Monster Hunter World - Review

Monster Hunter. I'm sure you've heard the name at some point, but what is it? Up until a few years ago Monster Hunter was known as an obscure series here in the West. There were some PS2, and PSP games, but who even played them? Well, besides a small fan base, no one. The series wasn't a household name, and even those who did play it may have been turned off by it's challenging gameplay and controls. While the original PS2 releases controlled just fine for players, it's the PSP's "claw method" that pushed many away. A game where you controlled the camera with the d-pad? Yeah, no thanks. Sadly this was the mindset of most out there, and because of that the amazing hunting series was held back. Of course his only applies to the west.

While the series continued to struggle in the US, even with it's 3rd major release on the Wii, in Japan it was a different story. Monster Hunter was something that had completely exploded there, and thanks to the PSP releases it was something many gamers carried with them on the go. As the series became more and more popular there, it became much easier for fans to jump into a game for a few hunts wherever they might go. It was something fans could start up on the train ride to work or school, and simply play a few hunts while they waited. They could play solo if they wanted, but chances are another fan would be within range for some multiplayer hunts. Then when they got home they had the ability to boot up their PS3's adhoc Party mode, and then take their game online. It was perfect for Japanese players, and it didn't take long for the series' popularity to spread.

Jumping back over to the western side of things, MH remained a niche series for quite some time. With the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS things did start to turn around, but it really wasn't until the release of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate that things began to turn around. At this point more and more western 3DS owners were learning about the series, and became more willing to give it a try. Sure the same d-pad camera controls remained, but with extra monster lock on options and touch pad buttons players had an easier time managing it. The game was also one of the first to support the "New" Nintendo 3DS and it's right analog stick, so many of the issues players had with the PSP releases simply vanished. Throw in the fact that the 3DS was a popular console in the west, and you have a recipe for (possible) success. But did it succeed? Yes. Yes it did.

With MH4U doing well in both Japan and the west, it was a no brainer to release the follow up game Monster Hunter Generations as well. While it wasn't a full Monster Hunter 5, it was a game that built on the improvements introduced in 4, and it brought back many fan favorite monsters as well. It too did pretty well sales wise, but Capcom wanted to do more. Sure the games were finally doing well outside of Japan, but they figured it was time to finally make a game that would blow everyone away. Something that would bring new players to the series, and finally make it a full on hit world wide. This idea is what gave birth to Monster Hunter World.

Monster Hunter World is the 5th mainline entry in the MH series, and the first to really target the western audience. Needless to say this scared some long time fans, but thankfully most of those fears can be put to rest. Sure, there's no denying MHW is a different beast compared to the past, but for many that is a good thing. Although it doesn't completely reinvent itself, World does take some major step forwards, and introduces many quality of life improvements along the way. It's the first Monster Hunter to set out to fully realize the idea of having a living and breathing world filled with monsters, and it's also the first to feature a "real" story. So, just how well does it do all of this? Well...

The Story:

Don't be fooled. Although World does in fact have a story, it is still not a big focus here. The very basics come down to you, the player, joining an expedition group to what is known as "The New World." You start the game creating your character and meeting some supporting characters, and soon you are ship wrecked and thrown into the strange new world. It doesn't take too long to find your way to the camp the rest of the teams have set up before you, but the journey and settling in there is what acts as the game's main tutorial. As for what your goal is in this new world, you're tasked with a mission to discover why the elder dragons of the world are traveling to this place. It's a simple setup, and you do learn a bit more about this new world along the way, but that's about as far as the game gets with it's story. The main draw of Monster Hunter is fighting giant monsters, and that hasn't changed here.

The Gameplay:

Just as the games before it, World has a lot of different things going on. Sure it may seem like a simple boss fighting game at first, but it's actually a lot more complex than that...


Astera is the main hub of World, and where you will spend a lot of time. As a hub town you can expect to find a verity of shops and NPCs to talk to, but it is also where you will return to after every hunt. It's where you'll gain access to your farm, armor and weapon crafting, learn about the monsters you've fought, and where you can accept quests. Basically Astera is your lifeline as a hunter, and although you can technically remain out in the field indefinitely, you definitely do not want to do that. Learning how to use the different facilities there is key to surviving out in the field, and more features do get unlocked as you progress through the game.

