Monster Hunter: World marks a seismic shift for Capcom’s series, which has gained a massive audience in Japan but hasn’t quite broken through in the West. The latest entry heads to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in January (with a PC version following), and building the game with high-powered consoles in mind gives Capcom the ability to make some significant changes to the game’s core structure. Most notably, the loading times between individual zones are gone, so there aren’t any pauses when exploring maps. That’s not all that’s changing, however, as we learned during nearly 10 hours of hands-on time with the game during a visit to Capcom’s Osaka offices. Here are some of the best ways that Capcom shakes things up.

No Loading Zones
We’ll just get this one out of the way: Being able to move freely in a map without having to wait for a loading screen to wrap up is great. Some may miss gaming the system by darting between zones to heal up, sharpen their blades, or simply take a moment to catch their breath, but I say good riddance. A certain amount of disbelief has to be suspended in a Monster Hunter game – the whole bit with the monsters, for instance – but leaping down from a platform to surprise a monster was a moment dramatically made less dramatic by the presence of “Now Loading.” 

Happy Trails
The maps are a lot bigger now, and even though they’re still split into zones on the map for communication’s sake, navigating them can get tricky. Fortunately, your character’s handy bug buddies can help by illuminating a path to your next big hunt. You do have to do some work for it, however, by interacting with footprints, debris, and other clues left behind by your prey. Stick to it, and the trail will eventually lead you to where you need to go. I sympathize with players who don’t want that kind of hand-holding, but I appreciated having the option of getting a more guided tour of the maps as I started. Once I learned where a fish monster made his home (it’s by water, incidentally), I didn’t need to rely on the spirit flies as much.

Durable Goods
Now that the two big ones are out of the way, we can get a little nerdier. In Monster Hunter: World, you don’t need to purchase pickaxes and whetstones of varying quality; you start out with one of each, and they don’t break. Maybe there was someone out there that got a kick out of burning through a stack of pickaxes as they mined. Now, you can mine until a node is depleted without having to worry about your pickaxe shattering in your hands. Similarly, keeping your blade keen is tedious enough without losing the ability to sharpen it on the field. Making those tools consumable wasn’t particularly interesting or immersive, and I’m happy to see that element fall by the wayside.