By Melody Klink
Nothing like having top tier gear and feeling like a noob again.
Capcom just released the first massive expansion for Monster Hunter World. Iceborne, as it’s called, promises to be just as big as the original game, full of new and revamped monsters from the base game, plus some from previous titles! Since it’s gonna take me a while to 100% Iceborne, I figured I’d give you guys my first impressions.
First off, Iceborne is just as beautiful, if not moreso, than the base World game. Monsters look amazing, their textures and colors are even brighter and more vivid. You can actually see Nargacuga’s jet black fur move in the wind. Ice crystals fill the air around Velkhana. And it’s not just the monsters that have gotten the A+ treatment graphically: monster drops are now easier to see on the ground, and boosters such as Health and Affinity are definitely more visible and give off serious smoke.
There’s a lot of sparkles going on here.
The new base, Seliana, is also awesome looking, with its winding, snow-covered paths, hot springs, and excellent Gathering Hub. I mean seriously, I can lounge in a hot spring with my Palico while waiting on my team to Ready up! Things have been streamlined in Seliana in a few different ways. There aren’t huge floors to travel to this time, so everything’s laid out in a compact way and all within a jog. You no longer have to enter your room (your new room is amazing though, so definitely go in it) just to speak to the Palico Housekeeper- he’s right outside your door! Which makes sending Tailraiders out a lot faster. Your Palico’s also got a setup in the main area, so you can switch their gear on the fly.
And it’s right next to an Item Box. Which is right next to the Quest Board. IT’S AWESOME YOU GUYS.
You can literally meld items, check your Botanical Research, change Palico, eat food, and forge gear at the Smithy all within some yards!
Speaking of forging, there’s, of course, a ton of new Master Rank armor and weapons, spanning from previous World monsters to all the new ones you encounter. There are new Tier 4 decorations to obtain, new armor upgrade levels, and pendants to hang from your weapons!
Oh yeah, let’s talk about Master Rank real quick: I immediately unlocked it, having put almost 700 freakin’ hours into this game, but there’s a little leg work involved if you haven’t played that far. So now, progression goes Low Rank > High Rank > Master Rank. But don’t fret: if you’re new to the game, they’ve given you a souped-up armor set, and we veteran hunters get special rewards just for helping you out! New players also reap the benefits of the new upgrades, whether or not they purchased Iceborne!
The quality of life upgrades we’ve been given are pretty sweet. Everything is quicker, smoother, and easier. All weapon types can get a little more involved in monster fights with the new Clutch Claw, allowing Hunters to grab onto monsters and wound/stagger them! Even during mounts! Which is pretty epic to see a whole team up on a monster at once. The UI has integrated a few new options, allowing you to forego clunky menus with single button clicks, for things like receiving Guild Cards.
Now, let’s talk about the outside world. Iceborne (so far) primarily takes place in Hoarfrost Reach, a new area that you and half of the Fleets discover together after a flock of Legiana are seen rushing towards it. Hoarfrost Reach is currently the largest zone in all of Monster Hunter World, and it’s a hostile, freezing place full of crazy new monsters and smaller endemic life. You’ll learn to love the Hot Drink here, just as the Elder’s Recess taught you to always chug Cool Drinks, except here it’s because the temperatures fork up your stamina royally.
If you’re not careful, you’ll find your Stamina bar the size of a used-up pencil.
As a Bow/Light Bowgun/Insect Glaive user, that’s killer. I’ve never eaten so many Well-Done Steaks and EZ Rations in my life. But it’s just one more snowy hill to climb in Iceborne, and you either win or you die. There is no middle ground.
Sorry, I’ll have Game of Thrones in my blood forever now.
With all the new shenanigans happening in Master Rank, it’s tough to not feel underprepared going into it. Even with fully upgraded and augmented gear from the base game, it took me a while to take down a lot of foes, stressing the importance of getting some kind of Master Rank gear ASAP. Most sets have a good quality of life stats, and the Beta sets, of course, have a good chunk of decoration slots to customize the rest. There’s a big emphasis on survival, so you’ll be stacking up those Attack Jewels you (hopefully) got before. Of course, the game’s not being stingy handing out Tier 4 jewels so far, and lots of them have TWO stats!
In the words of Roland, it’s like Christmas. (Borderlands 3 comes out Friday, and I can’t help it if there’s quotes OKAY)
Story-wise, Iceborne doesn’t break the mold. We’re investigating a new happening-of-things just like in the previous game, except this time, we don’t know what the phenomenon is. In World, we knew it was the Elder Crossing that was making everything crazy, and the monsters were a surprise. This time, we’ve got a mystery on our hands with the Handler’s mysterious past (and family), along with figuring out WTF is going on in this frozen part of the New World.
I’m excited to see where it all leads, and you don’t have to tell me twice to go hunt some monsters! There’s so much to do. Come join me in Seliana, and let’s do what we do best, Partner.