Ed. Note: I can’t post on my fiction blog at the moment, so I thought I’d write a bonus post for this blog instead. Shockers of all shockers, it won’t be about Sekiro, though I probably will mention it. This post will be about my return to Monster Hunter: World because of the Geralt expansion. I have many thoughts and feelings about it.
When it was announced that Geralt of Rivia was coming to Monster Hunter: World, I was stoked. I was still playing MHW on the regular, and Geralt is one of my video game baes. Playing as him in a MHW expansion? Hell to the yes!! A funny thing happened as I was waiting for the PC port, however, I started playing Sekiro. Well, even before that, I had fallen off the MHW track. Once I hit the Tempered Elder Dragons, I was out. It felt as if everything I’d learned up to that point was useless, and I didn’t have the patience nor the desire to relearn how to play the game. In addition, Tempered Elder Dragons should be multied, and while I had a fun time with multi in MHW, it all fell apart once I hit Tempered Elder Dragons. It’s really hard to multi with a random party on monsters of that high level. In addition, I specced my character to negate Elder Dragons’ ults, which doesn’t seem to matter when they’re in Tempered form. I also used my one and only augmentation for health regen, which is fine, but when an ult can one-shot you, it doesn’t really matter. The jump between Tempered Monsters and Tempered Dragons is so high, and maybe it’s because this is the first Monster Hunter I’ve played, but I wasn’t willing to put in that effort. I already had over 300 hours at that point, and I felt I got enough out of the game.
When the Geralt expansion (yes, yes, it’s The Witcher 3 expansion, but it’s Geralt! He’s the witcher! Plus, he’s faaaaaahn) came out, I was curiously reluctant to play it. Or rather, I had no desire to play it. It sat in my Steam library, calling out to me, but I kept playing Sekiro instead. It’s not even that I can’t quit Sekiro, which I can’t, but that I didn’t want to go back to MHW. I was done with the game, and even seeing my bae, Geralt, wasn’t enough to pull me back in. In addition, because I hadn’t played in a few months, I knew that I would be shit at it when I picked it up again. The controls were never comfortable, even when I was playing on a daily basis. Being away from it for a few months and only playing FromSoft games in that time meant that I would be pressing the wrong buttons all the time. I had that issue when I tried to go back and forth between the games, and since Dark Souls was the first game I played on controller, that is the button scheme that is firmly embedded in my mind. Bloodborne fucked with the formula a little by having a dedicated heal button, and Sekiro fucked with it even more by having a jump button and a dedicated heal button that was different than the one in BB. But, the main one was the same. RB for attack. In Souls games, it’s a light attack. In Sekiro, it’s the only attack button. RT is for Prosthetic Tools, and LT is for grappling hook. LB is block and deflect (same), and B is for step dodge, which is the same in BB.
In MHW, attack is Y and B. Run is RT, while it’s LS and B in FromSoft games. Honestly, that’s the one I had the most difficulty with as I kept trying to sprint using FromSoft buttons. It was annoying, but I couldn’t get my brain to redirect. I should have practiced before I went straight into the Geralt mission, but I couldn’t be fucked to do so. In addition, I realized how my feelings about the game has changed because the Spring Festival is going on (or whatever they call it), and I don’t give a fuck. In the past, I would sign in every day during a fest in order to do the daily events and get my daily login bonus. I wanted the outfit of the fest, which meant getting all the tickets. This time, I was like, “Oh, right. Whatever.” I was there for one reason, and that was to play as my bae, Geralt. I started the mission, and it was surreal to see a Nekker in MHW. Then, a portal opens, and in drops Geralt of Rivia looking hot as hell. I have to admit, it was fucking cool to see my favorite witcher interacting with the characters of MHW. Capcom got the original voice actor, Doug Cockle, to do the voice of Geralt, which is really fucking important. No one can replicate that sexy growl–no one!
Side Note: Throughout the mission, everyone talks about the hunter (me) and how amazing I am. It’s weird, and it feels a little fan service-y. They talk about how I’m the best hunter they’ve ever had, how there’s something special about me. I will add that I was appreciative that they called me ‘she’. Hey, it’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised how many times games get that wrong. Apparently, while Geralt is tasked with the mission of killing the *spoilers* Leshen that is choking everything in the Ancient Forest, my character is clearing out the Ancient Forest of all the bigger monsters. The Leshen is bad news. It even killed a Pukei-Pukei with its branches, which was really sad to see. I will admit that I swapped out Geralt’s trademark blades for a Switch Axe before the mission started because I’m no good with Sword & Shield. Also, you don’t get to use your Palico, of course, which was a little sad for me. Geralt said he’d take care of it, for a fee, of course. That made me smile because I spent a hundred hours in The Witcher 3 haggling fees for all my hard work. I loved that they kept the surly, money-focused temperament of Geralt of Rivia.
