“Monster Hunter: World” isn’t exactly a user-friendly game, especially not for someone who’s more or less a newcomer.

There are quests, investigations, bounties and research expeditions to be completed.

There are stats to manage and dozens of items to craft—and even more to collect.

There are several weapons and armor sets to forge and upgrade, each with its own advantages and pitfalls.

Then there’s the actual gameplay, which comes with other difficulties. Each monster you hunt has its own strengths and weaknesses, and besting each alone can be hard if you’re not prepared.

Luckily, it’s all a bit less confusing and a lot more fun when you’ve got friends at your side—even if playing the game with your buddies presents its own set of challenges.

I got a review copy of “Monster Hunter: World” on Friday (and what a nice birthday present it was), and I’ve sunk maybe 15 hours into the game. That might seem like a lot, but considering the sheer breadth and scale of “Monster Hunter,” I’ve barely scratched the surface.

My friend Matthew bought the game after watching me play, and I soon found out two other friends also have copies. Naturally, we spent a few hours Sunday playing together.

Staying consistent with “Monster Hunter’s” established user-unfriendliness, grouping up with buddies to cooperatively hunt monsters proved tedious. It took us longer than it should have to start an online session, get into it together and then learn how to get all of us into the same quest.

After completing missions together, one group member was consistently booted from the party—requiring us to basically start the process over to get everyone together again. It’s a more convoluted process than I’d expect from a popular game nowadays.

However, when we did get in a game together, we had a blast.

I run a sword and shield, which is just about the lamest weapon available in a game where you can wield swords that transform into axes mid-swing or a giant bagpipe-looking horn.

While I chopped at monsters’ ankles, Matthew would use a bow staff-like glaive to literally vault into the air and shred beasts apart “Attack on Titan” style. Often he’d mount a monster’s back and stab it while it tried to shake him off. Another friend used a gunlance (yes, this is a lance that shoots bullets) to hurt monsters from afar.

Eventually, we’d take the creature down, which was always a thrill after spending the better part of an hour tracking it across the map. We’d all celebrate, carve our spoils from the carcass and get ready to do it all over again.

Hunts don’t come without some hijinks. More than once, I got caught in the crossfire of my gunlance-wielding friend. He’d charge up a powerful shot and blast me instead of his target. It was (almost) always his fault, but it never stopped being funny.

Once, while carving up a creature we’d just slain, Matthew thought it would be hilarious to constantly hit us, which interrupted us from collecting goods from the carcass. It was annoying at the time, but in retrospect, it’s admittedly pretty amusing.

My time with “Monster Hunter: World” so far has shown it can sometimes be a messy, confusing experience with plenty of room for improvement. But the core game is a blast I can see myself getting addicted to, especially with some chaotic companions at my side.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.