The 30th May 2019 issue of Weekly Famitsu includes an interview regarding upcoming Monster Hunter: World expansion Iceborne with executive director/art director Fujioka Kaname, producer Tsujimoto Ryouzou, and director Ichihara Daisuke.
Tsujimoto says that Iceborne is the Monster Hunter: World equivalent of “G” versions of previous games, which have more content than the base versions. Though Iceborne is also available as DLC, the base concept is the same as with the G versions of previous games, and the reason why Iceborne is not actually called Monster Hunter: World G is because “G” was never actually used in overseas releases of the games, and as a result of them wanting to standardise things between releases in World, they decided to have a title that would be shared between all regions for this release.
Fujioka says that the new rank added in Iceborne being “Master Rank” instead of “G Rank” is also for this reason, as while Japanese players know what “G Rank” means, this does not necessarily apply to overseas players, and they wanted to come up with a term that would be easy to understand for people all around the world.
Tsujimoto says that Master Rank is unlocked immediately after clearing MH:W’s main story, specifically the quest with Xeno’jiiva, and that though the majority of Iceborne’s story takes place on the new Hoarfrost Reach field, Master Rank also includes quests on the pre-existing fields as well.
Ichihara is asked about his work as director of Iceborne, and he says that development on Iceborne was carried out at the same time as Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch. Though this kept him very busy, as Generations Ultimate was a port, he was able to focus mainly on Iceborne. Tsujimoto says that the updates to Monster Hunter: World are not content that they had already made and are simply releasing, but that they are creating it as they go along, and because they felt that having MH:W director Tokuda Yuuya handle both updates and the Iceborne expansion would be too much of a burden on him, they had Ichihara handle Iceborne on a separate development line from the updates.
The story of Iceborne takes place after MH:W’s main story, where new discoveries are made about the new world, which leads the fifth fleet to a new area. While they refrain from elaborating on the story, saying that the details are to be revealed later, they do note that it would be odd for an icey area to be connected to the places seen in MH:W, and Fujioka says that while the Hoarfrost Reach is “technically” a part of the new world, it is not necessarily connected to it geographically.
The level design in Iceborne has the Hoarfrost Reach open up to players gradually, and trying to keep it compact resulted in early parts of the expansion feel overly compressed, and as a result the map grew larger, to the point that it is the biggest field in all of MH:W. Fujioka says that they added in many environmental objects and other things so that players do not find movement to be troublesome, and when the interviewer asks about player movement through deep snow says that it is similar to that of the swamp areas in the Wildspire Waste.
The player can beat back the cold by crafting and consuming hot drinks from hot peppers, or by resting in hot springs which give the same effect as hot drinks for a time.
The “clutch claw”, which allows players to grapple and hang onto monsters, is brought up next. Tsujimoto says that this is a completely different mechanic from mounting monsters, which still remains in the game, and that while the clutch claw can be used at any time, bad aim or timing can result in a monster simply knocking the hunter off.
All weapon types can now use the slinger while drawn, and because this was something originally only for the sword and shield, they are balancing this out by adding new special features to the sword and shield. Other weapons also get new features such as some getting the ability to fire “flinch shots” which have lesser range but can cause monsters to flinch easier than regular shots, the dual blades being able to fire flinch shots while dodging or use the clutch claw the grapple onto a monster directly from a combo while in demon mode, and the light bowgun getting new parts such as one which allows the player to reload one shot when performing a slide dodge which also stacks, allowing the player to reload multiple shots while dodging by equipping several.
The new monsters are discussed next:
The Banbaro is found in the early to mid parts of the expansion, and is very territorial. It mainly uses simple charging attacks, but the reach of its attacks can change when it digs up trees and rocks from under the snow.
The Beotodus is the first monster that the player encounters in the Hoarfrost Reach, and uses tricky attacks that utilise the snow, and the player has to figure out how to get it out of the snow, and Ichihara says that as the first monster of Master Rank, they made it to represent Master Rank and show off new features of Iceborne.
The Nargacuga is found in the Ancient Forest as part of the story which has the ecosystem of the entire new world undergoing changes, with new monsters appearing on the pre-existing fields. Ichihara says that it was added as they wanted to add a powerful monster that could challenge the Rathalos, and Fujioka says that as a returning monster they hope it will satisfy people who liked it in previous games, and that it will also have new elements from MH:W such as turf war fights with other monsters.
As MH:W’s story is mainly about chasing after elder dragons, they felt that Iceborne too needed one, and as the setting of the expansion features ice and snow, they decided to stick with the theme and make an ice elemental elder dragon, the Velkhana. Fujioka says that they cannot reveal a lot of the details yet, and asks for fans to wait for further news.
The new outfit the hunter uses in the Hoarfrost Reach is brought up, and Fujioka reveals that it is actually a layered armour, saying that it would be too much to ask players to abandon their equipment for something new all of a sudden. The layered armour is put on at the beginning of Iceborne’s story, and can be removed at any time from then on.
Palicoes also receive new content, such as new moves and master rank equipment. An example is an upgraded version of the vigorwasp spray which lets the player revive once after passing out.
Like with MH:W, Iceborne will also have multiple free updates adding new content, and Tsujimoto says that further details will be revealed at a later date.
The interview concludes with Ichihara teasing that there will be more returning monsters in Iceborne, Fujioka saying that they had fun working on the expansion and that he hopes players will enjoy it too, and Tsujimoto saying that new information on Iceborne will be available at E3 2019.
- Monster Hunter: World: Iceborne- New Details, Versions Revealed
- Monster Hunter: World – Dengeki Developer Interview
- Monster Hunter: World – Global Game Business Summit Presentation (TGS2018)
- What does it take for a Japanese game to succeed globally? (TGS2018 GGBS panel)
Monster Hunter: World: Iceborne will be released worldwide for consoles on 6th September 2019, and on Steam in winter 2019
This article was amended on 16th May 2019 to make wording in some parts clearer.