I’ve noticed that in most discussions surrounding what monsters might be returning in World, Lagiacrus, and more broadly the Leviathan class as a whole, is considered a strong unlikelihood. (like pretty much universally) Even those who don’t entirely discount its potential appearance do so bashfully. This confuses me. I’ve seen the GDC video (
https://www.gdcvault.com/play/1024981/-Monster-Hunter-World-Postmortem) in which the Lagiarcrus prototype was shown, and I heard them say that it would not be appearing in World due to problems with its model, but that showcase was back in march of 2018 shortly after MHW released and long before Iceborne was announced. Why is everyone still so skeptical about Lagiacrus returning in Iceborne? If anything, the fact that it appeared as an early prototype makes me think that it is a certainty for Iceborne. MHW is my first Monster Hunter since the original; (which I played as a kid) I haven’t followed the series’ development at all before World, so I don’t know if this sort of thing has happened before, but it seems more than likely that a working, but incomplete, prototype that didn’t make it into the first game would make it into the expansion. Let me defend this stance.
To start, it seems like a waste to completely throw away Lagiacrus (and whatever other Leviathans they were working on, but we’ll get to that) after so much work had already gone into it. Obviously, it did not make it into the base game, but with the time that they have had to work on Iceborne, they should have been able to do the work needed to fix, and ultimately finish, Lagiacrus. It would likely be easier to finish the Leviathans than start a new monster skeleton from scratch. (and I’ll contradict this in a bit) Some have suggested that World was not entirely finished when it was released, and there is some evidence for this, (no Leviathans for one, trickle of post-release monsters, repetitious weapon design… none of these are proof, merely suggestions) it’s possible that the Leviathans simply could not be completed be for release and are instead being saved for the expansion.
The video that Lagiacrus appears in shows a version of the ancient forest that is not in the game. This was either a very early version of the map (unlikely) or a separate map made specifically for this showcase. I say this for several reasons. First, much of what is show in the video (mechanics, monsters, environmental assets, etc.) were clearly finished (or near so); while the map itself lacks polish, much of what inhabits it does not. Second, the map seems to be very linear and much of what happens is more scripted then what we find in the finished game. It seems unlikely that this map was ever intended to be the Ancient Forest that we see in the game; there is no way that the most important map of World would not be designed as intended, and left so unpolished, until so late in the game. I cannot see such a massive redesign at this point either. What I’m getting at is that this video, and the map found within it, were all likely made close to, if not after, the release date of the game. Lagiacrus, and the Leviathan class, was likely not abandoned until well into the game’s development. Just look at the model for it; it seems mostly complete.
Now, because Leviathans were originally destined for World, and were likely abandoned well into the games production, a few questions come to mind. What Leviathans were intended to be in the game? Where would they be found in the maps; and, have the maps changed due to their removal? What other effects does their absence have on the game?
To consider the last two questions, it would be helpful to start with the first. What Leviathans, aside from Lagiacrus, would we have seen in the game? I think three to four others are likely. Mizutsune (or Royal Ludroth), Maybe Agnaktor, and one other. (but we’ll get to this one later)
Lagiacrus would have found its home in the Ancient Forest. The prototype shows it there, and while the map, as it is, doesn’t seem to hold any obvious spot for it to inhabit, most of the concept art (https://imgur.com/r/monsterhunter/S5EIX) for the Ancient Forest shows it as being much wetter than it currently is. (and it is already very wet) clearly either Lagiacrus or the AF were planned with the other in mind. It is worth pointing out that there are not currently any obvious areas of the AF that it could be located in; however, with a little remodeling it is easy to ease were it could have been.
This map *poorly* highlights several mostly connected areas that could be used for Lagiacrus with a little tweaking. (go look for yourselves) Area 8 is the least obvious, but I highlighted it because there is a swampy area just beyond its northwestern boarder that could have been opened up. Also, area 11 is the swampy area at the base of the ancient tree; which, was where Lagiacrus was found in in the showcase map.
Mizutsune is incredibly popular (even more so than the already popular Lagiacrus:
https://monsterhunter.fandom.com/wiki/User_blog:BannedLagiacrus/Discussion_of_the_Week:_Monster_Polls) and I expect would have been in the base game had Leviathans not had trouble in development. World lacks water elemental monsters, the only one being Jyuratodus which is a very early stage monster, making it not only the only element with only one monster, but also the only element not found in any late game monster. (ice has Legiana and Kushala; thunder has Kadachi and Kirin) Additionally, while Mizutsune is not found in desert maps, the lavender marsh looks like it was aesthetically designed to hold it. It would also be open to more of the map than Jyuratodus, likely venturing into areas 1 and 2 in addition to 4, 9 and 10.
Here is a good place to talk about Piscines in MHW for a moment; that is, I don’t think they were supposed to be in it. Jyuratodus and Lavasioth have the exact same design; aside from the mud and water themes, they have no difference. Odd, considering how unique most of the new monsters are. And if you look at early concept art, Jyuratodus is not included; it isn’t even found in the art book (
) I could only find two concept art that included it, both of which were late and clearly based on the finished game. (
https://i.imgur.com/WXGKAj3.png) The only unique thing Jyuratodus has going for it is its turf war, which isn’t saying much. Basically, because of the lack of variety in design and early concept art, I believe Piscines were not added until late in development. I think they were likely added to replace the discarded Leviathans. I don’t know how long it would have taken for development on a replacement skeleton, so maybe it wouldn’t be viable, but from what I have gathered it seems like a likely possibility.
