Primary Weapon: Insect Glaive
Secondary Weapon: Dual Blades
Favorite Monster So Far: Rathalos
Let me start off by saying – I’m not a diehard Monster Hunter fan. I’ve never been one to get into games that you need to min/max or juggle a bunch of stats. RPGs with systems on sub-systems were never my thing. However, from the first time I saw the glorious tiny screen shots of Monster Hunter back in Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine over 10 years ago, I knew I’d have to get involved at some point. The extremely accurately named Monster Hunter series let’s you squad up with 3 of your friends and get out there and hunt some cool looking dinosaur/kaiju, so you can craft yourself some cooler looking weapons and armor which allows you to get out there and hunter bigger and even cooler looking dinosaur/kaiju. The premise had me hooked but I was never able to quite convince myself to take the plunge.
I followed the series as it developed over the years and always sort of wished I could play but, it just never felt like the right time. As I got older, the time and devotion needed to be proficient in the game and the little time I had to devote to becoming proficient in such a game continued to be at odds. As time went on I saw the series move from its PlayStation roots to its new home on Nintendo systems (boy the meltdowns with that announcement were legendary) and it finally felt like the time might be right to give the series a try. With a little push from Chandler, I was finally convinced and officially got my hunting license when I bought Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the WiiU. What I found when I picked up my dual blades and took my first steps into the hunt….was an obtuse, slow, jump-through-hoops game with little to no respect for my time. Wait, where is the monster’s health? Why does my characters’ animations take so long to finish? Why does it take me so long to pick up this herb? Why am I getting curb stomped so much? While I would later come to find that the majority of my issues with the game were my own fault, the series sure doesn’t make it easy to jump in and play. I ended up overcoming my own lack of training and fell in love with the game until the credits rolled, after which I cut myself off from playing any further before I could dump 300+ hours into it.
While I truly enjoyed my time spent in the world, and hunting Lagiacrus underwater may still haunt my dreams, I yearned for something more. A game that could sand away some of the jank and rough edges with some quality of life improvements. Something that isn’t so dense, yet still has depth, and something that I could convince my friends to play without them thinking they would have to study the wiki for a week before picking up the controller. That’s what Monster Hunter World is. A refinement and execution of the original promise of Monster Hunter, but done so with the quality of life to be expected of today’s gaming landscape, all without sacrificing the core of the experience or becoming mired in the pitfalls and bad practices of other AAA titles.
As the most experienced hunter in our squad (The Ka-tet as we’re known), I was able to dive into World having already tried most of the weapons that have become a staple of the series. I love the idea of the Bow, but it never really clicked with me. The Great Sword and the Long Sword look incredible, but the movement speed was too slow. Usually when I play games, I like to build my characters with lower damage output, but with high speed and maneuverability. My Dual Blades had slain a number of beasts in 3 Ultimate, so I was excited to get reacquainted with the duo again. That was until I saw the Insect Glaive. The minute I saw the gymnastic, aerial acrobatics I knew that it would become my new weapon of choice. I also have a habit of choosing any class/weapon/character that allows me any kind of animal/creature companion, so knowing that I would be able to wield a “Kinsect” as part of the weapon further sealed the deal. The ability to pole vault into the air and stay airborne and mobile is a truly satisfying way to maneuver and I often wonder if my companions know just how cool it looks from my point of view. I love not being shackled to the ground and while I don’t hit the hardest, I certainly hit the fastest and with the most finesse. Nothing brings me more joy than vaulting into the air, mounting a flying creature that is just out of reach and slicing him down out of the air as the squad moves in to inflict heavy damage. I may not have the sheer damage output that most have, but knowing I was key in pulling the target down so the rest of the team can dish out the pain is extremely rewarding.
