Iceborne first impressions- The best Monster Hunter game is a DLC expansion?
Like many others, I spent the week leading up to Iceborne’s release returning to the megalithic game that is Monster Hunter World.
I ploughed my way through monster after monster, gathering their various bits and pieces to finish off the very last of the end-game content I didn’t quite reach in my 130 hours of play (it’s a big game), and also, catch up on some of the many, surprisingly content-rich crossover-events they had during the year.
So then, the day before release I line myself up in front of my TV and signed into the PSN store and pre-purchased the digital deluxe version because I was an excited sucker.
But hey, listen, I got a shiny armour set and a weird Velkhana theme that zooms around a model that looks suspiciously like the very one used for the physical pre-order statue. Hm.
That aside though, I bought it, watched Sony immediately take the money, groan, and stared at the countdown on my TV.
Quickly got bored of that and went about my day, tapping my fingers all the while.
The next day was brilliant. You know why? Because the next day I got to play Iceborne.
Iceborne is so good. It’s so, so good. I’ve played roughly 10-15 hours at this point, but let me tell you, it’s good.
For those like myself who have completed the base game and finished high-rank, you’re on log-in given a message stating that there’s something new to do over there, blah blah blah. I didn’t read it, okay, I wanted to get to the snow monsters.
Carrying on a bit, you’ll end up in the new area, “Hoarfrost reach”. Right off the bat; the snow tech? It’s crazy. You leave trails wherever you go, it’s all at different depths. It affects your clothes, your weapons, your cat friend. I can’t get over it.
I could write an entire article on the technical achievement that is this game’s snow, but I’ll restrain myself.
You’re immediately thrown into battle with the first new monster. The name escapes me because it.. Well, it has a weird name. But it’s a massive shark dinosaur thing and it swims in the snow and it’s very fast and wants to kill you and it’s great.
Iceborne isn’t shy in letting you know that it is much more difficult than the base game. This shark thing wants you dead, and it’s probably going to achieve that once or twice before you’re through with it.
You’ll probably die as you stop for a moment to marvel at how the snow is reacting to it all and- no, I said I wouldn’t.
Completing that will bring you to the new hub area, Seliana. And okay, this is where things get really fun.
Monster Hunter’s gathering hubs famously carry weird little activities to mess about in with your friends, and Iceborne is no different. In fact, it’s the most weirdness-packed hub ever.
So, it’s late at night and my friends and I all gather around to go hunting. But what do we end up doing instead, for, like, a straight hour?
Stripping our characters of their armour and sitting around in the pool. We’re all grown men, by the way. It’s a sight to behold.
You can splash each-other, float about, challenge each other to hold your breathe underwater as long as possible, the list goes on.
There’s a sauna from which your character will stumble out from should you sit in it too long, which we all most certainly did.
The usual bar and canteen areas are present, as well as a foot-bath, where you can pet and interact with your cat. Fantastic stuff Capcom, fantastic.
Moving on from that though, the next new monster you’ll encounter is that big moose thing from the trailer that breaks all the trees as he comes after you.
His name is banbaros and he does indeed do that. Among other things.
I like him, I now wear his tail as a coat.
So carrying my new moose-monster friend’s hide on my back, I carry on to fight some sub-species of monsters that were new in the base game.
One of which is a water-based Pukei-Pukei and let me tell you, let me tell you. This guy hurts.
This is the point where you’ll find yourself scavenging around to craft new armour and weapons, and discovering that oh, Iceborne added a lot of those.
Every new monster and sub-species of course has a set of items that can be forged from their bits, but what I didn’t expect is that every single previous monster also gets master rank forgeables. Master rank being the new rank that you’ll be playing in Iceborne.
What made this less surprising was when I fought some low-level monsters in master rank and found that oh, they’ve been beefed up. Every monster now has an extra form of sorts. You know how they used to get angry? Well, now they get angry and often-times grow extra spikes and glow or some nonsense.
It’s wonderful. And painful.
One of the things that most excited me about Iceborne approaching release was the promise of some old favourites returning.
Tigrex and Nargacuga to name two. The latter of which I’ve gotten to fight just recently and it is a joy to see his glow-up in full HD, or 4K even, if you’re fancy like that.
There’s also Glavenus. You know that one with the… With the big sword tail that turns to molten lava and- Yeah, no, I don’t know who he is either but apparently he’s from an older game.
He’s a tough fight, I haven’t passed him yet.
I could go on for hours about the seemingly endless amount of features that have been added to new the hub area alone. The grandma cat that cooks you meals, the steam forgery that turns your once-useless ore into materials, the huge expansion to house customisation. It goes on, and that’s not even mentioning the excessive amount of new monsters I haven’t even gotten close to.
In conclusion, Iceborne is probably the most fun I’ve had with any Monster Hunter game. It’s masterfully crafted and packed to the absolute brim with charm and unnecessary goodies that really make the world feel alive.
This is all, of course, building on top of what was already my favourite game in the series.
The Monster Hunter team are so on top of their game right now, it’s not a surprise to hear it’s Capcom’s best-selling game of all time.
Is anyone else playing? What do you think of the sno- The new monsters? Let us know!