When it comes to the word ‘niche’, in the world of video games, it is safe to say that it is surrounded by a fair amount of taboo and controversy, each time it appears. Whether it shows up on an indie site, mainstream blog, or the now-dying magazine, and is situated in relation to a title with a niche, yet cult following, it always starts a hurricane-like debate. And that’s because people, especially ones belonging to the vocal minority, detest when others call their favourite game, ‘niche’. But sometimes there is no denying the fact that certain titles, no matter how good they are, are simply not for everybody.
Just last year, numerous far eastern games have appeared on the western market, and in near-unison, they have all bathed in universal, critical acclaim. Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Yakzu 0, have completely taken the western gaming scene by storm, but despite of their high scores, all these titles have failed to capture the hearts of casual gamers, simply because they’re all niche in their appeal. And while many expected 2018 to be the year which will break the chains which hold high quality Japanese titles back, it looks like that it will not be the case. As the recently released Monster Hunter: World, is just as excellent as the borderline perfect Persona 5, but just like the latter, it will likely fail to garner any significant mainstream attention.
Monster Hunter: World, unlike the vast majority of Japanese titles, has made its debut across the entire globe. And it is safe to say that its action-RPG core, is more than sublime, as the title’s action and combat, are simply incredible. All in-game weapons feel unique in both their use and feedback, and unlike the Soulsborne series, Monster Hunter: World features varied, distinct and satisfying, combat approaches, which alter the key bindings for different weapons. And best of all, more powerful weapons, feature equally complex skill celling, which will take some hours to master. So, if you are disappointed with the rather simplistic combat of modern RPG’s, you’re in for a real treat with Monster Hunter: World, as it possesses more layers to its combat, than the vast majority of modern RPG’s combined (Witcher 3, not included).
Within my first ten hours with Monster Hunter: World, I’ve spent about five, simply in awe of the title’s combat, as for the very first time, in a very long time, I’ve been served with a title, which didn’t bore me to death with a simple, forgiving, single or two-button set-up. Every missed strike, or poorly timed swipe, will result in a whole new world of pain – pain, which many have never felt before. And that’s because Monster Hunter: World, just like the Soulsborne series, doesn’t play around when it comes to its difficulty. However, where titles such as Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3, will mostly lead one to his/her demise due to erratic, and imperfect hostile AI, and a barrage of glitches, then Monster Hunter: World, will dispatch most players, on the back of their hubris, and brashness.
Monster Hunter: World, as a title, is just like an all-round MMA champion, it is capable of countering all of one’s advances, and will punish each and every slip up. And once it tires one senselessly, it will go in for the life ending strike. However, while being senselessly punishing, it is also teaching one on how to climb back to the top and conquer it, because each in-game combat encounter, no matter how small, or large, will teach one something new about the game. And considering the amount of depth, which Monster Hunter: World possesses, it is safe to say that there is a lot to learn.
From character mobility, all the way through combat, survival, and crafting, Monster Hunter: World features at least over 200 hours of pure, and unblemished content. And once takes into consideration the fact that vast majority of the in-game content intersects with one another, he/she will quickly realise that Monster Hunter: World is a game, which may take as much as 500 hours, out of ones live. And that’s nearly 21 days of complex, mind-bending, yet satisfying play time. And while many a title, has a right to boast about its amount of core content, most can’t do so with clear conscience, as vast majority of modern RPG’s, weighs in excess of 50GB, whereas Monster Hunter: World, is just under 16GB small.
From an outsider’s perspective, fitting so much, into such insignificant, by modern standards, amount of data, is if not just impressive, simply astounding. However, while many will rejoice the fact, that Monster Hunter: World will not completely absorb half of their hard drive, it has to be underlined that the title’s bite-size, file size, comes at a price. And a price which many, especially younger gamers, will not be willing to pay.
Monster Hunter: World, while possessing rather unique, and eye-pleasing art style, which allowed the creators to form some rather intimidating, and awe-inspiring beasts – is unfortunately, not the best-looking game out there. And while many, will not be bothered by blurry overstretched textures, lack of definition in large portion of models, or the rather crude looking environments, most will unfortunately scowl at all these imperfections. And that’s because AAA titles, especially in this day and age, will always fall to the highest level of scrutiny, and in order to hold up strongly against it, things such as high-quality textures, and complex models, are a vital component – and are not just important, they are simply required.
Graphics, for most, may seem as a trivial component of a title. However, for Monster hunter: World, they signify the beginning of a grave divide, which unfortunately will prevent it in a long run, to achieve the mainstream status, which many would surely love it to grasp. In addition to rather underwhelming visual façade, Monster Hunter: World, also features a plethora of other western-centric issues, such as partial voice acting, which will make the vast majority of western gamers, young or old, turn it down. And it is clear to see that the developer behind the title, has put a lot of effort into making Monster Hunter: World a global, and accessible title, but unfortunately, it falls at the very final hurdle.
The core basics of Monster Hunter: World, such as the UI, subtitles, in-game menus, key-bindings, and utility management, are so out of the far left, that for most, they will simply be confused by how poor they are. And while they may not necessarily poor, they are simply not aligned with the western needs. And ultimately, all those factors significantly diminish Monster Hunter: World’s approachability, and in turn, take a lot of the title’s appeal. Which is rather unfortunate, because as it was mentioned before, Monster Hunter: World, is simply a tremendous game. But just like the vast majority of cult classics, it is simply not for everybody.
Monster Hunter: World, is a gigantic experience, which dwarfs the vast majority of the modern industry. The sheer amount of content, and choice which it offers is simply astounding, and offers the players world over, a game which will last them months, if not years – depending on the future, additional content. However, while it may be an incredible game to experience, it is ultimately an experience which is not essential for most gamers. And while even somebody like me, somebody who is not the biggest fan of far eastern titles, has managed to see the beauty of it, I have to say that I haven’t found Monster Hunter: World to be the killer, which many set it up to be. And while enjoyed it immensely, my fondest memory with it, was when I finally had my fare share of Monster Hunting, and was able to return to UFC 3, which unlike Monster Hunter: World, is a title which was built for the global audience, and not just the Asian gamer.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.