The Journey of a Rookie Monster Hunter: The Daunting First Steps
Monster Hunter is a franchise with a long history that spans many consoles and entries. Monster Hunter is also a somewhat difficult game to get into, with a traditionally steep learning curve and very little in the way of tutorials or guides to help those that are new to the series. This is why I had never played one of these games. It wasn’t that I doubted the quality of the games, just that I couldn’t commit to the learning the games required. All that has changed with the release of Monster Hunter World and for the first time, I am diving into this cult series.
You see, after playing a demo of the game at PAX last year I was intrigued, I felt I needed to give this one a go. I had always looked on from the outside at friends and colleagues who enjoyed the Monster Hunter games with a bit of jealousy so I was determined to make sure that didn’t happen with the latest entry. Thankfully it seems that someone over at Capcom realised that the wall for new players to climb was perhaps a little too high and have lowered that barrier of entry for the first Monster Hunter game on modern consoles and after my first 10 or so hours, I can’t thank them enough for doing so.
That isn’t to say that it is easy going for a new player. There is still a lot to learn, some heavy concepts to grasp and walls and walls of text to wade through. But I haven’t found it impenetrable at all, in fact, in some instances, I even found it intuitive. The learning of each weapon is a natural process that I have been embracing and enjoying much more than I ever thought possible. Each weapon feels wonderfully different and finding one that suited a rookie like me was actually a pleasurable experience.
At the moment I am using a combination of the dual swords and a long sword and I thoroughly enjoy the differences between the two. I get the feeling that I am going to have to learn even more of the weapons if I am to master the game because I can already see how certain monsters would be much easier to face with certain weapons. It is a well-implemented feature that should ensure it will be a long time before I am bored with the choices I have available.
It isn’t all big swords and dead creatures though. There are still some very confusing moments and strange kinks that put me in a bit of a spin. For example, capturing a monster is quite the process. First, you have to build a trap, then you have to build a “knockout” device, then you need to wear the monster down until it is vulnerable to both the trap and the knockout. The game doesn’t communicate that process very well though and I was left a little lost until fellow P2 writer Paul joined me for a hunt and ran me through the process. It is things like this that Monster Hunter World fails to get across to new players. Not that this should put anyone off, in fact, it was undeniably cool to be something of an apprentice to a more experienced hunter and I strongly recommend that every newcomer does this for at least 2 out of their first 10 hours with the game.
So what about the monsters themselves? Well, they are a challenge that is for sure. Learning attack patterns and weaknesses is a must, but even then the game does a great job at throwing curve balls at players. For example, in my most recent hunt, I was charged with taking down what can only be described as a giant rock dog. I was doing pretty well against it, whittling down its armour to allow me to do some serious damage and getting ready to move in for the kill. But just as I was starting to get confident the creature ran off to an area full of mud, clearly its natural habitat, and what was a situation I was in control of quickly became a scramble for survival. The creatures attacks changed, the mud became a huge factor restricting my movement and some local giant mosquitos decided to join in for some fun too. It was chaos, beautiful and entertaining chaos. When I finally took old Rock Pooch down I was rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction that I have rarely experienced in a video game. My heart was racing, my hands sweaty but I stood victorious over a beast that by all rights should have had my head hanging as a trophy in its muddy den. That satisfaction felt like a sweet drug that I had to have more of, one that has me itching to fire up my console and play more.
Will Monster Hunter keep me addicted? I don’t know, but I plan on finding out. Stay tuned next week as I continue The Journey of a Rookie Monster Hunter. Maybe by then, I can work out what this bloody insect glaive does.