Monster Hunter is making a shift to new platforms in 2018 with Monster Hunter: World – arguably the franchise's most ambitious title to date. Reviving existing staples of the series on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, the game promises a new level of immersion throughout its magical worlds, with towering beasts, mind-blowing environments and much more. With the game currently on track for January 26, we've wrapped up the biggest news so far – and why you should care about the title.

What is Monster Hunter: World?

Monster Hunter is a series of action-RPG games, developed and published by Capcom. The first game was released on PlayStation 2 in 2004, and its sequel's popularity on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) console saw it rise to meteoric heights in Japan. Eventually, the series settled on Nintendo's consoles, with a string of titles across its home and handheld consoles in recent years. The beast-riddled game has its own niche corner of the market in the west, but as the first installment on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Monster Hunter: World is expected to generate increased appeal in the U.S. and Europe.

Monster Hunter World is similar in its core philosophies to earlier games, challenging players to build up a character, in search of opportunities to slay all-powerful monsters. Undertaking quests and increasing your rank to fight harder monsters, you'll progress by carving materials from fallen foes to upgrade weapons and armor. Generally regarded as the ultimate title for "grinding," the core gameplay loop consists of slaying beasts for upgrades, to move forward to the next.

Monster Hunter: World improvements

Monster Hunter has undergone some notable changes over the years, with some significant advancements between titles. The last incarnation saw a jump from exclusively ground-based combat, to offer much more complex levels, with a change in approach to the flow of level design. Monster Hunter: World may not revolutionize the series formula like before, though delivers some significant changes to improve gameplay in the long term. A shift to today's leading consoles widens its potential with increased horsepower, allowing for deeper takes on established mechanics.

One of the most welcome changes with this iteration is a new seamless world, blending together zones of the world closer than before. While several areas with various traits are offered, their respective zones aren't sectioned off by loading screens, making for a much more immersive experience. With the aid of more destructible environments and dynamic weather, the world of Monster Hunter: World feels more realized than ever before. Dynamic transitions between day and night add an additional edge to combat too, with monster behavior and combat adjusting to this shift.

Monster Hunter: World provides an improved take on cooperative gameplay, with a seamless system for dropping in and out of another players world. This will allow friends to jump into combat when a challenging monster appears, or leave once the fight has wrapped up. And for the first time, Japanese players will be able to join players from across the globe, with a single unified online ecosystem.

Monster Hunter: World will sport welcome visual upgrades for Microsoft's latest flagship console, the Xbox One X. While Capcom has been shy on details, Microsoft has confirmed a High Dynamic Range (HDR) output will be offered on the console. While an increased resolution is likely, it's unclear whether the game is capable of hitting 4K. Regardless, Monster Hunter: World looks graphically amazing already, taking advantage of the cutting edge technology, and making for the most beautiful looking Monster Hunter game yet.

Is Monster Hunter: World for you?

One of the best aspects of Monster Hunter is that each game is a standalone experience, with a reasonably linear format. You create a character who is a Monster Hunter, sent to a new village to help with monster problems and complete quests along the way. You'll start with a small number of relatively easy quests, foraging and fishing for items, until larger monsters are introduced.

The monsters can be difficult, and it's important to learn and anticipate enemy attacks in battles. Monster Hunter has always had a steep learning curve, but remains one of the most addictive and rewarding series. If you really struggle, you can always jump into online almost immediately, getting help from others.

It's not uncommon to spend hundreds of hours on a single save file – personally, I know I've racked up thousands of hours in Monster Hunter games. For those people who complain games aren't long enough nowadays, Monster Hunter World will give you that money-to-game time ratio you've been craving for so long.

Monster Hunter: World editions

Monster Hunter: World is currently on track for January 26, 2018, across consoles worldwide. Like many big-budget releases of the modern day, the game will also have multiple editions for purchase, starting with the standard game and topping off with a physical collector's edition.

The Standard Edition of Monster Hunter: World will retail for $59.99, and provide access to all the game's main content. This version is the most common version and will be stocked by a majority of video games retailers.

For those looking to splash out for something a little more expensive, for $10 extra, Monster Hunter: World's Deluxe Edition provides access to additional in-game content. For this price, you'll receive the Samurai armor set, gestures, stickers, face paint and a new hairstyle.

If you're a real Monster Hunter fan, the game's Collector's Edition is the ultimate physical package, priced at $149.99. Inside the box, you'll receive all the content of previous editions, alongside a physical Nergigante statue, hardcover art book, copy of the soundtrack and more.

While a beta test previously ran in early December, players will now need to wait until launch for the next opportunity to play. Monster Hunter: World is slated to release on January 26, 2018, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, with a delayed PC release later in the year.

Updated: December 19, 2017: Added the latest details on Monster Hunter: World, leading up to launch.

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