Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, released in September on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One , turned out to be the expansion that the entire hunter community was waiting for, able to fix those shortcomings in the endgame and in the balance that had prevented the last chapter of the famous Capcom series to achieve masterpiece status.
From early September, the people of the console hunters have been plowing the Brine expanses and are engaging in what was once called g-rank (now Master Rank), an additional level of difficulty that can also whip the skills of more daring. The PC people instead remained dry-mouthed again – and, exactly as happened with the original game, they had to wait several months, in exchange for a certainly much more enjoyable version to play.
On 9 January the hour of Iceborne has finally struck also on Steam and, after a week and over 40 hours spent in the new world, we are finally ready to tell you how carefully this port has been made.
Let’s say right away that, on the content level , this PC version appears identical to the console counterpart of September .
We speak of September not surprisingly, given that the various additions arrived through updates in the past months will arrive on PC only from February, on a monthly basis.
We also specify another thing: although Iceborne is cataloged and sold as such, it cannot simply be considered an expansion. The 40 euros required for the purchase, in fact, add to the title a quantity of content comparable to that of a complete game , with a main campaign that can be finished in about thirty abundant hours (facing only the main tasks) and an endgame capable of entertain for hundreds of hours.
Specifically, Iceborne introduces a whole new continent , with new areas such as the Brine expanses – an area about twice the size of the Wild Spiers – and a new hub called Seliana, which has dominated Astera from all points of view.
Capcom listened carefully to the complaints of the community related to the arrangement of the various points of interest on several floors, which forced the players to come and go between the various areas of Astera: for this reason, with the new snowy town, it tried to group as much as possible the forge, the kitchen and the various NPCs with which it is common practice to interact between one hunt and another.
The main campaign of Iceborne will make us bounce continuously between the areas already seen and the new continent , interspersing the various hunts with cut-scenes and dialogues that outline a story that is once again fairly mediocre, but still slightly more interesting than that seen in the vanilla game .
The new monsters inserted are wonderful and, although based on the same skeletons already used in the base game, they manage to amaze with aggression and attack patterns that can make the monsters of the base game seem slow and clumsy. Many of these new creatures are actually borrowed from previous chapters of the series , but it is more legitimate to consider them welcome returns, rather than recycling: while maintaining the same characteristics that made them known (both as a move-set, and as craftable equipment with their loot), they surprised us with an extraordinary care in animation.
In addition to these new additions, Capcom has included many variations of the already existing beasts , such as the Tobi Vipera or the Anjanath Tonante, simple reskin (visually speaking), however equipped with new mechanics and new skills that make them an experience that is definitely different from their basic versions.
They close the circle of new moves , available for almost all the weapons in the game, and the grappling hook with which we can attach ourselves to monsters and launch choreographic attacks that will damage (weakening) some parts, or that will drop fragments to be used later with the slingshot.
But where Monster Hunter: Iceborne shows its claws is in the endgame , the most criticized element in the basic version of the game. As said at the beginning, this expansion adds the Master Rank (the old G-Rank), a new level of difficulty that presents a gap similar to that seen with the transition from low to high rank.
The Master Rank brings new weapons, new armor, an additional level of weapon sharpness and a new type of level 4 jewels, each accompanied by 2 skill points, sometimes the same sometimes different. The elemental weapons have been balanced, the cap that made them almost useless has been removed and they have finally become a fundamental part of the best builds used also by the speedrunners.
All these changes contribute to create a greater range of possibilities and leave more space for creativity in the construction of the various sets to be used in the most demanding hunts . The same more advanced components of the equipment now also require some components of lower level monsters, a change that does not force to always hunt the same three or four creatures as happened with the ancient dragons, but leaves a minimum of attention also to the monsters faced at the beginning of the adventure.
Technically speaking, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne does not differ much from what has been seen so far on PC, making the leap graph compared to the console versions merciless . In this version everything is more fluid, but above all more defined, and the amount of details that you can see in the backdrops (which on consoles completely blurred by blur) gives that extra gear, capable of giving Monster Hunter World: Iceborne glimpses breathtaking.
The high definition texture package released by Capcom in early 2019 also compensates for the shortcomings in close details, at the cost, however, of a decisive impact on performance. With the latest update, NVIDIA DLSS was also introduced, which can only be activated with resolutions above 1080p – a limit that did not make it possible for us to test it given our Full HD monitor.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is exactly the expansion that all Monster Hunter fans have been waiting for. It adds a huge amount of content, files many flaws, widens the range of moves available and – above all – gives new lifeblood to an endgame so rich, but not as much as that of the old Monster Hunter .
The PC version is confirmed as the best: the 60 fps and the higher visual quality are not mere tinsel, but manage to significantly improve the overall experience. It would seem all perfect, but once again Capcom has fallen on a precarious optimization and has not been able to file some heavy bugs that have made those who came across them lose several years of life.
However, given the speed with which similar problems were solved with the vanilla version of the game, we do not feel like penalizing too much what is, in all respects, one of the best expansions of recent years and a must buy for all Monster fans Hunter World .