Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review – PC
+ Diverse playstyle options
+ Fantastic new monsters
+ Beautiful environment
+ Plenty of crafting
- Potentially taxing on systems
- Mechanics can be overwhelming
- Some spikes in difficulty
The Monster Hunter franchise is one that I’ve found varying levels of success with over the years. When Monster Hunter: World came out I marveled at its environmental complexity and mechanics while achieving a far bit of personal success on console. Plus who doesn’t enjoy spending time with their lovable little Palico. Many PC fans and I got their opportunity to play Monster Hunter: World over a year ago when it finally released later with much anticipation. Fast forward to now as we also get to step into the frozen locale of Hoarfrost Reach with the release of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.
For newcomers to Monster Hunter World who purchase Iceborne Master Edition you won’t be seeing Iceborne for a bit. The in-game prerequisite is that you have to complete the main game’s story and achieved Hunter Rank 16 before tackling. For everyone though a bit of preparation is recommended to give you a leg up like having either the Temporal or Iceproof Mantles before going into Iceborne. Other recommended pointers are to be equipped with High Rank Gear and take the time to defeat tempered monsters to acquire Streamstones to boost equipment stats beyond their standard limits.
As a bit of an aid to get you to Iceborne faster, Capcom give everyone a shiny set of Guardian a+ armor as well as the ability to forge powerful Defender weapons right from the start. These weapons can be further upgraded up to Master Rank 1 before being replaced with something better. While these are tremendously helpful there is still the matter of hours of playtime needed to rank up these weapons in true Monster Hunter fashion.
Iceborne takes your hopefully prepared hunter on an expedition into Hoarfrost Reach after wildlife starts showing up in places they don’t normally go. In an attempt to investigate this potential foreboding development the Research Commission tasks you with uncovering the cause of the migrations. Yeah, because only good things can come from that job right? Much like Astera with the core experience players will have access to an entirely new and thankfully streamlined hub base with Seliana. This new base is as visually appealing as it is functional complete with an all new Palico cooking animation. There is plenty of social interaction to be had here as you and 15 other players can meet up, relax in a sauna and even mess around in your very own customizable hunter’s room.
But let’s be real while relaxing at the base between punishing hunts is soothing it’s not the real bread and butter of Iceborne. There are over 20 new monsters to initially discover and defeat in this new huge locale. You will of course return again to kill them all over again to have a chance to get the right materials to make new a new pair of gloves down the line but that’s part of Monster Hunter’s charm.
These new monsters are not your only problem as the cold will sap your stamina making it drain faster when affected by freezing conditions such as Iceblight. It can be nullified by the aforementioned Iceproof Mantle or having an Ice Resistance of 20. Mitigation can be achieved with Hot Drink for 10 minutes at a time as well. If you manage to suffer from Iceblight you can cure it by consuming a Nulberry or Cleanser Booster. Managing the cold also plays into one of Iceborne’s other fantastic new mechanics, the Clutch Claw.
The Clutch Claw is a form of the base game’s slinger but unlike the slinger you can use it with your weapon drawn. This dynamic changes everything with combat allowing you to grapple onto monsters to climb on their heads and steer them into traps or certain environment hazards. I also love the fact that you can unload a whole clip into their face to get them to potentially panic and knock themselves out after crashing into a wall. Of course you can also use this new tool to unload attacks into their hides to weaken them up for follow-up attacks. After each successful hunt you are rewarded with all new materials and items to make new and exciting weapon and armors. There are all new buffs like Mirewalker which makes traversing through deep snow and fast moving water easier without being slowed down or potentially stumbling through it.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne has some absolutely beautiful environments this time around especially if you can make use of the uncapped 4K framerates. This paired with ultrawide screen support and a high resolution texture pack offers a stunning presentation. That is of course if you have a rig strong enough to achieve it. On my setup, Iceborne ran admirably on high setting with little trouble. The wintery setting of Iceborne brought me back to experiences with Horizon Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds DLC and I quite fell in love with this new expansion, which is good because you’re going to spend a lot of time here perfecting your desired armor sets as well as decking out your looking with the new layering armors.
What I like most is that while the environments of Iceborne are beautifully crafted they are not as labyrinthine as the Ancient Forest was making navigation easier. There are two main areas to explore in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. The bulk of your hunts will take you through Hoarfrost Reach while the endgame Master Rank hunts only take place in the new Guiding Lands it’s here that you’ll find high-level materials for improving your gear. You’ll also find new versions of some of the base game’s creatures including a Coral Pukei Pukei with an insanely powerful water laser that I would love to vaporize if I could.
To go along with Monster Hunter World: Iceborne’s already great character creator you can now forge layered armor to give yourself an aesthetically appealing look. I couldn’t be any happier with this feature especially if my currently equipped armors are pieced together based on stats like I got dressed in the dark. This allows players with the use of materials to forge armors that change your appearance without sacrificing stats for a matching armor set. Personally I would run around Hoarfrost Reach looking like Aloy in Banuk armor from HZD all the time given the opportunity.
Expansions like Monster Hunter World: Iceborne are seemingly rare these days in a market flooded with battle and season passes. It was actually a real pleasure to dive into Iceborne’s content because it lives up to what an expansion should be. There is more than enough content and monsters to keep you busy for hundreds of more hours as you hone in that desired gear set. So enjoy a Hot Drink and head out into the wilderness and get your monster slaying on with a copy of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne for PC today.