Monster Hunter: World has to be one of my most played games this year. While early on I struggled to get into it, it was mainly issues with the framerate, motion blur and texture popping that really got me annoyed with its state on the PS4. Upgrading to the PS4 Pro did alleviate some of these issues, but not as much as I would have liked. Seven months down the line and Capcom have finally released the highly anticipated PC version of the latest Monster Hunter title and so the time has come for us to see how their first attempt at a PC Monster Hunter game handles. After digging 120+ hours into the PC version, I can safely say whilst there are a few bizarre choices, the PC version is easily the best version around for a game that feels nonetheless never escapes feeling unoptimised.
Given that this game was previously reviewed by us, I will only be reviewing the technical performance of the game in depth. If you would like to read our review of Monster Hunter: World, click here.
MHW is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the minimum and recommended specs. While the game doesn’t call for a powerful rig, only requiring an i5-4460 or FX-6300 as the processor coupled with a GTX 760 or R7 260x (2GB), when you put into perspective that the PC version doesn’t really have many graphical detail upgrades and those minimum spec requirements are only for running the game at 1080p/30fps with a low graphics setting, something seems a bit off. Especially when titles like Final Fantasy XV are way more demanding and run at around comparable framerates. My PC blows way past the recommended specifications of this game but, for some reason, it didn’t run anywhere near as well as it should have. Even with that, the game would only run at 4K 30fps with the highest settings due to poor optimisation. Games like Shadow of War and Rise of the Tomb Raider run easily at 4K 60fps and have next to no issues with it.
With that out of the way, let’s start with how the game looks. It’s very easy to see where the rendering techniques had some issues. We’ll start with the anti-aliasing. When using the in-game anti-aliasing settings, objects in the distance like the foliage in the background of the HQ would be blurry for some bizarre reason. After turning off the in-game anti-aliasing and using the Nvidia control panel to force Nvidia’s (primitive) form of anti-aliasing to be applied, I found the backgrounds much more discernible. In terms of texture quality, it’s a lot easier to see of the details as the motion blur is nowhere near as obnoxious as it is in the console version, which is a nice change. But, in saying that, the texture detailing isn’t that much better than that of the PS4 Pro, but the customisability is very nice as some settings have little to no distinguishable impact to the visuals whilst incurring a steep performance penalty. Where MHW really needs work is with its particle and smoke effects. Those two things alone incur a much larger performance penalty than they really should, Teostra was an elder dragon I dreaded fighting, not because it was difficult, but because the particle and smoke effects that play out during its Nova explosion sent my framerate from a beautiful 100fps+ to around 45fps. This is a ridiculous drop and there really is no reason for it to be this severe. I did notice much less texture popping (the PS4 Pro had a lot of this) and shadows were being rendered much more easily. There are a few mods to completely remove motion blur from the game which does help with clarity within the game, but given how against mods Capcom are, even if it’s purely graphical, I wouldn’t exactly recommend this unless you want to risk feeling Capcom’s wrath.
Monster Hunter: World Benchmark results
For the purposes of benchmarking each playable area in the game, I had my graphics settings set on the highest preset available, but for more general play I had customised the settings a bit. As previously mentioned, there are some settings that don’t make a huge difference in terms of visuals but their performance penalty far outweighed any visual gain. The game doesn’t offer its own benchmark, so I did a benchmark of my character running through each area and recorded the results. It’s not the most elegant benchmark, especially seeing how different monsters can spawn into an area in each instance, however the tests used missions that had no major monsters spawned in as a means of getting baseline results. Some monsters will harm the performance more than others (I’m looking at you, Radobaan). Looking at the 1080p chart, it’s obvious to see that Ancient Forest seems to be the most generally demanding as it offers the lowest average framerate but fairly reasonable 1% and 0.1% lows, which is pretty good. A 0.1% low of 57fps is actually quite good. However, the Elder’s Recess (whilst having the second highest average framerate) had the lowest 0.1% low with a strange recording of 33fps. I would wager this would have something to do with abundance of smoke effects that are present. In saying that, this is hardly something you really notice in general play, at least I didn’t with my build.
