The Development of Monster Hunter World

The Monster Hunter franchise is a vast one. Developed by Capcom, it consists of a multitude of games that you’ll need to invest hundreds or even thousands of hours to fully complete all of them. But there’s one main draw that the franchise has that always manages to bring people in. And that’s killing monsters, looting their bodies, and using whatever you gather to craft weapons or armor to beat even tougher monsters! Although some say it’s a repetitive process, most don’t really care. The fact is that Monster Hunter is fun, engaging, and an overall amazing experience of a game.

2018 is going to start off great for Capcom as they’ll be releasing Monster Hunter: World this January.  PS4, Xbox One, and PC owners are itching for its upcoming release, and we can’t blame em. This especially true for Xbox One, and also PC, owners as they’ve never had an actual Monster Hunter game up until now (Although there was Monster Hunter: Frontier G, but that was a spin-off).

What About Nintendo?

Nintendo Switch owners are going to be disappointed that they won’t be able to get their hands on the game; well, at least not for a good amount of time. Considering that Nintendo and Monster Hunter have gone hand-in-hand for a number of years now, people are confused or even outraged by the decision. But here’s what one of the game’s directors, Kaname Fujioka, has to say about the matter:

Unfortunately we can’t really say at this point. There’s no room to say we’re porting our current software to Nintendo hardware. It comes down to what we’ve already said – we want to deliver the perfectly adapted game for the hardware we have in mind. That was our design concept, and our mission from the very beginning. Being able to adapt Monster Hunter for those systems – adapting that to different hardware doesn’t really work this time around. But in the future, thinking of something like the Switch, we’ll think about how to adapt it for that platform.”

Based on this comment, it feels more as if Switch owners will get a stand-alone outing which isn’t based on Monster Hunter: World. We’re just going to have to wait and see what Capcom has to offer for Nintendo fans out there.

The Mechanical Differences

When we first laid our eyes on the trailer, we were all excited. Our excitement grew even higher with all of the Beta’s teasing us with bits of the upcoming game. It’s pretty clear that Monster Hunter: World has a ton of new mechanics that the previous installments didn’t. For one, players can either lure or sneak past monsters with different types of suit-like items; thus allowing for more strategic options on how to tackle different beasts. Another being the tracking and tracing system which makes it much more engaging when hunting down elusive monsters. And the most compelling change of them all is that players can finally see how much damage they’re dealing. Although you still can’t see how much health each monster has, the fact that you can now witness if you’re dealing more damage will help players think of different strategies or use different weapons, making for a much more versatile gaming experience.

But with all of these changes and the considerable amount of games in the franchise, one would think that new players might be too scared to take on Monster Hunter: World. But here’s what the game’s producer, Ryozo Tsujimoto, has to say about that:

“When you have a series that runs into the higher numbers, I think the numbers themselves start to become off-putting. New players might think, “Oh, I’ve missed four games already, I can’t possibly join at this point.” Just because we’ve taken the number off the title doesn’t mean it’s not a main Monster Hunter game. We just wanted to have “world” in the title because it speaks to the concept of the game in a variety of ways.”

It’s pretty clear that Capcom is trying to attract new players based on the changes in the mechanics. Although they’re there to cater to a wider and newer audience, veteran players will undoubtedly gain a lot from them as well. So when both Ryozo Tsujimoto and game director Yuya Tokuda were asked regarding the matter, here’s what they had to say:

Tsujimoto: “Well, we just announced the title, so we’ve only shown you a small fraction of it. There’s more time to talk about the changes later, but overall, the concept of a living, seamless “world” for players to enjoy served as our base, and all our decisions flow from that. This led us to look at everything that makes up Monster Hunter, put it all on the table, and think hard about what really works and what really doesn’t. Through this, we’ll be able to make the series more accessible than ever before. These changes come from the world concept, but in general, they’ll make the game more accessible to a wider audience. It’s not dumbing down feature “X” because people didn’t like it – it’s more that now that we have a seamless map, for example, it means that it makes more sense for you to be able to drink a potion while you’re walking, because you’re always going to be closer to the monsters. That’s just one example, but all these gameplay changes have flowed from this central “world” concept. But we’re not abandoning our veteran hunters.”

Yuya Tokuda: “We want to make sure that newcomers don’t have the same experience they had with previous Monster Hunter games. We always hear people telling their friends, “Wow, this game is really incredible once you get to grips with it,” but their friends just don’t have time to research how to play the game. Those people will have a better time with World. We want everybody to have a chance. This is absolutely a multiplayer game, and it’s absolutely a Monster Hunter game. But we have to introduce what exactly a Monster Hunter game is to a wider audience now, and we just began with the single-player portion. We’re starting simple so people will be able to understand the multiplayer when the time comes.”

The Story and DLC

While this hasn’t been much of a focus in just about every previous installment in the franchise, there seems to be a heavy emphasis in this game in particular. Both Tsujimoto and Tokuda stated that they scattered story cutscenes all throughout the game. The purpose is so that everyone can fully immerse themselves in the storyline. Both also said that they have made development plans for a future update wherein they introduce a gallery where players can revisit important story cutscenes or monster intros. While they don’t necessarily have a date as to whether this update will be before the launch or after, both promises that they’ll more news about it as soon as they are able to.

In terms of DLC, Monster Hunter always came up with content where new quests are added that contain different conditions of how players were to hunt different monsters. The two stated that they were going to make use of the great online capabilities to make DLC feel more like a real-time event. Examples would be that a certain quest will only be available from this date to that date, areas will have more to offer than usual, and the new monsters to tackle. But just like the story cutscenes, both of them said that we’ll just have to wait until they’ll release all the details. Good news is that monsters will come as free post-launch updates so that’s something to look forward to.

