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Credit: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World

Before you even begin playing Capcom’s&nbsp;Monster Hunter: World (Xbox One X for me, PS4) for others, you can select an option that can serve as an overly ham-fisted metaphor for the game. You can select your language, going through all the ones you might expect: English, Italian, and so on. I was looking for Japanese a but instead I found Monster Hunter Language, which of course I settled on. I put subtitles on, but you wouldn’t have to.&nbsp;Monster Hunter language turns out to be two things: first, it’s a sort of Japanese version of Simlish, the gibberish Sims talk in. Second, it’s an overwhelming number of items, status effects, collectibles, monsters and objectives that the game throws at you in mere moments after starting. I know — it’s a little on the nose.

I’ve never played the Monster Hunter series for an extended period of time, but I’ve always been interested in it: it has all the opportunity to get lost in an engaging and alien and yet still routine world that I look for in a game. With Monster Hunter: World, the first iteration on home consoles for ages, I’m taking the plunge and hoping to muddle through Monster Hunter language as best I can. Two hours in — a drop in the bucket, I know — I remain skeptical. I can’t help but feel like my first experience with this game has veered between being overwhelmed&nbsp;by the sheer number of systems and items on offer but being underwhelmed by the action of the game itself.

The game’s tutorial is simple enough — you start on a ship, ship gets sunk. Run here, climb this, muddle through half an hour or so of introductory materials. I particularly liked how you and your companion make a dramatic escape from the giant fiery monster that sinks your boat only to wander shipwrecked onto land and run through a clutch of dangerous lizards to finally make it to a base. When you do that, everyone else from the boat is like “oh! We thought you’d be here sooner.” After that, you meet a tiny bipedal cat that helps you in combat and calls you “meowster,” which is just so good I can’t really articulate it. Other cats cook you meals in one of the best tiny cutscenes I’ve literally ever seen, joyously slicing and seasonig fish before plopping it on a big nice plate for you to just chaw on.&nbsp;

Credit: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World

So you get a guide, explore the base and choose your weapon: I got a katana which looked manageable, and I was happy to see it materialize on my back as an impossibly huge tree-trunk sized metal blade. Out into the wild then, chasing some smaller monsters to do “research,” which inveitably means killing and cutting up for parts. After taking down some hard-headed charging monsters I got my first true hunt: a Great Jargas, essentially a giant Iguana that was leaving tracks and mucus all over the place. The hunting began&nbsp;here: finding traces of the animal and teaching your scout flies how to find it and then pursuing it across the level, which is a pleasing process. Once I got there, the fight started out engaging enough: big animal, bites and charges, dodge and attack, all that good stuff. But then it just sort of…kept going. I chased the creature down four times to four separate locations before it fell, fighting against a time limit I hadn’t realized was in the game and a clock that had run down while I went to get some lunch.

I hate to compare all third-person melee combat to Dark Souls, but I’m going to do it anyway. Combat feels floaty and unmoored compared to other famous third-person melee RPGs, and my attacks always felt both slower and lighter than they should. There were certainly the predictable rhythms of rolling away and striking from behind, but too often I felt like I was in the right place by accident, unable to really wrestle my character into moving or attacking quite when I wanted him too. The lock-on system, as well, is comically inept, constantly seeking out enemies that aren’t even in view when there’s some dinosaur thing sitting right in front of you. I’ve recently been playing the remake of&nbsp;Shadow of the Colossus, and the character controls a bit more like that PS2-era game than I’d like him to.

The game told me I could use an “S.O.S.” to summon more players, but the game also told me I couldn’t when I tried to. I’m most excited about multiplayer here, so next time around I’ll take another swing at making it work.

I killed the thing. At the end of each mission, you’re prompted to do something with all the stuff you’ve collected — another opportunity to feel overwhelmed. Should you save it or sell it? What would you do with it if you saved it, or for that matter what would you do with the money if you sold it? Hard to tell, especially since the game tosses such a massive number of collectibles and monster loot at you over the course of even these early missions. A trip to upgrade materials at the smithy shows off a whole lot of possibilities, so I suppose I’ll save everything.

