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Review

Review: Monster Hunter World – Iceborne

After many por­ta­ble releases and a long stretch of Nin­ten­do con­so­le exclu­si­vi­ty, Mons­ter Hun­ter World was released on the PS4 last year. Boas­ting impro­ved visu­als, some­thing the series was in dire need of, and hel­pful qua­li­ty of life fea­tures, World suc­cess­ful­ly impro­ved upon the old style of game­play while kee­ping the spi­rit of the older games intact. With the base game crea­ting a good foun­da­ti­on for future updates, Iceborne’s goal was to add enough con­tent to keep play­ers invested in the game, while also try­ing to impro­ve the some­what disap­poin­ting end­ga­me. Thank­ful­ly, the expan­si­on mana­ges to impro­ve upon World’s alrea­dy fan­tastic game­play, offe­ring a who­le host of new mons­ters and tech­ni­ques for play­ers to mas­ter. 

Ice­bor­ne con­ti­nues direc­t­ly after the ending of Mons­ter Hun­ter World, whe­re the rese­arch com­mis­si­on that were tas­ked with explo­ring the New World have dis­co­ve­r­ed a pre­vious­ly hid­den con­ti­nent with a uni­que sno­wy cli­ma­te. Quick­ly crea­ting a new base to aid in the explo­ra­ti­on of this new land, the hun­ters get to work in fin­ding out more about this uni­que area of the New World. Ever­yo­ne from the base game makes a return, with cer­tain cha­rac­ters like The Tra­cker having more time in the spot­light. The­re still isn’t much of a focus on the sto­ry over­all, but it does a good job of set­ting the sta­ge for all the new con­tent the­re is to dis­co­ver. 

Selia­na, the new hub area in Ice­bor­ne, is the start of the many posi­ti­ve chan­ges over the ori­gi­nal release. It’s a char­ming vil­la­ge, remi­nis­cent of are­as in the older PSP Mons­ter Hun­ter games, and is far easier to navi­ga­te com­pa­red to World’s Aste­ra. Ever­ything is a short walk away, no more long trips or loa­ding screens just to reach the can­te­en or for­ge. It makes pre­pa­ring for a hunt far less tedious and takes no time at all to get used to, unli­ke the mul­ti-laye­red lay­out of Aste­ra. The chan­ge of sce­ne­ry hasn’t brought many addi­ti­ons to the faci­li­ties you can access, with the only major addi­ti­on being the steam­works. Here fuel build up over quests, which can be sup­ple­men­ted with cer­tain items found during mining, and using it gives you easy access to con­sum­a­bles and the occa­sio­nal rare item. It’s a nice way to unwind after a mis­si­on, watching the list of gai­ned items slow­ly increa­se as you use more fuel. 

After explo­ring your new base of ope­ra­ti­ons, it’s not long befo­re you’ll find yours­elf in Iceborne’s new regi­on. Com­pa­red to sno­wy are­as in pre­vious Mons­ter Hun­ter releases, Hoar­frost Ridge brings a lot more to the table. For star­ters, asi­de from the usu­al cold debuff that requi­res a hot drink to coun­ter­act, the buil­dup of snow can impe­de your move­ment wit­hout the right equip­ment. The ver­ti­ca­li­ty of World’s envi­ron­men­tal design is also here, with ple­nty of slo­pes and led­ges to ambush mons­ters with. It’s an excel­lent addi­ti­on to an alrea­dy solid list of hun­ting are­as, offe­ring some of the most impres­si­ve sno­wy loca­les this genera­ti­on. 

A new hun­ting area wouldn’t be much wit­hout a brand-new set of mons­ters to fight, so it’s good to see a lar­ge varie­ty of new and fami­li­ar faces sho­wing up during the cour­se of the expansion’s sto­ry. Ban­ba­ro, a mons­ter you encoun­ter ear­ly on in Iceborne’s sto­ry, is a gre­at way to warm up for some of the har­der fights in the game while also matching the the­me of the new area. It’s a behe­moth of a mons­ter, spor­ting two lar­ge ant­lers that it uses to turn trees into makes­hift bat­te­ring rams. Mean­while Nar­ga­cu­ga and Tig­rex, both first intro­du­ced during the Mons­ter Hun­ter Por­ta­ble games, make their return. A good balan­ce has been made bet­ween brin­ging back ico­nic enemies while also sho­wing off some new mons­ters for new and vete­ran fans to batt­le. The over­all mons­ter count may not reach the dizzy heights of Mons­ter Hun­ter Genera­ti­ons’ 100+ ros­ter, but it’s more than enough to keep anyo­ne hun­ting well into next year. 

A new expan­si­on also brings tougher quests, which means that even mons­ters from the base game can be a real chal­len­ge to fight. The first few quests of the new mas­ter rank are a big jump from high rank, espe­ci­al­ly if you going strai­ght into them after World’s main sto­ry. It’s a good way to make mons­ters you’ve hun­ted many times more enga­ging, and the new gear sets you can craft from them are extre­me­ly use­ful ear­ly on. It’s always been enjoy­a­ble to pro­gres­si­ve­ly craft bet­ter and bet­ter wea­pons and armour, so it’s nice to have a rea­son to keep upgra­ding your equip­ment for the har­der fights to come. 

While the­re may not be any new wea­pons in Ice­bor­ne, most of the old ones have recei­ved some new moves. Some of the­se new attacks revol­ve around the clutch claw, a com­ple­te­ly new mecha­nic to the series. It can be used regard­less of the wea­pon type, allo­wing you to latch onto mons­ters. After atta­ching to a mons­ter, you can slam them into a wall for an easy knock­down, or hit them with a flas­hy attack befo­re jum­ping off. After a sin­gle clutch claw attack with a hea­vy wea­pon, or two with a light wea­pon, a weak point is left on the affec­ted body part. This makes brea­king spe­ci­fic parts easier and can be the deci­ding fac­tor on whe­ther you defeat the har­dest mons­ters in the game. As for wea­pon spe­ci­fic attacks, they real­ly help impro­ve an alrea­dy solid armou­ry. The long sword gai­ned some flas­hy new moves that make it even easier to chain com­bos tog­e­ther, while char­ge bla­de users can tem­pora­ri­ly power up its axe mode.  

All of the­se posi­ti­ve chan­ges are tied tog­e­ther by a com­ple­te­ly rewor­ked end­ga­me that mana­ges to keep every mons­ter type in the game rele­vant. Wit­hout diving too deeply into spoi­ler ter­rito­ry, after the main sto­ry is over you unlock a new area whe­re you spend most of your time out­si­de of event quests. Here, hun­ting mons­ters will increa­se the levels of spe­ci­fic regi­ons in the area, unlo­cking har­der mons­ters to fight. High level wea­pons and armour will often requi­re mate­ri­al from mul­ti­ple mons­ters, and figh­t­ing any mons­ter in a regi­on will level it up, so there’s more of an incen­ti­ve to fight even the weakest mons­ters in the game. It can be hard to level up spe­ci­fic regi­ons, espe­ci­al­ly if you want to max out mul­ti­ple ones at the same time, but over­all this is a mas­si­ve step up from the some­what bland end­ga­me of the base game. 

Conclusion 

Ice­bor­ne is a fan­tastic expan­si­on, offe­ring a cra­zy amount of con­tent for new and retur­ning play­ers ali­ke. The clutch claw makes each hunt more dyna­mic, and the revam­ped end­ga­me real­ly makes for a more enjoy­a­ble expe­ri­ence after the sto­ry is over. This is how DLC should be done, and the fact that there’ll be even more con­tent added later down the line is icing on the cake. 

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