Naturally, upping the resolution lowers the overall framerate as well as the 1% and 0.1% lows. However, the 0.1% lows for the Coral Highlands locale are what were really bizarre at higher resolutions. At 1080p, the Coral Highlands had a 0.1% low of 52fps. Not bad. But at 1440p and 4K the locale had 0.1% lows of 32fps and 18fps, respectively. The Elder’s Recess also had 0.1% lows of 29fps and 20fps, respectively. I’m not sure why the performance of the Coral Highlands suffered so much, it’s definitely strange. However, as usual, I generally don’t recommend playing at higher resolutions due to the current state of tech where the framerate penalty far outweighs the benefit of a higher resolution. In saying that, the game does not properly support ultrawide resolution. I have an ultrawide display which runs at 2560×1080 150Hz and one of my biggest hopes for the PC version of MHW when I was playing on PS4 was for me to be able to play it in ultrawide resolution instead of having these two massive black bars on each side of my screen. I very quickly realised that Capcom had not bothered to properly support ultrawide resolutions. The game recognises the ultrawide resolution but doesn’t actually render the game with the 21:9 aspect ratio.
Look how stupid these black bars on the side are. Come on, Capcom!
Unfortunately, I currently don’t have the equipment to set up a test bench to see how the game would handle with a 7700K. It’s evident that the game favours a higher core/thread count over raw clock speeds, especially seeing as the MT Framework engine which the game is built from is built with high core counts in mind. That aside, with my Ryzen 7 2700X CPU, my CPU load was never really put above 55% load and generally sat around 45% in general play. Once again bringing mods into this, there is a mod called the Special K mod which allows you to stop the game trying to use a high thread count and can help make the game run more stably, something which I’d presume to be helpful for people who have lower core count CPUs like the 7700K or CPUs like the 8600K which don’t have hyperthreading.
Now it’s time to focus on what Capcom did wrong with the PC version of Monster Hunter: World (and believe me when I say they did quite a bit wrong). We’ll start with modifying the visual and display settings. When you are in-game and you wish to change your graphics settings, you have to pray that the setting you wish to change is modifiable whilst playing the game, otherwise you’ll be forced to go back to the main menu and go from there. Another issue is modifying the display setting. You can choose between windowed mode, borderless windowed (my preferred display method) and fullscreen mode. Naturally you’ll get the best performance from fullscreen, even if the difference is minimal. You can also change your resolution settings, pretty standard. The really annoying thing that MHW does is force you to restart the game any time you change your resolution or your display method. Something which became increasingly frustrating when benchmarking. Those things aside, the kouse and keyboard support for the game is just weird. I’m a bow main and aiming is a major part of how you use a bow (as is to be expected). Using the default layout, the aim key is either C or V (depending on whether you want to toggle or not) which makes absolutely no sense as this makes it even harder to properly use the bow. It took me a matter of five minutes to just give up on using mouse and keyboard controls and I opted for my Xbox One Elite Controller instead.
With those issues out of the way, let’s move on to my biggest frustration with the PC version of MHW. The multiplayer. Disregarding the fact that the networking was so broken upon release and remained that way for two weeks, grouping up with your friends is just terrible. On the console version of MHW, you have squads. These are (more or less) clans that you can be a part of and you are allowed to create a session under a squad which allows players of the same squad to instantly group up with you, meaning that you don’t need to have people on your friends list to regularly play with this. While the implementation of squads wasn’t perfect, it still worked pretty well and was a great way to socialise with a group. Alternatively, the PC version has Steam group integration which does…nothing. Squads are removed in the PC version so you have to create your own session and either invite your friends or leave your lobby open and allow completely random people join your lobby as well as your friends because… reasons. That Steam group integration I previously mentioned allows you to display in-game what your primary Steam group is, which serves no purpose whatsoever. It makes playing with a large bunch of people frustrating. In saying that, it’s still multiplayer without any form of subscription like PS+ or Xbox Live Gold (which is always a good thing).
To say that Capcom’s first attempt at bringing Monster Hunter to the PC space is a failure isn’t doing the game any justice. Monster Hunter: World is still fun and rewarding game it always was (once you got past the design flaws), just with more customisability and higher framerates. But you can definitely tell that they were new to this as there are so many bizarre choices made in terms of optimisation and quality of life changes. The performance should really be a little better than it currently is, and the default keybindings are ridiculous and in general the game pushes your hardware way more than it deserves to. I would still recommend picking up this game and finding people to play with, but do be aware of its performance issues. Also it has the Denuvo anti-piracy DRM and Denuvo is shit.
Reviewed on PC | Review code supplied by publisher