Prowl the Ancient Forest in this weekend’s ‘Monster Hunter World’ beta for PS4

Monster Hunter World releases next January, marking the franchise’s return to consoles after several 3DS-only installments, but if you’re still on the fence about picking up Capcom’s latest monster-slaying adventure, you’ll have a chance to try the game out for yourself. A PlayStation 4 beta begins this weekend, and it’s available to everyone with a PlayStation Plus account.

Beginning at noon ET on December 9 and running until noon ET on December 12, the Monster Hunter World beta contains two areas in the game: The Ancient Forest and the Wildspire Waste. These contain three separate quests designed to test players of a variety of skill levels, and they’re playable either solo or with three friends. Completing them will earn you bonus items in the full game when it releases next year.

During the beta, you’ll be able to choose from the 14 different weapon types available in the main game. Some of these are standard fantasy fare — a lance, sword and shield, or hammer — but others are more creative. The “switch axe” can transform between a fast sword and a longer, slower axe, similar to the “trick weapons” in Bloodborne. The “insect glaive” can be used as an acrobatic device, flinging its wielder into the air so they can drop down on enemies for extra damage, and the “hunting horn” is a slow melee weapon that can also provide buffs to party members with its songs.

“The beta features a game currently in development and some aspects about balance may be different from the full game, but the satisfaction of tracking and bringing down a giant monster you’ll find is all there,” Capcom community specialist Yuri Araujo said in the announcement.

The environments we’ve seen in Monster Hunter World thus far are quite diverse, with alien-like purple locations as well as classic forests and deserts. For the Monster Hunter super-fan in your life, you might want to pick up the $150 collector’s edition. In addition to digital goodies, a soundtrack, and a hardcover art book, this version of the game comes with a “Nergigante” statue. A $70 digital deluxe version is also available.

Monster Hunter World will be available on January 26 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A PC launch will follow at a later date.

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