‘Monster Hunter: World’ Controls: A demo with refined basic interactions could bring in more fans
Monster Hunter: World marks the first time since Monster Hunter Tri that an iteration of Capcom’s fantasy beast-slaying game has found a home on western home consoles. It’s exciting news, even as some players mourn Capcom’s decision not to port Monster Hunter XX to western Nintendo Switches at this time.
World marks the first time in a while western players without the 3DS have been able to play a Monster Hunter game, and this influx of players will present new hurdles for the series. The most notable obstacle that the game will present is that the series’ controls have always been an acquired taste, and World should seek to rectify that first and foremost.
Monster Hunter: World: A brief history of the game’s control scheme
Although I bought the original Monster Hunter when it was released in 2004, I wouldn’t make a real honest go of getting into the series until about two years later. To put it bluntly, the original Monster Hunter’s control scheme was an awful mess. For example: To attack, you had to use the right analog stick. Yes, you read that correctly.
Unless you were using a weapon that offered slow, weighty hits like the Great Sword, that meant clacking your right analogue stick furiously against most monsters that it didn’t seem you were making a dent against.
When I picked the series back up for Monster Hunter Freedom 2 — which I played on PSP — Capcom had mercifully improved combat, mapping weapon attacks to the face buttons instead of an analogue stick. However the switch to portable meant that camera correction, extremely important in a game without lock-on, was relegated to the PSP’s uncomfortable triggers, requiring you to perfect a hook-fingered grip in order to keep your camera centered on a monster.
Successive iterations of portable Monster Hunters improved on the game’s controls to a point. The 3DS offerings Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offered you the ability to recenter your camera by tapping a button on the handheld’s lower screen, but this required you to keep a stylus in your hands at all times. Diehards like myself simply opted to continue using our awful hook fingers to make adjustments as necessary.
I’m hopeful that between four shoulder buttons and two analogue sticks on the DualShock 4 that we’re well on our way to saving my pre-arthritic hands once Monster Hunter: World drops.
Monster Hunter: World: A western Monster Hunter XX port would have the same problems as Monster Hunter Generations did
A friend recently asked me what the best way to get into the Monster Hunter series was. Without hesitating, I said Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, even though I’d most recently played Monster Hunter Generations. I recommended the older game because it gave a better core Monster Hunter experience.
Generations, while a fun and interesting game, is really more aimed at longtime fans than it is newcomers to the series. As Griffin McElroy goes into in his review for Polygon, new systems like hunter arts and hunting styles inarguably add depth to the game. However in my opinion they had a tendency to complicate the mechanics of an already complicated game.
Mounting monsters required a lot of practice to get good at when it was relegated to one weapon in MH4U, and I’m not too proud to say getting the hang of the Aerial style (introduced in Generations) took me some getting used to — and I’ve been playing for over a decade.
Since Monster Hunter XX is built on the bones of Generations, it would have come with all the same issues that Generations had when attracting new players. Given that XX also introduced two new fighting styles, bringing the total to six, spread out over 14 weapon classes, it would have been an uphill battle trying to welcome new players into the fold with a western release.
Monster Hunter: World: New footage looks promising, and is hopefully the update we need
Although the silence on a potential XX port is disappointing right now, there’s still a lot to get excited about for MH World. A recently released gameplay trailer offered 23 minutes of footage from the game, and it’s never looked friendlier. New mechanics such as the scout flies allow you to track monsters organically instead of wandering around until you run into them, and the preview highlights incredibly smooth-looking weapon mechanics.
Capcom has released English language breakdowns of the upcoming game’s weapons, splitting them into Light, Technical and Heavy categories. The most promising footage to me shows ranged weapon users making minute adjustments to their aim while moving in the third person — something that the series has struggled to do for a long time.
In previous games, ranged weapons’ incredible power was offset by clunky aiming mechanics that rooted you in place if you needed to aim — your only other option was hip firing, which required a lot of luck to land hits effectively. Couple this with an inability to take more than one or two hits from the game’s stronger monsters, and it was a recipe for disaster for anyone but the game’s most top-tier players.
If Monster Hunter: World can deliver on even half of what these promos seem to promise, the series is in good hands.
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