It says a lot about how common loot boxes are now when it feels like a genuine surprise to hear a big multiplayer-focused game wont have them. To not have them or microtransactions is rarer than a sighting of Bigfoot playing Twister with Elvis.
This rarity is to be the case for Monster Hunter World, as the game’s Producer, Ryozo Tsujimoto, confirmed in an interview with Trusted Reviews. The reason? Simple. Because it would unbalance the game.
This is a co-op game and you're going out in up to four-people parties. The idea is that there's a harmony in the four players going out and you're going to get on well together. If you feel someone hasn't earned what they've got or they've got a better weapon just because they paid for it and you worked for yours, that creates friction.
Even in a co-op game where it's not pay-to-win, because we're all on the same team, it's like you didn't earn that or you've got it and don't know how to use it. We don't want that for Monster Hunter. There are absolutely no plans, it's not in the game where you can get your random crate or random loot box and get a great item or great weapon. None of the stuff that affects the gameplay is even paid for; it's all cosmetic, just stuff that's a bit of fun.
We want to make sure nobody is under the impression that, because it looks like the kind of game where you might have loot boxes, they definitely aren't in there. We want people to just enjoy our great gameplay loop of achievement satisfaction where there are tough challenges, but learning how to play the game and getting better at it, you'll be able to overcome those challenges.
Tsujimoto went further. Suggesting learning a strategy is far more satisfying than throwing wads of cash at a challenge.
“Even when you get to a certain wall and you're like ‘OK, I'm 10 hours in, I suddenly have a monster I can't beat', it's not about ‘well I'll just throw a bit of money in and I'll get better gear to do it. What we want you to do is go back to your house and be like ‘well, I've been using the great sword, maybe I need to use the dual blades for this monster.
“We want you to go in and, through gameplay, find out what's causing you to hit this hurdle and figure it out. Whenever you get over that hurdle by yourself, it's such a great feeling, why would we let you skip that just to make a bit of extra money? It doesn't make any sense. There's no way we would interrupt that flow.”
It’s refreshing to hear such sound reasoning for sticking to core values of a game. It clearly shows in a fair few games that designing with microtransactions and loot boxes in mind warps and manipulates the core ideas.
Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, rather than the exception.
Monster Hunter World slinks out of the undergrowth January 26 on PS4.