I spent the first five minutes of the mission trying to remember my damn buttons and refamiliarizing myself with the game. I still didn’t want to do the actual mission, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I had the Igni rune from The Witcher 3 and my witcher senses. Again, it was pretty cool to see the carry-overs, even if I didn’t get all my runes. It was weird running through the Ancient Forest once again after having travailed it so many times in the past. I couldn’t remember which button was jump, which made traversing the vines a bit problematic. By the way, I hate the Ancient Forest precisely because movement with the vines is not precise. I ended up falling on my ass more times than I cared to admit, and I looped around and around when I couldn’t make it where I wanted to be. It was also strange to look at my character and see Geralt instead of the character I created and played for over 300 hours. Right now, she’s wearing a mishmash of armor because I try to match up against whichever monster I’m fighting. It’s a strange combo, but I kinda like it.
When I finally encountered the Leshen, I was immediately irritated because it sent a bunch of Revoltures (vulture-like birds) at me. Then a bunch of Jagrases. Jagri? Whatever. That’s one of its abilities–to control the flora and fauna around it. It also sent out branches that would either smack me in the face or surround me and choke me. The latter did a ton of damage, which was irritating as fuck. In addition, he would erect a thicket of branches in front of him whenever I approached, and he would teleport when I got too many hits on him. Of course, using the Igni sign was a good way to clear the branches and the smaller enemies, but it had a cooldown time which meant I couldn’t spam it. I found the fight very frustrating, and I’m sure it’s mostly because I was so rusty. I forgot my combos, and I hit RT to attack more times than I care to admit. Flicking through the use items was weird, too, and it made me wish I had mastered the use item wheel the first time I played the game. I dealt with it by running away and scrolling madly through the use items, and surprisingly, I was able to get away with it most of the time. Frustratingly, though, the one time I really needed to use my whetstone, the Leshen kept transporting to me and interrupting me. I may have called it a few nasty things when it wouldn’t leave me alone.
After what seemed like an infinite amount of time, I broke parts on the Leshen. Then, it transported away, and I had to chase it down to another area. Then, rinse, lather, and repeat. The fight in and of itself wasn’t that hard, but it was tedious. In addition, my Switch Axe was one they gave to me and not one of my own, so it wasn’t as high-powered as it could have been. I mean, I would have used one with fire if I could, right? I understand why they wanted to make the experience similar for everyone–wait, no I don’t. Why would they care if I used my best weapon to fight the Leshen? It’s a weird decision especially as they’d never done it before. If they did it because they wanted to remain true to the witcher experience, they would have made me use his swords. I did try them out, by the way. I just wasn’t feeling it. No way I was going to jump back into the game after months away and use a weapon I never used. Besides, I loved my Switch Axe. I knew I wasn’t using it optimally, but it felt so good in my hands. It’s my baby, and I am ride or die for the Switch Axe.
I kept fighting the Leshen. After twenty minutes or so, I was bored. It was still cool to hear Geralt talk, but the actual fight itself? Meh. I think my issue with it was that I couldn’t attack it for any length of time. It was one or two hits, Igni, retreat, then attack the minions while waiting for the chance to attack the Leshen again. I’m sure I didn’t approach the fight in the right way, and I’m sure there are three easy tricks to making it a piece of cake, but that’s not how I play these games. I go in with as little info as possible, and I try to beat the mission/boss/game in my own way. Is this a good thing? Probably not. Has it worked for me? To a certain extent. I’m still ridiculously smug about finishing Sekiro without properly learning how to deflect. Look. I tried. I really did. I practiced over and over again, and I fucked it up. I know everyone says that parrying (deflecting) is easier in this game than in the rest of the FromSoft games, but I never found it to be true. The best I could do was to keep hitting LB and managing to deflect maybe one out of ten times. I love that blocking doesn’t take stamina in Sekiro, by the way, but it’s not the optimal way to play. Still. It’s better to continuously block than to get hit, so sometimes, I resorted to that.
