It was during E3 2017 in June that we first laid eyes on Monster Hunter: World, a new addition to the hugely popular Capcom franchise that will grace the PS4, Xbox One and PC in January 2018 for the first time after a long history of releases for handheld consoles like the 3DS and PSP.
This will follow a first beta that goes live worldwide on 9 December. PS4 owners will get a unique feature, too: the ability to play as Horizon Zero Dawn's Aloy.
Understandably, Monster Hunter fans are getting extremely excited about the game, and we can see why. The power of PS4 and Xbox One means that the game can be taken to a whole new level of awesome.
But we'll still see all of the familiar gameplay elements that we know and love in Monster Hunter: World, including all fourteen weapons from Monster Hunter Generations, four player co-op and even the little BBQ Spit for cooking meat.
Read on to find out more about the gameplay, watch videos of it in action and discover everything there is to know so far about Monster Hunter: World.
For more of the most exciting games coming soon, visit: Best upcoming games 2017.
When is Monster Hunter: World coming out?
When Capcom first took to the stage to announce Monster Hunter World, we didn't let ourselves get too excited because, in the past, Monster Hunter games have generally come out in Japan several months ahead of the UK and US launch.
However, the company has since revealed that it aims to release the game worldwide simultaneously in early 2018 so there really isn't that long to wait. The exact date, it confirmed at the Tokyo Game Show, is 26 January 2018.
This is possible because, for the first time ever, players from Japan (where the game originates and is absolutely enormous in terms of popularity) will be able to play Monster Hunter with players from Western regions on the same servers.
In fact, Capcom has been working on Monster Hunter World behind the scenes for three years.
If you're planning on playing Monster Hunter World on PC, Capcom says that it is coming in 2018, but it will arrive a few months after the PS4 and Xbox One versions will.
You will be able to buy a collector's edition and digital deluxe edition of the game, as well as a Monster Hunter World edition PS4 Pro.
Monster Hunter: World gameplay
So what will playing Monster Hunter World be like and how will it differ from previous Monster Hunter games?
We've had some really in-depth looks at the gameplay thanks to several streams and extended videos from Capcom. The first is shown above, and is a brilliant 23 minutes long, while the second is a Monster Hunter: World Ancient Forest Gameplay video that you can watch below.
Then, during Gamescom 2017, Capcom and IGN teamed up for a further 23 minute gameplay demonstration.
We were treated to yet another video at the Tokyo Game Show:
And again at Paris Games Week 2017:
To us, it looks like the Monster Hunter we're familiar with but with additional power that has never been achievable before.
For a start, the monsters themselves are more intelligent and have a powerful AI that means they can fight against each other and eat each other like they would in a real food chain. Players can use this to their advantage, so tactical gameplay will be more important than ever.
The maps look like they're going to be huge, and unlike the current Monster Hunter games there will be no loading screens within them. Instead you'll be able to move freely around each map to gather, hunt and collaborate with other hunters, and these maps will even have a day and night cycle that will change the way some monsters behave.
Plus, some of the environment will be destructible. Break down walls to make new paths, flood monsters out of particular areas or use trees to pin down monsters for a short time.
The downside to these improved maps is that escape is much more difficult if you find yourself in a tricky situation. You won't be able to run into the next area to heal or sharpen your weapon mid fight. The good news is that you won't have to stop and stand still while you eat or drink. Instead, you can heal while you're on the move.
If you've embarked on a quest alone but run into a monster that's more ferocious than you had anticipated, you can even fire up a flare to invite additional hunters to join you no matter where you are in the quest. Alternatively, you can team up with up to four friends or other hunters online in the Guild Hall before you embark.
Also new are stealth elements to the gameplay, again making hunts more tactical than before. You can throw rocks to distract monsters, or hide within tall grass. There are even camouflage items that you can wear to sneak up on them and mount them.
In order to throw rocks, you'll need to use the new Slinger, which can also be used to reach higher places and pull down rock formations.
That's after you've found them, of course, which is also different in Monster Hunter Worlds. You'll be able to track monsters down by examining footprints, mucus and more, after which you'll be helped out by Scout flies which will lead you right to the monster itself.
Attacking the monster will produce damage numbers with every hit, so you can determine which weapons work best and where to hit for maximum damage. We're glad that there is no health bar for the monsters though, because part of the fun is not knowing how close it is to death.
If you decide that the weapon you're using isn't working particularly well on the monster you're hunting, you'll be able to quick travel back to base camp to swap it out, but only when you are not in combat.
Gathering items seems to have changed for the better, too. Instead of the slow process of picking things up, you'll now be able to quickly grab them, even if you're running.
There are some gameplay elements missing from Monster Hunter World, though. Prowler Mode, which was introduced in Monster Hunter Generations and let you run around as your trusty feline companion, doesn't seem to be part of the new game. You will still be able to bring a Palico with you on solo quests, though.
And even Hunting Arts, which also emerged as part of Monster Hunter Generations, seem to have been discontinued.
As mentioned, you'll be able to team up with up to four other players, but there is a single-player mode available both online and offline too. This time, the quest system will be the same in both modes.
However, Monster Hunter Worlds producer Ryozo Tsujimoto has said in an interview with GameInformer, that the developers have worked hard to break the barrier between single player and multiplayer. While in previous games, online quests were too difficult for most solo players to tackle, Monster Hunter World will scale the difficulty depending on how many players are involved.
"In single, you can do everything by yourself," Tsujimoto said. "You can also call on other people during single-player if you want to change things up or have gotten in trouble with an SOS flare to have friends or anyone playing on the server help you."
"If you want to play as a lone hunter, you can totally do that and enjoy the story yourself. We want to make sure players have the option to play the game the way they want to."
Unfortunately, you won't be able to play cross platform with your friends, so if you all use different consoles you're out of luck.
In that same interview, Tsujimoto reassured hardcore Monster Hunter fans that, despite making the game more accessible to newcomers, it is still going to be just as fun for those at a higher skill level that have played previous versions of the game.
"This is the game you know and love," he said. "It's just that it's no longer quite so difficult to get to the point in the game where you're having fun. There's plenty of opportunity for people to enjoy the game no matter their skill level."
For a closer look at all of the weapons available in Monster Hunter World, as well as a few additional gameplay videos, follow the Monster Hunter YouTube channel. We'll update you with all of the newest Monster Hunter news right here in the run up to its launch, too.
Monster Hunter World DLC
Tsujimoto has confirmed in an interview with Polygon that the game will get free DLC. "We will continue to release free quests as we always have," he said at Gamescom. He also suggested that the nature of consoles means that there could be some quests that are only available for a limited time, which would have previously been unfair to portable players who were not always connected to the internet.
"We have made sure we are putting the colume of gameplay people expect from a Monster Hunter," he clarified, suggesting that there'll be plenty to keep us entertained even without the DLC.