The Monster Hunter: World Beta was made avaliable to PlayStation Plus members this last weekend. Suffice to say that this is even the best demo the Monster Hunter series making the final version even more enticing. The level of customization for the demo was high. It is still choosing between presets and a limited selection, but it amounts to more than picking just the weapon as previous series demos. First choosing gender, then a face/hair, then giving a name. After that picking a preset Palico and naming them and we’re off to pick a quest! And we have yet to see the loadout of weapons and armors.

Kicking off Monster Hunter: World, there are 3 quests to pick from labeled as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The beginner monster is the Great Jagras, one of the new monsters. Intermediate bring back Barroth from the third generation of the series. For the Advanced, it is labeled as an Unknown Monster, but not unknown to the game’s promotion. It is one that has been shown off before in the game’s promotion, Anjanath. There will only be two areas to explore in these quests; Ancient Forest and Wildspire Waste. With each quest only lasting 20 minutes there is not much time to explore unless you’re up for failing the quest a few times.

There is plenty to explore. The game has been promoted to be more open with these Sandbox esque arenas that are massive with multiple layers. In these quests, the target monster was not the only one roaming around. In my first time exploring the Wildspire Waste I encountered 3 large monsters total, only one of them being the target of a hunt.

The reason I took this time to go on the minimal number of hunts multiple times was to learn more about the environment. My main goals were to familiarize myself with the layout and the new environmental hazards that can act as assists on a hunt. This is not to say I did not run into any when I actively hunted, but my focus was never on those items when facing the monsters. It was during my Barroth hunt that I stumbled into a paralyze hazard that impacted the monster and me. From my exploration, I found poison hazards and spores, a few vine traps and rock falls. There was also environment healing, that could be used instead of a potion. These types of items were not fully explained in comparison to the scout flies. For the effect type of traps, there is an area that can impact both the monster than the hunter.

One addition I want to focus on is the scout flies. This already feels to be an incredibly helpful addition to the series, even more so for new players of the series. Tracking was not a method used in Generations to find monsters. Previous games it relied on learning the patterns of a monster if you did not know them then good luck. There were a couple of quests that left me running in circles attempting to the find a monster I never hunted before. Or even track one down that flew away from me. The scout flies look to be a great tool in alleviating the frustration of running around in circles. As long as you continue to follow the tracks then odds are you’ll find the target.

Now the beta gave a fantastic taste, but there are still some items that will not be experienced or even known till the full release. There are even some items within the beta that I wonder will remain in the future.

The first is the Handler. Found at the starting base she gives Hunters an overview of the hunt and even points them in the right direction for getting started. After leaving the base she’ll still pop up with hints and tips. Certainly helpful for the Beta, but I got a sense that the handler was too much hand holding. In prior game demos there were tutorial hints, but by the time I accessed the Advanced hunt the game let go. This Beta still holds on. Part of me just wonders how much this will be included in the main game. Will it stick to the first few quests that tend to be tutorial anyway or will it continue to have that loose grip? It is not something that can go away completely. There are new mechanics that even experienced players can find a guide helpful in learning them, but once I got a handle on the new mechanics I was ready to take control.

I’m not sure what to call this next tidbit other than the Zoom In. During the Beta any time a large monster was seen the game would focus and zoom in on it. Not terrible when finally finding the one you’ve been tracking, but when another monster decides to jump in on the party it disturbs the fight. When Diablos decided to pop in on my Barroth fight and my camera goes for him, but he’s still far away enough that he won’t be hitting me in the next second like Barroth will if I can’t see where to dodge. This mechanic is not entirely terrible and it seems to be taking the place of cinematic intros that would introduce key monsters prior. Is this a mechanic we’ll see on every hunt? Or just the first time we see that monster?

I do hope for the latter and for one other element to go along with it. When tracking begins the monster the footsteps come from is in question marks. These question marks are filled in when the monster is seen. The Beta did not save or act like a full game in terms of saving and loading. When the full game does arrive will after I hunt a Great Jargas once, be able to tell its markings apart for all future quests. This would make sense considering the premise of the game centers on the research of the monsters, so the more I learn about the monster in one quest should assist me in future quests.

The biggest thing that will play a large role in the game that players did not get to experience in the beta was the Hub Town, Astera. Astera will be more vital than any of the hunting areas. The hub world in Monster Hunter: World is where you shop, prepare and upgrade equipment. For the Beta, the preparation was relegated to menus and upgrading was not an option.

Somehow I am even more excited than I already was for Monster Hunter: World to officially release. The beta gave a taste of the new aspects of the game for players to get a handle on the mechanics. There was the ability to test out all 16 of the different weapon classes to find a good fit, or fits if looking to play around with a few weapon types. It had a small set of quests with way more monsters than one might originally expect.

When the Monster Hunter: World hits, there are sure to be even more to explore and I cannot wait for it.