Recently, I went back and started playing a little bit of Destiny 2. It was fairly good timing, as it brought me back into the game right around the time Bungie decided to announce their plans for the future. However, it also served as a reminder that while Destiny has impeccable gunplay, I cannot stand its progression system. The arguments will flood in that it’s supposed to be like an MMO, and thus the constant grind is warranted and that’s not an easily disputed argument. But I spent so much time looking at quests that required me to kill ridiculous numbers of enemies via methods I don’t like or normally use. It got to the point I found myself constantly thinking, “Wow, I wish this was more like Monster Hunter.” For some, that’s an absolute apples and oranges comparison, and that may be totally true, but nevertheless, Monster Hunter World was the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought of a good progression system.
So what makes Monster Hunter World‘s progression so effective? Well for one, it’s the constant unlocking of new content. As the name would imply, hunting monsters is going to be your main activity in the game. Very few times does a hunt end without the next quest immediately introducing a new monster. Occasionally, the game does send you on some grindier investigations in order to unlock the next monster, but these are usually pretty quick affairs. This means you’re rarely hunting the same monster repeatedly unless you want to. Not only do the monsters unlock at a quick pace, but they also bring armor and weapons with them.
After every new monster, you can go to the blacksmith and see what new armor or weapons you can make. This is probably unreasonably exciting for me, but I loved that feeling of finishing a hunt and immediately running to the blacksmith to see what new armor I could make. In many RPGs, these types of rewards are random. That boss could drop this gear unique to the fight. But will it? Who knows? In fairness, you will probably have to fight the monster a few times to get all the materials for a full armor set, but at the very least, you know exactly what you’re going to get when you’ve got the necessary crafting materials. You also don’t even have to make the whole set if you just want a few pieces from it.
Regarding those dropped materials though, I will concede that sometimes monsters just will not drop the materials that you need from them, and thus you do have to fight the monster several times. There are some mechanics in place to alleviate the grind of this. For starters, you can choose to capture monsters instead of killing them to increase the number of rewards and/or the occurrence of specific rewards. Breaking a specific part on the monster will also grant you the material associated with it. These mechanics allow you a little more control over what you’re specifically getting. You also gain some amount of resources if you fail. I’ve had at least one instance where I went into a hunt needing a few specific resources, and then failed the hunt, but the resources I needed still dropped. So even failure is somewhat rewarded in this game.
Most any kind of grind tends to be for more endgame monsters as well, so it’s not something you’ll encounter that often until you near the end of the game. Even in Iceborne, there was a weapon I wanted to make and I realized I had almost everything I needed to not only make it, but also upgrade it, just from fighting the monster once during the main campaign. Should that one monster part continually elude you, however, there is also a mechanic in which you can trade an item for the rarest material for each monster. The item you have to trade is usually acquired by completing side objectives that are honestly pretty easy to get done while you’re doing other tasks, as long as you’re aware of the conditions of the side objectives.
There is also one thing that makes World/Iceborne less grindy than past games. In past games, there were often materials required for armor and weapons that required part breaks. For example, I wanted to make both the Mizutsune armor and bow in Generations Ultimate. However, doing so required a lot of Mizutsune claws. Mizutsune claws had a very low chance of dropping unless you broke the nails off of the monster during the fight. This meant I spent an unreasonable amount of time shooting Mizutsune in the feet, which needless to say was not very fun.
World/Iceborne mostly cuts this type of thing out. While yes, you can increase your chances of getting a certain material by breaking the monster part associated with it, there’s still a pretty decent change you’ll get it just from capturing or killing the monster. The aforementioned rewards despite failure also didn’t really exist in past games unless you exited in the middle of a quest. Overall, between the speedy unlocking of new monsters, each monster having its own unique gear you can immediately start working towards, various ways to increase odds of wanted materials, rewards for failure, and a lack of part break specific parts, Monster Hunter World always makes you feel like you’re earning something.