Back to Mizutsune: there is one consideration that argues against it, and that is the early game progression. All of the early monsters in World (Great Jagras through Tobi-Kadachi) can be seen as introductory monsters to their monster class: Jagras and Kadachi for the two types of Fanged wyvern, Kulu-Ya-Ku for Bird, Pukei-Pukei for flying (despite being a bird itself), Barroth for brute and Jyuratodus for Piscine, every none elder dragon class is accounted for here. All of these monster work well as tutorial monsters as they are easy fights. Misutsune, if found in the Wildspire Waste, would not work as a tutorial; it would be a late game monster. So, either a different leviathan would have to either take its place or be found in addition to it as the tutorial Leviathan: this would possibly be Royal Ludroth. (Ludroth is an earlier game monster if I assume correctly?) This would also account for a second water element monster. If not Ludroth, there is one other option I can see, but I’ll get to that one in a bit.
If I am right, and piscines were not originally intended for World, then that leaves out Lavasioth, who, has a clear place in the Elder’s Recess. If this were the case, then it is likely that something else would have been in its place, rather than the Recess be redesigned; this monster was probably Agnaktor, due to its similarities with Lavasioth.
So, what is this “other” monster I keep referring too. Well, aside from Kirin (which has been a constant unique throughout the series) and Zorah (which is a given) there is no monster model in the game that does not have a World original monster to go with it: flying has Legiana, paolumu and Bazelgeuse, roly brute has radobaan, even piscine has the uninspired Jyuratodus. With this insistence on new monsters for each skeleton and model, we can be sure that the leviathans had a World original monster too; they were certainly late enough in development for a basic concept to have been made. As I see it, (and I think this is obvious) MHW is missing an original Leviathan; one was planned and in development but could not be added. Surely, somewhere, it has left a mark. Its possible that it was meant to be an early game Leviathan introduction; it could also have been the second water element monster. Whatever it was, my suspicious are that it was destined for the Wildspire Waste.
There are four odd landmarks that I have noticed within the Wildspire Waste:
This abrupt cutoff just before the entrance to Diablo’s lair –
This odd, unused mouth of a cave –
This out of place slaughter zone –
And the backside dropdown, beneath the cave drawings, at the Rathian nest. Serious, why is this here? There are the flammable spots down here, indicating that maybe you fight the Rathian here, but has anyone ever taken the fight down there? I haven’t! It seems out of place and unnecessary; at least, it’s an odd design choice-
Processing img yswous7k2nz21…
And here is a map of their locations –
They are all in close proximity to each other, and are either underground, or indicate a descent. To me, it looks as if they were meant to continue further underground into part of the map that is not there. Its as if they were intended to connect, but were cut off without explanation. Is this just me? Go look for yourselves; no other map in this game has even a single questionable area for me, yet the Wildspire Waste has four. (the first, by Diablo’s lair, is a stretch admittedly) If I am right in assuming that these were originally meant to connect to different underground area, then that likely means that it was to be inhabited by a monster that is not present in the game.
Each map in MHW has at least two World original monsters that appear originally and predominantly in that map: Af = 4, CH = 3, RV = 4, ER = 2 (though the ER is primarily for elders). Unless you count Kulu, (I don’t) the Wildspire Waste only has Jyuratodas, which likely wasn’t even intended originally. Nearly every monster found in the WW is either a returning monster, or found originally in the AF. I think there were supposed to be other World original monsters here: possibly a leviathan, and possibly something inhabiting the missing area. (do they overlap? Maybe) even if Jyuratodus was meant to replace the only other World original monster to the WW (leaving it with the same number of original monsters as before) it seems like there was supposed to be a lot more going on here than there currently is. (1-3 other monsters by my count)
Also, as a side note, I think its worth mentioning that aside from the three staple monsters (Rathalos, Rathian and Diablos) and Lavasioth, all of the other returning, non elder dragon, monsters in World are gen three monsters: Uragaan, Barroth, Deviljho and what was to be Lagiacrus. Gen three monsters seem to be a focus in world, so Leviathans (which originated in gen three) playing a large role in the game is not a stretch at all.
I’m not claiming to know how Capcom makes their games, and at what point in the development they decided to work on each piece, but I do think this is all worth considering. Leviathans clearly were not cut from the game until well into development and seem to have influenced even the maps in World. There is a lot of information here, and while much of it is speculative, (and to varying degrees of reasonability, some more ridiculous than the rest) I think a lot can be deduced from it. Like I said, I have not played a monster hunter game since the original when I was a kid, so I’d love to hear from people savvier with the series. Am I making sense? Have I overlooked any details or gotten any information incorrect? Let me know your thoughts!
While I think Leviathans will inhabit World in the way they were originally planned to, I would be very surprised if they did not appear in Iceborne. It obviously isn’t a certainty, but I think it is more likely than not. I expect to see at least Lagiacrus and one World original Leviathan in Iceborne, if not Mizutsune as well. And even if they don't show up, I think looking at all this in relation to the development of World is interesting enough.
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