[Review] Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

The hunt continues with CAPCOM’s latest addition to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, released on 6 September 2019, for PS4 and Xbox One players. Iceborne is the first and last DLC expansion to the base game of World.

Monster Hunter World was awarded the Action Game of the Year in 2018, breaking sales records with 13 million shipped across all platforms as of July 2019. This made Monster Hunter World CAPCOM’s best-selling game in history, with more than 250 000 copies sold in its first week of sales alone. With the release of the PC version, it was crowned the best-selling Multiplayer Game on Steam, beating other popular games like Dark Souls 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. It also achieved a smashing record of more than 200 000 concurrent players.

After dealing with the predicaments in World, New World’s ecosystem started to improve after the defeat of the Final Boss; the Elder Dragon Xeno’jiiva. That good news unfortunately, is short-lived. The storyline in Iceborne will be accessible to hunters who have completed the main story in World. An emergency expedition will prompt players, asking them to investigate the reason for the erratic movement of monsters; unusual mass migration patterns. The Fiver Duo, consisting of you and your Handler, will track down these mysterious sightings in the Ancient Forest which will greet you with an awesome new cutscene, introducing the new area in Iceborne; Hoarfrost Reach.

Greeted in white, the Fiver Duo find themselves amongst dangerous monsters, isolated between the snow-capped trees and icy glaciers. With the introduction of Master Rank, monsters now pack a deadlier punch. Proceed with Caution. Monsters that roam around Hoarfrost Reach are slowly revealed through story progression. 

I was captivated by the gleaming ice lands; the graphics and details put into the game are amazing, to say the least. Animations are now added to portray how cold the environments were, such as how my character uses her breath to warm the air around her hands, and the walking animations when trekking in knee-deep snow. Everything is bathed in white. At times, the game truly looks like a magical winter wonderland. 

Slogging around Hoarfrost Reach, the ambience is tranquil, deceiving hunters of the possible dangers of the brutes roaming around. The music while players are in Hoarfrost Reach aligns beautifully with the snowy theme, filling the area with the jingles and icy harmony. The Battle Themes for individual returning large monsters have been reworked and improved to better suit along with World’s OST. World and Iceborne features further melodic lulls with accompaniment from a more varied set of orchestra instruments and tones. Nonetheless, the dramatic battle themes in Iceborne definitely packs adrenaline into my veins as I stumble to hunt down the frightening new monsters. My heart pumps to the beat of the music as I avoid being carted away… or well, try to avoid.

Many changes are inbound with Iceborne, yet, one thing that did not change is the general UI, something we hunters have gotten used to through World. The new hub Seliana however, is more compact as compared to Astera, with huts and NPCs in close proximity making interactions with them much more convenient. No longer do we have to access the smithy on the 2nd floor and proceed to the chef on the 4th!

One cool update is the ability to use our Slinger when weapons are drawn. This new mechanic, the Clutch Claw, allows hunters to briefly cling onto the monster for added damage. This lets hunters change the monster’s course of movement, creating opportunities to turn the tide, literally. This, however, does not benefit me as an Insect Glaive user as my weapon allows me to execute airborne attacks, connecting them successful mounts although it is quite comedic to see my multiplayer duo cling onto the monster together with me while mounted. 

If you thought that the Arch Tempered monsters were tough, get ready for Master Rank monsters in your locales. Iceborne comes with the introduction of Master Rank, the equivalent to G Rank in previous Monster Hunter games. Iceborne will be a challenge even to seasoned veterans with monsters being more fearsome than World. This adds a refreshing new challenge to offset the mindless grinding we’ve gone through in World. New gear has been added to scale up to the Master Rank difficulty.  

I was confident in my initial first few battles but was soon overwhelmed when my High-Rank armour was not enough to prevent me from getting mowed down by the hard-hitting monster. There is no room for mistakes. Having to get carted away from carelessly getting hit by wombo-combos, only seasoned players who have shed blood and tears in World will prevail.

After completing the main story of Iceborne, you can access The Guilding Lands where you can hunt for monsters endlessly! The area is special as monsters there have a chance to drop unique materials needed for craft higher rarity weapons and armour. This is truly an end-game mechanic to fight off potentially higher tier monsters. Iceborne will have various DLCs added in the future; and several Events and Collaboration Quests. You can check out the current Event Quests here: http://game.capcom.com/world/us/schedule-master.html

Furthermore, if you loved games like The Sims or House Flipper, you’ll be ecstatic to know that your room in Seliana is customizable! Personalize your room by talking to the Housekeeper inside. Almost every piece of furniture, wall and flooring can be changed to suit your style. There are also multiple areas you can add pets that you’ve captured in your room including in the outdoor hot springs, pond, aquarium and flower patch. I feel like I am playing Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer with this new feature, I love it!

Crossplay between PC and console players was still unavailable at the time of this review’s release, but I still had many bountiful hunts with my pals ever since the game’s release. Overall, I feel the game has surpassed my personal expectations by providing breathtaking graphics and details with grand music accompaniment. This current DLC has many more free updates to be added in the future like the returning monster, Rajang, who will be ravaging the lands once again as you attempt to take down this notorious ape-like bulldozer. I can’t wait to hang out in the new gathering hub at Seliana once again. What are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Iceborne and join me too! 

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