Monster Hunter Wilds preview – Beauty, brutality, and birbs

Monster Hunter Wilds' demo takes you on a wild journey, as you scramble to take down an alpha monster in the desert.
Monster Hunter Wilds Balahara Pursuit

Monster Hunter has long felt like my gaming white whale – and the new Monster Hunter Wilds instalment had felt no different. I’ve long admired the franchise from afar, and the attempts I’d made to get to grips with the series with Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise had just left me feeling resigned to the idea that I’d never be able to understand its systems and rhythms.

At Summer Game Fest this past weekend, I was lucky enough come along to a hands-off preview presentation of Monster Hunter Wilds, the upcoming follow-up to the enormously successful Monster Hunter World. What I saw made me even more feverishly determined to become a true fan of the franchise.

I was unfortunately a couple of minutes late getting into my group’s appointment and missed the first few moments of the Monster Hunter Wilds presentation (and I apologise again to the Capcom PR representative, who I mildly stressed-out in doing so).

The demo took place across Monster Hunter Wilds’ Windward Plains map, which is the dusty biome that plays home to the giant rock ‘eye’ seen in much of the games’ early marketing. The environment itself was impressively beautiful for its size, teeming with atmosphere and life. Given that the whole objective of Monster Hunter is to end life though, the demonstrating member of the games’ development team thought it best to quickly get down to business.

Combat in Monster Hunter Wilds

The hunt began with a little prep work. The new deployable camp feature was shown, which serves as a method of keeping hunters out in the titular wilds for longer, without having to return to town. Some sumptuous food was cooked and consumed with the cheering support of a friendly Palico. With a full belly, it was time to set off.

A short ride was taken down into the valley floor before the demonstrator eyed their prize, an ‘Alpha Dashagura’ – which to me just looked like a WarCraft kodo beast.

The Japanese demonstrator spoke through a translator about how tackling the creature head-on would be unwise while surrounded by its pack, and donned a ghillie suit to sneak up on it from behind for an opening advantage. The whole group was pulled, of course, which led to the poor hunter hilariously fleeing for their life while trying to lure the alpha’s kin off into the distracting paths of other monsters and terrain features present across the landscape.

Eventually they came to a small canyon nook where a quicksand trap had been laid by a friendly NPC faction – which pulled the remaining lesser pursuant creatures down into its abyss in spectacular fashion. Sure, it was scrappy, but the alpha was now ready to be fought alone.

Monster Hunter Wilds demo preview
Image: Capcom

The battle against the great beast lasted much of the rest of the 20ish minute session. At one stage it was lured into a cave where the ability to yank stalactites down as a weapon was showcased, then while stunned from the blow, a trio of NPC support hunters were summoned in lieu of available online help from other players. The NPCs were able to keep the monster occupied while the hunter went back to camp to change weaponry, which was neat to see, and soon after returning to the battle the creature was felled. 

Much was made throughout of the new weather systems and the liveliness of the environments during the Monster Hunter Wilds presentation. The zone’s apex monster showed up at one point, to the bemused chuckling of the demonstrator, as he said that particular creature tends to favour stormy weather. Naturally, a spectacularly impressive storm hit moments later.

The Monster Hunter Wilds demo ended on an oddly peaceful note, with the camera zoomed in to show nesting baby birds in a tree, and talk of how the wildlife system is so detailed that you could follow the entire lifecycle of these very birds, should you wish to – which I do.

Monster Hunter Wilds is set to release in 2025 on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC.

Jam Walker is a games and entertainment journalist from Melbourne, Australia. They hold a bachelor's degree in game design from RMIT but probably should have gotten a journalism one instead. You can find them talking entirely too much about wrestling on Twitter @Jamwa