What if I told you there was a whole new continent out there filled with monsters of every shape and size, and they were all wild game there for the taking? Of course, these great beasts aren't exactly going to go down easy as another trophy for your wall, and they're going to fight back as hard as they can. Only the best and most courageous hunters will have what it takes to survive this dangerous ecosystem, and they'll be legends among the rest of Monster Hunter World.

Capcom unveiled the latest entry in the popular Monster Hunter series during PlayStation's E3 event, and let us get a closer look at Monster Hunter World when the show floor opened last week. Taking part in on an entirely new continent within that universe, Monster Hunter World is the first that will provide a true living ecosystem from top to bottom. There will be plenty of creatures across all of Monster Hunter World's various locales that rely on one another within the established food chain, and we're not just talking about scripted moments.

In our lengthy demonstration, we saw a number of creatures great and small going about their business as if we weren't even there. A Great Jagras appeared in a field, and gulped down an entire docile animal in one swallow. We followed the iguana-like monster through some denser foliage, where it then regurgitated the lesser creature for its young. Those Jagras would have eaten us just the same, but fortunately they were otherwise occupied with a larger, no doubt tastier meal as we continued on.

Capcom

Our quest this journey was to hunt down an Anjanath, which is a T-rex-looking monster with a nose that blows up like a balloon when sniffing for prey. It's no small task taking one of these down, but for the purposes of the demo, the player character was loaded up with some pretty strong armor and weaponry. To start the hunt however, we first used some Scout Flies to pick up the trail. These handy little bugs are one of the main tracking tools hunters will have, and will help you keep an eye on the prize as you discover more things about the local game. If you happen across some mucous, the Scout Flies will recognize that in the future, and help you spot it lining a cave wall or a tree trunk as you work your way closer to the target.

Monster Hunter World follows a fairly traditional action role-playing game mold when you get into the actual combat, with hunters having a number of different melee and ranged weapons at their disposal. For the purposes of the demo, our hunter had a massive great sword and a heavy rifle on hand, but you'll also be able to use hammer, lances and the like depending on your preference. The sword kept us close and personal with the Anjanath once we tracked it down, and we could even leap onto its back to dole out additional damage if the terrain gave us a way to do it. You've got to watch out for being bucked off though, as most monsters don't appreciate being taken for a ride.

Capcom

As we weakened Anjanath, it began to flee back to its nest, and other wildlife could notice that it was severely hurt. Nice as it would be to take all the credit, we did have some help from an angry Rathalos burning up the Anjanath when it inadvertently tried to run away through a Rathalos nest. Note to future players: don't forget to look up for winged monsters just as eager to eat you as you are to hunt them. Back at the Anjanath nest, some of those young Jagras were waiting to nibble on the dying beast, but not before we'd had our final say. We didn't take up the contract just to let some other lizards take all the good meat and scales. The rewards were worth all the effort though, as we got plenty of assets for new weapons, armor and items to make our next hunt more successful.

While we didn't get to go hands-on with Monster Hunter World, what we saw for the 2018 title was certainly promising. Even as hunters who only dabbled in Capcom's beast-filled world in the past, there were a lot of new mechanics on display that caught our eye. We also only saw a very small portion of the wild island in action, and just this glimpse has us eager to explore and see what manner of beasts we can challenge next year.

Monster Hunter World will be out on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 in 2018.

[An earlier version of this preview indicated Monster Hunter World was an open-world game, but that was incorrect, and has been amended. - Ed.]