A reader describes his first experiences with the Monster Hunter franchise, and why he already counts himself as a fan.
I picked up Monster Hunter: World at launch, as I had been curious of the franchise before but never played any previously. The closest I came was Toukiden on PSP, and I wasn’t a massive fan of that.
One of the main criticisms I had seen of the game was how un-user friendly it was for new players (although not as bad as it had been in the past), a criticism I could agree with when I had played the beta. During the beta I had found the combat cumbersome and the control scheme and menus awkward, which at one point made me consider cancelling the order and waiting for a sale as I just wasn’t sure it was for me. I sunk a few more hours in and whilst I still wasn’t convinced it was for me I eventually decided to keep it and I waited for release.
Based on some previous advice I have given out on Bloodborne, I thought that the best way to go In preparation was to do some research first. So I watched some YouTube videos on the basics, and it gave me some tips. Nothing that anyone wouldn’t pick up in the game by playing, but they helped to know at the start rather than eight hours in! Specifically the ones about combat, combos, and timing (I had more or less been treating this like a God Of War hack ‘n’ slash without any finesse during the beta, which as you will learn when playing will not get you very far).
So the day came, I loaded it up, made my character, and Palico (cat companion that heals you in fights and acts as support). I tweaked my controls to suit how I play (based on the videos watched) and then took the plunge.
It was daunting, you start out choosing your basic gear, the options are leather or chain mail. You then start with the sword and shield. A relatively easy-to-use weapon set and then you are out in the wild fending for yourself.
At first I found that I was just wondering about gathering materials and looking at monster tracks (the more you track a monster the more you learn about it and it becomes easier to track). I was on the edge of a clearing with a watering hole that was filled with animals drinking, I turned my back, bent down to investigate some dung, and noticed a large shadow go over me. I turned to see some massive beast land on the biggest animal and then proceed to eat him. I hid, I am not ashamed to admit that. When he left I went up to the carcass to have a look and found that the animal had left tracks and mucus for me to be able to identify as a Rathalos.
Then I got a reminder that time was ticking, so I went off and did what needed to be done for the mission (I don’t want to give away spoilers, but it is hunting and killing). During the start I continued to find the combat a bit clunky and not very responsive, and generally I found it a bit of a grind. This in turn I found demoralising when you are hitting something for 1 HP at a time! Eventually I killed the monster and was back at camp. At this point I was 50/50 on the game. I liked the world but not the combat.
I read a few more things on combat to see if I was alone, and I wasn’t. However, pretty much every response was about how you timed the attacks to do maximum damage as opposed to spamming a button and hoping for the best, and to utilise the training area. So off I went to the training area and literally went through all the weapons and found some that I was comfortable using (the hammer, sword and shield, and bow). So from my recent big game kill I crafted some armour and a bone hammer, and then went back in to the wild.
I cannot say enough how much the practicing helped me with the timing; I went from small damage of 1 to the relatively lofty 15 HP per hit with the bow, or up to up to 150 with critical hammer hits. The upgraded gear helped, but also the fight before had shown me a few attacks and when to expect them so I could counter.
I then proceeded to kill the monster and craft better gear. As has been stated, it’s the loop of struggling against an animal, killing said animal, and forging gear to make it easier next time which gets its hooks in! And the hooks work really well.
There is a lot more I could cover in terms of side missions and multiplayer (which is good fun and rewarding all the same), but I wanted to just share how I wasn’t expecting the game to be as great as I am currently finding it. I am 55 hours in and finding it challenging again (at least until I can get my gear up) and the grind feels rewarding and purposeful, and not just a useless RNG for a weapon you already have.
By reader WAYNEOS
The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.