Underneath my yellow skin

Monster Hunter: World; my new Dark Souls

the killing blow!
Ah, Great Jagras, I know you so well.

I’ve mentioned that when Monster Hunter: World was released on consoles, I got unreasonably hyped about it. Why unreasonably? Because I played the previous iteration on 3DS and HATED it. Oh my god, it was so terrible. I hated everything about it, but not because of the game itself. I hated it because I don’t do hand-held consoles, or consoles in general, really (PS4 and Bloodborne excluded), and so many of the mechanics of the game were stupid as shit. I’m sorry. Even MH fans have to admit that the egg quests were pure horseshit. Funny side note: I chuckle that MH is my initials as well as Monster Hunter. Anyway. For whatever reason, when MHW came out on console, I was immediately intrigued. I watched all the videos of gameplay I could, and I was captivated.

Then, time went by, and the luster wore off because one, I wasn’t buying it for console no way no how, and the PC version wasn’t coming out in the foreseeable future. Two, I hated the way the monster limped, drooled, and twitched as they were about to die. It really bothered me, and I didn’t think I could do that to a poor creature who wasn’t attacking me. See, that’s the thing in Monster Hunter. Much of the time, the monsters are just going about their business, not paying attention to you at all. Mind you, I’m still in Low Rank, so it might be different once I progress further, but I’m getting ahead of myself. They weren’t doing any harm to the hunter, and really, you’re the aggressor. It’s a colonizing mentality that doesn’t sit well with me.

Anyhoo, MHW came out for PC last week, and Ian pre-ordered it and installed it. Through the magic of family/friend share on Steam, I was able to demo it without buying it. I created my character, mulan rogue (all my characters are such named), and I was pretty happy with how she looked. I couldn’t find hair as long as mine, but I found one hairstyle with a high pony and the hair reaching halfway down her back, so that’s what I chose. I made my Palico (cat companion) black, of course, and called him shadow. I jumped into the game and because I’ve seen the opening a few times, I knew the basics of what I was doing at the start.

Let me tell you, there is a shit-ton to learn about this game. The menus and meta-game information are overwhelming. The thing I like, however, is that you don’t really need to delve that deeply in the beginning to have fun hunting. I didn’t touch any load-out-related issues until I was many hours into the game. The tutorials suck, by the way. Don’t expect to learn much from the game. You’ll get the bare-bone basics, but that’s it. It’s up to you to learn in other ways, including looking it up and watching videos.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the training area because I wanted to try all fourteen weapons. Yes, I know it’s overkill, but that’s just the way I roll. I already knew I was interested to the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade, and the Insect Glaive. Yes, I’m that person, and, yes, I like to make things harder on myself. I know, I know, the Sword and Shield is the safe choice, but my god, it’s so boring. I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of it, but it just felt blah in my hands. Same with the Longsword, which is the other newbie-friendly weapon. It didn’t do anything for me, and I gave it an honest try. I zipped through the Lance, the Gunlance, both the Bowguns, the Hunting Horn, the Hammer, and the Great Sword. Didn’t care for the Bow, but I did like the Dual Swords quite a lot. However, I’m not a dex person, so I set them aside for my three babies.

shadow and mulan rogue chillin'.
Cutest Palico outfit ever?!?

Insect Glaive was the first weapon I wanted to use in the prior MH, but I never got the hang of it. I think I ended up using sword and shield, but I can’t remember. Again, the tutorials suck, and at that time, I didn’t want to read/watch anything about it. Not because of my pride, but because I just wasn’t interested enough in it to bother. I like the Insect Glaive, though I didn’t really understand how to control my kinsects. It was my favorite until I tried the last two weapons.

The Charge Blade has been called the most technically complicated of the weapons with the Switch Axe a firm second. It cracks me up because even not knowing that, I was immediately drawn to both of them. I always make games harder for myself without even knowing it, which really isn’t needed with games like this. Or like Dark Souls. You didn’t really think I’d make it through a post about MHW without at least mentioning DS, did you? It’s been called the DS of open world games or some such, and I can see why the comparison is being made. It’s basically Souls boss fights writ large, and if you’re not cool with that, you should stay the hell away from this game. I didn’t learn until after I completed Dark Souls for the first time that going caster makes the game more difficult (despite what many macho types will tell you) because the game is built for melee. After having done both, I would agree with this assessment.

