Spent a decent amount of time playing Monster Hunter World this weekend. I think I’ve finally found a monster hunting game that hooks me. The challenge for me has always been the learning curve. For whatever reason, monster hunting games seem to always have pretty wonky UIs and systems, and I think it helps to have a real cheerleader for a game to help you get over that hump. This time out, there’s enough folks stoked about the game that I’ve had that.
For the most part I’ve played “alone” though last night I joined the AGE group and had a great time, but even playing “alone” I was often playing with others due to one really great (to me) features. The SOS Flare. If you’re out doing a quest and struggling you can send up an SOS Flare. Once you do that, back at camp, other players can join your quest to help you out. This has been my preferred way to play with randoms. I figure if they’ve sent up a flare they need help, and my low gamer self-esteem doesn’t prevent me from joining them. Poor help is better than no help, right? I usually hate inserting myself into multiplayer groups because I’m really not a very skilled gamer, and especially so as a MHW newbie. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers and at worse I’ll be a distraction for the monster you’re hunting, right?
Anyway, no regrets on this purchase. I mean, it is a WEIRD game with some pretty frustrating design decisions, honestly. Sometimes it feels like the controls are intended to be a challenge to overcome. Most quests have a time limit of 50 minutes and there’s no way to ‘save’ mid-quest as far as I know. I’ve had quests where I’ve taken almost the whole 50 minutes, too, and if I’d had to quit for real life reasons after 45 minutes I would’ve been pissed. And OMG the “Clan” invite system is a mess. Only the founder of a clan can invite others, and you and that person have to be on at the same time for him to invite you, or you to accept. And you can’t be in a mission to accept. So your friend invites you and you’re in the middle of a 50 minute quest, that friend has to hang around until you’re done so you can accept. Hopefully they’ll get that sorted.
One saving grace for me, at least in regards to time management, is expeditions. When you don’t know that you have an hour to play, you can go on an expedition which is basically a free-roam through an area. You can fight stuff (and get parts) as well as gather materials and study monster footprints and such (this lets you track the monster more easily next time you’re hunting one). It’s good to study the maps anyway (once you find something like a rare cluster of mushrooms, that feature will appear on your map in future) so expeditions are a great way to stock up and expand your knowledge, and you can quit them whenever you need to.
It’s still really early days for me. I’m still trying to decide on a “main” weapon and there are a ton of systems I don’t really understand yet, but I’m hooked on “the loop” of fighting monsters, harvesting parts, crafting/upgrading weapons and armor, and repeating. And I’ve had the first inklings of the satisfaction that comes with learning about how a monster fights. The monsters don’t have health bars; instead you have to watch their behavior. Some things are obvious: if a monster starts limping it’s clear that it is hurt. Others less so. Someone last night pointed out to be that if a monster starts to drool, that means it is getting tired/hurt.
If you’re interested, though, do be aware that this is a game about grinding. You’ll fight the same monsters over and over to get the parts you need to make better gear so you can fight a stronger monster over and over to get even better gear. Your character doesn’t have stats so it’s not like s/he gets stronger…all your strength comes from gear and from you, the player, getting better/smarter about playing. On paper that actually sounds terrible to me, but in practice I’m enjoying it. It’s a kick to have a monster hand your ass to you, then come back later and dispatch it easily, knowing that you’re doing so not because your STR stat has gone up, but because you’ve learned how it behaves and how to exploit its weaknesses (and yeah, your gear is better but you had to work to get that gear, too).