The Item Shop -

The very first area you may want to access in the hub is none other than the item shop. Here is where you can buy basic healing potions, bombs, and other supplies to help you out in the field. Although the vast majority of items will be hand crafted, the shop does offer some items that can't really be gained any other way. Trap tools for example are used to create traps, and is the central ingredient. While you have to get the other pieces you need to construct a trap by going out into the field, the trap tool is a shop item you have to buy.  So even though you can get most things for free by gathering them yourself, the shop is still something you'll need to go to once in awhile.

Resource Center -

The Resource Center is a team of three NPCs who offer you different research related quests and rewards. By talking to them you can accept extra side quests that reward you with armor upgrade materials and Research Points (a type of currency used for some shops and services), and you can also complete weekly events for special rewards. On top of that, they are also the NPCs that allow you to accept special monster investigation missions, which unlock as you examine monster tracks during hunts.

Botanical Research Center -

The Botanical Research Center is World's version of the "farm" featured in previous games. Here you're able to give the team different materials to produce more of, and then come back later to collect the results. In other words, if you give the team honey, after every quest/hunt they'll have duplicated it for you. This means you'll get an unlimited supply of honey without having to worry about gathering it yourself. (Which is very useful considering honey is what is used to create Mega Potions.)  The Botanical Research Center also works with bugs and a wide verity of plants, so you can duplicate pretty much any material you'll need. (That is, as long as it isn't something carved from a monster, or mined...)

Ecological Research Center -

The final research center. Here is where you'll gain story related missions, and also be able to find out about monsters you've previously met. They'll show you the weakness of the monsters, what parts can be broken or cut off, and even what materials you can expect to get from them after taking them down. It's basically an in game wiki page, and it can be a lot of help.

Elder Melder -

The Elder Melder isn't unlocked until later on in the game, but once you do unlock it things become a bit easier. This NPC allows you to turn more basic materials into other special items, and it's also where you can trade in special tickets for rare monster drops. This makes grinding for those low percent drop items much easier, as you can simply trade for the ones you need instead of spending hours killing the same monster over and over again. Of course the tickets are rare themselves, but they are there for you if you need them.

The Canteen -

Food is very important, and it's the same in Monster Hunter. The Canteen is where you can go to eat a meal before you go out on a hunt, and different types of meals will provide you with different effects. As you play through the game you'll unlock different ingredients to use here, and that in return will unlock new and better buffs as well. For example, most food will give you more max health or stamina, but others will give you passive skills that will buff different stats, or even make it so you're more likely to find a rare item. These food skills will remain active until you either finish the hunt or die, and they become key to your survival when fighting the stronger monsters. Although you can pick dishes the chef himself recommends, you can also mix and match your own ingredients to get exactly what you want.

The Smithy -

Possibly the most important part of all of Astera (besides the quest board). The Smithy is where you can buy starting weapons and armor to use, and also where you craft everything else gear related. Whenever you find a material that can be used to create an armor set, that set will appear on the crafting list, and once you have everything needed, you can make it. Armor sets can also be upgraded at the Smithy with special upgrade items, but weapons are a little bit different.

While armor sets are simply made out of materials gathered, weapons follow a weapon tree. In past games in the series you had to either figure out what weapon became what on your own, or look up a guide online. This time around however, the full weapon tree is right in front of you. Once you have one of the base weapons, you can then go out and gather materials to shape that weapon into your desired end game one. You can even down grade your weapon if you decide to take it down a different weapon tree path instead.

The Quest Board -

The final, and main, part of Astera. The Quest Board is where you post all quests, and can find a list of quests other players have posted as well. There are different types of quests in the game, and you can even jump into hunts that have already started, but I'll cover that in a section of it's own. As for the board itself, all you need to know is this is where you go to play the real game.

The Weapons:

Before you can go off and kill monsters, the first thing you need to do is decide on what weapon you want to use. The game doesn't lock you into any choice you make, but it is very important that you find the perfect weapon type for you. Each and every single one is unique, and they can take some time to master. Different weapons have different systems to keep track of as well, and they all have different attributes and stats to go along with them. Elemental damage can be quite important when taking out some monsters, and the sharpness of some weapons will determine of they can even pierce a monster's skin. These are things you also need to look at when deciding what weapon path you want to go down, and something you'll need to keep track of when out in the field. Thankfully you can change your gear mid hunt this time around, so if you show up with the wrong weapon you can always change. As for the weapon types? They are as follows:

Great Sword -

A slow but powerful weapon. The Great Sword's main draw is it's ability to charge it's strikes to deal massive damage. In past games this was limited to only one or two charge attacks, but in World it has been upgraded to a full three part charge combo. You still have to stand still to charge your hits, but it's worth it if you can get the timing down.

