Don’t be put off by the difficulty – Monster Hunter World: Iceborne has plenty to offer the casual player

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First off, there’s something you should know about me: I’m a total, unashamed scrub when it comes to most video games. I’m the king of cheese; the leg-sweeper extraordinaire. If there’s an easy mode, I’ll take it. And yet, despite all that, I’m loving my time with Iceborne, the hard-edged expansion for Monster Hunter World – itself a breakout success for the long-running, much-loved series, earning 13 million sales and the title of Capcom’s best-selling game to date.

Capcom was kind enough to supply early access to Iceborne, and a decent amount of early access too – it’s been sitting on my PS4’s hard-drive for well over a month. And, for the most part, I’ve been absolutely terrified of it. Iceborne is best seen as an analogue of the old G Rank editions that used to follow in the wake of mainline handheld Monster Hunter games, folding in the base game along with a suite of new features and some truly testing challenges. Iceborne does all that, but being an expansion to Monster Hunter World it gets straight down to business, its opening monster – the bastard ice-shark Beotodus – not being shy in savaging new players. We’re not in Astera anymore, Toto.

Iceborne players should, in theory, be prepared for Beotodus, given that you can’t even knock on the front door of Hoarfrost, the new area introduced in the expansion, without having first completed the base Monster Hunter game. Going back to my original save file, I realised that – shock horror! – I couldn’t even quite claim to having done that; despite some 80 hours invested, I stopped playing while in the midst of taking down the final three elder dragons. Blame my ability to get sidetracked by one of the countless other diversions in Monster Hunter World, or my desire to simply go out into the wilds and run alongside my beloved Paolumu one more time.

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