The PC version of the Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter World came out today. So last night I decided it might be an idea to jump back in and see if I could perhaps shake off a little of the rust. You know- basic stuff. Relearning what buttons did what. How to string together attacks with my chosen weapon. In general — how to not die horribly should a monster give me much more attention than a wet sneeze.

It probably would’ve been a good thing if I’d started this process earlier than the day before the expansion comes out. Particularly given two friends are still needing to get through the original main story still. One of them is a seasoned veteran for MHW, but on console. The other is brand spanking new.

One of the first things I noticed upon logging in — and it sparked a certain degree of heated response from me initially — is that at some point between when I last played and now, they’ve added in a ‘Defender’ set of armor and weapons.

These things have very low material requirement but are comparable to near end-game gear.

They’re a catch-up mechanic, basically. To allow for newcomers to speed through the original campaign and get into the Iceborne content alongside their friends ASAP.

I don’t have a problem with catch-up mechanics in general. In fact, I typically love them. My worry though is that Monster Hunter World’s campaign is a journey of learning. When to attack. When to dodge. When to just sheathe weapon, turn tail and run. Not enough? When to superman dive, too.

Give someone armor powerful enough that mistakes end up resulting in only the tiniest chink of health? Iceborne might become something of a very rude awakening. It may become a huge difficulty spike perception issue, rather than the more gradual curve the original game allowed.

Maybe it won’t be an issue. It isn’t like there is no hunt gating behind the upgrade chain. You will for example need to have successfully completed the Anjanath hunt before you can get past a certain threshold. To hit the max ranks, you will need Immortal Dragonscales from the Elder Dragons to max it out.

The main difference I suppose being that a single hunt of whatever is gating you should be enough to get through. The ‘grind’ element is gone if you play through the Defender weapon and armor sets. And that, I’m actually pretty comfortable with.

In any case, I wasn’t going to shake off much rust hunting low rank monsters with my friends. For much the reasons I went into before — mistakes were barely punished given the gear I had. So after they went to bed, I decided to check into what the blue exclamation mark quest was all about in town…

Wait… What’s Geralt Doing Here?

So I knew that there had been a Witcher / Monster Hunter World cross-over. But I thought I’d missed it. I don’t know if this is a returning event, or whether when I thought I’d missed it — it had just been the console versions. (The releases of content and events have remained staggered, unfortunately.)

In any case! Geralt was here! Through a portal — complaining about portals, as he does.

Then it put me on a mission as Geralt, and it was so superbly done. The fonts changed to match, dialogue trees in the style of Witcher 3 opened up. There was even a basic version of the monster investigation mechanic. There are side quests. You can choose how to handle certain events and your choices will result in different outcomes.

However you choose to approach it though, you’ll eventually come up against this guy.

A Leshen! In Monster Hunter World! (In the Ancient Forest, to be more precise.)

By default, Geralt comes along with his own sword and ‘shield’ (He uses Quen in bubble form, hah) — but you can equip him with any of the MHW weapon types for this hunt if you like. Given I was attempting to relearn how to play, I equipped him with a Long Sword.

And it was about the best thing ever, seeing Geralt swinging and rolling around a sword at least as big as he is.

The fight is tough, I might add. Or at least it was for me. You can also use the Igni sign which is fortunate. Because one of Leshen’s favourite tricks is to surround itself with a wall of impassable roots — while it then fires a swarm of crows out at you.

It also probably didn’t help that I completely forgot how the Bleed mechanic worked in MHW initially. (You need to stop moving for it to clear — if you keep moving you’ll take more damage and it’ll never run off.)

After a good while of dealing with roots popping out of the ground in various forms, crows being flung at me, bleeding, having local enemies summoned to join in the fray and carting (being knocked unconscious — you are carried by cart back to the nearest camp) twice I finally got the bugger down.

One more cart and it would’ve been all for naught — mission failure. I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t have rage quit (at least for the night) at that point if I had. xD

But as a learning experience it was fantastic. And as it turns out, you permanently unlock the ability for your hunter to (effectively) use Igni which is pretty awesome, I must say, as a flavour thing if nothing else.

And Iceborne?

I’ve done the introduction and setup the new expansion’s base of operations. It’s far too early to give any real impressions of the expansion as a whole — but I am hearing that there are technical issues plaguing the performance of the game for some people.

If that’s you, switching between the DX11 and 12 renderers may provide you better results while you await a full fix.

So far (fingers crossed) no such impact for myself.

I’m also going into this completely blind. I’ve not looked at any reviews or spoilers from the Playstation 4 release earlier in the year. I don’t know what monsters are here, what new sub-species we might have, what new armor sets or weapons — nothing.

What I have seen though is that the gear (particularly with regard to Armor) is night and day between the new Master Rank and the previous High Rank stuff. It’s an old-school WoW expansion level of gear reset. You’ll be replacing very quickly.

But I’m actually OK with this — I’ve replaced a few pieces of armor already, and look forward to seeing what else is out there. I won’t lie — the gear collection and upgrade aspect is a large part of the fun for me.

There is already so much that I’ve seen though — it’s really going to take some time to wrap my head around it all. But I’m very much excited to get started. :)


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.


