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'Monster Hunter World: Iceborne' Changes the Monsters, Not Just the Weather

One of my favorite parts of the early game doesn't even take place in snow.

by Ricardo Contreras
Sep 4 2019, 3:00pm

Image courtesy of Capcom

I spent a lot of time playing Monster Hunter World, logging 75 hours by the end of the campaign. As a Monster Hunter neophyte, I was excited when the game introduced subspecies around the 40-hour mark. What new twists on these old fights were in store? Unfortunately, they turned out to be only slightly different. Their names were things like Pink Rathian and Azure Rathalos, as if to highlight the palette swapped nature of their design. While these are technically different monsters, their fights are not wildly dissimilar to those of their original versions.

Monster Hunter World is getting a new expansion, Iceborne, on Friday, and with it comes a slew of monsters. Some are completely new to World, while others are these subspecies variations on monsters already in the game. I was worried, were the designers running low on new monsters to bring into World?

Luckily, in Iceborne, there’s the Nightshade Paolumu. Your handler tells you that they have caused “immense drowsiness” when previously encountered, signaling some sort of sleep ailment as it’s main attack. I was immediately intrigued. The difference between a Rathian and a Pink Rathian was that the Pink version favored its tail attacks. Nightshade Paolumu was, from the jump, far different—an encouraging sign.

Soon, I’m following a Nightshade Paolumu’s tracks through the Wildspire Wastes in the dead of night. Even though the landscape in the Wastes is unchanged in its new Master Rank version, it feels darker than the last time I was here, as if the shadows had gained an extra dimension. Suddenly, a pair of iridescent “eyes” peer over the edge of a small rocky outcropping. Floating over the edge, the Nightshade Paolumu hovered menacingly, its neck inflated into a balloon, its jet black fur and oil like iridescent markings undercutting some of the goofiness of the Paolumu’s original design. It spat a jet of air at me, an attack that I had come to know well while hunting it’s white-furred cousin, only this time it came with a cloud of smoke. I barely dodged the blast, and a cloud of what I could only assume was sleep gas lingered on the forest floor behind me.

I began to close the distance between us, and as it reared its head, it blew another cloud of smoke—larger this time, directly below the creature. I dodged to the left, now surrounded on two sides by the sleep-inducing smoke. It continued blowing until the air sack around its neck was empty, usually a sign that the Paolumu is about to land. Instead, it somersaulted in midair and smacked the ground below it with its tail, splitting the large cloud into several smaller ones that spread across the arena. I was left with almost no path through to it.

What I assumed would be a standard fight had suddenly become a maze, as I ducked and weaved through cloud after cloud of sleep-smoke until I could finally reach the bat-like monster.

Unfortunately for me, it still had one final trick up its wings. The beast brought its head down close to the ground, allowing a few desperate swipes with my charge blade before I realized what it was doing. It began inhaling air with all its might, and suddenly, every cloud of sleep inducing smoke converged directly below it, and I was caught out. I fell asleep, and the monster flew off.

This fight is what got me the most excited to play Monster Hunter World again, and it doesn’t even take place in Iceborne’s new snow covered area, or against one of the completely new monsters. The way the Nightshade Paolumu toyed with me, trapping me when least expected it, is a far cry from the original Paolumu’s fight, and in my opinion is one of the more interesting fights in the game to date. It shows the game’s designers have a few tricks left, too.