I live just a little bit south of the New England region. That means that the seasons can be a little bit nuts at times. December might be nice and cozy, but come March or so, chances are there’s going to be snow everywhere. With that in mind, I’m well-qualified to talk about the PC edition of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, the first expansion to Capcom’s stellar refresh of their world-conquering monster hunter simulator.
It’s all about terrible drivers, stores running out of milk and bread…wait, no, it’s more Monster Hunter: World, only in a new, frozen setting. That works too.
After the events of the original Monster Hunter: World, our hero and their erstwhile Handler have continued their park ranger duties throughout the New World. However, a disturbance in the area’s wildlife leads them to discover a new landmass, one shrouded in ice. There, they’ll find new places to explore, new adventures to take on and, of course, new monsters to hunt. All the while, they’ll be working to discover the secret of Velkhana, the Iceborne Wyvern, a mighty beast that can freeze both man and monster with a single flap of its wings.
As hinted above Iceborne is more Monster Hunter: World! There you go, you should be sold. Monster Hunter: World was fantastic and Iceborne introduces a solid 20-40 hours of additional content to enjoy. The quests you’ll embark on here are Master Rank, as opposed to the original game’s Low Rank and High Rank quests, so you can expect a more difficult time throughout. In particular, the very first quests in Master Rank will have you using underpowered gear from High Rank, so expect a tough time until you can piece together some more appropriate duds.
As for your new quarries, they run the gamut from returning classics like Barioth and Zinogre to newcomers with new tricks like the water-controlling Namielle. Older monsters have seen a graphical update and play as you’d expect from MH:W, while new foes make for an interesting puzzle-like experience as you learn to deal with their attacks and patterns. Generally speaking, the difficulty in Iceborne is a step up from the original game, which is nice as that one was probably a bit too far on the simple side. Slaying these foes will result in some pretty powerful gear, including kit with new set bonuses that allow for variant playstyles. These allow you to mix up your approach to your favorite weapons.
You’ve got some new moves at your disposal as well, though. These vary from weapon to weapon. I played through the PC version of Iceborne using the form-changing Charge Blade and the quick Dual Blades. The former can now activate a sort of chainsaw mode to deal additional damage with axe swings, while the latter can dodge and fire Slinger shots to further enhances its already-impressive mobility. Speaking of the Slinger, it’s been enhanced with the addition of the Clutch Claw, which lets any weapon grapple a monster and deal immense damage via special attacks. This is a nice touch that encourages careful timing, as grappling an attacking monster will usually result in some punishment.
As with the original game, Iceborne is something of a graphical tour-de-force. The new area, Hoarfrost Reach, is a beautiful winter wonderland where your hunter and the monsters alike will leave trails in snow and send icicles flying as they battle. What’s more, we’re playing on PC, so the framerate issues that plagued MH:W and Iceborne on console might be alleviated if you’ve got enough horsepower to go around. It’s great!
Monster Hunter: World was probably the best the franchise has ever been, and Iceborne adds plenty of new content so it’s just that much better. Fans of the original game should pick up this expansion without question; newcomers won’t get too much without having finished the original, though, so they should do that first. If nothing else, you’ll experience two of the most polished and exciting ways to track and hunt a few monsters available today.