‘Monster Hunter: World’ Will Likely Deliver The Epic Encounters You Crave

At PlayStation’s E3 kickoff press conference on Monday evening, there were a few games that immediately stood out to me: Days Gone, Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human, and Monster Hunter: World. Of those four, the only one that really didn’t spell out exactly what it entailed by trailer alone was Monster Hunter: World. Luckily, I was able to get into one of Capcom’s theater demos to see some of the gameplay for myself on Thursday.

The gameplay we got to observe was performed live by none other than one of the game’s directors, Yuya Tokuda. The first thing you’re immediately struck by is just how unabashedly, shamelessly gorgeous the damn thing is. The last two iterations of the core Monster Hunter franchise were developed for the 3DS, so immediately we’re light-years in the future just in terms of the look of the game.

Our host let us know that every world or level in the game is designed as its own functioning ecosystem. All the plants and animals in a particular level play a part, and when you screw with that balance, you can throw things out of whack … but usually in your favor. We saw the entire first mission of the game, which took around 20 minutes, and the trailer revealed at the PS presser was a very, very condensed version of that mission.

The ecosystem is immediately apparent right off the bat, as your tracking flies lead your hunter through a herd of grazing herbivores. A massive lizard appears to scarf down one of those herbivores whole, and wouldn’t you know it, that lizard is heading the same direction your flies say your quarry is located. You’ll observe that lizard feed its young by barfing its meal back up, and then you’ll have to decide whether to fight your way to your monster, or distract and evade.

Eventually, you’ll have to fight your monster, of course. And oh yeah, your missions are timed. In Monster Hunter fashion, it’s a multi-stage fight that encourages you to lead your quarry into different locations and take advantage of the destructible and interactive environments, and to be clever, in addition to skilled and ruthless. You can put on different mantles, like the ghillie mantle that masks your movements, and the stoneskin mantle that reduces your damage taken.

There are also all manner of tricks and weapons at your disposal, and you’re able to retire to camp mid-hunt to swap out armor and weapons. And yes, your adorable anthropomorphic cat sidekicks have their own gear options and are just as cute as ever. The biggest reaction of the demo came when the hunter returned from camp to finish off the T-Rex-like monster, but this time was packing what was essentially an anti-aircraft Gatling gun filled with explosive ammo.

I was curious as to whether Monster Hunter: World might be an MMORPG, and that isn’t the case, but the online multiplayer mode available on the 3DS is still intact. Only … you know … this time, it’s on a console (and eventually PC). You’ll be able to team up with buddies and take down huge beasts.

Basically, Monster Hunter now is the same as Monster Hunter then: extremely long and epic battles against fantastical creatures, with a bombastic-as-all-get-out score, a slew of options and tactics to defeat each monster, and random drops to upgrade your arsenal and wardrobe. I’m in. I’m all the way in.

Monster Hunter: World will be released on PlayStation and XBox One in early 2018.