Weapons and Armor

The point of taking down gigantic beasts is so that you can gather materials to create better weapons and armor to take down even more gigantic beasts! It’s an endless cycle, but one that a lot of Monster Hunter veterans pride themselves with. So naturally there will be a couple of new weapons and armor added in, but from the looks of it, the game will contain “skins” that people can eventually buy or possibly gather from quests.

Game director Yuya Tokuda said that these “layered” armors won’t really change the stats of the players. They’re more like something to go over the armor that you already have one, allowing you to retain the stats of the original armor that you’re already wearing before equipping the layered armors. So it’s nice to know that it’s not going to be a pay-to-win kind of game.

Another concern that most players have is the ability to ability to color your armor sets or parts of the armor. There are some who really want to stand out and this option is definitely one that a lot of players would have tinkering with. Fortunately, Tokuda stated that once players get to High Rank, they will be able to unlock special colorization options that will allow them to change pigment dye colors. So everyone should expect to have fun in giving themselves their own unique look.

The Environment and Behavioral Changes

One of the most amazing changes we’ve seen from the upcoming game is the fact that the environment is much more interactive and that monsters actually have their own unique behaviors! Monster Hunter has always worked with a series of different maps, each of them containing different stages. Every time you enter a stage, there’s always this loading transition that kinda takes you out of the immersion. Monster Hunter: World takes that out by having every map becoming one big stage that allows players to fully take in the environment.

Most people say that the developers were inspired by games such as Far Cry when Monster Hunter: World introduced its seamless open-feeling stages.  But Tsujimoto said that it’s not like they were directly inspired by Western games, but more that they worked out of their central “world” concept. This is proven with how the monsters interact with all of the different environmental pieces that every area contains.

Speaking of which, the monsters this time around are more deadly as well as interesting as they all have their own unique behavioral patterns. So you’ll be seeing timid monsters grazing through grass or you’ll see a large one taking down its prey. The best thing about this is that you can take advantage of their behaviors as you hunt them down. But, remember that it can also work against you if you don’t study them properly. This alone can change how players tackle every single monster, whether they’re playing alone or with a team.

Tokuda stated that even he’s shocked at how well it’s programmed:

“There’s constant surprises – not just for players, but also for us. We’ve set up the rules for how they should behave, but in that sense we didn’t script monster behaviour – we just gave them rules to behave by, and we still get surprised by how they respond to those rules.”

So if the people developing the game still get a few surprises here and there, then players are bound to get a ton of them when the game is finally released.

Monster Design

The main meat of the game. The franchise is known to have some of the most unique looking monsters and the majority of them are just downright amazing to look at. We know that it isn’t easy to come up with different designs, so artists and art directors really have their work cut out for them.

When lead artist Sayaka Kenbe was asked about how some of the designs of the monsters came to be, she says that one of the difficulties wasn’t so much in the design, but in the implementation and the modelling. For example, the Paolumu’s (a creature that looks like a cross between a squirrel and a balloon) creation was difficult considering that it has to keep its body puffed up while moving around and that it has different seamless actions that the team had to consider. Meaning that they had to make sure the monsters looked as natural as they possibly could, which is not an easy task.

Art director Kaname Fujioka even states that monster designs are based out of the environments they live in. They go through great lengths such as the putting the rising air currents of high-level areas into thought and the kind of monsters that would utilize them. This allows them to think clearer on the features for each monster such as whether they should have duckbills or elephant feet and how each of their individual movements.

As for the noises these monsters make, sound director Hideki Hosoi says that they have a basis for real animal sounds as they’ve recorded what they need, but the process wasn’t easy. They base the monster sounds out of the noise that certain props produce. Their purpose is to mix unusual, discomforting sounds with realistic animal sounds so that each monster has its own unique voice.

The process is that that they have everything they need in a studio, take a recording of a small animal, use software to morph that sound into the length that they want for the monster, and then morph the sound into the tempo they want.

The Multiplayer

This is what a lot of people are looking forward to. While a person can technically hunt down monsters playing as a lone wolf, nothing beats the experience of taking down a giant and difficult creature with a team of highly skilled and synchronized players. Fans will be happy to know that this is first simultaneous worldwide release for the game. Not only that, but Ryozo Tsujimoto stated that servers are global this time; meaning that you can tackle monsters with players from all around the world!

One big addition to the multiplayer is that everyone can now create or join into squads. Think of them like guilds in standard MMORPG’s, but in Monster Hunter: World players can join up to 8 of them. Each squad will have a maximum of 50 members. Yuya Tokuda said that squads are a great way for players who have a common goal to get together. He also mentions that each squad has its own special lobby where members can all interact with privately. It’s also worth mentioning that ever squad has an assigned leader who can send messages to all members.

Not only that, but you can also design your own banners or emblems for to make each group feel really unique. This is by far one of the best ways to get players to interact with each other as you’ll be able to make a ton of friends and it gives everyone different options. For example, you can have one squad that you play with only on the weekends, and another who you play with only on Monday and Fridays.

It seems that the developers have really thought it through and more news regarding multiplayer updates should come up soon.

And the final path…

With the way things are going, Monster Hunter: World might just start the gaming year with a huge bang. People can’t wait to play it, everyone’s excited about it, and Capcom may have just given the gaming community the kind of Monster Hunter experience that different types of gamers will definitely enjoy and sink hundreds of hours into.

Whether alone or in a group, all everyone has to do is enjoy the thrill of the hunt! So let’s wait and see just how grand the entire game will be.

Monster Hunter World will launch on January 26 for both PS4 and Xbox One. A PC version is slated for release later this year in Fall/Autumn 2018.

Interview Source(s): Destructoid, Rolling Stones, VG247, Nintendo Life, Arekkz Gaming