Rakuno · January 10, 2020 at 4:09 pm

About the Defender set, if you are worried about people not learning mechanics… Well, they will have to learn it before Iceborne. At least if they want to solo the monsters. I killed Teostra on my own and even with all my preparations it was a tough fight. Not as tough as Nergigante but tough enough that I almost fainted a few times.

If they have someone more experience and with better gear though they definitely can be easily be carried through the fights. But then again that is something that could happen regardless of gear.

Myself I am just happy the Defender gear exists so I don’t have to grind before I can reach Icerborne. It is one of my love/hate relationships with the series. I like that each time we hunt the monsters we can feel it getting easier due to becoming more familiar/having better gear. But it is also frustrating the amount of time it can take to get a full gear set and weapon to hunt new monsters.

It is interesting the Witcher crossover quest is still available in the PC version. In the console version I believe it is like you said and not available anymore. At least it wasn’t when I checked some days ago. Unless I somehow missed it. I will check it again next time I play! XD

    Naithin · January 10, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve since done a little digging — the Geralt part of the Witcher cross-over is permanent for the PC version (unsure about console).

    But when it first launched, it had a short period of time where a multiplayer version existed where another player could be Ciri and you could as a pair, hunt another tougher monster. (Not sure if it was an ultimate Leshen similar to the Bahamut event, or whether it was something else entirely though.)

    I have definitely come around on the Defender gear as well I think. It does appear that the gating on the rank ups for it are still reasonable, and provide a means of getting into the Iceborn content in a reasonable period of time — without really having anyone to party with any more (I assume) for high rank Nerg farms or the like.

      Rakuno · January 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      I did a bit of research too. I *think* it is also available on the PS4 version too. The only reason I didn’t see it is because it requires Hunter Rank 16. My Hunter Rank is currently 15.

      I probably can get another Rank level as soon as I kill the last boss of the base game. If not then there are bunch of optional quests I’ve been meaning to do after I finish the story. XD

Frostilyte · January 11, 2020 at 2:55 am

Crouch you buffoon! You can still swchiggity schwoogity while crouching to get rid of bleed if you didn’t bring along the item to heal it. Very useful for avoiding further hits while you’re waiting for the recovery to take effect.

Excited to get to Iceborne myself, but I want to finish a few things on my plate first. Namely Yakuza 0. Because when I start playing Monster Hunter again it is going to be a several week affair that consumes most of my free time…

    Naithin · January 11, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Haha. I did eventually remember / work it out! Actually the challenging thing to work out was exactly what the status effect was. I don’t even know exactly how I did, just fragments of memory came back together enough to put the solution together. Although I remembered ‘stop moving you idiot’ clearly enough, and I *did* crouch — I actually didn’t remember for sure if the crouching helped or was necessary.

    But since it came as a kind of muscle memory to do it after getting bleed applied — I stuck with it and figured past me probably had this sorted. ;)

      Frostilyte · January 11, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. G. I. JHO!

Magi · January 11, 2020 at 5:01 am

I’m not sure if I’m the friend who’s brand-new to MHW but uhm, I’m brand-new to MHW and won’t be getting the new DLC until maybe next month…. we’ll see. After the exams.

I’m quite excited for it but I’m not even through with the main story line, yet. I’ve just defeated Zorah Magdaros and have encoutnered Nergigante only twice, so there’s probably going to be a fight against that one. I still didn’t get to craft up any of the advanced weapons but so far I didn’t really need it as the Defender Set actually carries you through all of it while the Defender Weapons are actually better than the fourth upgrade of some of the other weapons, both damage- and elemental-damage-wise!
I’m working on a few posts on MHW right now but I always forget to take screenshots and uhm… yeah. Oof.
While I can see your concern being a thing of Iceborne waking a lot of players up, it’s actually the case a lot earlier. Not too long ago, I was facing off against Diablos and he nearly downed me at least three times! I luckily got the chance to heal up in between but he does a ton of damage even with the Defender Armor equipped and he actually is quite mobile despite taking so little amounts of damage!

But I know that I’ll enjoy Iceborne once I’m through with the main game! Looking forward to it and to seeing your posts on it, though I may actually not reading them any time soon as I don’t want to spoil too much of the game yet :)

    Naithin · January 11, 2020 at 9:57 am

    It wasn’t you I was talking about, but cool to hear you’re playing too.

    re: Defender being better than some of the higher upgrades on the original weapons — yeah. That’s what struck me too as potentially being TOO handholdy, to the point of doing a disservice to players who then find themselves in a spot of bother come Iceborne when they return to the ‘proper’ progression path.

    But I think I’ve been convinced that the gating is still sufficient to prevent that too badly. It just acts as a fast forward button over the top of the gear grind that existed originally. :)

    Oh — and Diablos? Absolute bastards. My least preferred hunt by *far* if I’m going solo. Haha. So don’t worry about struggling with those. Before the Defender gear existed, there was a step in one of my major weapon upgrades where I needed horns from Diablos. Breaking their horns is no joke to begin with, but as a Long Sword user? *shakes head* I recruited some hammer using friends for that particular endeavour.

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