Monster Hunter World's success was a surprise to many, which means that it shouldn’t be so surprising that the game's first large expansion would deliver on their promise of exciting power fantasies pitting you (and sometimes your friends) against tremendous lifelike monsters. However, while I enjoyed my time with the base game, I found the amount of grind in it's final hours taxing, and would only check back in when a new monster was released. By the time Capcom announced Iceborne, the title's first full-fledged expansion DLC, I had fully fallen off the Monster Hunter train, and the promise of a new area and some new monsters wasn’t enough to draw me in. The fantasy had lost its sheen.
With this past weekend's Iceborne beta that changed completely. The developers doubled down on exhibiting what made the initial offering so compelling for me. Yes, it was a new region and, yes, it was new monsters, but ones that interact with their surroundings and each other in a way that recaptures some of the wonder I felt when I first saw an Anjananth and a Rathalos go toe-to-toe. It’s the new ways these monsters use their environments and are affected by the terrain that sparked a familiar feeling, that extra layer of troubling verisimilitude that at once makes me terrified of their awesome power, and deeply sympathetic to their existence as living beings. (I still capture every monster I can!) Add to that a few new moves on my favorite weapons, an enhanced grapple maneuver that lets you cling to monsters more easily, and a new rideable monster-mount that gets you into the fight quickly, then there’s enough there that I’m already feeling the itch to jump back in.
We talk about the Iceborne beta in more depth on this episode of Waypoint Radio, and a lot more beyond that. Austin spent a weekend deep in TTRPG land, so it's up to Rob and I to talk about the games that have come out this week. Rob's back from vacation, and he brought a few billion friends with him as he dives into the new single player campaign for They Are Billions. We also discuss the early hours of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which may lean too heavily on it's roots, and the campaign of Steel Division 2, which feels different enough from the first game that Rob is questioning whether it's interesting or exasperating.
Discussed: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, They Are Billions, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Steel Division 2.
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