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Summer Game Fest: Monster Hunter Wilds Demo Preview

Monster Hunter Wilds Screenshot

The Monster Hunter series has taunted me for years, but I’ve never dipped my toes in. Maybe it’s because the gear grind doesn’t sound like my speed or because fans of the series love it so intensely it’s a bit intimidating.

After watching a brief 30-minute gameplay demo of Monster Hunter Wilds at Summer Game Fest, I know one thing for sure: I’ll be buying this game day one. It looks fantastic.

Of course, keep all that in mind as I talk through what I saw: I know some of what’s new, but I don’t have the knowledge of a veteran to get into the specific details or comparisons. With that, let’s dive in!

We started out in the base camp, with NPCs and a smithy’s abound. We didn’t get to spend much time here, but one thing that sticks out about the space along with everything else that we saw: there’s just so much detail. You can tell a ton of care has gone into the space, including the characters. NPCs like Gemma the blacksmith with her huge, messy hair are already a huge hit, but of course, the camp is also full of adorable Palicoes working away and looking busy.

A screenshot of Gemma the blacksmith looking determined in Monster Hunter Wilds

That level of care became even more apparent when our presenter opened up the world map and showed off the Windward Plains, one area we can explore in Monster Hunter Wilds. Apparently the map is going to be roughly twice the size of anything we’ve seen before in the series, and there are a ton of verticality and environmental objects to interact with. We also get a mount to quickly explore the plains from the beginning because of the size and the team wanting us to be able to get around more quickly.

Before we got to explore that vast space, we made a quick stop at Konafa Village, a bustling city with a very specific specialty: cheese. They raise their own animals to make the cheese, and the merchants there seem to traffic in it almost exclusively. At first, this seemed like an odd thing to show off—especially as someone who isn’t overly fond of cheese. But then I realized this is yet another example of the kind of detailed precision they’re going for where locations feel lived in and unique. I’m curious to see what else they have in store throughout the plains.

Finally, it was time for the hunt! The presenter showed off the map again, where I noticed just how much information was laid out on there, including which monsters appear in a given space and even showing what time of day they appear.

After that, we prepped a quick (delicious-looking) meal and were off on the hunt. We didn’t have to accept a quest and simply found it in the field. It impressed me that as we left the town we seamlessly transitioned out into the field, and this will be true throughout the game: no loading screens, and no getting pushed back to the camp after a hunt is over. Free and smooth exploration is the order of the day here.

Our hunt mark was the Alpha Doshaguma, and we slowly approached it using a cloak to avoid aggroing the rest of the herd. Then, the player started wailing on the Doshaguma with their great sword. This is actually when the “quest” to attack the monster appeared — no need to pick it up before. I know this is a new feature, and I’m sure this will create a more dynamic feel to the exploration in Monster Hunter Wilds.

A screenshot of the Dasheguma in Monster Hunter Wilds

It all seemed pretty normal to me at this point, but that’s when the environmental factors the developers have been promising came into play. When we drew the attention of the rest of the herd, we hopped on our mount to create some distance. In the process, the rest of the herd got trapped in a pit of quicksand created by another monster we’ll eventually hunt. Apparently, these environmental traps are littered throughout the space and can pop up at any moment. The Alpha was powerful enough to escape the trap, though, and it kept pursuing us as we pulled out our ranged weapon to draw it into a more favorable space.

That’s when what the developers are calling a “dynamic weather event” hit, and not only did the world turn dark with lightning striking all around us, but an “apex” monster that only appears during these events came out to attack. Luckily, the apex monster started attacking the Doshaguma instead of us, dishing out massive damage. While the hunt was distracted, they took this opportunity to hop on top of it to chip away at it with a hunting knife, but it eventually led to the opportunity to do a special attack, dishing out huge damage. We then hopped off and tried to lead it into any number of additional traps — rocks to drop on it, fires on the ground from lightning strikes, and some traps we could set ourselves to keep our prey in place.

The number of environments we can use to our advantage (or that might harm us) is simply absurd in Monster Hunter Wilds, promising to lean into something previous games have done, but a lot more. Of course, I know that the video we watched is highly curated and played by an expert, but if they deliver on even half of what we saw during the demo, it’ll be a blast.

A screenshot of a bolt of lightning coming down in Monster Hunter Wilds

Later in the fight, the player took the opportunity to fast travel away a short distance to a camp and adjust equipment before returning to Doshaguma. The monster had run back off to its lair, so we had to go hunt it down again, but it wasn’t a long walk. I know I’m new to the series, but I love the idea of the fight being dynamic enough for us to walk away so we can retool before heading back out on the hunt. It feels realistic and like a nice way to take a break, especially with the fast travel always available.

After we caught back up with our mark, the phase of the day changed again, this time to the “phase of plenty” — a time with environmental factors more focused on healing us and less on damaging the quarry. That’s when they showed of the “focus” system — a way to attack wounds on the monster and dish out massive damage.

And with that, after almost 20 minutes in varied, intense combat, our hunt was down, and of course we needed to grab our loot off the Doshaguma to craft new weapons and strengthen the ones we already have.

To put it simply, I think Monster Hunter Wilds is going to pull even more people into the fold of the series by fully embracing the openness they’ve introduced with the last two Monster Hunter titles. The extraordinary dynamism of the combat and our interactions with the environment were simply jaw-dropping and took me from someone who is pretty interested in the series to someone who can’t wait to get home and fire up Monster Hunter Rise to get ready for Wilds.

Monster Hunter Wilds will release sometime in 2025 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Be sure to stay tuned to RPGFan for more news on Wilds as we get closer to release!

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Zach Wilkerson

Zach Wilkerson

After avidly following RPGFan for years, Zach joined as a Reviews Editor in 2018, and somehow finds himself helping manage the Features department now. When he's not educating the youth of America, he can often be heard loudly clamoring for Lunar 3 and Suikoden VI.

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