Before jumping into Monster Hunter: World, I have to vent my spleen about casual games, which I’ve played for years. Before I was a ‘hardcore gamer’, I played Hidden Object, Match-3, Solitaire, and Time Management games. Big Fish Games is the Steam of casual games, and I have a membership there, which means I get one ‘free’ game a month. I should stop my membership, but I do enjoy a casual game now and again when I want to give my mind a break. The thing is, though, once I started playing hardcore games*, I noticed things about casual games that would not fly in the hardcore world. One, unskippable opening cut-scenes. Look. Devs. We need to talk. Cut-scenes need to be skippable, especially before I’m allowed to fiddle with options. The first thing I do when I play a casual game is go into the options and turn off all the sound. Why? Because I can’t stand the background music that usually plays, and the voice acting is usually atrocious. Besides, when I play a casual game, I usually have a video/stream in the background, so I want to concentrate on the latter. It’s different when I play a hardcore game because I want to be immersed in that case.
Two, the code is atrocious. There are so many more bugs in a casual game than a hardcore one, and I don’t know why. Theoretically, it should be easier to make a casual game than a hardcore one, but then again, the people doing the development probably don’t have as much knowledge. That’s just a wild guess on my part, but it makes sense. I’m playing a solitaire game that’s a murder mystery at the same time. I played the first in the series and noted a few major problems. But, because there aren’t many murder mystery solitaire games, I gave the second a shot. Well, it has the same damn problems. One, it randomly crashes. Or, should I say, not so randomly. It’s when I try to use a power up. After I click on the power up and use it, the game either freezes or I can click, but I can’t pick up any cards. Sometimes it simply freezes on its own. The other bug is that sometimes the gold cards you need to collect can’t be clicked. And, finally, at the end of a round after I’ve cleared every card, it won’t exit into the ‘you won’ splash screen.
This doesn’t happen every round, but it happens enough for me to be frustrated with the game. They are the same goddamn problems I had with the last game, and you’d think they’d fix them between games. Here’s another issue I have with casual games in general–they keep putting out the same shit. There’s one solitaire company that puts out the same game once a month or so with just a palette swap, a change in themes, and nothing else. They’ve wised up a bit and write game descriptions for a much more exciting game than they provide, but they don’t change the games at all. I’ve bought a few, and they’re good enough to pass the time, but they’re nothing to write home about.
It seems as if casual games are stuck in a rut. Devs put out the same game over and over again with a slight story change. Everything is paranormal, and there’s usually a family member who’s gone missing. I will say the Hidden Object games usually work fine, and they look good, but there’s no heart to them. I haven’t found one in a long time that had a good story or that really captured my attention. I know that’s not why I’m playing them, but I would like more than mind-numbing boredom when I play.
I think part of the problem is the low expectations people have for casual games. We’re not expecting them to be amazing or graphically blow us out of the water. It’s $6.99 per game, $13.99 for a Collector’s Edition. If you have a membership, that is. It’s $9.99/$19.99 if you don’t. I was going to say they’re not as expensive as hardcore games, but they’re not exactly cheap, either. Plus, there are some hardcore games that are in the $10-$20 price range and give you way more enjoyment, time-wise and play-wise. I’m expecting more from casual games, and they’re giving me less. They’re coasting, and I think it’s because they know they can get away with it. Triple A games have constant pressure to do better (although that doesn’t stop the endless stream of Collar Duties games), and they even get death threats. Which, by the way, you really need to reevaluate your life if you’re sending death threats to a game dev for any reason.
Anyhow, enough with that ‘short’ rant. On to the world of hunting monsters. I’m still in High Rank, staring down the maws of Nergigante. I’m slowly taking care of the other HR monsters (which are souped-up versions of the Low Rank monsters, plus a few extra), and it’s an interesting experience in a few different ways. One, I’ve done a ton of grinding to this point. Not because I have to, but because it’s how I play these kinds of games. I have so much monies and research points, not to mention plenty of resources (though I’ve had to actively farm for some, say, coral bones).
I’m pointing this out because I’ve been girding my loins to fight the monsters in HR, having heard about how much harder they are. Which, they are harder, but not appreciably so. I’ve been carted once, I think, on HR Anjanath because of that bullshit firebreath, but I think I’ve managed the rest of them without being carted. I had to start the Rathian quest and the Rathalos quest over, but for different reasons that I’ll get into in a minute. I’ve been doing them in order of easiest to hardest (as far as I can piece it out), and I’m up to my nemesis, Diablos. I’ve done one of the three new monsters in high rank (Dodogama, who’s a cutie, but a pain in the ass), and I’ve fought Legiana several times in a row because I wanted to make her complete armor set and because the ice Switch Axe tree needs parts from her. I was lucky enough to get two gems in the seven or eight runs I did, so I could make the chest armor and still have one gem leftover for the final form of the Switch Axe when I’m able to make it. My most dreaded fight so far in HR was Odogaron because he gave me a ton of trouble in Low Rank (though I did not cart three times against him), but he was manageable.
One reason is because I have enough jewels, charms, and other buffs to go toe-to-toe with the monsters and not feel abject fear. I focus on a defense build, which means it takes me slightly longer to finish a fight, but the best offense is a good defense. Er. I have Level 3 Divinity Blessing, and a Level 3 Defense charm. Do NOT @ me about how this makes it babby mode. I didn’t brook with that nonsense while playing Dark Souls, and I don’t brook for it here, either. I hate all these dudes (and they’re inevitably dudes) who go all gonzo-macho while playing a fucking game. If *you* want to do a no-armor, no-leveling-up-your-weapon run, fine. Enjoy the game as you will, but thinking someone else is a baby for co-oping or using the buffs available in the game is just…I’m going to say it…immature, whiny, and stupid. If it’s in the game, then it’s a viable way of playing. I don’t need your fucked-up version of masculinity ruining something that is supposed to be fun.
