I’ve played a shit-ton of Monster Hunter: World this week, but we’ll get to that in a second. Dead Cells was officially released on August 6th, and I reinstalled it to see if I could finally beat the goddamn boss at the end of the (Early Access) game. I’ve written several posts about it and why I quit playing it, even though it’s an excellent game. Before I talk about that, I have to address the regrettable controversy surrounding Dead Cells, one not of its own making, and one it does not deserve at all. An editor at IGN, Filip Miucin, plagiarized Boomstick Gaming’s review video for the game. When the news dropped, I was on the fence because the few things I saw weren’t that egregious. There are certain phrases that come up in every review about this game–rogue-like 2D Metroidvania platformer, for instance–and the notable things about the game are, well, noted in each review*. But, looking deeper into it, there’s no denying that Miucin copied Boomstick Gaming’s review, and IGN acted admirably by investigating and then firing him.
Miucin was a YouTuber before he became an editor at IGN, which, you know, maybe not the best of ideas, but so be it. After the debacle, he put out a video he labeled an apology, but was anything but. He said it was unintentional and that the other example provided was just click-bait for Jason Schreier (Kotaku writer). Miucin challenged the internet to find other examples of him plagiarizing, which is the last thing you want to do in his position. Turns out he plagiarized from Wiki, his own colleague at IGN, and his resume was a template stolen from LinkedIn. He’d been doing it for years, and he probably thought he could get away with it at IGN because he hadn’t been caught before.
Anyway, the point isn’t Miucin’s despicable behavior, but the fact that Motion Twin (the devs) doesn’t deserve this. They’ve put out an amazing game that has vastly exceeded expectations, and yet, forever, they will be linked to the Miucin debacle. In addition, Motion Twin has an egalitarian pay system. Everyone who works for the team gets the same pay. They all get the same bonuses. It’s a small team, which makes it even more amazing. The game is gorgeous and addictive, and I still can’t beat that damn boss.
My one biggest gripe is that it can take me up to an hour to make it to this boss. I can be as overpowered as hell, and the minute I step into the castle, it doesn’t matter. No matter how fat my health bar or how strong my weapons and skill, I get destroyed by this boss. I’ve met him twice since I reinstalled the game this time, and I lasted at most a minute the first time and maybe fifteen seconds the second. I cannot beat this boss no matter what load-out I have, and it’s mostly because I can’t practice against him often enough.
Do you know how I beat Ornstein and Smough? By bashing my head against them over and over again. Yes, I took breaks to grind and level up, but that was by choice. I’ve put in over a hundred hours into Dead Cells, and I’ve fought this boss maybe a dozen times. That’s not nearly enough for me to be able to beat him, and quite frankly, it’s the reason I keep quitting the game. I need to fight him over and over again in order to get a feel for him, but I can’t do that when it takes up to an hour to reach him, only to die to him in less than a minute.
I’m not mad at the game; I understand that ultimately, it’s not for me. I think it’s a fantastic game, and if you like games such as Binding of Isaac, Nuclear Throne, and Spelunky, you’ll probably like this game as well. As for me, I’ll probably uninstall it once again, sad that I can’t see the amazing after you beat the ‘final’ boss content. I’ll probably buy Death’s Gambit and make that my backup game instead. I’ve had my eye on it for years, and it seemed caught in development hell. Then, it was released without any fanfare, which made me wary. I’ve watched the first hour of gameplay by a few YouTubers, and it seems right up my alley.
Now. On to the meat of the post–Monster Hunter: World. I wrote about my first impression of the game last week. You can read about it here. Let’s start where I left off–Anjanath. I had hesitated to fight it because I knew it was going to be hard as hell. Was it? Yes. It pushed me the hardest I’ve been pushed to that point, but I did beat it in my first try, even though I fainted once. My first faint. It got me with a fire breath after I ran out of stamina and couldn’t roll to put it out. I felt relief more than triumph when I finally beat it. I’ve fought it twice more, once with Ian and once alone, and it’s still not an easy fight for me.
I’m starting to burn out on the game, though, and I’ve realized why. My way of playing this game is to do a story mission, then bumble around doing a bunch of optional and investigation quests while buffing up my character. Recently I’ve started toying with load-outs, both of my armor and of my items. I’m feeling overwhelmed because there is so much to learn. I’ve watched a bunch of ‘how-to’ videos, especially those of Casey DeFreitas at IGN (she’s fucking amazing) and Arekkz Gaming. The problem is that even with the basic information, my head is spinning. For example, Casey says to take traps and bombs on every hunt. Fine and dandy, but I’m not competent enough yet to cycle through my items rapidly while fighting a big beastie. I can barely use the radial dial as is especially since you have to click specifically in a certain place. I only use it for the whetstone so far, even though I have my potions on it as well. I’d rather madly scroll through the item bar for what I need, even though it probably takes longer.
