Underneath my yellow skin

Getting stuck in Monster Hunter: World

he's kinda cute, actually.
He’s just taking a nap. Honest.

I’m sixty-plus hours into Monster Hunter: World, and I’m starting to feel a little wear-and-tear on my soul. Obviously not enough to stop playing, but I’m realizing that the way I play games is not how this game is supposed to be played. Give me a storyline and a hundred side quests, and I will do all the side quests before tackling the main mission. This happened with Skyrim, by the way. I loved it for the first 50 hours, and then I started resenting the game. I buckled down and finished the game in another 25 hours (not finishing the DLC). I loathed it by the time it was done, and it colored my whole view of the game afterwards.

I’m not at that point with MHW, but I can sense the beginning of the end for me. I’m sixty hours in and still in Low Rank. I know that’s ridiculous, and I should be done with Low Rank by this time, if not High Rank. The problem is, I have this fixed view that the monsters are bosses, and I have to gear up for them like I do in Dark Souls. Remember, I lived and breathed Soulsborne games for the last few years, and it’s what I know and love. I’m elated if I beat a boss in less than ten tries, and I’ve only one-shot the joke bosses (Pinwheel, for example).

So, I went into MHW thinking that each story mission monster was a boss, and then I was surprised by how relatively easy they were once I actually fought them. I didn’t faint once (that’s dying in this game) until I fought Anjanath, and that was probably twenty hours into the game. I haven’t failed a mission due to fainting three times (hard lose), but I did have to abandon the Rathalos mission because I only had three minutes left, and he flew off again like an asshole. One of the things I don’t like about this game is that if you don’t have any hint where something is, you can wander around for several minutes without a clue where to go. I wasted an entire mission (50 minutes) looking for two goddamn lumps of meat in the Rotten Vale, and it was all for naught.

Side note: In general, I don’t like looking things up in the wikis. However, with this game, if I give it an honest shot and can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll look that shit up. That’s how I know where the lumps of meat are, but I haven’t redone the mission because I hate fetch quests. Even if I do love the Meowscular Chef and want to pump up my canteen.

Anyway, the worst I’ve done with a storyline mission is with Odogaron, the big red puppy. I fainted twice against him and only defeated him with ten minutes to go. I have trouble with the quick monsters because my reaction time is not great. I used to say it’s because I’m old and my eyes are tired. After a recent taiji class, however, I had a revelation. My teacher was demonstrating a move on me, which included several rapid chicken pecks in a row (‘pecking’ with your hands pointy like beaks) to my face. I didn’t flinch, and she actually made contact with my face. I trained myself at an early age not to show weakness, not to show pain, and not to show–well, anything. My teacher says it’s good that I didn’t flinch, but it’s not good if it means I lock out all reactions.

How does this relate to MHW? My delayed reactions mean that it’s hard for me to react in an organic manner. That matters in games where you have to know the movements of the thing you’re trying to kill. It’s why I’m sucky at Souls games, even though I’ve gotten better at them through sheer stubbornness.

I have a similar issue with MHW, especially with the quicker monsters. By the time my brain registers that a monster is attacking me and what attack it is, it’s too late. I take the hit, and usually, it’s not that big a deal. Still. Now that I’m progressing in the story, it’s not as easy as it once was. You don’t level up per se; you get better armor, skills, weapons, charms, etc. I can go back to the first monsters and take minimal damage. With the newer ones, not so much.

this will end up well--for me.
I have no skin in this game. Fight on, boys!

Still. In general, the monsters aren’t as difficult as I make them out to be in my head. The fights are more tedious than anything else. I don’t mean tedious in a completely negative way, but each fight is a slog. You have to track the monster first of all, and if you don’t have enough research, that can take a shit-ton of time in and of itself. As I mentioned above, that’s the major reason I fucked up the Rathalos mission the first time. Then, you fight them for a bit, and then they flee. You can’t run fast enough to hit them on the way to their next resting place (at least not with the weapons I’m using), and oftentimes, they escape in a way that makes it impossible to follow, so you have to take the long way around.

