Preview: Monster Hunter Wilds Is Everything We Expected and We Couldn't Be Happier 1

Of all the games we saw at Summer Game Fest Play Days, we were probably most confident in Capcom's hotly anticipated action RPG, Monster Hunter Wilds, and it didn't disappoint. We were led into a viewing room with an enormous screen, showing the game off in a way the franchise deserves. What we saw of Wilds — about 30 minutes of live gameplay — has simply reinforced our belief that it'll be the best entry in the series when it arrives next year.

Our hands-off demonstration begins in a sandy settlement, where longtime fans will recognise the various merchants and establishments you'll frequent while preparing for a hunt. Located in Windward Plains — a vast, open map that's twice the size of anything in previous titles — the player character and handler Alma seamlessly ride out of the village, into the open world, and then to another settlement with no loading. Here, it's shown that the villagers will farm certain monsters for meat but also milk, turned into cheese which seems to be the stat-buffing food you'll consume before you set off on your mission. And, man, the player character really loves cheese.

After eating up, we headed out into the open desert to find our target — a lumbering, lion-like Alpha Doshaguma. Before we get into the action, we're shown the ability to create pop-up camps out in the open world, allowing you to restock and heal up, but you need to be careful where you place them; monsters can and will destroy them.

As the battle itself gets underway, the chaotic nature of Monster Hunter immediately presents itself as the Doshaguma thrashes and roars with a few others in tow. The visual presentation is fantastic; while the desert landscape is relatively samey, the dynamic, energetic combat means it's never boring, and that's before a huge sandstorm rolls in and completely changes the scene.

In the middle of this storm, more dangerous monsters are present and the weather makes the whole fight feel more intense. A major part of the strategy in our demo is luring the Alpha Doshaguma into the path of other beasts and letting them duke it out, and these clashes are always impressive to witness. We get to see some gameplay from a handful of weapons, such as the long sword and dual blades, and they appear as diverse and fun as ever. Our demo also sees the monster fall prey to various environmental traps like quick sand, rocks and vines you can pull down, and more. We can't speak too much to how the combat feels until we play it ourselves, but it looked extremely dynamic with mounted attacks, the ability to instantly call your Seikret steed to get you out of trouble, and unruly action throughout.

When the storm passes, the game world changes yet again, revealing a more verdant landscape teeming with more peaceful creatures. Even just over the course of one fight, you can find your surroundings changing in real time, offering up new dangers but also more opportunities, like natural traps or other resources. At this stage of the demo, we warped to a camp in order to switch our weapons and resupply, leaving some NPC hunters to continue the fight while we did so. An auto-drive mode can be activated to take you back to your target, allowing you to sharpen your weapon or prepare resources on the way.

As the battle concludes and we carve the Doshaguma for materials, we were expecting the game to reset to the main hub, but Wilds allows you to continue exploring to your heart's content. It seems Capcom is really aiming to make the experience far more fluid this time around.

The demo played out more or less exactly how we thought it would, and even though the core formula is familiar, it looks like the best version of that formula. Add on top its consistently excellent monster designs, unpredictable action, and the best visuals the series has seen yet, and this is basically guaranteed to be a winner when it rolls around sometime next year. Have no fear, Monster Hunter continues to rule.

Are you excited for Monster Hunter Wilds? Let us know in the comments section below.