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Monster Hunter: World PSX 2017 Preview: Musical Mayhem

For the PlayStation 4 users that weren't able to attend this year's PlayStation Experience, the weekend wasn't a total loss. Over the weekend, PlayStation Plus users got to take part in a special Monster Hunter: World online beta and hunt for a Great Jagras, Anjanath, and Barroth. Over the course of the hunt, they also got to check out a number of other monsters that inhabited each monster's ecosystem.

Shacknews also got to take part in a hunt, but this one took place on the PlayStation Experience floor. Like the rest of the PlayStation Plus demo players, we were on a hunt for the Great Jagras. But for the purposes of this particular Monster Hunter: World demo, Shacknews opted to go in a slightly different direction.

The first question asked of me was what my typical role was in an RPG. After answering that I was more of a support player, I was directed to the Hunting Horn weapon, which I'll explain in just a second. After visiting the nearby handler, I was on my way to hunt down the monster, along with three other PlayStation Experience attendees.

The first minutes of the hunt are spent following nearby scout flies, a new mechanic to the Monster Hunter series. They follow the monster's tracks and illuminate its trail. In the meantime, I got to familiarize myself with my new weapon. In addition to packing a punch at a decent range, the Hunting Horn's main function is to support surrounding allies. And it supports them through the power of music! By hitting certain button combinations, the Hunting Horn can queue up select party buffs. For example, it can buff the party's attack power or help them recover health quickly.

As I prepped the Hunting Horn, I hear a teammate exclaim that they spotted the monster. Rushing over, I see that the party are all whacking away at the creature. I keep to a safe distance and deploy my Hunting Horn song, increasing their attack stats and giving them some extra power. After that, I decide to go in and attack myself. Unfortunately, the Hunting Horn is a slow piece of work. There's a longer wind-up before the swing, so those looking to strike quickly won't exactly be able to do so with this weapon.

The monster eventually makes a break for it, but the scout flies have it marked. That means the party easily finds it again in an underground area. However, the monster has found some trouble in the form of another monster. Apparently, our Great Jagras entered another creature's domain uninvited and it wasn't taking too kindly to this new visitor. Our party just stopped entirely and allowed the two to go at it. As we watched our target's health diminish, I played more songs on the Hunting Horn to prepare more buffs. Up to three buffs can be queued at a time.

Eventually, our target tried to bail out again, so the party rushed in for the kill. However, we were quickly separated once the other monster started attacking me and another party member. As we distracted the monster long enough to make our escape, our teammates had already delivered the final blow to the Great Jagras, concluding a successful hunt.

Monster Hunter: World looks like it's going to be ripe for epic hunts and fish stories. Not only do targets exhibit their own behaviors, but the rest of the landscape is filled with its own AIs that go about their business and can create entirely new variables. A lot of things can go right on a hunt and a lot more can go wrong, but hunting a target will rarely be the same experience twice.

Full disclosure, I've never played a Monster Hunter game prior to trying out World. But from my experience with this world, its monsters, and my PlayStation Experience teammates, my curiosity is piqued and I'd love to see if the rest of my hunting experiences match up this one. Monster Hunter: World is set to release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 26, with a PC version set to come later.

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