Long Sword -

The Great Sword's "cousin." The Long Sword is a long reaching blade that has quick attacks. Due to it's speed the LS has high damage output,  and even has a special attack that can be activated. Although it can't be used as a shield to block attacks (as the Great Sword can), it makes up for it with it's speed. The weapon is fast and it relies on your ability to dodge as well.

Sword and Shield -

The "basic" weapon of Monster Hunter. This weapon has a single quick hitting sword held in one hand, and a large shield that is held in the other. It's a very balanced out weapon that allows you to quickly dodge and block attacks, and with the right build you can even use it as a sort of support class for other players. In short it's simply a great weapon, and easy to pick up for beginners.

Dual Blades -

The Sword and Shield's cousin. The Dual Blades drops the shield to add a second sword, and brings with it a lot more attack speed. Although this weapon cannot block attacks, it's able to quickly dodge attacks, allows you to run while the weapon is still drawn, and (like the LS) has a special demon attack mode. It's very fast, and very strong, and great for those who prefer speed and mobility.

Hammer -

The Hammer is one of the strongest hard hitting weapons in the game. It's faster than other heavy weapons, but it doesn't have the ability to block attacks. Unlike the previous weapons listed however, the Hammer is an impact based weapon rather than a cutting one. Because of this it is able to break parts, smash faces, and has a much easier time at knocking monsters out. It's a crazy strong powerhouse, and in World they even added a new power charge mode to it. (Which basically buffs the weapon and can be active at all times.)

Hunting Horn -

The other hammer of the game. The Hunting Horn is a unique weapon as it's also a support weapon. While attacking mostly comes down to bashing things over the head with it, the real draw of this weapon is it's songs. Different horns can play different songs, and different songs give you different buffs. These buffs can be anything from attack and health boosts, to even buffs that negate the wind pressure of monster's wings. It's a really great weapon, and very helpful when playing in groups.

Lance -

The tank class of the game. The Lance is a class built around blocking attacks, and stabbing monsters to death with the end of it. Just like with the Sword and Shield, the hunter will hold the Lance itself in one hand, and hold the shield in the other. At that point you can block as much as you want, and stab the poor thing till it dies. The Lance also has a charge attack, and a rush attack which hits multiple times. It also has the ability to side step, which allows you to reposition yourself when fighting a monster.

Gunlance -

Like the Lance, the Gunlance is a tank weapon which is built around being in a monster's face, and unleashing non stop combos. They have a shield so they can take a beating, and they have similar movement to the Lance (as in, side stepping). The main difference here though is that the Gunlance is also a gun that shoots at close range. Different types of Gunlances have different types of shots (such as a charge shot, or a wide shot), and unlike other gun weapons they do have unlimited ammo.

Insect Glavie -

The so called "pet class" weapon of Monster Hunter. The Insect Glaive is a pole like weapon that works in tandem with your hunter's pet bugs (which can be customized at the smithy). The pole itself is mostly a melee weapon, but it has the ability to shoot enemies at long range, and allows you to pole vault into the air to mount monsters. By using the shooting mechanic you can mark parts on a monster's body for your insect to attack, and in return it will bring back stored energy to power up the main weapon. It's a one of a kind weapon class, and perfect for those who prefer air combat over a more grounded fighting style.

Switch Axe -

Switch Axe is another unique weapon. Like the Gunlance that is both a gun and lance, the Switch Axe is both an axe and sword. It's a strong weapon that uses it's axe form to land quick hits, and it's sword mode to deal out devastating damage. The catch is that to use the sword mode you must fill up a meter by using axe mode first, and each sword strike after will use up that meter until the weapon reverts back to axe mode. (It also has a powerful explosive move that can be released all at once.) It's a powerful easy to pick up weapon, but to master it does take time.

