It’s been a while since E3, and the gaming press has decided which games they want to cover in the usual frenzy. Then there are the games that have been relegated to back pages – and one in particular.
It was announced with relatively little fanfare, and coverage of it has been drowned amongst the speculation about Anthem and ravings about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It’s a game from a decade-plus-long franchise that used to be the biggest selling franchise in Japan.
It’s a franchise with many games and a film in the works, a franchise with a respectable Western following despite being a predominantly Asian series. That franchise is the Monster Hunter series by Capcom, with Monster Hunter World, the fifth iteration (if you’re excluding the numerous spin-offs) set for release in early 2018.
The Monster Hunter series is defined by hunting huge monsters, and the epic duels they entail. Capcom didn’t mess about with the title. As the hunter, you gather materials to make weapons, armour and supporting items in order to kill huge wyverns, dragons and other mythical creatures. Afterwards, you scavenge materials from their carcasses to make even bigger weapons and armours. The series has many distinguishing features – its maps split into different zones, the oversized and goofy armour, its bizarre humour, and a strange obsession with cats.
Announced for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Monster Hunter World looks set to reinvigorate the tiring staples of the series, including a revised map system, new stealth mechanics, and a transition from region- local multiplayer to worldwide. This means Eastern and Western hunters will be able to play together for the first time.
It really looks like World is trying to attract Western audiences, with the new features bringing it more in line with other Western RPGs like Dragon Age or The Witcher, and the release on home consoles as opposed to handheld devices appealing more to console gamers, which tend to be associated far more often with Western audiences than Eastern ones.
So why aren’t we talking about Monster Hunter World? It’s introducing significant and risky change into a beloved franchise in order to widen its appeal and attract new gamers – how many franchises can boast that they do that? Far from ruining the game, it looks like these changes could transform World into an incredible step up for the franchise. It’s a great example of taking risks leading to a better game, as long as those promised features end up in the game.
And as Monster Hunter games aren’t in the business of forgetting promises, it looks like the January 2018 release date could give us one of the best games in recent years.