"Monster Hunter: World" was the first game I've played in Capcom's cultishly popular action RPG series.
Normally, that would be a footnote to a game review, a way of framing my criticisms for the initiated so they can decide how much weight to give them. But with "World," my experience — or lack thereof — needs to go in the lede. And that's because rookie players like me are this game's target audience.
Previous "Monster Hunter" games attracted a following of handheld players in Japan who craved its high difficulty and cooperative features. But "World," the fifth main entry in the series, is Capcom's first significant attempt to grow that following. So not only was it released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and, later, Windows), but it was the first "Monster Hunter" game ever to be released worldwide simultaneously. So, as an American console player, it's the first "Monster Hunter" that has felt like it was made for me.
Of course, it's still a "Monster Hunter" game. The core feedback loop seems simple: You fight monsters in real time, then use their body parts and other resources to get stronger and fight tougher monsters, then repeat. But that loop is a long and narrow one. Some of those fights last as long as 20 heart-pounding minutes, and they're the only adversity in the game. Where other action and role-playing games space out their difficulty spikes with more manageable enemies, "World" is wall-to-wall danger.