Charge Blade -

Another unique weapon. The charge blade is a mix between the Switch Axe and the sword and shield. In it's sword and shield mode you're able to hack away at enemies to build up energy and store it. One enough energy is stored the weapon can then be switched over to it's Switch Axe like mode, and then used to unleash said energy for massive damage. It's a weapon that takes some time to get used to, but it's damage output is insane.

Bow -

The first true rained weapon of Monster Hunter World. The bow is a well rounded weapon that has both quick hitting shots, and stronger charge shots. It's great for hitting enemies both up close and from a distance, and it does wonders against monsters that like to stay in the sky. Of course, that's not all this thing can do. Unlike other weapons, the Bow allows you to apply different coatings to your arrows which have different effects. For example the bow can put monsters to sleep by using a sleep coating, or poison them using poison coatings. This means a bow user can be ready for almost any situation, and that makes them a formidable foe. (For the monsters that is!)

Light Bowgun -

The second ranged weapon, and the first of the two gun classes. A Light Bowgun is a weapon that allows for more mobility, but weaker fire power compared to it's cousin (the Heavy Bowgun). It can be loaded with different types of ammo (similar to the Bow's coatings), and its parts can be customized to have different features and change up it's stats. Overall the weapon is more support based, but it can still hold it's own when needed (as can every other weapon in the game).

Heavy Bowgun -

The "heavier" version of the Light Bowgun. This gun is the main damage dealer, and because of that it is also much slower. While the gun itself does have a shield (so you can block), everything else about it takes much more time than with the Light Bowgun. It takes longer to put away, the reload times are longer, and your movement in general is cut down greatly. On the flip side however, the gun is very strong, and it's a weapon you almost always use from a distance. In short, getting hit by an enemy won't be a problem for those who master it. (And yes, it too can be customized just like the Light version.)

The Palico:

Weapons aren't your only hope when fighting in this game. Palico's are cat like creatures that'll be helping you on your adventure. At the start of the game you're able to customize your own, and then you're able to take it out with you on hunts. As the Palico fights along side you it gains experience to level up and become stronger, and eventually you can unlock different pieces of equipment for it as well. While armor and weapons can be crafted back in town at the Smithy, special equipment can be unlocked by finishing side quests in the game, and they come in a wide verity of support options. So while the base Palico ability is to actually heal you, later on you could unlock buffs if that's what you'd prefer.

Sadly the Palico can only be brought with you when you're in a party of two or less players, so don't count on them always being there with you.

The World:

So, after you've walked around the town, picked out your weapon, and possibly bought a new armor set... What is there to do? Well, set out into the world of course!

Although Monster Hunter World is a game that really pushes it's "open world" aspect, it really isn't too much different from the games in the past. Rather than being a single seamless world, each area of the game is broken up into it's own map. The forest area is your starting area, and where you'll spend most of the intro quests, but not too long after the desert will open up. This area is completely cut off from the forest before it, but both areas are massive in scale. In fact they are so big, that while past games only had a single safe camp area to return to, each map in World features multiple camps instead. This is something that actually worried a lot of long time fans when they first heard about it, but I can safely say it isn't as bad as it first seemed. In fact, many people may even love the change.

In past Monster Hunter games the setup was quite a bit different. When you started a hunt you would be thrown into the area's camp, and each area would then be made up of multiple smaller areas. These areas were then split up by loading screens, and they each acted as a mini battle arena for whatever monster you were fighting. Because of this you could actually hide from monsters by simply going through the loading screens to get to another area, and you only had so many smaller monsters walking around as well. These older games tried to make their world's feel alive, but the disconnected map somewhat broke that immersion. As for how Monster Hunter World does things though... It's quite a bit different.

Since these maps are huge multi camp areas, the World map's feel more like multiple maps being brought together. The loading screens are gone (with actual paths connecting the major areas of a map), a multitude of animals and monsters roam the wilds, and monsters are free to go and do whatever they want. This means you can no longer hide off screen from a monster you're fighting, and instead must use plants to hide yourself if you are in danger. Health potions and other items can also be used while moving (in previous games you had to stand still while using them), and most items can be gathered as you walk past them as well. Other changes made due to the new open world is the inclusion of the scout flies that will help you track the location of large monsters, and the ability to freely fly back to any of the camps whenever you'd like. The grappling hook was also added to make it easier for you to progress through the areas, and the sling shot allows you to interact with your surroundings as well. Gone are the days of having to craft every single tool, as now you can simply shoot a rock at something and watch the aftereffects. For example, shoot a flash bug? It'll explode and blind everything in the area. Shoot an electric frog? It'll release a cloud of dust that'll stun everything that comes in contact with it. Basically the game does everything it can with it's new open world, but also tries to stay true to it's original Monster Hunter roots. But honestly, the world you explore is only a backdrop to the true focus of this game... And that's fighting monsters.

