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    Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - the best expansion of the "New World"!

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    Catherine Le Nevez
    @catherinelenevez

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    In the current videogame generation, being faced with the end expansion it has now become a constant. There is no self-respecting game, in fact, that does not arrive on the market almost "halfway", pervaded by that aura of incompleteness at times excessive, which makes subsequent completion necessary. All this does not always happen, and the much feared (but also loved) expansions do not always succeed in their task, resulting vacant and inconclusive and - in some cases - also capable of weighing on the general evaluation of a video game.



    Thankfully, this is definitely not the case with Iceborne, gigantic expansion - which also has the cost of gigantic - set up by Capcom for its Monster Hunter: World. The game, which is monstrous far beyond its name, since it managed to become the best-selling Capcom title ever, thus surpassing the Resident Evil and other iconic brands of the Japanese company, has been able to leave an indelible mark on the minds of hunters who have decided to devote themselves to the cause, regardless of the great structural differences that the first chapter thought to be an open world-like would have brought to the series. Because Capcom, for the first Monster Hunter designed for home consoles - the first at least after many years - wanted to take the situation head on, and dare so much, to the point of risking lynching by veterans. Fortunately, however, the Japanese company (which lately hasn't really missed a beat) was right, and was able to bring the same energy and the same creative qualities even when, at a certain point, it felt the need to resume for hand the situation.

    Slowly, the number of players on the servers was starting to decline, due not only to a level of challenge not too exciting for veterans and perhaps too much for newbies, but also due to the absence of a truly satisfying endgame. For this reason, Iceborne, along with his breath of cold air, has come to remind us again that Capcom has returned to the right path and absolutely does not want to lose it.



     

    Monsters! Cool monsters, beautiful monsters!

    The analysis of what Iceborne was able to bring with him to that crazy world of Astera, cannot fail to start from the most precious piece: the monsters to hunt. The expansion, in fact, conveys a reinvigoration of the roster of the imposing bestiary, if not in number, certainly in variety and quality. And if not all of them are really original, perhaps drawn from the old chapters of the saga, and modernized for the occasion, everyone is able to make a good impression, including the "originals", that is, those designed ad hoc for World. What unites all of them, however, is their hunger for blood and hunter's meat, which often manifests itself in the guise of disarming general aggression. The first impact with Iceborne, in fact, is what the general difficulty has been set significantly upwards, especially thanks to the presence of the new creatures, all very aggressive and which tend to attack the player with any means available.

    Let it be the gigantic Banbaro or agile and snappy barioth, the new monsters exploit the surrounding environment to cause extensive damage to the hunter, thus forcing you to pay more attention not only to the body of the creature, but also to its movements. This increases dramatically over time, and becomes an almost mandatory feature of almost all the species in circulation. However, not everything is centered on exploiting the local environment. As well as the "old", even the new monsters have unique abilities, here if we want even more decisive and impact than in the past. For example, there are those who can generate explosive slimes that stick to them, such as the Brachydios, or you may have to deal with the fearsome Glavenus, whose tail practically becomes a glowing blade. The variety of creatures is also magnified by a "simple" re-skin of most of the monsters already present in the base game. Hunting for Astera, or for the new - huge - game map, called Brinose expanses, you will come across a Anajanath Tonante, lightning-damaged version of the giant dinosaur, or in a Paolumu Onirico, splendid with its attacks that generate, in fact, the sleep status in the player and in his four-legged helper.



    "We will call it ... Brinose Expanses!"

    Agree, originality is certainly not the most sought after, nor successful piece, in a production like Monster Hunter, neither today with World, nor in the past.. And this particular detail is revealed immediately, that is, when you begin to experience the emotions of the new narrative arc. In short, and without spoiling anything, we tell you right away that, once again, the narrative sector is by no means the highlight of the range, although there are those moments of genuine epicity that have always been part of the DNA of the most famous hunting game in the world. Iceborne, in fact, it will take you on the trail of a new species, a new creature, whose appearance has altered the behavior of most of the fauna present in the Monster Hunter: World ecosystem. And, slowly, among a series of missions all very similar to each other, fortunately marked by the presence of absolutely splendid boss fights, the story leads us to explore a new land, clearly one of the most exciting news of this granite expansion.

    The Brinose Expanses are a location with an out-of-the-ordinary charm, a long snow-covered plain, halfway between frozen moors and snowdrifts where even just moving around is a big problem. Aesthetic beauty is not the only weapon that accompanies the hunter's ride within the new map. In fact, it opens the door to new interactions - but also limitations - environmental compared to the past, but also to the introduction of new objects, such as the Hot Drink. Iceborne, however, adds more than a "simple" new map to the play formula, and does so while also keeping an eye on optimization, which is strictly technical in nature. Although it brings with it more complex mechanics, Iceborne highlights the excellent work done by Capcom in optimizing its title, especially with regard to the concept linked to the frame-rate, the true Achilles heel of the production. Fortunately, even on PlayStation 4 Slim, the title runs very well and, indeed, is much more enjoyable than in the past. Ah, all of this not to mention that it is now possible to get around using the small monsters as a means of transport. A simple idea, of course, and also not very useful, but which on the whole finds our satisfaction.



