Today I talk about the best loser. The game that almost won this little award ceremony of mine but still ultimately failed… I can’t even pretend to be serious… These games I’ve got to talk about in my top three are all games I loved. Being number two is never anything to be ashamed of. Unless you’re a crazy person. This is a game I would have happily given my number one slot to on a different year for all it’s achieved.
It was a real toss up between this game and the one following, I flipped them over several times before eventually settling on this order. They’re two very different games that both managed to be refreshing and transformative for their franchises. I’m probably tipping my hand a little too much there, but hell with it, you can probably guess where this is going anyway by this point.
#7: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
#2: Monster Hunter: World
Played on Xbox One | Released January 26th | Developed by Capcom
Monster Hunter is one of my all time favourite video game series. And by gum, Capcom haven’t made it easy for me to play their games over the years. First making them PSP exclusive for a while, and then putting them on the 3DS after that, a device wholly not suited to playing a game like this. This year, Capcom did something that had eluded them for years; they managed to break Monster Hunter through into the mainstream.
Monster Hunter: World is, for all intensive purposes, a reboot of the franchise. One that finally does away with a lot of the obscurity and dated mechanics that had been latched onto the series since its inception. Even as a person who adored those old style of Monster Hunter games, after playing this one, I found myself not wanting to go back to them at all. I couldn’t bring myself go pick up Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch when it came out after this, World has ruined me on the old style of Monster Hunter.
It’s a testament to what Capcom have done to make this game more accessible and more playable for everyone. Removing the busywork and smaller inconveniences of upkeep and monster tracking to focus more on action and combat. Which it also streamlines and improves. In a time where Dark Souls has become a popular genre almost, Capcom managed to take their series, which has done pretty much the same thing, and made a new audience recognise it.
The bump up to the modern consoles is also a huge boon for the franchise. The games have always felt somewhat behind the curve graphically, being tied to older or handheld devices for so long. This is the best the franchise has ever looked, from the the environments, to the armour to the monsters themselves. It’s not perfect, containing the lingering weirdness of so many of these very Japanese games. But the pros most definitely outweigh the cons.
The janky online interface that makes playing with friends much more difficult than it needs to be, which is mad considering this series has always been focused on multiplayer. The end game focus on random drops for skill loadouts is a weird choice too, making it all a bit of a grind. It’s all minor to the overall experience though.
I still adored this game. While it felt like a game with a smaller scale in terms of its ranks and the number of monsters, I can’t hold this against Capcom because they’ve been adding more free content to the game on a pretty consistent basis since its release at the beginning of the year. This too, seems to exist in this “games as a service” world which I talked about since the beginning of this blogging spree approximately one million years ago.
And if by some hand of fate, as I have written this, Capcom have announced a major expansion to the game, in a move which steps away from their old style of releasing a new game + version of their game as a separate release, years later. This expansion comes in the form of Iceborne.
I praise Capcom for how they have fundamentally changed the franchise from one of niche interest, into something that became Capcom’s best selling game of all time. The announcement of Iceborne is just another example of Capcom leaving some of their more dated choices behind and moving into the modern era.
Monster Hunter: World is the start of a new era for this franchise. It’s been a few months since I’ve played Monster Hunter, bogged down by the fantastic games that have come out over the course of the year. With the announcement of Iceborne, I am looking forward to getting back into the world of Monster Hunter.