Monster Hunter: World represents a departure for the much-loved franchise, as it ventures back onto consoles after several games as a portable-only title. That evolution, with all the power and constant connection current-generation consoles had to offer, meant its creators wanted target a larger audience as well.
And getting that audience meant, for its creators, not calling the game Monster Hunter 5, despite it functioning as the fifth main game in the series.
“Monster Hunter 5 implies [the existence of] Monster Hunters 1 to 4 and people will feel a certain kind of pressure to catch up on the existing games,” said Ryozo Tsujimoto, Monster Hunter: World’s producer. “That's going to take a long time. They may think, ‘Maybe I should not bother.’ Or they just feel like, ‘Hey, it's not for me. The train has left the station on this series for me.’”
“So by calling it Monster Hunter: World we're telling people it doesn't matter how much Monster Hunter familiarity you have. This is your ultimate jumping in point to the series.”
And it’s not just a thematic change in name. World in the title refers to a whole new continent, the “New World” as it’s called. It wipes the slate clean. You know you’re chasing something big, but you don’t need to know the past four games’ worth of lore. (If you do, you’ll be rewarded by recurring characters and series’ monster mainstays, so it’s not a completely blank slate.)
There is still some mention of the game’s place in the series. Your hunter’s platoon is known as The Fifth, as in the fifth group to travel to the new continent, or Fivers, usually by other NPCs inhabiting your base.
Monster Hunter: World is out Jan. 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a Windows PC release coming at a later date.