Hungry hunters will have to stay frosty until September 6
The developers of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne took to a livestream Thursday to give players their first taste of the frozen DLC and the beasts that inhabit it. Releasing on all consoles Sept. 6, 2019, the first major expansion to the game since its release in Jan. 2018 will send players to a new region full of never-encountered monsters — including a new Elder Dragon.
Direction of the DLC was handed from Yuya Tokoda to Daisuke Ichihara, and the team revealed that development of Iceborne progressed alongside the regular content updates to the main game. They kept stressing the size of the DLC, from the number of new monsters that players will encounter to the actual size. Once fully explored, the region called Hoarfrost Reach will be the largest region yet introduced in Monster Hunter World.
Also new to Iceborne is Master Rank, a new difficulty of encounters similar to the G Rank fights from previous games. Since Iceborne is meant to precede the storyline in the base game, expect these new hunts to require advanced skills and gear.
The vast majority of Hoarfrost Reach is covered in thick blankets of snow and ice that make traversal not only challenging, but life-threatening. Players will need to craft hot drinks from ingredients in order to stave off the effect from the cold. The developers further pointed out the amount of fine detail that went into crafting this new area, like players and endemic life leaving behind trails in the waist high snow banks as they walk. “That’s something we’ve never been able to do before,” said Executive/Art Director Kaname Fujioka during the stream.
The only other region showcased during the stream was a hot springs ringed by bright yellow rocks. Monkeys lounge in the waters, an adorable adaptation of the Japanese Macaque famous for its dips in Japan’s natural hot springs.
The stream also showcased three new monsters, though many others will inhabit the Hoarfrost Reach. Banbaro is a two-legged herbivore with a massive set of antlers that make it look like a cross between a dump truck and Princess Mononoke’s Forest Spirit. If you pick a fight with the normally non-aggressive beast, it can use the environment to augment its attacks. Footage showed those huge antlers picking up boulders and trees as it charged toward the player.
The smaller predator Beototus shares territory with Banbaro. It hides in the deep snow, showing only a fin, like a terrestrial shark. The developers hinted that hunters will need to discover a way to dislodge the monster from the deep snow if they are to emerge victorious.
Not to completely leave behind the massive continent known as the New World, fan favorite Nargacuga returns in Iceborne to start some turf wars in the main world. The turf war feature was an exciting addition to Monster Hunter: World that helped the environs feel not just alive but extremely dangerous. The trailer shows the bat/wolf/dragon beastie going toe-to-toe with a Rathalos and holding its own. Don’t expect to best this one easily.
The final revealed beast was a new elder dragon called Velkhana. Not much is known about the flagship monster beyond its use of ice-based attacks, except a secret trick the devs remained coy about. We’ll just have to wait to find out what’s in store for Iceborne’s endgame.
Your hunter, too, is receiving some TLC in the new expansion via the slinger tool. You might have noticed a hunter grappling directly onto the face of a Banbaro in the trailer before beginning a point-blank assault on the beast’s mug. That’s one of the new upgrades for your trusty left-armed peripheral. Once you can smell the breath of your foe, feel free to dump every bit of your ammo to produce a variety of powerful effects. Perhaps more importantly, the slinger can now be used with your weapon drawn and can be worked into new combos with all existing weapons.
Current players can purchase a digital upgrade for the game (and preorders for console versions are already available). New to the franchise? A bundled “master version” will be available for retail purchase once the game releases on September 6. And hey, PC players? The developers promised a winter 2019 release of Iceborne, so you will have to wait again. Just not as long as you did for the base game.
More information on Monster Hunter World: Iceborne will be shown at E3 in June.