It turns out, I wasn't the only one who felt the urge to return to Monster Hunter: World this holiday season after a long break. Over the last few weeks, the game has been gaining momentum, hitting a peak concurrent player count of 131,964 on January 1st, according to SteamDB. That's the highest number of hunters exploring the New World since October 2020.
On New Year's Day, the game ranked 12th in player count, surpassing the popularity of games like Rust, The Finals, Elden Ring, and Cyberpunk 2077. Not bad for a game released back in 2018, if you ask me.
As for the reasons behind its resurgence, I have a couple of theories. According to SteamDB, the player count has been steadily rising since the direct sequel, Monster Hunter Wilds, was announced at The Game Awards on December 7th. This has been complemented by the fact that the game is on sale on Steam until January 4th for under $10, its lowest price ever. The same applies to the Iceborne expansion, currently priced just under $15, offering a vast amount of gameplay for $25 when combined.
Interestingly, Monster Hunter Rise, the newest game in the series, is also priced under $15 but hasn't enjoyed the same surge in popularity. Rise's online count has increased from 15,000 to 27,266 players at the start of this year. However, the focus remains primarily on World, which makes sense given its richer gameplay compared to the relatively streamlined Nintendo Switch version, Rise. Additionally, Wilds effectively continues the story from Monster Hunter: World, explaining why many prefer this game.
I've personally been having a great time in Monster Hunter: World with friends, helping me tackle the final levels of Iceborne. It's an incredible game, especially in cooperative mode, and still stands as my favorite part of Monster Hunter even after five and a half years. There's nothing quite like battling a massive monster with a colossal bagpipe weapon, then playing a melody to buff your allies. Like many others, I'll be spending plenty more hours in the game while anticipating Wilds' release in 2025.