The Monsters:

Although the maps might be bigger, and the newly added tools might make your life easier, the main focus of the game has not changed. Monster Hunter is, and always will be, a boss fighting game. Each map in the game will have multiple big monsters walking around, and it's your job to find the one you need to kill, and then take it out as fast as possible. All quests have a time limit in MHW, and if you take too much time you will fail. On top of that other monsters will often attack you as well, so it's not like you can ignore everything besides your target.

Unlike past entries in the series, MHW actually does a really good job easing newcomers into the game. The first monsters you fight are a lot easier compared to what you have to deal with in other entries, and the larger world can work to your advantage. Being able to climb up ledges, or swing from grappling points is a great way to get out of harm's way, and allows you to easily mount the monsters. Knocking crumbling rocks down onto a monster's head is a good way to deal some extra damage, and sometimes you can even lead OTHER large monsters into attacking your target for you. All of this does make the game easier, but that doesn't mean it is a cake walk. (Although, it may be for some long time fans...)

In order to really take down a monster in MHW you have to learn both it, and your own weapon. If you're unsure of how your own body can move, then you're going to get pounded into the ground and die in no time. Then if you die three times? You fail the quest... For you and everyone else helping you... This means you can't just rush in swords swinging and guns blazing, and instead you have to figure out exactly what it is you can or cannot do. Once you've figured this out you then have to learn how to fight the monster itself, and what you can do to make your life easier. Different monsters have different weaknesses, and different parts of their body do as well. While some body parts might be resistant to piercing type weapons, others may receive more damage when struck with them. This includes the tail of most monsters which can actually be cut off in most cases. This cut off tail can then be carved for extra monster materials, and often will impact the monster's performance in a fight. The same can be said for other parts that get broken off, but maybe not quite to the same extent as a tail. (After all, most monsters do use their tails to attack, and without it their attack options become limited).

Even though large monsters are "bosses," they too act like living creatures. They aren't there to kill you, but rather to live their lives. This means they'll often consider their options before fighting you. Yes, some monsters will attack on sight, but others may walk by you without doing a thing. Of course the moment you attack them they'll attack back, but these things aren't your typical "bad guys" you have to fight. Instead they'll defend their territory (from both you and other monsters), and go hunting for food when they run out of energy. They'll also run away from you when they become frightened, and go to sleep at their nest to attempt to recover energy. This means you'll often have to chase monsters down, and pay attention to how they are acting to know what they might do. Monster Hunter World does add a pulse to help you see when a monster is close to death, but most of the visual cue's still come from the monster itself. It's a feature unique to the series, and something fans will be happy to see has remained the same. But that's not all...

Like in previous games killing isn't the only option. Weak monsters can be captured rather than killed, and doing so will give you more quest rewards on the result screen. Capturing also tends to be easier than killing in most cases, and can put an end to hunts much quicker. On the down side however, not all monsters can be captured, and you need to craft both traps and tranquilizers to catch them and put them to sleep. Of course this doesn't become a problem once your Botanical Research Center is upgraded, but early on in the game your resources are limited. However, there is one other use for capturing monsters in World, and it's a very welcomed edition.

If you capture a monster in World, a Special Arena quest for said monster will become unlocked. These quests are fights set in an enclosed area where you don't have to worry about tracking down the monster, nor do you have to worry about them running for you. They are full on death matches, and a great way to take out monsters quickly to farm for supplies. Although, that's not the only way to farm in this game.

Unlike normal quests, Investigations are randomly generated quests that are unlocked as you explore the map, and gather research data (such as by inspecting foot prints and what not). These quests have set restrictions, but offer rare items when completed. Although this doesn't insure you'll always get a rare drop, it does make it more likely, and speeds up the process of crafting new armor and weapons. It also means once you finish all of the game's main quests you have an unlimited supply of content to keep you busy after.