There is no one way to play a game. Get it through your thick heads. I’ve read a few threads on Monster Hunter: World, and just as with Souls threads, there’s always a handful of people who insist that anyone not playing the game exactly as they are is a pussy. It’s depressingly predictable, but also irritating. If someone wants to be a turtle (as I do), why is it such a problem for those who are more aggressive? I could point out that using all the attack buffs is also a weakness, but I won’t because as I’ve said, it’s in the game. That makes it fair play. Plus, I’ve used a few of them myself, and it’s nice to get jacked.
Anyway, back to Rathian and Rathalos. I did the Redefining the Power Couple quest, which is Low Rank, and didn’t have much trouble with it. I did the Pink Rathian quest to push forward the narrative, and she was a fairly comfortable kill. Then, it was standard HR Rathian, which was a chore. Why? Because I hadn’t hunted her enough to have her on my map yet. So, I wasted fifteen minutes just to find her, and when I did, Rathalos showed up as well. Once I managed to dung pod him (dung chases away most monsters. Who knew?), I had to chase after Rathian again because she had flown off. The next time I found her….
OK. I have to explain my biggest gripe about High Rank so far. Spoilers and all that if you don’t want to hear about a certain mechanic in HR that doesn’t exist in LR. Once you get into HR, there is a monster who can invade your hunts. He’s called the Bazelgeuse, though he’s known by several different names, including Bageljuice, B-52 Bomber, and Bazelgeese, among others. He’s adorable, really, with his round, podded head and massive wingspan, but he’s a pain in the fucking ass. Plus, he drops these pods that will explode after a certain amount of time except when he’s enraged, and then they’ll explode on contact. Anyway, he shows up while I’m fighting another monster, and he’ll usually fight against them–but sometimes, he’ll target me. Then, about two weeks ago, CapCom announced Deviljho, also known as The Angry Pickle (because he looks like a pickle) who is also an invader monster. He, too, can show up on a hunt and wreck my day. Fortunately, they both cannot show up on the same hunt (I don’t think) or I’d be even saltier about it than I already am.
Here’s my issue with it. In the last week, every fucking hunt I’ve gone on has had one or the other of them show up. Every. Goddamn. One. Even that would be tolerable (barely) except they keep. showing. up. When I was fighting Leggy (Legiana), Bazelgeuse would show up about two minutes into the fight. I’d let them fight a bit to get in some extra damage on Leggy, then I’d dung pod Bagel. He’d fly away, and I could continue my hunt. All is good, right? Wrong. Bagel would show up two minutes later, and I’d have to repeat the process. I’ve had him show up four or five times during a hurt, and it really interrupts the flow of the fight. In addition, with winged creatures, by the time I chase off Bagel, my target has flown away to another area of the map.
Back to Rathian/Rathalos and why it’s particularly frustrating with them. It took me fifteen minutes to find Rathian, then she was fighting with Rathalos, and then after I got all that sorted, The Angry Pickle showed up. As much as Bagel annoys me, he’s much easier to deal with than Deviljho. Plus, it doesn’t seem like Deviljho always responds to dung pods which is frustrating. Or maybe I’m not just hitting him all the time. It’s hard to tell. Once, I even had Rathian, Rathalos, and Deviljho on the same damn screen! With the Rathian fight, thirty-five minutes passed by with me having ONE opportunity to actually fight her. That’s why I had to restart the quest, and I was so fucking irritated by the time I restarted. The same thing happened during the Rathalos quest (I got Rathian in one when I could actually fight her. I don’t find Rathian that hard. Rathalos is more difficult, for whatever reason). Half an hour went by before I could actually fight him, so I restarted the quest. I got him when I could actually fight him, but I still had to deal with The Angry Pickle bullshit way more than I would have liked.
I looked up on the Googles whether Bazelgeuse and Deviljho disappear from your hunts after you kill them, but I couldn’t find anything. I read a few threads from people frustrated by Bagel (before Deviljho was announced, for the consoles, of course) appearing all the time, and there was one snotty person insisting it wasn’t *that* often and several others talking about dung pods. The OP said what I was thinking, “I know about the dung pods, and that wasn’t my point. Also, he shows up way more than half the time.” I was completely on his side. Having to stop fighting just to deal with Bagel or The Angry Pickle really saps the enjoyment from the hunt.
I had been planning on doing Rathalos and Diablos yesterday (having done Rathian the day before), but once I was done with Rathalos and all The Angry Pickle bullshit, I didn’t feel like dealing with my nemesis. I’m not sure I feel like dealing with it today. I did some expedition dung hunting yesterday as well, and I ended up killing two Great Jagrases (Jagri?) and a Kulu while I searched for dung. I’m thinking of trying multi, but I’m not sure about the etiquette of joining other people’s games. I tried a few arena quests, but timed runs with preset load-outs is so not my jam.
The Bagel/Angry Pickle thing is really dampening my enjoyment of Monster Hunter: World. As I said, if it was only once a hunt, I would find it barely tolerable. The fact that it happens up to five times in twenty minutes makes it not fun at all.
*I hate the phrase, but I don’t know a better one. I’m fine with casual games being called that because they really don’t take much thought, but something about hardcore games puts my teeth on edge. Probably because it’s mostly used to sneer at ‘casual gamers’. I don’t like just saying games, either, though, because it makes them the default and casual games the outlier when it’s probably the other way around. Here’s a fascinating look at who games and what kind of games they play.