I also love the concept of the Kinsect. It’s this little bug that you can evolve over time and pair up with both elemental as well as attack effects while also providing you with a ranged attack and the ability to buff yourself. What’s not to love? Well for one, you’re pathetically weak without the Kinsects buffs. And while I like the idea of acquiring buffs via hitting different spots on the monster, the execution can sometimes leave you running around like an idiot sending your Kinsect out and calling it back for 5 minutes straight while others are tearing into the monster. Being able to manually aim at the monster and target your Kinsects attack/buff extractions via pheromones is also a cool concept, but for fast moving or flying monsters it becomes very trying if you’re looking for a specific buff. To further entice you to really learn to form a kinship with your Kinsect, they can provide certain “attack effects” (for lack of a better term). For instance, I can have my Kinsect attack a monster and it will leave behind a cloud of colored bugs that when hit, can provide a variety of effects, from healing you or your teammates, to poisoning your prey. If you see me leaping across the battlefield I’ll likely be suited up in a full set of Tobi-Kadachi armor (except for the headpiece in which I usually rock the Pukei Hood), and a Windchopper Kinsect on my arm.
So far my I’ve loved my experience in World. I might only be around 30 hours in, but it’s the game I’ve always wanted and the worldwide success of the title shows that I was never alone in wanting it. Capcom didn’t dumb the game down, they just made it more accessible in a way that requires a massive amount of care and balance. My only major gripes come in the online interactions. Having to watch a cutscene just so you can exit the mission and jump back in with your squad is beyond stupid and feels like a major roadblock for what should be a seamless experience. In addition, it would be fantastic to not have to go to a special area to be able to your teammates in town. Why not just make the town itself the online hub? Why can’t I go to the smithy and see Andy next to me as we upgrade our weapons?
Despite this tiny blemish there is so much to love here. The near perfect and highly addictive gameplay loop, the incredible monster and weapon/armor design, the mobility and quickness of movement and gathering, and of course, the highly exhilarating hunts themselves. The most impressive aspect of the game is the fact that this ecosystem doesn’t care about you. It lives with or without you. Your hunts don’t take place in a vacuum and if you stumble into the wrong territory at the wrong time, a totally separate monster won’t think twice to attack you or your prey. These instances have been the highlights of the game for me. Having your whole squad sheath their weapons as you all watch in awe as two giant monsters duke it out is something that never gets old and makes the game feel dynamic in a way I’ve never seen before. I’m also really enjoying the amount of camaraderie and teamwork required to take down a monster. Sure I can do it myself, but having a group of people who can draw the monster away while I heal while another sets a trap is a big help. The feeling of “team” in this game really helps cement the accomplishment you get when you finally down the beast. Some of my favorite moments are hearing the cheers of three other people along with me through the headset as we collectively exhale a sigh of relief as the adrenaline from the battle slowly fades away and we swoop in like a pack of vultures for the carves.
While our group still isn’t done with the story, we’ve really been enjoying the hours we’ve already put into it and I for one am excited to pour dozens, if not hundreds of more hours into the hunt.
Primary Weapon: Heavy Bowgun
Secondary Weapon: Bow
Armor: Pukei Pukei
Favorite Monster So Far: Anjanath
My first foray into the Monster Hunter franchise began when I received Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in a Wii U bundle. Three things caught my interest right away: RPG, multiplayer, and monsters. Does anyone need anything else? Little did I know at the time just how complex the game is for new beginners. The combat system is purposely challenging and it’s just as important to pull of methodical combos as it is to apply potions or sharpen your blade. But thankfully I wasn’t alone. Pat joined me without hesitation and we starting figuring out the system together such as managing items, crafting weapons/armor, looting the environment, and understanding how to make the Palicos (cats!) useful.
Now fast forward to Monster Hunter: World and it’s amazing to see how much effort Capcom put making this game more user-friendly and increasing appeal for western audiences. Certainly the hype was real for me and it’s why I nominated it as one of my most anticipated games of 2018. To help guide you along the way, there’s cut scenes, tutorials and an in-game “handler” to answer questions. It only took about an hour or so for the wonder and amazement of this franchise to all come back to me and I started to understand how everything works together. You begin with nothing but a basic weapon and weak armor but as you take on monster-hunting quests you harvest their materials and the vast environments they inhabit, use them to craft stronger gear, and then use them to take on tougher monsters. Rinse and repeat. However, the artistry is in how many paths the game offers you complete that journey. Even the 14 weapon types makes combat feel like an entirely different experience in the game. Don’t like being the slow “heavy class” with the great sword? Try being the agile “speed class” with the dual blades. The choice is yours.