My next mission was more freeform and came with a couple of “bounties,” or smaller collection and killing targets that I could trade in at base for resources. I also met a fisherman and a researcher on that trip, both of which told me about their respective systems and both of which I assured myself I’d talk to later. It was a nightmare trying to find where I supposed to go, but I managed it with the help of my glowing “scoutflies” and a whole lot of time just poking around until my guide yelled at me. My second large-scale creature was a sort of bird/raptor thing with an annoying habit of picking up a big rock and holding like some sort of magic shield, capable of deflecting attacks from all sides. I imagine my hunter swinging his katana with deadly precision, hitting the damn rock every time, even when it felt physically impossible. This is when things really started to drag for me: with no health bar or any indication of how long it would take to finally kill the bird/raptor thing, I just sort of swung my sword for what felt like 15-20 minutes until it eventually went down. I had to sharpen the thing maybe ten times over the course of the fight, and at no point did I ever feel like I was in any real danger. The monster’s main weapon was enough durability to frustrate me into acting rash, and even then I recovered quickly.

My playtime ended after that fight, as I returned to base and begun to see the myriad bounties and quests that were starting to lay out before me, question and exclamation marks hovering over the heads of a dozen new characters. I’m familiar with what’s going on with that: this is a grind, designed to form a daily routine as you check in and hunt monsters, leveling up your items and eventually exploring new areas. It’s a system I’m most familiar with from MMOs or MMO-like games, and Monster Hunter: World definitely appears to have some MMO-like qualities. It’s a games-as-service style even if there are some important differences here, and I’ll pursue it as long as it holds my interest. So far, however, I haven’t seen the maddeningly opaque and yet addictive experience I was hoping to find. The monster design is what pulls me in, however, and the monster design is what I feel will keep me playing. These are strange creatures that move with a frenetic fluidity, and I want to see more of them.

“>

Credit: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World

Before you even begin playing Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World (Xbox One X for me, PS4) for others, you can select an option that can serve as an overly ham-fisted metaphor for the game. You can select your language, going through all the ones you might expect: English, Italian, and so on. I was looking for Japanese a but instead I found Monster Hunter Language, which of course I settled on. I put subtitles on, but you wouldn’t have to. Monster Hunter language turns out to be two things: first, it’s a sort of Japanese version of Simlish, the gibberish Sims talk in. Second, it’s an overwhelming number of items, status effects, collectibles, monsters and objectives that the game throws at you in mere moments after starting. I know — it’s a little on the nose.

I’ve never played the Monster Hunter series for an extended period of time, but I’ve always been interested in it: it has all the opportunity to get lost in an engaging and alien and yet still routine world that I look for in a game. With Monster Hunter: World, the first iteration on home consoles for ages, I’m taking the plunge and hoping to muddle through Monster Hunter language as best I can. Two hours in — a drop in the bucket, I know — I remain skeptical. I can’t help but feel like my first experience with this game has veered between being overwhelmed by the sheer number of systems and items on offer but being underwhelmed by the action of the game itself.

The game’s tutorial is simple enough — you start on a ship, ship gets sunk. Run here, climb this, muddle through half an hour or so of introductory materials. I particularly liked how you and your companion make a dramatic escape from the giant fiery monster that sinks your boat only to wander shipwrecked onto land and run through a clutch of dangerous lizards to finally make it to a base. When you do that, everyone else from the boat is like “oh! We thought you’d be here sooner.” After that, you meet a tiny bipedal cat that helps you in combat and calls you “meowster,” which is just so good I can’t really articulate it. Other cats cook you meals in one of the best tiny cutscenes I’ve literally ever seen, joyously slicing and seasonig fish before plopping it on a big nice plate for you to just chaw on. 

