Monster Hunter: World’s Spring Update Reveal: everything we learned about Iceborne

Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World has been a worldwide phenomenon since its release in January 2018, recently surpassing Resident Evil 5 as the company’s best-selling title ever. Hunters worldwide have been enjoying the many crossover events and free title updates added since the game launched, but Capcom has been hard at work on some paid downloadable content we first learned about in December last year.

Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto gave Hunters their first look at the Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter: World (MHW) back in December, promising that the update would be the size of previous Monster Hunter titles’ G or Ultimate versions. Yesterday’s Spring Update provided more information about Iceborne including the price, and when Hunters can expect to visit the new continent. There’s a lot to cover, so read on and we’ll break it all down for you.

When and how much

Tsujimoto was joined by executive director Kaname Fujioka, World Director Yuya Tokuda, and Iceborne director Daisuke Ichihara. The half-hour presentation was almost completely devoted to the upcoming expansion, which builds on MHW’s foundation and nearly doubles the size of the main game. The first reveal was the date Hunters worldwide will be able to play the new content: September 6, 2019. This date only applies to the console versions, but the PC (Steam) version of Iceborne will release sometime this winter. Tsujimoto promised more information will be revealed during Capcom’s E3 presentation in June.

Iceborne’s development was conducted at the same time the Monster Hunter team was working on the monthly free updates which have been added to the game since last January. The new area is the largest single landmass in World, but it won’t be available as a standalone experience and will require the base game to play. Preorders for the new content are available now, and a new website dedicated to the expansion went live shortly before the announcement.

The basic, digital only version of Iceborne will cost $39.99 / €39.99 for those who already own a copy of Monster Hunter World, and a Master Edition of the title which includes both the base game and the expansion content will be available at launch for $59.99 / €59.99. This Master Edition will also be available physically, so those who have yet to experience World will be able to buy a copy for their Xbox One or PlayStation 4 and have access to the entire package.

The Master Edition includes several bonus cosmetic items including the Silver Knight Layered armor, three emotes, two sticker sets, one room decoration, and two unique character customization options.  A Digital Deluxe version of the expansion which includes just the expansion and these cosmetics will also be available for $49.99 / €49.99. For North American Hunters, a physical steelbook option which includes everything listed above will be available at retail for $79.99. Anyone who preorders Iceborne will receive the Yukumo layered armor, no matter which version they purchase.

New land, new foes

Iceborne’s story will take place after the events of World’s main campaign. The expansion is set in a snowy, polar area of the New World called Hoarfrost Reach, which is almost as big as all five of World’s biomes combined. Hunters will have to play through the story mode to unlock the entire map, exploring the new region piece by piece as they go. 

The new region is quite striking, just as beautiful as World’s other biomes. Iceborne’s deep snow provided a new opportunity for the developers to show off their prowess at creating believable environments. Hunters and their Palicoes will leave trails in the snow as they move around, and monsters will too.

Veteran Hunters know that extremely cold environments will sap your stamina, even when you’re not performing strenuous attacks or dodging monsters. Fortunately, Hoarfrost Reach has some native plants which can be brewed into a beverage which will counteract the cold. Hot Peppers can be crafted into drinks which will stop your stamina from draining in the cold weather, similar to the Cool Drinks which keep you from taking damage in extreme heat. Presumably there will also be some equipment which provides the same effect, but we’ll need to wait and see.

The cold forest of Iceborne is home to some new monsters to track, fight, and turn into pants. A flock of Legiana (World’s only ice element creature so far) are shown at the beginning of the trailer, but four new monsters were featured during the presentation.

The first creature most Hunters will encounter in the frozen forest is called Beotodus. It’s a burrowing monster, and looks to be related to Jyuratodus and Lavasioth from the main game. The design looks a bit like Knifehead from Pacific Rim, and the fin on its cranium makes it look like a landshark as it tunnels through the tundra. This creature likes to hide in deep snow, so Hunters will need to find a way to force it out of the slush before attacking.

A brand-new monster called Banbaro will be another early encounter. This brute wyvern is easily recognizable due to the massive horns on its head, with which it can gather chunks of the landscape to fling at your Hunter. Its charging attack picks up whatever is in its path (including trees and boulders), and its attack range will change based on what it manages to collect in its horns. This creature enjoys fighting other monsters and frequently clashes with Beotodus, but it’s generally nonaggressive towards Hunters since it’s herbivorous and won’t attack if it’s left alone.

