Review of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, the expansion that revolutionized the content of a game acclaimed by fans and critics
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is the first, true, expansion of the title Capcom which has now become the masterpiece of its own brand. Although released as a DLC, Iceborne comes as a real follow-up to Monster Hunter World, bringing improvements to the quality of life in the game and introducing a first portion of content large enough to safely exceed forty hours of gameplay.
After the events that led to the discovery of Xeno'jiiva, uno strange song begins to attract more and more creatures northwards, creating a real migration. By observing this extraordinary phenomenon, our Hunter will discover, together with the Assistant, a new island to the north, completely covered by ice.
Basically, a whole section of the New World.
A new life | Monster Hunter World: Iceborne review
Starting from this premise, we will immediately see the first big changes. Our base will no longer be Astera, but a new, smaller, more concentrated and practical hub. In fact, thanks to the presence of the Lunar Tavern, all the places of interest (kitchen, forge, accommodation and merchant) will finally be gathered in the same point, saving time especially during online sessions. Seliana, the new base, presents us with a glacial panorama, heated by spas in which we can even bathe with our Palico. All this, in front of a breathtaking postcard view, in a hub where it is actually pleasant to waste time just observing everything that surrounds us.
In addition to the simple hub, some pretty handy mini-games are also added, such as the steam engine one. Which, with a simple random insertion of keys, will give us various resources that will speed up all the game processes even more, as well as provide new and fun animations with the various Palico. What is out of place, however, is simply a pure gameplay factor, since some of these conveniences have made the various grinding systems a little obsolete and useless to obtain the most interesting rewards.
All this, however, is only the launch pad that will lead us to explore the new map, the Brinose Expanses, an enchanting and dangerous place, which brings with it many other innovations.
The map introduced in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne does not disappoint. New creatures to collect, such as the cute macaques, and new more or less hateful monsters who know their stuff. The Brine Expanses are quite vast, although quite monotonous. Only the spas brought some panache to the white of the snow, but this does not satisfy the desire for a logic behind every stone. Of course, they allow a dense exploration to find all the secrets, such as the fishing areas or the nests of the creatures, but on the other hand they lose in variety compared to the Coral Highlands or the Wild Spiers. There are very few areas that show a minimum of heterogeneity, and they are not sufficient to explain the presence of some creatures within the same area, given that by the characteristics they should prefer very different habitats.
This topic brings us straight to the new monsters of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, which have mostly been taken and redesigned from the old titles in the series. Monsters like Barioth, Glavenus and Nargacuga finally make their reappearance, bringing with them the horrors that veteran players are all too familiar with. Their shapes are majestic and their moveset quite moderate in speed, always allowing (at least in the early stages of the game) action windows for any weapon. But even so, the new "Master Degree" raises the level of difficulty a lot, bringing monster damage to nauseous heights and certain gameplay imbalances against some creatures that could have been avoided. Lack of balance which, however, have not been completely balanced by the improvements made to the hunter.
The critical eye | Monster Hunter World: Iceborne review
Finished singing the praises of the game, let's move on to the most bitter phase: the defects.
The new grapple mechanic, at least as it is, has brought great gameplay benefits, showing a new level of play in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. At the same time, too much faith in that artifact proved lethal in the programming phase. While the punishment for lack of timing in using the grappling hook is not lethal, it is all too often to see missed knockdowns against the walls.
This happens because the monster, at that exact moment, decided to do an animation for some unblockable reason. Which, "red eye" aside, should never happen, because some creatures like the final boss require the use of that particular mechanic. Consequently, the monster is not stopped by our attack and continues its charge, effectively nullifying the usefulness of the grappling hook and contradicting the rules imposed by the game itself.
As for the gameplay, a small but at the same time mammoth change was noticed in the management of the camera. Now, in fact, it is much less rare that it gets stuck in different points, increasingly limiting the view of hunters, especially in multi-level areas, such as the Ancient Forest. This also happens when zooming in on the new monsters that appear, which can sometimes really mark your defeat just to show you the detail of their adorable little face. Very cute, yes, but too lethal not to be fixed and in a short time, in addition to the more and more continuous bugs that are proving to be decidedly annoying during long hunting sessions.
Beyond all of this, the game is fantastic and incredibly fun to play together, although some monsters should be balanced a little to avoid unpleasant "rage-quit".
Il post-game e il futuro | Review Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
The Guiding Lands are, at the moment, the only end-game fragment of the game. Despite being a fairly cryptic name, this place is nothing more than a small island divided into four sections, each representing a glimpse of the maps of the base game (except one). That part of the gameplay is pure grinding and relaxation, where it is possible to move around familiar environments to hunt old monsters, accumulate points and recall with them the new, sparkling, creatures.
Although the premise is more than good, practically retracing the same environments without any real spur that does not concern upgrading the weapon is a bit too monotonous. The idea is interesting, but running after over two hundred hours of gameplay may not create the desired appeal to the player. However, this can be solved with future patches, perhaps new maps and event creatures such as a new version of the Kulve.
By naming the Kulve, we can say that it has now become completely useless. Its usefulness no longer has a hold in the hearts of hunters, since the new Master Degree weapons are much stronger and more modifiable. Having abandoned that monster that practically pulled the end game of the basic version of Monster Hunter World by itself left many doubts and, at the same time, hopes for a new Kulve capable of allowing upgrades for weapons left to mold in the inventories. For that, however, we will have to wait for future updates, already announced and ready to change our lives again.
For a little more… | Monster Hunter World: Iceborne review
The new aesthetic additions to the equipment have been absorbed with not too much success, disappointing the expectations of longtime fans. Weapons in particular turned out to be bland, with lazy designs that simply add a few tufts of fluff to the existing bone patterns.. There are exceptions, and they are incredibly pleasant, but they fail to make up for the incredible desolation of armaments. As if that weren't enough, the presence of the “pendants” of pure aesthetic value is a bit of a finger in the sore, offering absolutely nothing requested or particularly pleasant.
The disappointment stems from the fact that these factors actually have no notable precedent, and that Monster Hunter World: Iceborne was a "cold shower".
It hurts to see a little distorted the love that the Monster Hunter team has poured into all the rest of the content in this title. It almost looks like the designs were designed by another team.
We assist the assistant, once again… | Monster Hunter World: Iceborne review
And last but not least, the part that hurts the most.
Monster Hunter has never been a brand based on the evolution of the characters, their goals for life and their dreams. He always knew how to seize the moment, leading the player to brutally kill poor creatures just for the fun of it. And, honestly, there was no need for anything else. For this reason the Assistant, already appreciated as much as the capers in a cheesecake, has further lowered the bar of the title.
Completely dominated by a really uninteresting retcon, the Assistant has been modified by giving a little listening to the criticisms raised by the fans, who saw it as too petulant and without reason to exist. The problem is that his reasoning made the character so fake and uninteresting that it made the situation even worse.
The coup de grace is offered to us by Capcom itself, when it finally assigns us a new assistant for only two missions. This will be enough for us to understand how badly we have lived.
Otherwise, the narrative structure is very similar to that of the base game, with some nice additions and deliciously epic cutscenes.
We do not lose faith in creativity
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a great expansion for a great game, however, perfection is hard to achieve. Although on the technical side a masterful artistic work has been done in the design of the monsters, the settings and even the sounds, treated in an almost maniacal way, the game struggles to hide its imperfections.
But after all, it is what gives us hope for an ever better future.
Ultimately, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is worth all the money it asks for. A unique experience, especially if done in company, which will make you lose tens (if not hundreds) of hours, in a magical, brutal, and all too ignorant world.
In true Capcom style.