I played Monster Hunter World for 500 hours – now that I've seen Monster Hunter Wilds up close, here are the 13 changes I'm most excited about

Monster Hunter Wilds screenshot showing combat
(Image credit: Capcom)

The Monster Hunter series is no stranger to evolution. 2018's Monster Hunter: World laid out a more realistic and naturalistic future for an action RPG franchise long characterized by anime extremes and irreverent quirkiness, while Monster Hunter Rise proved that Capcom is still willing to swing for the fences artistically and thematically. It looks like the two will come together in Monster Hunter Wilds, as we see the studio combining  the best parts of its predecessors into a massive game that you'd be forgiven for calling Monster Hunter World 2. 

A 30-minute hands-off Monster Hunter Wilds demo at Summer Game Fest showed me exactly what I was hoping to see: Monster Hunter World used as a launchpad for something bigger, more seamless, and more imaginative. Rough edges like Iceborne's cumbersome clutch claw – which some players grew to resent for how mandatory and limiting it could feel – have been cut, and in their place are features that I've wanted for years, and some that I never knew I wanted until now. After 500 hours of Monster Hunter World and about as much of Rise, here are the Monster Hunter Wilds details that jumped out to me. 

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1. Wounding monsters is a lot easier now  

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

One of my favorite mechanics in the Monster Hunter Rise endgame was how you could deal extra damage to Afflicted monsters by damaging glowing body parts until they detonated. This wasn't enough to fully offset the blight's massive HP inflation, but I thought the pinpoint targeting itself was a fun addition to the rhythm of a fight. Monster Hunter Wilds has a very similar mechanic, loosely spliced with Iceborne's clutch claw. Wounds will naturally appear on monsters as you fight them, marked by red scoutflies gathering on specific body parts, and if you deal enough damage to those wounds you'll get a similar shot of bonus damage. 

2. Focus mode lets you focus on fighting the monster, not the camera 

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

I wasn't totally sure what focus mode, a new stance available to all weapons, really is, so I asked director Yuya Tokuda about it. It's not a lock-on camera setting, he explained, but rather a way to "set your angle related to the monster more easily than you could before." This makes it easier to stay focused on attacking or defending, Tokuda says, and ensures that your moves are "going to be connecting properly." There are no limits on focus mode, either; it's not tied to a resource like stamina, so you can use it as much as you want. Speaking of which…

3. Every weapon has at least one new attack 

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

I saw a few normal weapon animations that looked new to me, but I still need to see a little more here before committing to specifics. But I know for a fact that every weapon has at least one new attack, because focus mode comes with an exclusive attack that deals extra damage when you use it to break a wound. You can pop wounds with normal attacks, too, but it seems you'll deal less damage. The greatsword's focus move seems to be a counter stance that leads into a running charge attack of some kind, and the longsword seems to have an alternate spirit combo, but I don't want to read too much into animations just yet. Still, new moves for all 14 weapons? Good news.

4. NPC hunters are back

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

The star of our demo used the greatsword, longsword, and heavy bowgun, but I got a brief glimpse at several other weapons – including my beloved lance and hammer – thanks to three NPC hunters who answered an SOS flare. Remember how Monster Hunter Rise let you go on hunts with loads of story characters? Well, I don't know if Wilds also lets you pal around with story characters, but it does let you call in some NPC cavalry if you want some help and don't have any friends online. 

5. Bringing two weapons is no gimmick

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

When we first learned that you can swap to a second weapon out in the field by stashing it in the pouch of your Seikret mount, my first idea was using one weapon to apply poison and then swapping weapons once the monster was poisoned. You could do something similar with blast or paralysis weapons, swapping to stronger raw damage once the monster's resistance had gone up after a few status triggers. You could also bring two of the same weapon but with different elements on multi-monster hunts to target weaknesses. But Tokuda seems to be teasing something more: 

"I can't go into too much detail just yet because we have a campaign ahead of us to reveal more gameplay details," he said, "but I would say that as the story progresses, players will be able to gain access to skills or features that will tie into this new system of using two different weapons at the same time. As to what exactly that means, watch this space. We've just started revealing information."