While Banbaro and Beotodus are brand new monsters, a returning favorite called Nargacuga will make its MHW debut. This spiky, batlike creature was a fan favorite from Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite on the PSP due to its swift attacks and shrewd fighting style. Nargacuga will begin appearing around halfway through Iceborne’s story.

Unlike some of the other monsters featured, Nargacuga won’t be limited to the Hoarfrost Reach, and was shown fighting a Rathalos in the Ancient Forest region. The developers promise Nargacuga has learned some new tricks, so even veterans may be surprised by what the creature has in store for them.

Finally, the signature monster for Iceborne will be a brand-new Elder Dragon called Velkhana. Not much was revealed about this icy dragon, but we do know it will use Ice element attacks and will have some special twists to show it’s more than just a buffed up Legiana. Viewers who stayed to the very end of the presentation could hear an unusual roar which sounds like Tigrex, another fan favorite monster introduced in Monster Hunter Freedom 2.

Other new features

It’s not exactly surprising that a game called Monster Hunter is focused on hunting monsters. Not everything in Iceborne will try to kill you however, and several new forms of endemic life will round out the ecology of the Hoarfrost Reach. A mammoth-like herbivore called Popo will roam in herds through the new area, and birds called Stonebills will fly overhead. A cold version of the dung beetles found in World can be found rolling snowballs around, and Hunters will be able to find crystalburst slinger ammo in their spheres. A new type of wingdrake called Cortos will help Hunters move from place to place more quickly, and there will even be some natural hot springs (with the same effect as a hot drink )containing monkeys who enjoy the warm water just as much as your Hunter.

Since the story picks up after the Hunter has defeated Xeno’jiiva, it’s assumed that any Hunters exploring the new expansion should have a pretty good idea what they’re doing. As such, Iceborne introduces a new rank of quests, much more difficult than the High Rank Hunters gain access to midway through the campaign. Called Master Rank, this new difficulty level is the equivalent of G Rank in previous Monster Hunter titles.

Hunters will be getting some quality-of-life upgrades once the new expansion is released. New gear, new moves, and new weapon features are all being readied for Iceborne’s release.

MHW’s biggest innovation was the Slinger, a wrist-mounted slingshot which can be used to throw various types of ammunition at monsters. The Slinger can be awkward to use in combat situations, since it requires Hunters to sheathe their weapons before firing. Starting in Iceborne however, Hunters will be able to fire Slinger ammunition anytime, no matter what weapon they have equipped. This should help make several late-game fights much easier, particularly those which require timed Flash Pods be thrown into monsters’ faces.

The developers were particularly excited about a new piece of equipment called the Clutch Claw, which allows Hunters to tether to a monster and grab hold. This item is an upgrade for the basic Slinger, so Hunters will have access to it at all times. The Clutch Claw doesn’t seem to follow the same rules as jumping on a monster’s back to rodeo ride them.

Hunters were shown attaching themselves to the heads of various monsters, then using their position to take some new actions. While grappling a monster, hunters can control a monster somewhat, forcing them to charge forward and stunning them briefly by firing all their slinger ammunition at once. Other new moves utilizing the Clutch Claw were mentioned, but won’t be revealed until later.

All 14 weapon types will be updated and upgraded with a few new moves and elements, including new combo moves. Only a few were discussed during the presentation. The Longsword will have the ability to fire more powerful slinger shots during combos, the dual blades will be able to do something similar while evading and use the Clutch Claw in combos, and the light bowgun will gain the ability to perform a sliding evade and partially reload its ammo mid-fight with the proper modifier. More new weapon features for the other eleven weapon types will be explained later.

New info

While Iceborne was the focus of the presentation, current Monster hunter: World players still have one more free content update to look forward to. The final Elder Dragon, Arch-tempered Nergigante will be available to hunt beginning today. Hunters who manage to defeat the much more difficult version of World’s signature dragon can craft Nergigante γ armor, with stat upgrades similar to other monsters’ γ sets. Nergigante is the poster boy for MHW, and to celebrate the game’s resounding success a new premium theme for the PS4 was made available directly following the announcement.

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to as we get closer to Iceborne’s release date. If you’d like to watch the presentation in its entirety, you can do so directly below.