It’s been just over a year since we started our journey into the New World of Astera. Throughout this time, hunters across the world united to take on the most vicious beasts known to man, not to mention beasts from other worlds such as the Behemoth from the Final Fantasy universe. We defeated these apocalyptic monsters and saved the world from calamity. Indeed, Capcom has spoilt fans with regular content and events for Monster Hunter: World. And now we get to explore another ‘new world’ in the form of an expansion to what was already an epic journey. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.
Astera needs a hero
Astera is in turmoil once again, plagued by an unusual anomaly that is causing changes in the eco-system. Which, in turn, is causing monsters to leave their natural habitats. Leave, and migrate to a new land. An icy and dangerous ‘new world’ known as Hoarfrost Reach. Iceborne kicks things off by throwing returning players back into their original saves of Monster Hunter: World. I found all my original gear, weapons, armour and money still available, and ready to help me along with the new journey ahead. Don’t worry new hunters: Capcom has you covered as well. Once you complete the main story in Monster Hunter: World, you’ll be able to access Iceborne. The new region offers a new town hub and gathering hall. Both much better suited for players to access all merchants faster and easier. This brand new hub known as Seliana is worlds more accessible than the hub town in Astera.
So, with a new hub town, gathering hall and new hunting area, what can we expect from the armoury? Since all weapons and armour are already carried over from the original story, how do they fare against the new monsters? HORRIBLY. I found myself being knocked out in just two or three hits from the latest monster offerings. Not to mention that my weapons just were not cutting it. Quite literally not cutting it. For example. My end game armour in MHW totalled to just over 400 stat points when beginning Iceborne. Beginning level armour in Iceborne that I created just after a few hunts reached over 700 defence stat points. That’s a 300 increase in defence stats. Then there’s my entire collection of Glaives. Yes, my main, and favourite weapon of choice is the Insect Glaive. Each Glaive was maxed out to maximum rarity and power. To my surprise and admittedly joy, the weapons tree has now been extended. YEP, you’ll now be able to increase not only the rarity for each of your weapons, which now goes up to rarity 12 but also their attack stats. Of course, the 14 types of weapons still remain, along with their unique attack styles. This is all due to the additional rank added to Iceborne, which we’ll touch on later. Another useful tool that has quite possibly become a must for every hunter is the Clutch Claw. Originally the Slinger which allowed hunters to shoot projectiles at monsters, such as flash bombs, is now also the Clutch Claw. It is a type of grappling hook that can be used from afar to attach yourself to a monster. An incredibly useful tool that allows you to close a good distance between you and the monster a lot faster. While hooked to the monster, hunters will be able to either redirect the monster, slamming it into a wall, or unload your entire slinger ammo at it, forcing it to flinch or fall.
I found myself being knocked out in just two or three hits from the latest monster offerings.
Getting hit by a truck or monster
With an increase in defensive stats on armour and an increase in attack stats on weapons, what horrors have Capcom released into the new world? Horrors that exist only in one’s nightmares of course. The latest pack of rabid monsters are indeed the most formidable beasts you’ll face within the monster hunter world. Some of these behemoths include new monsters such as the mouse or mammoth type monster known as the Banbaro: a gigantic beast with the ability to bulldoze everything within its path. Including entire trees. Carrying it forward atop its antlers/horns in a motion that sweeps across the hunting area. My only chance, many times, was vaulting with my Glaive over and above it. Which in some instances wasn’t possible due to its size. Other monsters include fan favourites such as the infamous Glavenus and my favourite, the Tigrex. Both are incredibly powerful and dangerous. The Tigrex attacks with incredible and relentless speed while the Glavenus utilises a combination of attacks. Equipped with a ferocious set of fangs, it has a savagely cruel bite and is also capable of sharpening its tail for powerful sweeping and downward thrusting attacks. These aren’t the only horrors you’ll face in Iceborne. Although the new region is home to many new and returning monsters. Back in Astera, monsters have also begun to evolve. Turning into a sub-species of sorts. These sub-species of Monster Hunter: World’s original monster line-up now possesses a new set of moves and abilities. An example of such a sub-species is the Coral Pukei-Pukei. A sub-species with a powerful attack that unleashes jets of water from both its tail and mouth.
A whole new “World”
In many of the previous Monster Hunter titles, players had access to Low Rank, High Rank, and G-Rank hunts. In that order. Hunters would be able to test their might against the strongest of monsters. Each set of monsters within each rank surpassing their predecessors in both defence and attack. This of course also meant that hunters that created armour and weapons from these monsters also had access to much higher quality materials, which in turn would create much stronger gear. This is the case in Iceborne and its new rank of Master Rank. Immediately after accessing the new area in Iceborne, this rank will be available to players. This rank means a whole new level of monsters. And yes, a whole new level of armour. This is why my end game armour that was created in the High-Rank option of MHW was no match for the monsters released in Iceborne. Admittedly Master Rank monsters are truly challenging. The increase in brutality from each monster was quite noticeable. This brutality combined with the new hunting area, Hoarfrost Reach, creates an even higher level of difficulty than what you’ve faced in Astera. Although hauntingly beautiful with underground caves and high peaks, this icy new area is so cold that if players don’t consume Hot Drinks, their stamina slowly begins to deplete. Thankfully, if you’re caught without Hot Drinks, there are Hot Peppers that you’ll be able to harvest throughout the area to craft Hot Drinks. Hot springs within the area also grant hunters healing abilities and the same effects as a Hot Drink.
All in all, Iceborne expands into the original game incredibly well. It gives returning players a well-played and mysterious new story (although the story has never been a focal point for the series). The new region will teach hunters to think differently, hunt differently and more so than anything, prepare those Hot Drinks to protect yourself from the cold. Although Iceborne takes place in one of the “New World’s” coldest places, I know it’ll reignite the flames of many hunters out there.