Games of 2018: Monster Hunter: World was a huge and exciting start to the year

Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter: World is out now for PS4, Xbox One and PC

Following our list of the 50 best games of 2018, we are now counting down our top ten releases across the year and reflecting on our time with each game. At four it is Capcom's brilliant reinvention of the Monster Hunter series for current-gen home consoles. Let us know your experiences with the game, if it deserves its slot and what might have taken its place. To join the conversation simply log in to your Telegraph account or register for free here.​

As we drag ourselves kicking and screaming towards the end of 2018, the wintry pleasures of its early months can seem lost in a haze. Let alone the games you played while huddled from the January frost.

But Monster Hunter: World --with its behemoth’s bared teeth and claws, giant swords and catty companions-- stomps its way back into your mind with some regularity. Not least because of Capcom’s smartly timed announcement of new DLC for the game. As game of the year lists are fired up across the globe, the recent announcement of next year’s Iceborne expansion is tantamount to the publisher writing its name in the snow while yelling ‘don’t forget about us now, you hear?.”

How could we? Monster Hunter: World occupied that early year space a resurgent Capcom seem intent on making its own (the Resident Evil 2 remake takes up the January slot in 2019 and is also looking terrific). You may think an eccentric Japanese RPG like Monster Hunter too niche a prospect to get the January juices flowing, but Capcom’s smart retooling of the series was perfect for that post-Christmas lull. It was huge and exciting; fresh meat for players both experienced and curious to sink their teeth into.

Much of that came from its decision to make the game more accessible, more inviting, more thrilling from the off. Much was made of Capcom’s play for the West with Monster Hunter: World, as it tweaked its controls to be more modern, chamfering some edges to make the game more comfortable to navigate.

But it isn’t so much that it lost the quirks that have made Monster Hunter a cult hit over the years, but opening them up. ‘On-boarding’ is the jargon often used when talking about teaching a player a game’s systems. Monster Hunter, finally, realised the best way to get players ‘on-board’ was on the back of a fire-breathing T-Rex, smacking it with an axe made from the bones of your previous conquests.

That this happens much earlier in World has always been a huge reason for its success. Previous Monster Hunters often had you collecting herbs and duffing up poor, peaceful herbivores before giving you the good stuff. Here you are stalking the forests for the bulbous, poison-tongued Pukei-Pukei within the game’s opening stages. It begins hot and continues to burn bright, pitching you in thrilling monstrous battles early on and only escalating from there.

Its loops of brilliantly exhausting encounters, new gear and self-improvement is keenly felt. If you are having a blast early on, why wouldn’t you start delving deeper into the game’s more intricate details? Improving your equipment, upgrading skills by helping the researchers back at base and joining other players on brilliant co-operative hunts, adding another layer to an already tremendous adventure.

Old habits die hard, of course, and to say World avoids all the pitfalls of Monster Hunter’s more arcane and archaic habits wouldn’t be true. But in some ways, that’s the point; without its eccentricities, this wouldn’t be Monster Hunter at all. But World very much is; just the most gorgeous, thrilling and enticing version yet.

The Telegraph's best games of 2018... and now it's time to have your say

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

2. God of War

3. Tetris Effect

4. Monster Hunter: World

5. Return of the Obra Dinn

6. Into the Breach

7. Forza Horizon 4

8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

9. Dead Cells

10. Marvel's Spider-Man

What has been the standout game for you this year and why? We want to hear what your top picks are from 2018 and why it made your year. Fill in this form for a chance to feature in our readers' rundown. We will tally up the votes and run a Telegraph reader’s list alongside our 50 best games and our critic’s pick of the top ten games of the year. 

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