Anyway, Geralt muttered something about using the slinger to trap the Leshen and stop it from transporting, but I couldn’t figure out what he meant. I was provided with 3 Flash Pods, so I thought maybe that was the answer. The Flash Pod did stop the Leshen from doing anything for a few seconds, but I only had three of them. I didn’t try the Capture Net, but I don’t think it would have done much good. I did use Torch Pods to set the Leshen on fire, but I’m not sure that stopped it from transporting. I don’t know the ins and outs to this game because I’m not a min-maxer. That’s not how I play in general, and it’s certainly not how I played MHW. I was overwhelmed when I started playing it, so I really just tried to learn the basics and do them well. I know I don’t use my Switch Axe to the best of its abilities, and I know that I’m probably about half as good as I should be at this point. I really relied on the buffs to see me through the Tempered Monsters, and they didn’t do jack or shit with the Tempered Elder Dragons. The Leshen is not as hard as a Tempered Monster, obviously, but it’s more frustrating because I can’t fight it continuously.
I got the ten minutes left warning, and I was actually flustered. I had forgotten that there was a time limit for the quests because I rarely came up on the limit. Either I finished it with plenty of time to spare, or me and my team (for Tempered Elder Dragons) got wiped out. The last time I ran out of time was for the Deviljho fight, and that was because there was ten minutes of talking in the beginning. I ran out of time literally as I was delivering the finishing blow. That’s the same here. There is so much to do before actually fighting the Leshen, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was fifteen minutes before I actually fought the Leshen, but it’s still embarrassing. I had fifty minutes to do the mission (I assume. That’s the normal amout of time allotted for missions/quests), which meant I was at forty minutes when the warning flashed. Even given that fifteen minutes of it was faff, that meant I had been fighting the Leshen for twenty-five minutes. That’s embarrassing as hell! I was an elite monster hunter. I shouldn’t be having so much difficulty with a simple Leshen. I redoubled my efforts, and I broke more parts right around the same time as the five minute warning.
I was panicked and irritated because I did not want to do the mission again. I mean, I probably would have done it again, regardless, because I was certain I wouldn’t get all the materials I needed to craft the armor and weapon for this mission in one go. I wanted it to be my choice, however, and not because I failed in the last minute. In addition, I hadn’t been carted yet, and it seemed like an affront to run out of time when I wasn’t even that pressed in the mission. I kept whaling away at the Leshen, taking more risks than I normally would, desperate to finish the mission. I had one eye on the clock in the upper left-hand corner, and it kept ticking down ominously. With about one minute left, I was resigned to failing the mission. I kept attacking, however, and I finally slew the Leshen. Yes! I looted it for its skull, then I returned to Astera to collect my reward. Which I promptly gave to the hunter because I couldn’t use the money in my world. I liked the ending cutscene, even if my character wasn’t in it. The explanation is that I had to go do other things, but it was strange. I have enough materials to either craft the swords or the armor (along with Geralt’s face), but not both. I didn’t craft either because I was pretty much done once the cutscene ended.
There is another mission I could play as Ciri which involves hunting an Ancient Leshen. That one is meant to be multied, and I’m sure it’s on the level of Tempered Elder Dragons. I have no desire to do it, which is too bad. A massive expansion, Iceborne, is coming out in September for consoles and sometime in the winter for PCs. It looks as cool as fuck, but I don’t know if I’ll buy it when it is released. I have moved past MHW, and while that’s sad to me, I’m also OK with it. They also added G rank with the last patch, which is the super-hard level. I have no interest in that. It’s funny how I’m willing to kill myself over FromSoft games, pouring hours into them even when they beat me down and grind me to fine dust. Yet, I’m not willing to put in the time and effort it would take for me to be more than mildly competent at MHW, which, arguably, is an easier* game. I’m not mad about it or upset with myself as I figure it’s simply that FromSoft games are more my jam. I am glad that I was able to get as much enjoyment out of MHW as I have, and there’s no shame is saying I’m done with it. In the end, I’m glad I played the Geralt expansion simply to see the witcher in MHW, but I probably won’t do it again. It was a fitting way to say goodbye to the game.
*Easier is a loaded term, of course, and in this case, I just mean it’s not as brutally difficult as FromSoft games, but it is more grueling. Plus, you pretty much have to do certain parts of it multi, and that’s not how I roll. I don’t want to have to multi anything, and making it not a choice takes away my enjoyment. Yes, I know that anything can be soloed, but there are definitely things that are meant to be done multi. It’s like the optional runs in the DS II DLC or the chalice dungeons in BB. They are meant to be done co-op, and I don’t play any of them.