Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a glorious clump for anyone who’s ever been shot down by a Tyrannosaurus Rex fire-breathing fax machine and thought, “I can’t wait to do that 50 times.” The gaming franchise has always rewarded those willing to work hard, and Iceborne is no exception. It adds more of what sets the base game apart from its predecessors without feeling overcrowded, even if the story could have used a little more work. This is our Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Genres: Action role-playing game
- Release Date: September 6, 2019
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review: Official Trailer Video
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review: Gameplay
Monster Hunter World was an exercise in sophistication when it was released in early 2018. Not only did it manage to simplify a franchise-wide budding search system, but it also had a very successful attempt at creating an open-world ecosystem that was packed with things to do and colossal monsters to chase you. Best of all, these changes were never overwhelming – the new mission and upgrade systems introduced were relatively easy to understand while leaving room for experienced hunters to master them.
Since the game’s launch, it has seen a steady stream of DLC content in the form of new in-game events. Many of these follow the design of transplanting something terrifying in an already familiar environment – the Witcher 3 crossover saw a Leshenn loom big in the Ancient Forest, and the Final Fantasy XIV collaboration made you take cover when Behemoth raised its head. The design philosophy behind Monster Hunter World: Iceborne has a similar approach in implementing that kind of content, albeit on a larger scale. It uses touchstones in the form of legendary enemies and familiar locations to build on the base game’s robust ecosystem to deliver an experience that will test your mettle without breaking you.
Shortly after the successes of dealing with the Elder Dragon situation in the base game, a mass migration event wakes up Astera’s recovering ecosystem and asks you to investigate it. The following is a story about family history, mysterious scales, and your handler embarking on her quest. To shift the focus of a story from the protagonist to what is essentially a side character, it’s a bold story – for all the help and assistance the Handler gives in Monster Hunter World, she’s still necessarily a living, breathable search board. Monster Hunter World players will become attached to her on their travels, but is that attachment deep enough to support the story of a full expansion? Not quite.
Once you get to know the latest curveball about Iceborne’s new signature location, Hoarfrost Reach, and how it fairly quickly intersects with your Handler’s past, you will immediately be transported back to base game countries and areas to find a few monsters too big for their boots. It is not exactly a narrative whiplash, but it is certainly not as compelling as it would have been if we had been following the Handler from the first step of her journey to Iceborne’s new land.
The changes Iceborne makes in the form of these variant varieties have a twofold effect: First, they motivate you to form new strategies to shred their way to the next storyline. Second, they are just distinctive enough in terms of attack patterns and additional primary considerations, so you never feel like you’re fighting a reskin of something you made minced meat 80 hours ago. It’s as if a concerted effort has been made to balance the difficulty of what many fans could rightfully see as the second arrival of the coveted ‘G-Rank’ in this latest version of Monster Hunter.
Despite some focus on iterating established systems, innovations have been introduced in Iceborne that set it apart from its predecessor. Brand new monsters and the implementation of legacy series of favorites like Nargacuga look impressive thanks to all the new ways monsters can interact with other beasts and the different locations. More importantly, there is a library of new weapon moves that you can take advantage of.
Using the clutch claw is not mandatory, so it fits in that pretty niche where it can make your yacht a little easier or a little more exciting in equal turns. But you are not forced to use it as if you are getting value for money if you are an experienced player trying to do your version of Nuzlocke rules, for example, but with items. Having the ability and ability to scale up the side of a monster after landing a quick shot with the Clutch Claw feels ridiculously satisfying. It so does driving a beast into its doom in the many treacherous terrain pitfalls, which is the newest, snow-covered region of Hoarfrost Reach.
However, by that measure, there are also more options to make the jump on your enemies, especially with the clutch claw that allows you to run them into vine traps, blindingly light, and more. Understanding every bit of the map is essential to master what Iceborne has to offer you, and it’s incredibly satisfying when everything clicks suddenly. You go from the prey to the hunter and lead their prey to a painful trap trying to even the scales.
Dropping a relatively new player into this intricately designed location can be overwhelming, but regardless of your experience level, teaming up with other hunters and making your way through these icy burrows of beasts is incredibly rewarding in its way. Iceborne takes advantage of the matchmaking enhancements introduced since the base game’s release, making it relatively seamless on the console to find fellow hunters. No more hassle with PlayStation parties and friends lists – and head to a party to help friends tackling these terrifying monsters are easy.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is at its best when fighting tooth and nail against something you know can crush you in the blink of an eye, even though it may feel like it came at the expense of a more exciting story. Nothing is as good as the biting cold that cuts through the fur of your harness, the shrill cry of your Palico when it comes to your aid, and the wind roaring in your ears as you cling to the flank of an animal and on its side climbs as you buzz and roar.
This extension is full of such moments; all the tweaks and improvements feel like they’ve been done with the excellent building blocks of Monster Hunter World: Iceborn review in mind, meaning getting to the heart of the matter is faster and more satisfying than ever. There’s no more fiddling with new systems or worrying about the springs of hardcore fans with a change of direction in the series; those teething troubles have already come and gone. Iceborne is a confident step into the franchise’s future, and it’s hard not to think about what happens next.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne adds more of what sets the base game apart from its predecessors without feeling overcrowded, even if the story could have used a little more work.