Whenever I went to the library as a kid I would always rush over to the non-fiction section to pick up the next dinosaur book. I was a wannabe paleontologist, so I read every dinosaur-related book I could find. My favorites were the ones with huge, detailed pictures of fossils, with artist renditions of the terrifying beasts and snippets of fascinating facts scattered around the page. I always wanted to travel through time and see the monsters first hand, experience not only their behavior but also the world they lived in. I got to experience that, in a sense, when I played the excellent video game Monster Hunter World. No other game has ever felt so alive, and that’s mostly thanks to the awesome world design and fully-realized monsters. So when I opened Monster Hunter World: Official Complete Works for the first time, the rush of childhood nostalgia and video game memories swallowed me whole as I became entranced in the fantasies once again.
First off I want to say this isn’t a book, it’s a tome. The size and weight of this 560-page behemoth put the Berserk and Hellsing Deluxe Omnibuses to shame. I don’t think even the Handler could carry this around in her packs. It’s not a hardcover, so over time you’ll have to be careful about cracks along the spine, which could be a problem because you’ll want to keep going back to it.
The tome begins with a collection of promotional and product illustrations for the game. They’re enlarged, but their native resolution is so high there’s no pixelation. I always liked the North American cover art for the game, so to see it without all the text and as a two page spread is a sight to behold. It’s a nice start, but the tome quickly shows it’s more than just pretty pictures.
The next section consists of profiles of the characters and the hub area of Astera. The characters and story were the shallowest parts of the game for me. But as this tome reveals, there's a lot more behind these characters that didn’t fully make their way into the game. I didn’t know the Over Excitable A-Lister was inspired by a character in a previous Monster Hunter game. Along with more backstory, each character comes with concept art of their alternative costumes if they had any.
Poogie and their adorable costumes on display (Monster Hunter World Official Complete Works Review, pg. 65).
The section about Astera is where the tome really starts to shine. The breakdown of the different areas highlight the great level design of the game. I have a lot of great memories of exploring the base and experiencing them first hand. I also learned about some hidden areas that I plan to go back and discover for myself.
Next up is a showcase of the New World’s different areas. The areas are beautiful to look at in-game, and the pages of the tome are able to capture some of that beauty. The way it is portrayed in the book is interesting. It also tells a story of a Fiver who, after recovering from an injury that put them out of commission during the events of the game, decides to retrace the player's steps in order to see if they can discover new conclusions. The plot is very basic, but it’s an interesting way to structure this section. We also get some developer insights about what functions the areas have in the player’s journey in developing their skills and armor.
An artistic depiction of the Wyvern's Nest in the Ancient Forest area (Monster Hunter World Official Complete Works Review, pg. 116).
Not to be outdone, the next section is all about the monsters, and hoo baby does it deliver! The depth of information here is insane and really opened my eyes to the work game designers do. There is the necessary large scale illustrations and concept art, but we also learn about the monsters daily routine, its role in the New World’s ecosystem, its diet, and its breeding behavior. Some even have illustrations showing off their skeletal systems! My favorite parts were the developer’s notes that explained the creation of the monster and how they fit in both gameplay and story perspective. They give each monster equal treatment, so my favorites, like Pukei-Pukei, get the same amount of spotlight as Elder Dragons, such as Zorah Magdaros.
A close-up shot of the monster Pukei-Pukei. Its design being a mix of silly, cute, and danger is appealing to me (Monster Hunter World Official Complete Works Review, pg. 210).
The next section covers the extensive amounts of armor and weapons mostly through artist renditions. It’s the most shallow section of the tome, but for those who loved their armor, this is a good section for them.
The final sections cover the game’s plot and an interview with the game's developer's. Honestly, I got more out of the story reading this than playing the game. The tome doesn’t have epic cutscenes, but it definitely makes more sense! The developer interview was very interesting and certainly worth reading.
Even though it’s about a work of fiction, I feel that Monster Hunter World: Official Complete Works deserves a spot on those same library shelves I perused as a kid. It’s an in-depth, fascinating look at the game for fans, and the book’s size and scope will certainly get people who have never played the game to give it a look. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to reinstall Monster Hunter World.
Dive into this monstrously massive guide and explore all of the hunting fields, monsters, weaponry and lore that turned Capcom’s beloved Monster Hunter franchise into a global hit! Monster Hunter: World is one of the biggest games to hit shelves in years, and an epic game deserves an epic book! This 560-page tome features all of the lore, myths, and info that made Monster Hunter: World such a hit. Get all the details on the ecosystems of the hunting fields, find out just what makes a Rathalos such a ferocious predator, and explore the New World!Add to CartLearn More