Anyway, I tried out both the Charge Blade and Switch Axe, and hoo boy is there a lot to learn with each weapon. The training area only gives you the basic combos, and I had to learn through YouTube videos that you can open your Hunter’s Notebook and find all the combos for a weapon*. I haven’t done it yet, but I will the next time I fire up the game. I like both weapons, but I was slightly more drawn to the Switch Axe. It’s complicated, yes, but the basic combos are very satisfactory as well. It felt natural to use, much like a sword when I held it in my hand ferreals for the first time. I decided it was going to be my main, and I took it out into the real world–the real Monster Hunter: World, that is..

I have to tell you, the thrill of the hunt is real, and the early missions of the game really ease you into the concept. The first mission is killing seven jagras, and it’s easy-peasy. Same with the second mission of killing twelve kestadons. The only problem is finding enough, but it’s easy to cheese that with the respawning monsters. I will say I don’t like that there are time limits on the missions, but so far, it hasn’t really been an issue for the full missions. Some of the investigations, it’s gotten tight, but it’s a minor concern. I will say, though, that on the mushroom hunt quest, it bothered me because I had to traipse all over the map to find the mushrooms, but I still managed to finish it in a decent amount of time.

One thing I love about the game is making armor and weapons out of the parts of my enemies. I also like dressing shadow up in different armors–even more than changing my own. Currently, I’m rocking the bone set, fully upgraded, and I have shadow in the Tobi-Kadachi set, which is the fuzziest, cutest outfit ever. As for my weapon, well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

I switched to the Charge Blade after several hours just to try it out, and I fell in love with it all over again. It’s so complicated, but if you learn the basic combos, it can be very satisfying to unleash the elemental discharge on dat ass. I rarely use the shield, but I do appreciate it’s there. This is why I can’t get into Shield and Sword, though. It seems like the very vanilla version of the Charge Blade, and it doesn’t interest me in the least. I really dug using the Charge Blade, and I think my time with the Switch Axe helped me transform seamlessly to the Charge Blade.

After several hours using the Charge Blade, I watched a video with the Switch Axe and suddenly felt the urge to jump back. Once I did, I thought, “Why did I ever leave you in the first place?” But then I think about the Charge Blade, and I miss it intensely. One of the tenets about this game is that you should pick one weapon and stick with it so you can master it. I think this is the proper way to play, but I love both these weapons so much. Every time I pick up one or the other, I’m convinced it’s my main. Then, I change to the other and fall in love all over again. I have several weapons made of each type (both steel and bone), but I feel I should make a choice soon so I can concentrate on mastering one.

baby is sleeping.
Hush little Barroth don’t say a word.

There is a lot to do in town, and I don’t want to name it all in part because I’m not sure exactly how everything works. The graphics are gorgeous, but I do have some juttering issues, even on my laptop (which is a gaming rig). You can cultivate ingredients, research animals, get new quests, pet your Poogie, forge and upgrade your weapons, eat at the canteen with the Meowscular Chef, and go to your house. You can also see the latest animal you’ve captured, such as the Barroth, which I love the look of, but is a bitch to capture.

Remember I mentioned early on that I didn’t like the way the monsters deteriorated as they got more and more hurt? It’s completely different when I’m actually fighting them than when I’m watching a video of it. First of all, I don’t see the entire monster from above when I’m fighting it, so I don’t get the full horrors of the shaking, twitching, limping, drooling, etc. Secondly, I’m not paying attention to all that as I’m focused on attacking and not getting attacked. Thirdly, by the time that phase kicks in, I’m usually pissed off at the monster, and all I want to do is kill it. I don’t care about its suffering, which I suppose is a point the game is trying to make. Lastly, even when I’m overpowered, I still feel like an ant in comparison to the monster I’m hunting. In short, no, I haven’t felt bad about killing the monsters just yet. Maybe the little ones, but even then, they’re attacking me. OK, Barroth a little bit because he’s so dang cute, but he’s a pain in the patootie.

