At long last, gamers will finally get a proper expansion to one of the best games of 2018, Monster Hunter World. The new expansion, Iceborne, has been teased for a long time now, and at E3 2019, we finally got a chance to get up close and personal with it.
As a player who spent nearly 400 hours on the base game, I can certainly confirm that this is a bona fide fresh experience for any currently experiencing Astora fatigue. After a year and a half of getting familiar with the same old environments and same old monsters, it’s definitely time to seek new stomping grounds to keep your Hunter instincts sharp.
The new area, Hoarfrost Reach, is an offshoot area away from the New World. The snowcapped landscape may be literally steeped in knee-deep snow, but it isn’t without its indigenous creatures and critters. Traversing the tundra is as one might expect; areas with deep pockets of snow will hamper your movement, just like how water does. Though, trodding on the snow does leave very impressionable footprints. Now only if we could have a Snow Angel emote to go with the occasion.
On that same note, Hoarfrost Reach is nothing short of breathtaking. The frozen icicles dangling precariously over each tree branch are super detailed, as are the tufts of snow you trod on. The sunlight brings a nice warm contrast to the cool blue hues of the snowcapped environments. The new Endemic Life that roam around fit in quite well. The wooly bison-like Popo are some of the most notable new endemic life that populate the area, grazing absent-mindedly on the ground around them.
And of course, if we’re talking about new life to be discovered on Hoarfrost Reach, who can forget the badass new monsters that reside here?
In the demo, we banded together as a party. The first of the two hunting contracts we embarked on was to hunt Banbaro, the moose-horned Brute Wyvern. At face value, Banbaro resembles a moose with an Anjanath’s body. You’d think this bad boy is a docile creature because of his head, but looks certainly are deceiving.
His powerful build is meant to wreck. His antlers are designed for scooping up chunks of snow and rock and hurling them at you, or literally bulldoze you into the ground. He will charge seemingly to no end, and his aggression matches his tireless stamina. Banbaro is a fearsome blend of speed and strength, and is certainly one not to be messed with.
Thankfully, he’s actually one of the slower monsters we encountered in the demo, and coupled with his bulk, it was relatively easy to hit and eventually fell Banbaro when he wasn’t charging or smashing your head in with his antlers.
Banbaro wasn’t the only monster that appeared during our hunt for him. We also encountered the narwhal-like Piscine Wyvern, Beotodus.
Like his other piscine brethren, Beotodus spends most of his time submerged in the snow. His streamlined body coupled with his shovel-like snout enables him to zip across the thick snow with ease, making fighting him while in knee-deep snow an absolute nightmare. Not only that, he is even more aggressive than the likes of Jyuratodus and Lavasioth, who are always looking out to lunge and impale players with their snout.
Our second quest for the demo involved hunting down one of the most iconic monsters in Monster Hunter: Tigrex. Like a returning war hero, the Roaring Wyvern has finally made an appearance in Monster Hunter World after being curiously omitted from the initial lineup at launch. And he is as hungry for blood as ever.
Regardless of whether you’ve been playing Monster Hunter for a week or a decade, Tigrex is always a fearsome sight. His ultra-aggressive nature belittles the likes of Deviljho and even the Elder Dragon, Nergigante. When you match that with his blinding speed, unpredictable attack patterns and attacks that hit like a truck, you have a nigh unstoppable force.
Again, it’s a war of attrition with a being such as Tigrex. The window to attack the creature is virtually nonexistent, as he is unrelenting in his dogged pursuit to make you his next meal. His spinning attack smacks you with little warning, as do his pounce and bite attacks. His signature roar can stun you momentarily, making you vulnerable to his next lunge. As if that wasn’t enough, he can also fling rocks at you, inflicting you with the stamina-draining Iceblight status if you’re hit. The only way to get good hits at him is to just dodge and wait until he grows tired, and even then, that window isn’t long.
Tigrex is truly the Muhammad Ali of Monster Hunter, and we sure as hell are glad to see him in action once again in Iceborne.
Despite the monsters getting all the love in Iceborne, one can’t forget the shiny new toys the Hunter gets.
First and foremost, there is the new Clutch Claw tool, which allows you to shoot a grappling hook from your Slinger that latches onto a monster, which allows you to zipline to it to deal some mounting damage. This is a perfect way to deal some damage if you’re struggling to hit monsters that are super tall, such as Banbaro or Deviljho. It certainly helped us be more mobile in the crippling snow, as without it we would certainly be hard-pressed for time in the 20-odd-minute time limit.
Existing tools such as the Slinger get the amazing update to be able to be wielded regardless of the weapon type you’re using. While this does take away some of the uniqueness from the Sword & Shield, it is nonetheless a fantastic new addition to the Hunter’s arsenal, making Hunts an even more expedited affair. No longer do you have to slowly stow away your weapon, which would make you vulnerable to a monster attack, simply aim your Slinger and grapple out of the way.
Previously-thought useless items such as the Hot Drink and the Iceproof Mantle are now must-haves in Hoarfrost Reach. Just like its Cool Drink counterpart, the Hot Drink not only cures you of the Frostblight debuff, but also prevents you from suffering from it while you’re under its effects. The Iceproof Mantle makes you immune to the frost element as well as Frostblight, so it’ll prove super handy while you’re battling monsters in Hoarfrost Reach. There really wasn’t any reason to use it aside from fighting Legiana, the only frost-based monster in the base game. Now, with Iceborne and all the new monsters that come with it, expect to use it a ton more.
The best part about this forty-minute-long Iceborne demo is that it’s only a taste of what’s to come in September. We haven’t even got to fully explore Hoarfrost Reach and its various sub-areas, visit Seliana, the new base camp and interact its NPCs, ride Jagras into battle, or fight the other cool (heh) new monsters such as Velkhana, Shrieking Legiana and the other returning fan-favourite Nargacuga.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is certainly shaping up to be the MHW expansion we desperately need and deserve, and we are sure as hell excited to get our hands on it on September 6.
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.