Playing Monster Hunter World: Iceborne feels like coming home. That's what I fully expected from the upcoming expansion – it's meant to rival the base game in terms of content and, so far, has looked cool as all hell – but it's nice to have the sentiment confirmed in-person. Capcom brought two new beasts to E3 2019, and I really couldn't have asked for a cozier first appointment at the show.
Rather than prepping in Iceborne's all-new headquarters, Seliana, we hopped right into our hunt with ready-made characters who graciously came stocked with items and gear. Lesson one for the folks back home: always pack some hot drinks to stave off the bitter cold of Hoarfrost Reach – your stamina bar will thank you. Lesson two: ABC. Always be clinging. The new Clutch Claw is a total godsend. It allows you to grapple onto monsters from a shorter-than-you-think distance for a quick attack or, better yet, you can use the tool to steer them right into a wall or trap with a well-timed Flinch Shot.
I don't think there's any going back to life before the Clutch Claw. It's that valuable, and I haven't gotten to use it against flying creatures, where it'll prove even more useful to me as a Switch Axe user who can't always line up vertical swings. The tool opens up more possibilities for every single weapon. And before you ask, there are limitations: it's not effective when monsters are enraged, so you have to pace yourself. Use the Clutch Claw with reckless abandon, and you'll end up getting flung around.
Our first target of the day was Banbaro, a moose-headed monster that'll charge through trees (and, well, anything) to get to you. He doesn't look so tough in trailers, but the big guy strikes an imposing figure when it's your hunter on the line up close and personal. This encounter felt pretty introductory – just have the dodge button at the ready – but it served as a great warm-up for the second act: Tigrex.
My crew wasn't able to beat the prehistoric-looking wyvern, but I also didn't faint, so I'll call it a draw. We had the relentless foe on the ropes – honest! – but the E3 demo came with a 20-minute time limit. Whereas I was able to play a little sloppy and overextend myself with the Clutch Claw against Banbaro, Tigrex wasn't about to let me off the hook so easily. He bounced me around like a ragdoll.
Even if we came up short, I had a blast with Iceborne. It feels like such a sure thing at this point. It's never too early to get into World, reach Hunter Rank 16, and get yourself situated before September.
Oh, and I almost forgot the other best new thing in the expansion: you can ride small monsters to easily get from one end of the map to another or wherever else you might need to go. A new tool in Iceborne allows you to hop aboard critters and you can even look at your map and set a waypoint. It's total bliss.