Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review- Everything Was Beautiful and Nobody Hurt (Except the Monsters)
Developed by Capcom
Published by Capcom
Available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Rated T by ESRB
At long last, Monster Hunter World has released Iceborne, the first real DLC expansion. Actually, I take it back. Expansion does not do justice to the monumental work that has gone into it. Those of us who spent the 100-ish hours it takes to beat the story of the original game (and 500ish hours to compulsively continue to hunt) will be happy to hear that Iceborne will add well over 100 (500) more. There was so much content I had to get through I almost ran out of time to do this review because I thought I was at the end of the DLC only to be introduced to more monsters needing to be hunter’d. I’ve reached what felt like two final bosses. But since I still have a number of weapons I cannot yet unlock, and after the last false summit, I have a feeling I’m still not even near the end. I cannot think of a DLC that had such an insane amount of content, much less content that is this much fun.
Obviously the audience for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is those with the mettle to have already played the campaign of Monster Hunter World. For new aspiring hunters who’ve had their interest piqued, you should probably read this review of the main game first, and see if it’s for you. But even newcomers will be pro hunters by the time you get to Iceborne. As far as I can tell, you cannot access the DLC until you’ve beaten both the Low Rank and High Rank portions of the game. Iceborne brings in the third; Master Rank. This might be a turn off for people who don’t have much time to game, but with over 12 million copies of Monster Hunter World sold, I’m sure Capcom will be fine.
The story in Iceborne, as with all Monster Hunter games, leaves a lot to be desired. I’ll recap for those who have forgotten the intricacies of the main campaign’s story. The narrative goes a bit like this: you take the role of a hunter traveling to a new continent. There is a really big monster out there. You need to hunt smaller monsters in order to become strong enough to eventually hope to fight the big monster. After that, you get to the high rank, and there are even stronger monsters you need to hunt. For Iceborne, the story is basically exactly the same. A new area, new monsters, whimsical and sentimental interactions between the handler and other characters. You know the deal.
I might even say the story in Iceborne is a little disappointing because the lore of Monster Hunter is so fascinating. The monsters you fight are not products of nature, but the remnants of powerful organic weapons crafted by an advanced precursor race. This civilization was consumed by violence in a great dragon war, and all that’s left is the monsters’ descendants roaming the earth. The humans who have survived in this post-apocalyptic world did so only by utilizing the parts of the monsters they hunted, ripping the flesh from their corpses and wearing them like a gruesome snuggie. Which is a really fucking cool premise and I am always wishing they would delve into it more. Ahh, but we can always dream.
Thankfully Monster Hunter World: Iceborne does not need a story to be compelling. Even with the intense violence, Iceborne is still a comfy addition. Your new hub area is called Seliana. Unlike the hustle and bustle atmosphere of Astera, the snowy village of Seliana is reminiscent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Albeit pretty kitschy, but cozy. It is a great place to hang out. There’s the great hall to chill with other hunters. There’s your own personal and extremely customizable cabin. Or you can go to the cantina to see the chef, who is now a large and fluffy feline babushka who somehow serves you even more over the top looking meals. Much like in my real life, most of my free time consisted of obsessively managing my many weapons and eating cat food.
But enough about aesthetics. We know you’re here to hunt. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne has gameplay which is all but perfect, with a number of new additions to keep things interesting. The first and most game-altering is the ability to use your grappling hook to latch on to monsters at any time. No more will the insect glaive users rule the skies with their ridiculous baton twirling jitsu. When you latch onto a monster, you have a few options. The most powerful is the ability to shove your weapon deep into its armored scute, causing good damage and increasing damage done by about 10% for a little while. Or while the monster is fleeing, you can latch onto it instead of running after it like some kind of goddamn animal.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne adds another way of reducing the amount of time you must humiliate yourself by running on the ground. You can ride a jagras or a shamos and save your stamina while they automatically take you around the map. Certainly not important, but it’s cute. I do appreciate that even during the creation of an entire sequel game worth of content, the devs felt it necessary to add these fun little details. Further weapon customization, a couple of new minigames, and an excessive amount of furniture for the house you enter almost never. These are just the tip of the Icebornberg, and are indicative of the love and care that went into it.
Finally, let’s talk about the most important part: the monsters. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne very much so delivers. Continually I am blown away by the number of fresh ideas Iceborne brings to the table. Not only does Iceborne bring back fan favorites such as the Nargacuga and Brachydios, but also a wide variety of new species and subspecies who will kick your shit. These new monsters utilize creative new ways to fight. A Pukei-Pukei that shoots high-pressure beams of water in the manner of Metal Gear Ray. A large black Paolumu that disperses a large cloud of sleepy gas, and then uses its wind powers to shepherd the cloud around the area. A Deviljho that has somehow ascended to a higher level of rage our feeble minds cannot possibly comprehend.
This brings the grand total to just under 60 monsters, with presumably more on the way. There is a reason the game’s daily player count has been steady for so long. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is Capcom’s animus. It is the highest-selling Capcom game of all time, and they give it the respect it deserves. In contrast to the sequels which are just cash mining, or games in which new content is abandoned in favor of microtransactions, Iceborne is tangible proof that you reap what you sow. I can almost guarantee that because of the effort and care put into Iceborne, it will be one of the highest-selling and highest rated DLC’s of the decade.
If it were legal, I’d give it a 6/5.
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