In multiplayer RPGs I tend to always default to the tank character and it’s one of the reasons I settled for the lance and shield in MH3 Ultimate. Hey, it’s a messy job but in the past I’ve always been drawn to being in the thick of the action. For MH World, my goal was to finally try something radically different and be the support character in our squad choosing a combination of the bow or the heavy bow gun. It’s easy to see why both of these weapons are so addicting. Part of the fun is having a whole new customization open to you as you’re able to craft arrow coatings and ammo types for elemental enhancements. That’s why it’s crucial you do your research on these monsters first and see if they might be weak against something like water, thunder, fire, etc. If so, you’ll want to apply that ammo to ensure you’re doing the most damage. Unfortunately that’s also where most of my money goes. If I don’t have the items to craft it, I have to resort to buying coatings or ammo types through the supplier who is basically a ripoff – he buys low and sells high.
My biggest concern initially with a ranged character was how would I manage on my own when I play solo and don’t have someone with a giant sword taking the punishment as I rain shots upon the monster from a distance. Surprisingly both the bow and heavy bow gun handle well in one-on-one situations. The bow is nimble and allows you to pinpoint which parts of the monster you want to hit with incredible accuracy. This creates hire chances for monster parts to break off and loot. The heavy bow gun is a force to be reckoned with and deals some of the biggest knockout blows. The best way I can describe the weapon is it feels like in Halo when you rip a turret off the warthog and start unleashing the furry. I can only imagine the viewpoint from my squad when they see me taking a machine gun into a sword fight. With all of the action, it’s pure chaos on my end and I love it!
I’ve unlocked about four maps so far and I am still blown away by the world’s living and breathing ecosystem, stunning animations and inspired variety of monsters with their own unique personalities. Some are water based, some are humongous rock creatures, others are terrifying winged-dragons that have always been the hallmark of the MH franchise. Either way, these are truly a team-based battles that take precision and clockwork engineering. Everyone is doing their part in the squad to ensure we’re being properly healed, traps are set and the variety of our abilities are working together harmoniously to wear these monsters down over a long period of time. Each hard-fought victory feels like a tremendous accomplishment and it only motivates me more to slay every monster this game will throw at us — I can’t wait for more.
Primary Weapon: Charge Blade
Secondary Weapon: N/A
Favorite Monster So Far: Rathian
So, Pat has been telling me for years to jump on the Monster Hunter train, but the game just looked too difficult to jump into, especially if I had to go at it alone. Enter Monster Hunter: World, finally I can band together with 3 of my gamer bro’s to give this game a spin! As somewhat of an RPG hater (well, more just hating the fact that I have no time for RPG’s anymore), I was hesitant to dive in, but I kept an open mind. As I struggled through the first half-hour or so, I could see why this game would resonate with people. Monster Hunter says: “Screw fighting through hordes of smaller enemies before you get to the big baddie, let’s give them 30 big bosses in a row!”.
As a complete Monster Hunter beginner, the first few hours were indeed tough, but after hours number 5 or 6, things really start to click. I chose the Charge Blade as my main weapon, as it seemed like a nice mix of: 1.) Speed of attack, 2.) Damage output of weapon, and 3.) Technicality to learn and use. The Charge Blade works by swinging your sword like an idiot until ‘phials’ charge up, then transferring that power to your shield. Rinse and repeat the swinging, then transfer that energy to your sword, do this ONE MORE TIME and then unleash absolute HELL. The big move that makes this weapon great is called the: “super amped elemental discharge” which is pretty badass.
So far I’ve created around 10 full armor sets out of monsters I’ve killed, created 3 versions of my main weapon, taken down enemies ranging from dumb alien birds to massive “Game of Thrones” style dragons, and sent a team of 3 cats to go do my biddings on missions. I’ve seen a T-Rex with mini-wings take down a blue electric squirrel monster, and a massive dark “nazgul” like creature carry the enemy I was supposed to be fighting away into his lair. I’ve fought monsters 15x bigger than me for an upwards of 50 minutes until they are destroyed, and the accomplishment I felt after taking them down is some of the proudest I’ve felt in my entire gaming career.
In summary, I’m only 20 hours in, and I can see myself playing this game for literal months of my life, get Monster Hunter: World RIGHT NOW.