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REVIEW: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne — An Expansion of Monstrous Proportions

 
 
Overview
 

Published by: CAPCOM
 
Developed by: CAPCOM
 
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 Xbox One
 
Genre(s): Action role-playing
 
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
 
FG RATING
90%
90/ 100


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Raves


Hundreds of hours of new content. Much appreciated quality of life improvements. More character-oriented story content.

Rants


A good number of the new monsters are sub-species of existing MHW monsters.


0
Posted December 29, 2019 by

Monster Hunter World was a tremendous success. It reinvented the whole franchise by overhauling all its core features, raking in legions of new fans while staying true to what existing fans love about the series. There was so much to love about the game right out of the box, but that didn’t stop the developers from pushing out free post-release events and updates that could keep you busy for as much as a thousand hours and that’s no exaggeration. It was definitely a surprise when Capcom announced that the game was gonna get a paid expansion, and boy is Monster Hunter World: Iceborne an expansion.

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STORY

After discovering that a massive flock of monsters native to the New World suddenly migrates beyond the sea, the Commission decides to investigate this sudden shift in the eco-system. This leads the expedition team to discover the icy new subcontinent of Hoarfrost Reach. Here they’ll encounter new monsters as they work on determining the reason behind this sudden shift.

Iceborne picks up after the base game’s main story. This means that you’ll need to have beaten the main story before you get access to the majority of the expansion’s goods. This time, though, the story gets more character-driven and we get to see more fleshed out scenes and interactions amongst all the characters. This is a clear step up from the original story, which was not necessarily bad but introduced many characters with no time to develop them.

Though narrative has never really been the main focus of Monster Hunter games, Iceborne’s campaign was a fun and memorable experience. It’s surprising how much effort was put into the campaign, considering the amount of content and quality of life improvements they’ve added its core gameplay.

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GAMEPLAY

Iceborne takes players to an entirely new icy subcontinent, complete with its own local flora and fauna. There are loads of new creatures to study, slay, or capture, as well as a whole collection of new materials up for gathering. To be able to do all that, the commission establishes a new base on the area, too. Called Seliana, the new base is host to all the same utilities as Astera. But unlike Astera, it includes new facilities and is structured so that accessing these facilities are much easier.

Hoarfrost Reach is host to a whole new breed of monsters, with attack patterns and behaviors that vary greatly from the monsters in the base game. The same can be said about the terrain, too. Thick snow hinders your movement, geysers waft you to the air to reach high ground or to set up for aerial attacks, and icy terrain breaks on impact just to name a few.

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The expansion clearly offers up a whole slew of additional content, but it also brings with it a bunch of quality of life improvements that really breathes new life to the game.

There’s now a Master Rank level, which is a step up from High Rank — the end-game rank for the base game. This new rank brings a whole list of new quests and special assignments that reward mats for Master Rank equipment. Master Rank equipment are so valuable that even the most base Master Rank equipment can overshadow your strongest High Rank gear. This means you’ll have to let go of your best equipment as though you’re starting anew again. This is great in the sense that it gives you a clear sense of progression throughout Iceborne’s content, and though the value of high-rank gear at this stage is significantly diminished, they’re still essential to get past the base game content in order to access the Iceborne content.

This is great even for newcomers who want to play the entire experience, stacking up the hundreds of hours from the base game to the hundreds of hours in the expansion. But for players who want to zoom to the Iceborne content as soon as possible, the game provides the Guardian Set which essentially provides easy to craft gears that are strong enough to boost you through the base content as fast as you can.

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Not all the new stuff is gated behind finishing the campaign, though. Two very cool QOLI are available to you from the very beginning.

First are the new moves. All the weapon types have been updated with new moves, most of which significantly changes how to weapon works. A good example of this would be the Long Sword. You get a new ‘Special Sheathe’ move that lets you chain a combo from almost any of your other moves. This completely changes the Long Swords playstyle as you can now keep attacking even after moves that usually end your combo. All weapons get this treatment bringing a whole new layer of gameplay. Long-time players will have to relearn each weapon, which actually feels more refreshing than taxing.

The second is the Clutch Claw. It’s a new move you get access to with the slinger. This can be used across all weapons and adds new depth to using a slinger than just for hurling poop or blinding monsters. With it, you can latch on to a monster giving you access to a few moves while mounted. You can attack the mounting area to soften it up, causing you and your squad to do more damage when hitting that softened area. Another thing you can do from here is to fire all your slinger ammo into a single burst at point-blank, sending the monster reeling which could lead to a free topple and could even break parts. These moves are extremely powerful but only works if you time it right. Mounting from Clutch isn’t the same as the normal mount. From clutch, you can easily get thrown off (and sustain heavy damage) if you’re not careful. It’s only ever safe to mount when the monster is weakened. Bursting also expends all your slinger ammo so it’s best to use in situations that really call for it.

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VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

It’s no different from the base game in terms of graphical fidelity, but Iceborne’s new content shows off some new refreshing designs in its icy new Hoarfrost Reach and especially so in all the new monster designs. The new monsters and the new Master Rank also leads to some really good equipment designs, especially when it comes the endgame weapons.

The new additions aren’t limited to just Hoarfrost Reach, though. the New World got a few new monsters, too. Apart from the return of some fan-favorite monsters from the previous games, we also get new sub-species of New World’s resident monsters. They’re no mere reskins as their attacks, elements, and behavior are vastly different from their base counterparts. That said, I wish Iceborne’s new monsters composed less of these subspecies instead.

VERDICT

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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne nearly doubles the already staggering amount of content from the base game. Not only that, but it also came with loads of quality of life improvements that keep things fresh for long-time Monster Hunter World players and a lot more enjoyable for newcomers. There’s such an incredible value in this expansion that it’s hard not to recommend it for even the most remote of action RPG fans. Kudos to CAPCOM for heralding the return of full-fledged video game expansions. Here’s to hoping we see more Expansions of this kind from more games. 

[This review is based on a retail version of the game (PlayStation 4) provided by the Publisher]


Dian Raval

 
Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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