We played Monster Hunter: World on PC when it was released last fall, but the Iceborne expansion lands first on consoles this time (as it arrives on our computers in January 2020), more specifically on PS4 and Xbox One. To unlock the new region, you must first reach the level 16 of the Hunter, which you will get automatically after killing the main boss of the base game – Xeno’jiiva – for the first time.
So to test the new area, we first had to complete the entire game on PS4 again, which still takes about 30 hours, even if you know what to do. In the end, we had no choice but to return to that bittersweet “flytrap” like Monster Hunter: World .
Since the original launch on the console, a lot of content has been added to the game. In fact, since the launch, new missions and new monsters from Final Fantasy and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have been added , and there are many hunters who must have spent hundreds of hours completing their collections. Anyone who has reached this level will experience a pleasant transition in the main ranks, as high-level monsters offer a rather similar level of challenge. Those who are aspiring hunters, like us, sooner or later will find themselves having to do some grind, which is at least more fun when you have a whole new territory to explore.
Hoarfrost Reach is one of two new areas introduced by Iceborne. This cold region had already captured us in the preview phase and is composed of 16 connected districts, which we gradually unlocked after completing some missions. Although the map covers different habitats, they are all pretty cool, which is in contrast to the main game. As the main rank advances, we unlock new missions that, from time to time, take us back to the New World with its familiar terrain. Often the local fauna is afflicted by some stronger subspecies coming from the land mass of Iceborne, so we must kill them to preserve the natural order of things.
The story of Iceborne follows the path of the main game and allows us to do research on the phenomenon of the Legians who have left their native land, in the Coral Highlands, for unknown reasons. They took flight for an island that suddenly appeared on the horizon (our surprised hunters had not noticed it before) and so we follow them. This frozen land becomes the central place of this expansion as we establish a city called Seliana, securing transport routes and conducting investigations from our new base of operations. As the plot unfolds, we gradually understand what might be the reason behind the deviant behavior of some monsters.
During all this, the supporting cast actively collaborates. Our trusted Handler, for example, has a lot to say about how fascinating it is to observe the region more closely. We also discover something more about his past, probably more than most players ever wanted to know. Even the secondary characters become more accessible, and this is certainly a good thing. However, in a game where our companion cat Palico is given more time during the cutscenes to the point of being the real star of the show, we shouldn’t focus too much on staging.
Seliana is our new base and largely replaces Astera (and is equally full of things to do). We find there all the important things, which fortunately we find in one place. Every structure can be found within a small area and we have also found some nice additions here and there. For example, there is a building called Steamworks, which provides many materials once it is fed with ore. It’s another way to get items on a regular basis, but you can also simply ignore it if you wish.