May 12, 2018

The Smooth Item Management of Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter: World is the first Monster Hunter game I have ever played, and I enjoyed the game from beginning to end (and beyond). I spent over 150 hours hunting monsters, crafting new gear, and completing every quest available. The combat has weight, the weapons are all viable and unique, and the monsters have wonderful animations and personality. It is now easy for me to understand why the Monster Hunter series can be so rewarding.

Although I loved the core gameplay, I really appreciated some of the less glamorous features that made the monster hunting loop so much smoother. In particular, a number of systems for item management made handling the dozens of plants, insects, materials, monster components, and gear much less tedious than I was expecting. I'd like to highlight some of these features below.

Auto-crafting

Monster Hunter: World has pages and pages of items you can craft, from standard healing items to traps, bombs, and ammo. Many of the ingredients you gather out in the world exist only to be crafted. Herbs become Potions, Flashbugs become Flash Pods, Blastnuts become Sticky Ammo. Thankfully, Monster Hunter: World allows you to toggle "auto-crafting" on for these items and others.

In the picture below, I have it set up so any Herbs I pick up will be automatically crafted into Potions, if I do not already have the maximum 10 potions in my inventory. Similarly, my Potions will be automatically combined with any gathered Honey to create Mega Potions (again subject to capacity). I have similar auto-crafts set up for Antidotes and Herbal Medicine (Antidote + Blue Mushroom), and other items not pictured (like Flash Pods and Dung Pods) on additional pages.

I cannot imagine how the game would feel if, while out of potions in the middle of a fight, I had to grab an herb, open the menu, select the crafting menu, craft a potion, close the menu, drink a potion, and continue fighting. Even without the pressure of combat, it feels nice to be able to craft items without stopping while searching for a monster or chasing one down.

Nested Crafting

As mentioned above, many items in Monster Hunter: World are crafted out of other crafted items. For example, a Mega Armorskin is created by combining an Armorskin and a Nourishing Extract. An Armorskin is a Catalyst and an Adamant Seed. A Catalyst is a Bitterbug plus Honey. These types of nested crafting recipes can be a mess as you try to work back through the components seeing what you need to create.

In the video below, you can see how Monster Hunter: World allows you to easily handle these multi-step crafting recipes. As an example, I try to craft an Ancient Potion, which requires Immunizers that I do not have. Upon trying to begin the craft, a window automatically pops up allowing me to craft Immunizers. Again, I am missing a Catalyst required to make the Immunizer, so once again a window pops up to craft that item. I can then craft my way through the components in reverse order until I end up back at the Ancient Potions.


There is no switching back and forth between recipes, trying to remember what you need to craft. If I want to craft an item, no matter how many subcomponents are required, I can always craft that item in one continuous action, as long as I have all the base ingredients. Since I am often carrying upgraded potions, elixirs, and tools into combat in the endgame, being able to craft the highest tier items easily is very helpful.

Loadouts

Due to the substantial variation in monster weaknesses and behavior, gear, and even objectives (kill vs. capture), it is often advantageous to change up what you take into the field. Monster Hunter: World has easily customizable loadouts for both items and equipped gear to make these frequent switches easier.

Here you can see some quick item and gear loadouts I made. The process is as simple as setting up the items once and then registering that loadout. After that, you can always instantly switch to that loadout (with missing items ignored). I even use my generic item loadout to quickly dump items I've gathered in the field back into my item box; by choosing that loadout, all extra items are sent to my box, leaving me with my standard items and a cleaner inventory.

Gear loadouts work the same way, although I didn't use them as much until the endgame. Eventually, I ended up making a specific loadout for each elder dragon, changing up my armor or equipped decorations accordingly. Being able to test out new gear but easily return to a standard build also makes experimentation less disruptive.

Wishlists

Of course, many of the items referenced above have to be crafted. In the case of gear, these materials are almost entirely specific monster components (tails, hides, scales, gems, etc.). With each monster having many different pieces of varying rarities, keeping track of what you need to craft a set of armor could easily become overwhelming.

Below is an example of Monster Hunter: World's wishlist system which helps to manage item acquisition. In the field, you get notifications when finding any of the materials still needed for wishlisted items. You even get a reminder notification upon returning to town when you have the necessary items. There are only six wishlist slots available, and I do wish that amount was slightly higher (8-10?), but six is probably enough for many players.

Alternate Item Sources

Finally, Monster Hunter: World has some great features unlocked throughout the story that offer alternate methods of gathering items. You can plant, fertilize, and harvest plants, fungi, and bugs. You can send allies out to find items. A trader occasionally stops by offering packages of items. You can convert unused items into certain other items, or trade prints from special limited bounties or events for rare items.

Although I do love hunting monsters, sometimes there is just that one item I need that eludes me. It is great to have another possibility for finding that item so I can focus on other aspects of the game in the meantime. For example, I often use the garden to keep up supplies of honey (for mega potions) and flash bugs (for flash pods), two items which I almost always bring with me.


All of these item management features serve to keep my attention where it belongs: monster hunting. Reducing the friction of menu navigation let me spend most of my time engaging with the rewarding combat and exploration. I would love to see more games with deep item systems implement similarly helpful "quality-of-life" features.