It’s interesting how Monster Hunter World, a game that is supposedly being made to specifically target western players, is adopting functionality that I’d imagine all gamers everywhere would appreciate. While portability, one of the series’ main draws, is being sidelined again, social structure is actually being enhanced with the release of squads or “circles,” MHW’s answer to guilds and clans.
Both of the above articles I’ve just linked to you focus on general social play, like the 16-person social areas, ability to arm wrestle for fun, and the chance to pick up various kinds of quests, but in-game support for long-term social groups is quite new to the series and is probably of more interest to MMO fans. Past MH games have had friends lists, but communities have largely been left to themselves to create clans, similar to how old-school online gamers (and some modern ones) built websites and created clan tags before developers gave them in-game tools to manage and label themselves.
While western players may use websites and focus on online play, Japanese players (especially for the portable games) tend to not only play with local friends but go to “game cafes” (like internet cafes) or form clubs that meet in public or private spaces. I had some good experiences in those, but it was also a lot of work, and I was never able to make any strong connections, perhaps because I was living in a more rural area and had to travel to Tokyo for these kinds of meets. (I’m sure rural Hearthstone players looking for Fireside Gatherings can relate!) So in-game guilds would have been a tremendous boon to players in my situation overseas, maybe even more than here in the US.
So far, we’ve learned that each player can join up to eight squads, with each squad having a maximum membership of 50 players. Each squad gets its own name, symbol, and “message,” which may mean something like a motto or message-of-the-day. Your squad symbol will show up before your name in social areas of the game and also on “guild cards,” the series profiles that show off some of a player’s basic statistics and achievements. There’s no word on rank structures or squad point comparisons, which could mean these are simply social tools and not a way to push a competitive mode of some sort.