I still maintain that the plethora of systems are too byzantine and esoteric to wade through. It’s as if CapCom (devs) doesn’t want to be bothered explaining itself to the newbies–who, by the way, have made this the best selling CapCom game of all time–and just puts the onus on the newbies to figure out shit themselves. Ourselves. To be fair, there are plenty of veterans who are willing to help out. Indeed, there’s even a website called Adopt a Hunter in which a n00b can be paired with a vet to learn all the tricks of the trade. I understand this is part of the learning curve, but there’s so goddamn much to learn.
I’m still in Low Rank. I have no idea when High Rank starts. I’m in the middle of the four-star optional quests, and I saw that there are nine-star quests. I know there are High-Rank versions of the earlier monsters, differently-colored versions, and tempered monsters (even though I don’t know what that means). There are augmentations and other crafting (I think it’s crafting) things I don’t really know anything about. There are armor skills and affinity, gems and wyvern tears, and who the hell knows what that means?
I’ve put in forty-five hours into this game, and I still feel like a damn newbie. I was commenting to Ian that I’m envious of the way he plays because he’ll just forge ahead with the story quests and not worry about whether or not he’s ready for them. I, on the other hand, drag my feet on the story missions until I feel I’m ready for it. The problem is, I never feel ready, so I put them off for a long time. I mentioned Anjanath before, and I probably could have taken it on earlier.
I will say that having my Palico, shadow, and another Palico/Grimalkyne plus a Tailrider really helps with the fights. It at least splits the attention, and each Palico/Grimalkyne has a special ability. I have shadow using a maxed-out vigor wasp right now, which is a healing spray that refills all my health. It’s very handy, especially as a solo hunter. I just fought Rathian for the first time, and I was convinced I would fail. To my surprise, she was fairly easy. Again, I was past the suggested level, but I still expected her to be difficult. She did make me faint once because of her fire breath (my weakness, apparently), but I got her with little fuss and no muss. As I cracked to Ian afterwards, I’ve fought plenty of wyverns/dragons in the Souls games, so Rathian had nothing new to show me. Honestly, I still think Anjy is harder than Rathian.
Recently, I’ve started using the Insect Glaive because I was trying to branch out. I tried the Longsword and the Sword and Shield, but as I said earlier, they were really not my jam. That’s the main thing I would stress about the game–don’t listen to what you ‘should’ use as a newbie. The most important thing is how the weapon feels in your hands. I really tried to like the Bow and the aforementioned Longsword and Sword and Shield. None of them clicked with me, and I stuck to the Charge Blade and the Switch Axe until I decided I needed something with a bit more dash and range. Of sorts. Yes, the Insect Glaive is the third most complicated weapon (behind the aforementioned Charge Blade and Switch Axe), and did I really need to add another technical weapon to my arsenal?
Why, yes, I did. I took it out for a test drive and was immediately taken by it. It’s fast and furious, and I could attack endlessly. After watching the Arekkz Gaming tutorial video so I could use the kinsects to their best abilities, I took it out into the real Monster Hunter: World. I started out by tackling a Great Jagras, and I ripped it up with no problem. Granted, it’s a chump by this point, but it was still exhilarating to put it down in less time than it would take to make a cup of coffee. It was a rush to vault into the air and land a mount with ease, and then to beat the stuffings out of the hapless monster under my blades. It has the quickness of the Dual Blades, but the technicality of the Charge Blade (almost).
I love it. Absolutely love it. It’s vaulted up my list (no pun intended) as possibly my favorite weapon in the game. It’s up there with the Switch Axe, and I would place it before the Charge Blade. I’m going back and forth between the Switch Axe and the Insect Glaive, and it’s bringing some freshness back to the game. I’m stubborn in that I stick to the weapon I start with, which isn’t a bad thing. In this case, however, I may be hurting myself by insisting on fighting a monster for the first time with the Switch Axe. Although, I haven’t failed a quest yet (except by killing a monster I was supposed to capture), so I’m not being punished for my stubbornness. Besides, I love the Switch Axe, and I don’t want to give it up. I just want to be able to switch effortlessly between different weapons.
The problem is, I suck at this game. OK, OK, ‘suck’ is too strong of a word. I’m not terrible at it. On one of the streams I listened to, one of the people in the chat said he was about to give up on the game because he couldn’t kill any of the monsters on his own. What? How is that possible? I mean, I know the game is supposed to be co-oped, but the first large monster–the Great Jagras–is cake. I don’t normally make statements like that, but it truly is babby’s first monster kill.
I’m losing steam while simultaneously not being able to stop playing this game. Once reason I want a backup game is because I know how consumed I can become when I devote myself to a single game. I hated Dark Souls by the end, and if I hadn’t pulled it out again to replay before diving into Dark Souls II, who knows if I’d be the FromSoft fangrrl I am today.
*That’s another post for another day.