I have the base game on PS4 and PC, though quite a few more hours on the PC version. Figured I’d wait for the PC expansion, which hit last week. A few random thoughts on this while I make my way through the main quest.
- This is an expansion and not DLC, in the sense that you need to complete the main quest before even stepping foot in this world. That’s a solid 40 hours before this has value.
- The new snow map is solid. The various nooks all have tons of interactive bits. The stamina draining cold effect is easily offset if you’re paying attention. The waist high snow really slows things down, but can be offset as well.
- New monsters have interesting mechanics that build on previous ones. Very strong emphasis on status effects now (sleep, poison, paralysis, fire, cold, bleed). If you gear up properly, then you can immunize yourself and make the fight a billion times easier.
- As a general rule, most monsters have one (or more) moves that require a smart counter. You can’t just go HAM and hope to win. This makes combat painful until you learn the tells, then oh-so-rewarding.
- General enemy speed appears to have increased a tad. Or at least the new ones. Barioth feels like a snow tiger on drugs.
- Every weapon got a tweak, and the majority of tweaks focus on added mobility. The Charge Blade (my favorite) got some crazy tweaks for Axe mode that make it both familiar and refreshing to try out.
- The Clutch Claw allows you to climb the target while in combat, for some limited effects. If you can climb their head, point them in the right way, and have a full Slinger, you can knock them into a wall for great damage and a stun. Hitting any part causes it to be wounded, increasing overall damage.
- Fights are still quite long. My average first-encounter fight is somewhere near 25 minutes, with no ability to pause.
- The difference in defense levels between HR (base game) and MR (Iceborne) is very high. I was in the 70s before, and basic MR gear is 114. I’m now using 140. It means that the skills on the gear matters not…so you’re focused almost entirely on decorations.
- Decorations seem to drop after every mission. These are random, and can be slotted into gear for various effects. This expansion wouldn’t work at all without them.
- There are numerous QoL changes applied throughout. The new town hub is a dramatic improvement in terms of layout/interface. There are more cooking options. Changing gear is easier. Palico hunt interface is in town. Your new quarters can be super customised.
- Palico gadgets are improved. Vigorwasp (healing) in particular has a major boost with 1 free revive per mission.
- Mantles / equipment all have a 1 rank upgrade which increases their duration (from 60 to 120) with the same cooldown. Matters less for some pieces, but a big boost for the Boosters and Bandit Mantle.
- Upgrading Charms is pretty much required now. A fully upgraded Charm can grant full immunity, freeing up all the gear decorations.
- Monster health scaling is better for 2 players. Same for 3/4 players as in MHW.
- I still have a gripe when it comes to item drops/farming and the inability to search for them. You need the wiki open.
- With a focus on status ailments, some fights feel impossible without immunity and then practically trivial once you have it.
- Fishing does not appear to have been touched. Boo.
- Lots of customisation options (looks) it still feels limited since many things are thematic. I mean, there are a dozen metal-based armor sets.
- Grouping in this game is still obtuse. You can only find people through the SOS mechanic, and there’s limited chat ability when not in a group. It could be so, so much better.
There’s an essential question of Dauntless vs. MHW that remains. MHW is the more complete game, in every sense BUT the group/social mechanics. Dauntless is a real pick-up and play game, with battles only lasting 10 minutes at most. There’s a very long grind near the end due to the system mechanics forcing a broad approach (you need to master everything). MHW instead has a laser focus, with optional things to help out. Sure, some fights may be easier with a Bow vs Dual Blades, but that’s a personal choice. You can certainly complete the game with a single weapon type.
More thoughts on this after I complete the main quest in Iceborne. So far though, it’s more MHW, which is an amazing thing.