Credit: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World

So you get a guide, explore the base and choose your weapon: I got a katana which looked manageable, and I was happy to see it materialize on my back as an impossibly huge tree-trunk sized metal blade. Out into the wild then, chasing some smaller monsters to do “research,” which inveitably means killing and cutting up for parts. After taking down some hard-headed charging monsters I got my first true hunt: a Great Jargas, essentially a giant Iguana that was leaving tracks and mucus all over the place. The hunting began here: finding traces of the animal and teaching your scout flies how to find it and then pursuing it across the level, which is a pleasing process. Once I got there, the fight started out engaging enough: big animal, bites and charges, dodge and attack, all that good stuff. But then it just sort of…kept going. I chased the creature down four times to four separate locations before it fell, fighting against a time limit I hadn’t realized was in the game and a clock that had run down while I went to get some lunch.

I hate to compare all third-person melee combat to Dark Souls, but I’m going to do it anyway. Combat feels floaty and unmoored compared to other famous third-person melee RPGs, and my attacks always felt both slower and lighter than they should. There were certainly the predictable rhythms of rolling away and striking from behind, but too often I felt like I was in the right place by accident, unable to really wrestle my character into moving or attacking quite when I wanted him too. The lock-on system, as well, is comically inept, constantly seeking out enemies that aren’t even in view when there’s some dinosaur thing sitting right in front of you. I’ve recently been playing the remake of Shadow of the Colossus, and the character controls a bit more like that PS2-era game than I’d like him to.

The game told me I could use an “S.O.S.” to summon more players, but the game also told me I couldn’t when I tried to. I’m most excited about multiplayer here, so next time around I’ll take another swing at making it work.

I killed the thing. At the end of each mission, you’re prompted to do something with all the stuff you’ve collected — another opportunity to feel overwhelmed. Should you save it or sell it? What would you do with it if you saved it, or for that matter what would you do with the money if you sold it? Hard to tell, especially since the game tosses such a massive number of collectibles and monster loot at you over the course of even these early missions. A trip to upgrade materials at the smithy shows off a whole lot of possibilities, so I suppose I’ll save everything.

My next mission was more freeform and came with a couple of “bounties,” or smaller collection and killing targets that I could trade in at base for resources. I also met a fisherman and a researcher on that trip, both of which told me about their respective systems and both of which I assured myself I’d talk to later. It was a nightmare trying to find where I supposed to go, but I managed it with the help of my glowing “scoutflies” and a whole lot of time just poking around until my guide yelled at me. My second large-scale creature was a sort of bird/raptor thing with an annoying habit of picking up a big rock and holding like some sort of magic shield, capable of deflecting attacks from all sides. I imagine my hunter swinging his katana with deadly precision, hitting the damn rock every time, even when it felt physically impossible. This is when things really started to drag for me: with no health bar or any indication of how long it would take to finally kill the bird/raptor thing, I just sort of swung my sword for what felt like 15-20 minutes until it eventually went down. I had to sharpen the thing maybe ten times over the course of the fight, and at no point did I ever feel like I was in any real danger. The monster’s main weapon was enough durability to frustrate me into acting rash, and even then I recovered quickly.

My playtime ended after that fight, as I returned to base and begun to see the myriad bounties and quests that were starting to lay out before me, question and exclamation marks hovering over the heads of a dozen new characters. I’m familiar with what’s going on with that: this is a grind, designed to form a daily routine as you check in and hunt monsters, leveling up your items and eventually exploring new areas. It’s a system I’m most familiar with from MMOs or MMO-like games, and Monster Hunter: World definitely appears to have some MMO-like qualities. It’s a games-as-service style even if there are some important differences here, and I’ll pursue it as long as it holds my interest. So far, however, I haven’t seen the maddeningly opaque and yet addictive experience I was hoping to find. The monster design is what pulls me in, however, and the monster design is what I feel will keep me playing. These are strange creatures that move with a frenetic fluidity, and I want to see more of them.

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