In addition, there’s the capture method which is supposed to get you better loot, and should be as easy as pie. You put down a shock trap, throw two tranq bombs in the dying monster’s face, and, boom! You’ve captured it. The problem is that you can only put the shock trap down in certain places, you only have a small period of time in which you can throw the tranq bombs (don’t get me started about the menu systems), and if the monster isn’t already almost dead, it doesn’t work. The last can be mitigated by the fact that a skull appears over the monster’s icon on the mini-map when it’s close to death, but it’s not always easy to see.

Anyhoo. After chasing the monster around the map, I’m more than ready to put it down. By the time I reach the final resting place, I’m tired of the fight and more than ready for it to end. Yes, there’s a high when I finally beat the monster, but it doesn’t last long. I can spot the tell-tale signs that I’m tiring of the game. I’m sighing as I go out on the storyline missions, and I’m weary when I’m done. I killed Rathalos, and I’m up to Diablos. I’m wondering how close I am to High Rank because I’ve heard that everything changes once you reach it. The problem is, I don’t want to do it. I feel like I’m slogging through the game right now, and it’s not a good feeling. It doesn’t help that the current Endemic Researcher quest is bullshit and so is the story.

I know I have to just buckle down and blaze through the storyline missions as best I can, but that’s not a good attitude for playing a game. It’s how I felt about the second half of the original Souls game the first time I played it. I just wanted to get through it, and I was so tired by the time I finished it. The reward loop is starting to feel hollow and having to grind for armor/weapons I want is wearing thin. I fought two Anjys yesterday because I need three Anjy fangs, and I got none. Fortunately, I did the Rotten Vale Grimalkynes quest, so shadow (my Palico) now has the Plunderblade. That means he can steal monster parts as we’re fighting them (and the chances go up with Palico proficiency), which should up my chance of getting the parts I need substantially.

yeah, that didn't work.
Surprise, Anjy!

I also know none of it matters in the long run because once I hit High Rank, everything I’ve harvested so far will all be for naught. There are systems I haven’t even unlocked yet (yes, I’ve spoiled myself by watching videos), and while that’s nice to know, it’s just more stuff for me to learn. Long time MH players have griped about the dumbing down of the systems in MHW, but as a newbie, I can say there are still plenty of them, and they’re very byzantine. People rightly gripe about the Souls series for their obtuse systems and menus, but it’s got nothing on MHW. I said earlier that I don’t feel bad using the wikis, and that’s doubly so when it comes to all the goddamn systems of this game. I watched tutorial videos, too, about the weapons because the in-game tutorials are shit.

Now, it sounds like I’m shitting on the game. I am, but it’s out of love. No, actually, it’s not. It’s out of frustration. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, and much of it is my own fault. Yes, the game has a shit-ton to do with new investigations popping up every two seconds, arena fights, expeditions, optional missions, in addition to the storyline. You’re not meant to do everything in one go, at least I don’t think so. It’s my personality, though, to want to do everything, and it’s my downfall. I can endlessly wander in the Ancient Forest (and have), content to picking up every scatternut along the way.

Speaking of which, the resource-gathering aspect of this game is insane. I can’t go buy a glittery item without picking it up, and I fill my item pouch in a ridiculously amount of time. It’s become not-fun, actually, as I feel any time not harvesting is time wasted. That’s the problem with this game for someone with obsessive/compulsive tendencies–there are too many shiny things to pass by without feeling guilty.

Another thing about the game–I think it’s meant to be played co-op. I’m not a co-op kind of person, which means I’m soloing the game far more often than not. I have not used the SOS flare yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m reaching the point where it’ll become a necessity. Which hurts my Dark Souls soul.

I’m still enjoying the game, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. I’ll let you know how I feel when (if) I finally reach High Rank.


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