. Theres also a much-improved new social hub, that makes it easier to meet other players and provides easy access to all pre-hunt facilities.
Smaller creatures can be ridden as actual mounts, which is very useful for getting around but immediately had us wishing they could be used in battle as well. Other changes are more technical and one of the key appeals for hardcore fans is the introduction of a new rank thats equivalent to the G Rank of previous games. These Master Rank hunts are the toughest of the tough, with appropriately generous rewards.
Iceborne is a purposefully tough challenge, with a steeper difficultly curve than the original, but if youre already a fan thats almost certainly exactly what youre looking for. Its never unfair though and a separate new patch will rebalance the co-op rules so that the difficulty scales down, as well as up, depending on how many players are present; plus theres also a new ability for your Palico companion to revive you if youre knocked out.
While Iceborne is intended to be the end of the Monster Hunter: World story (implying the next release will be a full sequel, presumabRead More – Source