I wasn’t going to play Monster Hunter World because, as a rule, I hate Japanese video games (except the ones I don’t, but those are different), but then Gareth told me that Monster Hunter World has cats in it, so obviously I was going to play it. I love cats more than I hate Japanese video games, so I supposed they’d cancel each other out or something. I was wrong. Not even cats can make up for its obtuse design, clumsy mechanics, and a co-op system that’s totally busted by cutscenes.
I’ve not played a Monster Hunter game before, so maybe some of this stuff is, like, how it is. I dunno, but even if it is, it shouldn’t be because it’s unequivocally bad. The interface is an awkward, disorienting mess of important info almost entirely obfuscated by irrelevant junk, for example, and nothing works as expected. Not that there’s much incentive to do stuff, anyway – the game’s premise is mostly limited to “kill things, because… because”, and besides, every character I’ve met in Astera is so obnoxious, I feel compelled on principle to ignore them and their stupid missions.
But most egregious is the game’s co-op system.
Now, co-op isn’t exactly a new thing, even in the Monster Hunter series. Launched in 2004 on PS2, the first Monster Hunter game supported online co-op for up to four players. You’d think Capcom had sorted this out by now, but think twice.
This is how you play co-op in Monster Hunter World:
1. You open an online session. If you didn’t enable this when you started the game, you have to restart the game. The online session also has an ID number, like it’s 1998.
2. You invite a friend to join the online session. This won’t actually load them into your game, just the online session, which is apparently a separate thing for some reason.
3. You choose a mission.
4. Your friend also chooses the same mission.
5. You wait about a minute for the mission to load before getting an error that your friend isn’t able to join because they aren’t far enough in the game’s campaign. Except you’re in the same place, because you’ve both just started playing.
6. You look up the error, because this must be some sort of hilarious misunderstanding.
7. Okay, so there are, like, entire guides online to playing co-op, so that’s worrying.
8. It turns out you can’t play a campaign mission in co-op until every player in the team has watched that mission’s cutscene. So you have to start the mission on your own, and then save and quit back to town when you’ve watched the cutscene, and then you can play it in co-op. You’ll have to repeat this for every campaign mission in the game.
10. Play something else instead.
And that’s how I discovered that I hate Japanese games more than I love cats. But Matthew Vice gave it a 90 in his review, so what do I even know.