Back when Monster Hunter World first came out in 2018, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of gameplay and faithfulness to its roots that World showed. It was full of content, with monsters both new and old to slay and familiar yet more refined gameplay. Unsurprisingly, Monster Hunter World became an instant hit with both veterans and newcomers alike becoming Capcom’s highest-selling title.
In the past, a success like Monster Hunter World would have warranted a full-blown sequel. But that was on systems where releasing huge expansion packs wasn’t viable. Now thanks to the release being limited to modern home consoles and PCs, Capcom has released an expansion packed to the brim with content, titled Iceborne. Released for consoles last year and Iceborne finally for PC on 9th January 2020.
A Brave New World
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne kicks off right after the end of the base game story, taking place in the cold land of Hoarfrost Reach. That’s right, in true old-school expansion tradition – the only way you are going to be accessing the new content is by beating the main game.
Almost all of the content of Iceborne is intended for the most veteran hunters, and there’s a very sharp jump in difficulty that can throw you off guard.
In fact, all the missions of the expansion, both main and secondary, are Master Rank. Which is like the equivalent of Rank G of the other installments of the saga. The monsters are more aggressive and can send you carting back to camp if you are not prepared.
Speaking of monsters, there are quite a few new creatures to face. The vast majority of them are from older entries in the franchise, so old veterans can relive their glorious battles against heavyweights such as the Tigrex, Nargacuga, Zinogre, Brachydios or Glavenus, among others. New players will be delighted to see the creativity and attention to detail that Capcom has put into bringing these huge beasts to life.
Of course, like older expansion entries in the franchise, base game monsters also get a facelift in the form of new subspecies. From the ferocious Fulgur Anjanath that spits electricity to you to the deadly Ruiner Nergigante, there’s a lot of new monsters to hunt.
In addition to the new locale and monsters, there’s also a new hub called Seliana. Seliana is modeled much like the hubs in the older games, with huts and shops huddled closely together. You can still decorate your own room with new decorations and critters, and there’s a new minigame that can give you items.
New weapons and armor, whose rarity level can now be up to 12 have been added. They pack quite a punch and are a must-have if you want to survive the new challenges presented by the denizens of Hoarfrost.
Iceborne also comes with new combos and very useful and spectacular techniques for weapons that make them even more fun to use than before, allowing you to approach fights with more options and a more dynamic combat style.
Even the sling has been updated. No longer just a “pea shooter” as described by our Master Smith, you can aim with it without needing to sheat your weapon. In addition, the new retractable claw, allows you to grapple onto monsters with ease and deliver furious combos or steer them in a more favorable direction.
You can now mount smaller creatures and ride them into battle. The difficulty system has also been adjusted, allowing for a more dynamic difficulty that is not just limited to a solo mode or multiplayer. Monster stats will now scale based on how big your party is, and will also take into consideration if someone leaves in the middle of a session.
The endgame of Iceborne is the Guilding lands, that introduces a new and exciting hunting experience. There’s a lot to say about this new addition, but most of it spoils the experience, so all I will say is the new mechanics and gameplay systems introduced by the Guilding Lands represents the crux of the franchise and is the most fun I’ve had with a Monster Hunter endgame.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is all I could ask for an expansion of this game and at this point, to call it just an expansion would be a crime. It provides a huge amount of content, fixes, and polish to the base game. The new monsters are spectacular, the difficulty spike is a welcome challenge for veterans, and the new tools provide an even more fun combat experience. Then there’s the endgame, which is a beast of its own.
My only complaint is Iceborne’s story makes you backtrack a lot and the awkward glitches that still plague some parts of the game. But these are minor issues compared to the gigantic pile of fun to be had with this expansion that makes Monster Hunter World the best entry to the series in recent times.