A few years ago, during E3 2017, Capcom had stirred the minds of numerous players by announcing the return, after 6 years since the last time, the Monster Hunter experience on the latest generation home platforms by proposing a title that could bring together old and new players in the unique and colorful gameplay loop that has characterized the series since its first iteration in 2004.
And Monster Hunter World, in 2018, undoubtedly gave several satisfactions by perfecting the heart of the game systems previously introduced thanks to the new tools available to the development team, bringing players into vivid open ecosystems to explore and discover, with a fauna of ferocious and bloody monstrosities ready to attack whatever creature is within their range, whether they are the hunters impersonated by the players or the preys that cross into their territory challenging the natural food chain of the environment.
Over the two years since its release, the game has received numerous updates, and with them several new monsters to hunt and also several collaborations with other video game franchises with related themed monsters, and it is precisely this continuous support that have made Iceborne a real and own challenge for Capcom, which had to try to achieve an expansion that could justify its existence in the face of the company's ability to feed the hunting thirst of its playerbase for free.
A new adventure
The basic version of Monster Hunter World is undoubtedly a deliberately welcoming title towards new players, gradually introducing the numerous mechanics and the countless variables and situations that can appear in front of the protagonist Hunter.
It is therefore not surprising that every aspect of Iceborne is meticulously dedicated to Capcom's fanbase, avoiding simply offering "more" but extending the scope of the novelties to the structure of the hunting trips, to the mechanisms of the weapons available. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, therefore, is not a proposal aimed at the newbies of the game, but it is a calibrated experience for veterans and slightly more experienced players both of Monster Hunter in general and of World in specific: this Capcom it immediately makes it clear allowing access to the contents of the expansion only once Hunter Rank 16 is reached, which corresponds to the completion of the main plot of the basic version of the game and which suggests the need to have at least a general smattering of how the game, its systems and builds work.
The premise is very simple: after averting the danger of the explosion of the death of the Zorah Magdaros and the potential environmental damage of the newborn Xeno'jiva, the regular routine of the Commission and their studies and research in the New World is disturbed by the appearance of some creatures in ecosystems other than those to which they belong, a symptom of mass migration that leads the Commission to discover a new unexplored continent that baptizes Oltreterra.
The cold region of the Brine expanses thus becomes the subject of the investigations of a dedicated expedition of which the player will be part to bring to light the mysterious phenomena that have shaken the entire ecosystem of the New World and that threaten its integrity.
These phenomena, in fact, will not only lead to the discovery of the creatures that inhabit the snowy areas of Oltreterra, but will also make new species appear completely out of place due to migration.
Challenge against nature
If at first glance a new region and the new monsters that inhabit it seem to be the hub of Iceborne, the real main and effective offer of this expansion is the "Master Degree", a new level of difficulty higher than the High Degree that had represented the endgame of Monster Hunter World and which corresponds, substantially, to the "G Rank" with which longtime players will surely be familiar.
In addition to the aspects dedicated to the hunting of monsters, the beating heart of the game, there is also a new minigame in the new hub of Seliana, the operational base of the Commission in Oltreterra, as well as a camera with which to observe the behavior of some local creatures to deepen the searches in the new region.
The new difficulty level brings with it more dangerous and demanding missions than the base game, but it is certainly not limited to increasing the challenge to the players: a new level of jewels, new armor and new weapons calibrated for the new mode represent a new point 0 for hunters, who will find themselves having to gradually rebuild their equipment updating it for the adversities introduced by the new content.
This sense of "reset" is also found in the game mechanics, artfully modified to bring a new approach to the new monsters as well as the old ones also through the new moves introduced to each category of weapon by modifying their operation, sometimes even in a marked way .
At the heart of this new approach is the new tool introduced: the Rampino Artiglio. It is a mechanical modification to the already present grappling hook as standard equipment for hunters that allows you to hook on monsters giving the opportunity to perform different actions, each with a different effect, sometimes even necessary to be able to efficiently face the terrible wild creatures.
One of the focal aspects of the Grapple Grapple, in fact, is the possibility of injuring monsters by temporarily making the affected parts more fragile, often the only way to break a specific part of a monster or to deal full damage to it.
Often and willingly, however, it will be difficult to find the opportunity to grab a monster, a task that will be increasingly difficult as you climb along the food chain of this expansion, characterized by faster, fiercer and more aggressive creatures than ever, giving life to demanding and exhausting hunting trips.
Iceborne offers a roster of 11 new big monsters to face, with three of them having a variant for a total of 14 new monsters. To add to the dose, however, 13 of the monsters of the basic version of Monster Hunter World have received a new variant, whose new abilities make the clashes decidedly different from their original counterparts, bringing the Iceborne offer to 27 large monsters in all. , thus excluding the small monsters and the endemic fauna of the new areas.
The numerous creatures, in addition to the old ones imported into the new level of difficulty and with each of them to have new weapons and associated armor therefore make the contents of the expansion and its, on average, 40 hours of history rise considerably (a duration of 'roughly equal to that of the base game).
But as often happens in Monster Hunter the main plot is only the access corridor to the actual game, to its rich endgame, and Iceborne in this is no exception: at the end of the expansion campaign the player will therefore have access to a entire new region called Terre Guide, a land that presents all the biomes in the game and that randomly generates all the monsters in the game, allowing the player to freely hunt every creature available in Monster Hunter World at his maximum difficulty all the time who wishes, increasing through the exploration, hunting and collection of minerals and residual bones in the environments the level of knowledge of each biome and, with it, the danger of the monsters that will be generated and the rarity of the materials found.
This region represents the real Iceborne endgame, to which obviously the events and monsters added through future updates by Capcom are added.
All these additions end up stacking on each other going to accumulate a quantity of content much higher than what one might expect from a DLC.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is therefore an expansion that excels in improving the basic experience of the base game through a promising new endgame format that makes hunting in the center of the brand more and more organic and marking a climax in the game structure, leaving itself behind it the repetitive board of quests all too widely used in many video games, a story and a quantity of new content that can be assimilated to a real complete sequel adding excellent material to a game that was already able to stand on its own legs, becoming an essential purchase for anyone who has appreciated the lively and particular uniqueness of this franchise.