My upcoming mission (which I’m stridently avoiding by repeating other completed quests) is hunting *spoilers* Anjanath, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a big ol’ wall. I haven’t fainted yet, and I haven’t really had much problems in hunting the monsters so far. That is, until I hit Tobi-Kodachi, a flying electric asshole squirrel who nearly killed me, though I did not faint. I used many of my resources in killing him, and I had to rely on shadow to save my ass more than once. Usually, when I kill a monster, I think, “Yeah, I can kill it again.” Not with Tobi-Kodachi. I think he’ll fully kick my ass if I fight him again.

Anyway, I’m dragging my feet on Ajanath because he’s gonna push my shit in. I dragged my feet on an earlier mission because it was an escort mission (though they at least acknowledged how shitty those are by labeling it The Best Kind of Quest or something like that). That actually turned out to be not that bad, but I know Anjanath ain’t gonna be a joke. I’ve been grinding a lot between story missions, and I think that’s one reason I’ve felt pretty comfortable as I progress.

I know the game is meant to be co-oped, which is not my style of play at all. It’s not a pride thing like I need to kill all the monsters solo, though there is a little bit of that. Hey, I’m a Souls player first and foremost. Soloing bosses is kind of a thing in Souls games. It’s more than that, though. I don’t co-op because I’m convinced I will be a drain on the team while at the same time, I’m way too concerned about the health of my teammates. In Souls game, I only put my sign down for two reasons. One, a boss is kicking my ass, and I need to get better at fighting it. I don’t like to do that, obviously, as it’s not so helpful to the other person, but I’m decent enough to not be a liability, even in those situations. Two, if I’m good enough at a boss that I’m confident I will be an asset in the fight. When I needed thirty Sunlight Medals to level up in the Sunbro covenant in DS III, I put my sign down in front of the Dragonslayer Armour fog gate  time and time again until I got my medals. That’s one of my easier boss fights in the late game, and I was confident that I was a benefit to another player in their fight to take him down.

In a game such as MHW in which I know nothing, I would feel like a detriment to anyone I join or whom I ask to join me. I know that MH is known for being welcoming to newcomers and wanting to help them get better, so it’s just in my head. I can’t get past it, though, and I’m chary of playing with randos, anyway. I hope it’s not a stopping point for me, but it might be.

Now, with all the gushing about the game, I have to say that tthere are several things about the game that irritate me, ranging from minor to medium annoyance. One, the sheer volume of all the shit you can do. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it, and it’s even harder to write it down. I mentioned many of the things above, but that’s not all there is to do. In addition to all that, you can endlessly explore the areas you’ve opened, searching for flora and fauna for your peeps back in town to research. You can get stuck endlessly doing side quests and investigations, and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.

I hate escort missions and fetch quests. The map can be confusing, especially if I’ve just opened the area. I hate having to run all over the map looking for a specific ingredient or monster, not having any clue where it is. Once I get acclimated to the map, it’s easier to know what is where, but it’s still frustrating because I have spatial issues. I also don’t like that there are so many things to collect and the feeling that any time not scraping moss or picking up nuts or whatnot is time lost. I get overwhelmed at times with what I should do–paralysis because of too many choices.

In addition, there is a grindy aspect to it that is both addictive and tedious. I’ve hunted the Great Jagras more times than I care to count, and I can do it an infinite amount of times if I so choose. It’s not good for me to have that much freedom because I will meander around ad infinitum and lose track of what I’m actually supposed to be doing. I feel like I’m flying by the skin of my teeth much of the time, and it’s not a comfortable feeling at all.

Still. None of these are hindering my enjoyment of the game very much, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the thrill of the hunt and the kill.

 

 

 

*Not all. Not even most. You do get notes in the upper right-hand corner as to what button you can press next, but I don’t have the wherewithal to look in the upper right-hand corner and move the camera around AND attack.

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