    Code name: Grapple Claw

    The most interesting addition, on a strictly playful level, is certainly that of the Claw Grapple, an enhancement of the little-used crossbow. This new mechanic allows, in short, to cling to creatures and attack them in a violent and close way. In fact, by grabbing a monster with the right timing, it is possible to start hitting it, weakening that specific point of the body in view of subsequent attacks. Seen in this way, this introduction may seem marginal, but it is not. Depending on the button pressed and the timing with which the attacks are carried, in fact, it is possible to perform different maneuvers. For example, with a charged shot (R2) after making the creature stagger (with O) it is possible to throw it against a wall, to make it lose a lot of life points, balance and, why not, maybe trap it.

    The real joy for all fans of the brand, however, apart from all the pleasant introductions, is certainly that linked tointroduction of the Master rank (the equivalent of the G rank of the other Monster Hunters) and consequently of a new management of fundamental elements, such as equipment, weapons, sets, jewels and above all a new and more complex one endgame. Let's put it in writing immediately: resisting the new enemies will be tough, and after the first missions you will realize that you need to put your hand to the new armor and new weapons. The new objects, which reach a rank of Rarity 12, they represent both variants of those already known and of the absolute novelties, which makes the whole progression once again long, pleasant, but not excessively frustrating. Elements such as jewels, in fact, will no longer be so difficult to take and can be inserted, among other things, also on, say, the cloak, and will certainly make a difference, as in the past. The weapons, then, have undergone a slight revisitation as regards the attacks and some features. Although some have been more "touched" than others, it is good to underline how much Monster Hunter: World still manages to offer the player a great variety of offensive solutions, the daughters of a general optimization of weapons and their use certainly very valid.

    Password: Endgame

    Similar speech also for the Master rank. Leveling up is pleasant and never frustrating, and allows the player to always unlock new missions, bounties and various challenges. Each story mission is likely to take you to a new level, but you don't see this as a facilitation, quite the opposite. Climbing the Master rank too quickly without being properly equipped could be suicide, so the beloved is back in "fashion" grinding, essential for a new and reinvigorated endgame. Without anticipating anything, we only tell you that at the end of the expansion the doors will open for countless hours of additional gameplay, due to the introduction of a new area, full of challenges increasingly difficult to master. A tribute to the veterans, but also a nice wink on display to the "little ones", called to bring out the attributes once and for all.

    And to top it all there are other small additions, all in all side dish, but which are still pleasant. Capcom has decided to fix the game menus a little, to simplify the collection of objects, for example, little things yes, but certainly very appreciated. And if you just can't do it alone, the usual world-class matchmaking of World / Iceborne will come to your rescue. At least on PlayStation 4, everything still works beautifully, also thanks to the strong turnout of players, who returned with a grin of happiness in Astera from September 6, the launch day of the expansion in question.

    USEFUL INFO

    I played the Iceborne expansion on PlayStation 4 Slim first and Pro then, having (again) upgraded to Sony's most powerful console. The expansion in question can be purchased both in stand alone format and in the "Master Edition" version which also includes the base game, more suited to newbies in the saga. In any case, if you had a previously created character, you can safely reuse it now. Ah, and if you're lucky you can find the Steelbook edition (PS4 only) for sale, really well done.

    Duration
    • The Iceborne campaign can last up to forty hours, if you are not necessarily prepared in terms of equipment.
    • Lots of new activities, potentially endless.
    • Endgame, as above, potentially infinite, thanks to a series of numerous challenges and more suited to veterans.
    Structure
    • The usual solid cooperative multiplayer.
    • New main missions, side missions, and various bounties.
    • New armor and weapons to unlock and craft.
    • New gameplay mechanics, including the Claw Grapple, the most important one.
    Collectibles and Extras
    • New collectibles to furnish the new lodgings, lots of tracks and various clues about the creatures to look for, to unlock benefits, bounties and missions.
    Game Card
    • Game Name: Monster Hunter: World
    • Release date: January 26 2018
    • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    • Dubbing language: Italian - English - Japanese - Original language
    • Texts language: Italian English

    Iceborne is arguably one of the best expansions ever released for a video game. Quantity, variety and stability are the symbols of additional content written and directed wisely, capable of improving a record-breaking base game, acclaimed with full marks by critics and users. If you are a lover of the brand, you have no excuse not to be glued to the screen already. For everyone else, well, maybe it's time to get carried away by a Pterowyvern and fly to Astera. The hunt awaits you!

    Review by Salvatore Cardone
    Graphics

    A lot of care in the design and reskin of new and old monsters, as well as for the new weapons and armor. Commendable is the new map, the Brinose Expanses: vast, well crafted and splendid to see. Excellent work also for what concerns the general optimization: the title also runs very well on PlaySation 4 Slim, albeit with many limitations. Ah; watch out for the camera!

    88
    SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

    Usual splendid environmental feedback, with the cries and verses of monsters that masterfully blend with the discreet background music. The epicness generated is fairly exciting!

    85
    GAMEPLAY

    The introduction of the Claw Grapple and the new movements for the weapons have improved a playful formula that is already almost unassailable in itself.

    95
    Total Rating scale
    93
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