With the Monster Hunter World: Iceborne expansion now just weeks away, today Capcom released a double-bill look at Iceborne's story and monsters, as well as some balance and quality of life changes coming in the title update launching alongside the expansion. You can watch the Old Everwyrm trailer above, and if you've got an hour to spare, you can watch the second Iceborne dev diary here. Fortunately for you, we've pulled out the 10 most important details from these two videos below.
1. Velkhana isn't the only new Elder Dragon
Velkhana has been the talk of Hoarfrost Reach since Iceborne was first announced, and it is the star of today's trailer, but Capcom also unveiled another Elder Dragon today. It's called Namielle, and where Velkhana specializes in ice, Namielle commands the element of water. That's about all we know about Namielle at this stage, sadly. I'm dying to see its armor and weapons, because its fish-like features look incredible.
2. Brachydios looks amazing
Speaking of monsters that look incredible: after a brief teaser, today Capcom gave Brachydios a proper World welcome with a look at its attacks and animations. Brachydios has all its old tricks, but director Daisuke Ichihara also teased that it's got some new moves as well, including different ways to spread its explosive slime around. That slime will also behave differently and explode more quickly in some situations, which ought to throw off players who've fought this brute wyvern before.
3. There are more monsters to come
The Monster Hunter World: Iceborne monsters list is already well into the double-digits, and now we've got two Elder Dragons on the roster. Nevertheless, Capcom says it has more new monsters to reveal between now and Iceborne's console release on September 6. Popular candidates include Gammoth, a snowy mammoth which would fit right in with the expansion's theme, and Zinogre, which was reportedly spotted in some Iceborne merch at a Japanese event. It's also possible we'll see more subspecies or all-new monsters. Fingers crossed.
4. Iceborne's story is more character-focused
From what we can tell, Iceborne kicks off with a look at the Legiana migration, possibly catalyzed by Velkhana or other Elder Dragon activity, and expands into a Hoarfrost Reach adventure. However, judging from the new story trailer, the expansion will also flesh out characters from the main storyline. Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto said we'll see much more of the Handler, Trapper, and Field Team Leader as we brave the icy new world. The Handler's personality started to grow on me toward the end, and the Trapper and Field Team Leader could definitely use a more active role, so it'll be interesting to see them take center stage.
5. Elemental weapons are getting buffed
Apart from a few exceptions, the Monster Hunter World weapon meta is firmly grounded in non-elemental weapons - so much so that Capcom is buffing elemental weapons in Iceborne to make them more competitive. Elemental weapons will now scale up more strongly, with higher caps on their damage as well as better base values. Together with the ice- and water-type monsters coming in Iceborne, not to mention all those subspecies, this will hopefully make building the ideal loadout more strategically interesting.
6. Skills have been rebalanced for Master Rank
Iceborne will introduce Master Rank difficulty, and with it a whole new tier of armor with new skills. Master Rank gear will also expand and strengthen existing skills, so several of those skills have been rebalanced to compensate. Some underused skills are getting buffs, while some of the strongest skills are receiving slight nerfs that better distribute their power. Here's a shortlist of the biggest changes:
- Weakness Exploit: now grants 30% affinity (down from 50%) at level three. You can still reach 50% affinity by using the Clutch Claw weaken attacks.
- Critical Eye: now grants 40% affinity (up from 30%) at max level.
- Maximum Might: now activates once your stamina is full for several seconds. If you use any stamina, the effect will last for another few seconds.
- Critical Element: elemental critical attacks will deal more damage.
- Critical Status: when you deal a critical hit with great sword, hammer, hunting horn, or heavy bowgun, you'll deal more status damage.
- Non-Elemental Boost: attack power bonus decreased.
- Heavy Artillery: attack power for ballistae and cannons increased to 100% at level two (up from 20%) to help with siege hunts.
7. Most weapons are getting some kind of balance change
Almost every weapon is being tweaked in some way in the Iceborne-adjacent title update. Before we get into a few problem weapons receiving particularly potent tweaks, here's a shortlist of balance changes:
- Great Sword: True Charged Slash 1 and 2 nerfed slightly, with some of that power moved into other charge moves. Most moves will deal more elemental and status damage.
- Long Sword: Foresight Slash requires Spirit for Critical Eye follow-up. Its hitbox was also adjusted (read: made less forgiving).
- Dual Blades: elemental damage of most attacks reduced slightly.
- Hammer: stun values of charge attacks increased.
- Hunting Horn: speed increased. Attack power of 'backwards strike' move increased.
- Switch Axe: evade distance and fade flash distance increased. New combo routes added for axe morph and elemental discharge cancel.
- Charge Blade: SAED elemental phials will detonate closer together, but SAED attack and elemental scaling decreased slightly. Normal elemental discharges will also deal slightly less damage to compensate for the new axe move, but normal sword and axe attacks will deal more damage.
- Insect Glaive: jumping attack power and mounting attack power increased. All weapons will mount and down monsters more easily.
- Bowguns: Normal and Pierce 3 shot damage increased. Elemental shots will deal more raw damage with lowered elemental scaling. Crafting elemental and status ammo will yield more shots per craft. Decreased heavy bowgun special ammo cooldown.
8. Bow is getting nerfed pretty hard
So, about those problem weapons. Bow, which has been doing disgusting things to every monster in the game due to a busted combination of lenient critical distance and bonkers elemental scaling, is being nerfed pretty much across the board. Its body part damage, elemental scaling, and shot scaling is being reigned in. The good news is that it's also getting a new "super critical distance" which will buff shots when fired at optimal range (i.e. not right in a monster's face with the illogical close-range coating).
9. Aerial Great Sword is also getting a big nerf
The only weapons that can reliably compete with top-tier bow hunt times are charge blade and great sword, and while both of these are getting some fundamental changes to encourage more varied play, one particular aspect of great sword is getting nuked from orbit. That wasn't Capcom's exact wording, but I'm reading between the lines here. I am, of course, referring to the infamous aerial great sword hunting style wherein players spam aerial attacks by repeatedly rolling off a ledge. We can debate the legitimacy of this hunting style all day - and to be fair it does take some skillful setup - but the fact is, it's getting nerfed. Aerial great sword attacks will deal much less damage going forward, so get your roll spamming in now.
10. Highly requested quality of life hunting changes are coming
World did a great job of smoothing over some of Monster Hunter's most annoying idiosyncrasies, but some problems remained. Happily, Iceborne and its title update will introduce plenty of highly requested fixes and features, including:
- HUD toggle on/off
- Health and stamina gauge display settings (so you can always see your bars)
- Color-blind settings
- Default return destinations for hunts can be changed
- When you crash-land in an area outside of a camp, it will either be an area with rare gathering spots or the area with the monster in it
- More camera speed and scoutfly tracking options
- Faster tracking progress when tracking undiscovered monsters in the story
- More item box space and equipment loadouts (as long as you purchase Iceborne)
"We really delivered on that" - Capcom talks about the increased difficulty in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.