Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review
Capcom took the gaming world by storm in 2018 when they released the first-ever Monster Hunter game to be available outside of the Nintendo system. Monster Hunter World is an amazing game with beautiful graphics, great AI and fantastic gameplay. The developer has also done well keeping the community going with constant events and cross-game collaborations to keep their players satisfied with more items to grind for. Now, almost two years later, they’ve finally released a new major DLC: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, complete with a hefty price tag, which costs almost as much as the original base game itself.
The story of the new Iceborne DLC is simple if a little derivative. Monsters are migrating away from their usual habitats, and our fearless monster hunters follow their migration pattern to discover a new land filled with new monsters to hunt, murder and wear their skins, looking cute while they do it. Sound familiar? Yes, basically it’s the same plot as every Monster Hunter game. There’s a side story about our Handler’s father, but in the end this game isn’t really about the story is it? It’s about gameplay and the grind. And that grind, she is good and plentiful, my friends!
As our erstwhile hunters migrate to their new icy home, they discover a beautiful area filled with, you guessed it, all-new monsters to kill. Along with this area are a new home base and gathering hub, with all the amenities that were available from your original base plus some new features, including the ability to redecorate your bedroom, and a new steam works mini-game mode. Reaching this area unlocks a new master rank, which resets all the monsters from the original game to higher difficulty, as well as brings in new monsters that populate both the wintery area and locations from the new game. With the latest monsters comes a wealth of great new items to grind for including armor sets for new and old monsters, armor and tools for your palico and a whole new class of level four jewels that can only fit in your master rank armor.
Gorgeous Glow and Winter Snow
The DLC looks and sounds as beautiful as the original. Capcom has done a great job of bringing this icy environment to life. The snow texture and movements are beautiful, and there’s new endemic wildlife to capture and plant types to gather. The new base, called Seliana, has some improvements over the old one, including some quality of life improvements such as making the home base slightly smaller, so not as much running around is needed, and allowing you to access your Tailrider Safari without having to go into your bedroom every time.
The Steamworks mini-game is fun and a good way to stock up on consumable items. Basically a press the button in the right order memory game, with the cute palico animations that Monster Hunter World is known for. Speaking of new palicos, the new chef is pretty adorable. We won’t spoil the surprise.
One of the best features of Monster Hunter World was the gameplay. This is a game where timing and precision both matter. Not much has changed in that front for this DLC as the controls in this game are still fluid and very intuitive. No new weapons have been introduced, but each weapon has two or three new movesets which don’t feel extraneous or forced. The new additions are carefully created to fix weaknesses related to that weapon’s playstyle. For instance, the sword and shield has a new power move that allows you to increase damage but then moves your character away from the monster at the end of the attack, which lessens the chances of being swiped out of the air in the middle of a shield bash power move. The Bow and Arrow has a new short-range power attack which incorporates all slinger ammo as well as bow ammo, which acts like a shotgun blast. Great way to solve the issue of how to do damage to a monster from close range as the dragon piercer has a long charge time.
The biggest addition to the gameplay is the clutch claw, a new toolset that has been added for every weapon in the game. The new clutch claw is basically a grappling hook which allows you to grapple onto specific parts of a monster’s body with specific button sets, and weaken that spot for further damage. The clutch claw adds a level of dynamic movement that drastically improves the game after some changes that were applied after the release of the original. With the nerf of flash pods, the addition of the clutch claw fixes issues with mounting on flying creatures and gives an additional option for creating more opportunities for damage beyond aggressive flashing to bring the monster down. It also allows ranged weapon users to more easily close the gap with monsters.
Some Nice and Icy Improvements
In terms of general improvements, there are some minor quality of life changes such as improved UI for the alerts system, which used to meld into the background a bit so it was hard to tell what the writing said as it came up on the right side of the screen. The color is now changed and the writing is larger and easier to read. The largest improvement, however, is to the difficulty scaling. Previously, Monster Hunter World had two difficulties: one for single player, and one for multiplayer, so regardless of the fact that you only had two people on your team and not four, you would still have to do the same amount of damage as an entire 4 person team. Iceborne has brought in two person difficulty scaling which makes playing with one friend a lot easier.
There are still a few tweaks, minor nitpicks left over from the original game that can cause frustration, such as occasional AI glitches during monster turf wars that can make a quest incredibly frustrating, or when you’re stunned and your palico stands beside you banging on his bongo drum. In the end though, Iceborne is an amazing DLC that is well worth the hefty price tag. It continues with amazing graphics and fun, challenging gameplay, while bringing a whole new level of grind to an extreme grind game by adding many more hours of content and many more items to collect for those who are looking to scratch that collector’s itch.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- More grind
- New weapons add level of dynamism to gameplay
- Many more hours of content
- Improved multiplayer difficulty scaling
- Still some AI glitches that can cause frustrating defeats
- Hefty price tag