Underneath my yellow skin

Feeling icy about Iceborne

It’s not Fashion Borne, but it’ll have to do.

Ian and I have been  chatting about Iceborne. He’s loving it, and I’m….um….playing it. A little. Reluctantly. Back when I was playing the base game, he gave up on it much sooner than I did. Then at some point, he jumped back in and finished the storyline. We have very different ways of approaching games, and I think it was to his benefit in this case. He tends to play several games at once, even before he was in the industry, whereas I might dabble a bit, but I usually focused on one game at a time. This works well for me in FromSoft games, and even then, I find myself approaching burnout near the end of each game. For whatever reason, that goes away, and I play the games over and over. Well, to be more precise, the Souls games. I’m currently stalled on my most recent Sekiro playthrough because it takes so much out of me, and I have to be at my best to play it. I’m rarely at my best.

So, Ian is loving Iceborne whereas I’m trying to love it. He’s put about half to a third as much time into the base game as I have, and he recently completed the Banbaro set. He’s maining the Insect Glaive, which is one of my two backup weapons. Charge Blade is the other. One of my issues, I insisted on clinging to my gear from the base game, even though I had read that you should immediately make new gear in MR. I mean, it makes sense. I had to do it back when I made the jump from LR to HR. It was one of the things most discussed–don’t bother grinding out all the gear in LR because it’ll be useless in HR.

The thing, is, though, HR is many hours more than LR. By the time I was done with HR, I had fourteen Switch Axes all fully upgraded and dozens of loadouts. One for each monster. It’s not an economy  issue because I have over 2,000,000z and over a hundred and twenty-five thousand research points. I have mats for days, although my using the elder melder to make some of the rarer resources on the regular seriously cut into my Great Jagras mats. The point is that I can’t get over feeling as if I wasted my time in HR. I finally gave in and made MR armor and the basic bone swaxe. They already do more damage/have more defense than my fully-upgraded HR gear. Intellectually, I understand why this is the case, but emotionally, it’s a hit.

Side note: I don’t understand how people in the industry estimate game time for games. Someone called Sekiro a 20-hour game, and I was like, “What the fuck?” I just read that MHW is a 50-hour game, and I am extremely skeptical. I fully acknowledge that I suck at games and I take time exploring every nook and cranny. I also grind like hell if I can, and I definitely spent more time doing that in MHW than finishing the story. However, even if I cut out all the grinding time, my hours are easily double the ones quoted by games journalists. The original Dark Souls plus DLC took me nearly 150 hours to finish. Sekiro took me over 100. I put in 350 hours into MHW, and I estimate it probably took me 100 hours to finish the story. I know I’m bad at games, but am I really that bad at them? The answer, apparently, is yes. I think it’s partly the time restraints games journalists have when they play, but I just wonder if it’s more than that.

Anyway, Once I crafted my armor and my new swaxe, I decided to try it out on a Great Jagras when I was out doing some gathering. He is the lowest of the low monsters in the game, but the beefed up version took me roughly twenty minutes the first time I tried to fight him while using my HR gear. With my new gear, that time was basically cut in half.  So, yeah, it makes a difference. A big one. It’s also annoying because I have my gear specced for each monster, meaning using the elements that will most affect said monster. I can’t do that at the moment, and it’s making me very unhappy. I don’t remember how I used to play the base game when I didn’t know the stats for each monster. Maybe I looked them up before fighting them? I doubt it as that’s not how I roll. My guess is that I just fought them the first time with my best gear and then tweaked whenever I had to fight them again. I know you can’t change your gems in camp, so I didn’t deal with it in that manner.

I did all the side quests when I was in LR/HR, and it was a lot. Finding and getting to know all the Grimalkynes, boosting up my unity with them, and doing all the fiddly shit that those missions entailed. I did everything the researchers wanted me to do as well, including finding the rare animals. All of this is back in MR, along with some picture taking bullshit (of the Grimalkynes), and I can’t find it in me to give a shit. Or rather, I want to do all the things, but I don’t have the will to do it. It took a long time to complete all the side shit in the base game, and I don’t know if I have it in me to do it again. I especially hate the picture-taking bullshit because I have to capture the Grimalkynes doing all sorts of different activities, and some of them are dependent upon RNG.

There is too much to do in the game. It was slightly oppressive in the base game, but I was able to keep it under control. In MR, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve been doing some gathering quests and some hunt the old monsters quest, and the more I do, the more that gets added. I mentioned it last time, but I don’t see much reason to hunt the  old monsters again except for the rewards. And the mats because they are needed to upgrade my old weapons. By the way, the upgrading paths are wildly uneven. I was looking at my old swaxes and seeing where I stopped upgrading, and it was because I needed five Vaal Halzak fangs+ or something like that plus an Anjy gem. Those are very rare drops of two of my least favorite monsters. There was no way I was fighting Vaal Hal again and again just for the chance to get a fang.

It’s hard for me to explain what I find off about the game. It’s basically more of the same, and I should be excited about the new monsters. I’ll let you in on a dirty secret, though. I never was excited by the new monsters. It was always more nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing than exciting and thrilling. I will say there was some satisfaction when I got better at fighting certain monsters, but it was never thrilling.

I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that I seriously may just be over the game. I tend to consume things and then be done with them. The FromSoft games are the obvious exception, but it’s really hard for me to reignite my passion for something once that fire has gone out. Ian suggested I try a different weapon, and while that may do the trick, I’m pretty set in what I like and don’t like. I gave each weapon a fairly extensive tryout, and the swaxe was the one for me. I love the Charge Blade, but it’s a very difficult weapon. It would take me several hours to become completely comfortable using it. I also like the Insect Glaive, but here’s the thing. I put in 350 hours with the swaxe, and I don’t know if I want to take the few hours it would take for me to feel comfortable with another weapon.

I can always quit. I know this is true, but I feel guilty for even thinking about it. I think it’s partly sunken cost fallacy, but it’s also that thing where you hang out with a friend even if you don’t have anything in common with them any longer because you’ve been friends for ages. Except a video game has no feelings, and it can’t feel insulted if I stop playing.  I think it’s also because I know it’s incredible and it looks gorgeous, so I’m trying to force myself to get into it the same way I did the base game. I’m going to try a bit more, but then I think I need to let it go and move on. I’ve been spending too much time feeling guilty about not loving the game and not enough time actually enjoying a game. That’s no way to spend my free time.



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