6. Quests are seamless now

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

When our demo player finished a hunt after felling the bear-like Doshaguma, they didn't get yanked out of the area. You can just… stay in the world if you want, and find more things to hunt. Even more excitingly, we didn't see a "Begin Quest" prompt until we actually attacked the monster, which suggests to me that the quest timer doesn't start ticking the second you enter an area anymore. Everything seems more freeform, from how you start quests to how you end them, and this could be a godsend for Monster Hunter speedrunning by potentially preventing the need to reset for a good spawn location. 

7. You can build temporary camps, and monsters can destroy them  

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

Things are so freeform, in fact, that you're not tied to the normal encampments. You still have key bases, but you can also spend research points to plop down a temporary camp in many locations to, from what I could tell, do basically anything you'd do at any other base. This is another nice time-saver, and the fact that monsters can destroy your temporary camps while you're away helps sell the immersive, hunting simulator side of the game. 

8. Maps are twice the size of previous games

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

If you like exploring and manipulating the environment in Monster Hunter, you're in for a treat with Wilds. A Capcom spokesperson said the maps in Wilds are a little more than twice the size of previous games', and it was clear from the map UI that tons of large monsters can pop up at once too. 

9. Maps go through phases of abundance rich with free healing 

Monster Hunter Wilds

(Image credit: Capcom)

Bigger maps means more stun bugs, ensnaring vines, sandpits, boulder traps, and other environmental tricks to take advantage of while hunting. You can also expect to cash in on some free healing – Vigorwasps and so on – during phases of abundance that kick in while you're hunting or gathering that seem to trigger at random. 

10. Dynamic weather is not messing around

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

I feel like the idea of dynamic weather gets thrown around a lot in games, but rarely has any impact beyond wind in your hair and clouds in the sky. So my ears perked up when I heard that the lightning-charged flying wyvern shown in a previous trailer, which is the apex predator of the Windward Plains map we were shown, will only spawn naturally during a thunderstorm. Other weather anomalies can also change what monsters are found in the area, and monsters may even get struck by lightning, which is a nice touch. 

11. Mantles are back, baby

Monster Hunter Wilds SGF hands off preview

(Image credit: Capcom)

I don't know how many mantles are back, but I saw a Ghillie Mantle in action, which is exciting. Some of the mantles in Monster Hunter World were a little game-warping, but I like the idea of having more equipment to pack when you go out for a hunt, and cooldown-based mantles are a solid enough system that I'm happy to see return. 

12. Sneak attacks are kind of good 

A screenshot of three huge monsters facing a player in Monster Hunter Wilds.

(Image credit: Capcom)

The Ghillie Mantle ended up being pretty powerful offensively, too, because it let our hunter easily sneak right up to a Doshaguma to deliver a proper, button-prompted sneak attack to jump-start the hunt with a burst of damage. Here are some quick numbers, bearing in mind that this seemed like low-level stuff and it's all subject to change: a charged greatsword swing dealt 234 damage, and a sneak attack hit for 522. (An attack from the aforementioned apex lightning wyvern dealt 3,836!) 

13. Mounting is back to normal, and seems really strong 

Monster Hunter Wilds

(Image credit: Capcom)

I enjoyed the wyvern riding in Monster Hunter Rise, but after puppeteering my 300th monster, I started to miss the simple act of climbing onto my quarry and stabbing them up until they could be downed for some free damage. Meanwhile, in one 15-minute Doshaguma hunt, our hunter managed to get three mounts in with a freakin' greatsword – not the most agile or airborn of weapons. The iconic Monster Hunter 4 mounting minigame is sadly a thing of the past, but mounting is back and seems very powerful, especially in multiplayer. 


Monster Hunter Wilds is just one of the many upcoming PS5 games to keep an eye on this year.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.