Monster Hunter has built up a loving, hardcore fanbase on Nintendo platforms over the years, but we believe now more than ever that its return to home consoles is what will propel the series to a whole new level -- and the amount of interest and hype surrounding the game's PlayStation 4 beta is an indication of that. The three-day technical test has seemingly been a big hit across the 'net. Streamers have been raking in the views over on Twitch and YouTube, and the beta's getting a lot of positive attention on social media.
And honestly, that doesn't surprise us. Our own Sammy Barker played Monster Hunter: World earlier in the year at EGX 2017, and came away claiming that it was already a Game of the Year 2018 candidate. It's safe to say he was beyond impressed, and after spending the whole weekend with the aforementioned beta, we're starting to see why.
The bottom line is that if Capcom can take the quality that's on show in the beta and spread it across an entire game, we'll potentially be looking at one of the best titles the company's produced in a long, long time. It's just that good.
The beta consists of (or consisted of, depending on when you're reading this article) three separate quests. Each one sees you attempt to take down a roaming monster with or without online allies by your side. The first, and easiest, mission tasks you with hunting a Great Jagras -- a large, lumbering lizard that has a habit of swallowing herbivores whole.
This opening quest settles you in nicely. The Jagras telegraphs its attacks and it's easy to smash the creature into submission with the right combos. At times it feels like the reptile is little more than a scaly punching bag, but what you don't yet realise is that it's setting you up for the excitement that's to come. The beta's second and third quests can be downright exhilarating.
The resilient Barroth stars in the second available mission, and requires a lot more concentration to slay than the Jagras. It's in this quest that we began to understand just how dynamic World is shaping up to be. The Barroth loves to run from one area of the dusty Wildspire Waste map to the next, potentially dragging you and your hunting party into a whole heap of trouble along the way.
Follow it back to its muddy lair, though, and you might just witness one of the beta's standout moments as it's invaded by another massive fish-like beast that we can't remember the name of. The clash is just one of many Godzilla-esque battles that can erupt out of nowhere, and its these earth-shaking encounters that can turn an already engaging hunt into something truly memorable.
Things really get crazy in the beta's expert difficulty hunt, however. Stalking the intimidating Anjanath through a shadowy forest, this is where proceedings can get out of hand. The hulking feathered dinosaur's always on the lookout for one of the beta's most dangerous opponents: the Rathalos, otherwise known as that big bloody dragon that appears on all of the game's promotional material.
These two beasts kick lumps out of each other when they meet, and the fight makes for a seriously impressive spectacle. It's pretty much the perfect example of how wild Monster Hunter: World can get, turning things up to eleven in the blink of an eye. And again, all of this is dynamic. We ran through this quest at least ten or so times, and we only saw the Rathalos dispense its fiery justice once.
The level of detail that's present in the beta can't be overlooked, either. Both of its featured locations are stuffed with intricacies, our favourite of the bunch being the little dung beetle that can be seen collecting monster waste every now and then. It's absolutely packed with small, seemingly insignificant environmental details, but when you put them all together, they breathe a ton of charm and character into the game's world.
You can say the same of the animations, which are superb at times. From the way that your character chugs a potion to the way that two gigantic creatures crash into one another, it's all merticulously crafted. And then when you look past the surface of the experience, you're greeted with some brilliantly weighty combat -- a Capcom speciality.
As you can probably tell, we could go on and on and on about how impressed we are with Monster Hunter: World, even in its beta form. If Capcom can flesh out an entire game with experiences like the ones that we've had in the beta, then Monster Hunter is set to take the PlayStation 4 by storm next month.
What are your thoughts on Monster Hunter: World as we approach its January release date? Have you tried the beta? Find a safe spot to sharpen your weapon in the comments section below.