The Multiplayer:

The multiplayer mode in World is quite a bit different from how things used to be. In the past you had a multiplayer hub you could join which had it's own set of (harder) quests, and allowed up to four people to join you. In World however, all of this is gone. Instead the single player town is the same as the multiplayer area, and a large group of players can be in it at a time. This means you can technically play with a larger group of friends, but the quests themselves are still limited to four. On top of that any other player in the room can join your hunt, and you may not always want that. Thankfully there is an option to make private and offline rooms, but it really depends on what you want to do.

On the other hand, if you do want to play through the game in multiplayer, the new system is actually pretty nice. Sadly you can't join any hunts where cutscenes need to be watched (at least not until everyone has seen said cutscene), but that's only a minor inconvenience. Putting cutscenes aside, anyone who is in your room is free to join you in the middle of a hunt, and you can even shoot off an SOS signal to allow people from other rooms to join you. Past games required everyone to ready up and set out together, but now players are free to come and go as they please. The only real down side is that the Gathering Hall area MADE for the multiplayer is pretty much useless...

The Gathering Hall is a separate area to the town, and the only area where all the players in a room can see each other. You can talk and interact here all you want, but there's really no point. Most of the facilities you need to go back to cannot be accessed here, and the moment you return from a quest you're dropped at the bottom of the town instead. So why bother running all the way back to the Gathering Hub then? Yeah, there's really not an answer for that one... Although you can accept two player arena challenge quests here.

Although the multiplayer is pretty nice in World, there is one setback that some long time fans may not like. You see, originally the multiplayer hub was it's own area in past games, and they featured their own quests. These quests were harder than the ones you found in the base game (as they were balanced for multiplayer), and they were a way for solo players to challenge themselves even more. With the way World works however, this is a thing of the past. The story quests and multiplayer quests are one in the same. Now they do scale when a second player joins your quest, but there's no way to actually start the quest on this harder difficulty without having a second person with you. On top of that if a second person joins your quest and drops, the difficulty will not scale back to the single player version. It will remain as it's harder "multiplayer" counterpart, and (putting the monster's new HP aside) will make some simple tasks even harder for you. Sadly online players can use this free join feature to scale the difficulty to troll you, and there's not much you can do about it. Unless you lock the quest before hand that is...

Even so, the new multiplayer system in World is pretty nice overall. It does have it's down sides compared to how things were in past games, but the good does outweigh the bad. Plus full mic and keyboard support is always a nice bonus... And something that was missing from the previous 3DS games...

The Good and the Bad:

Monster Hunter World is not a game for everyone, and because of that it's really difficult to say what exactly is good or bad about the game. One thing that needs to be made absolutely clear though, is the fact that this is a boss fighting game, and not a story focused one. If you only want a story, then stop now. This game is not for you. If you want to challenge yourself by going against bigger and stronger bosses however, then by all means give this one a shot! On the plus side the game is really newbie friendly, it looks amazing, the combat feels great (once you get the hang of it), and the world really does feel alive. It's a game that finally makes good on it's promise of having a living breathing world like we expected to see with the first Monster Hunter, and it's quality of life improvements greatly improve the experience. It's also packed full of content, and can keep you busy for quite a long time. Really, for what it is, there's not much actually "wrong" with it. However not all long time fans may see it that way.

I guess when you come down to it, the "bad" part of World is actually it's lack of content. Now don't get me wrong, this game is filled with things to do, (Heck, I just said it was!) but it's nowhere near the scale of some of the previous titles. Now World is in fact the base game for the 5th generation, so it's really not too surprising that it doesn't have as many monsters or quests as something like 4 Ultimate, or Generation's Ultimate, but some may see that as an issue. Also some long time fans may be let down to see just how easy the game has become thanks to come of the quality of life improvements, but it's not like the game is a cakewalk either. Either way you look at it, this is the entry title for the next generation, and there is no doubt that more is to come. Free updates have been coming out every so often, and it's also very likely that an expansion will be released later on. This is the pattern most games in the series have followed up till this point, and its not something Capcom is expected to change anytime soon. So technically even these "bad points" may not be bad news for long time fans. This is a game that will continue to grow and evolve over time, but until then it is still a solid entry in the series. One that everyone should at least give a try.

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