Thoughts on Monster Hunter World

For the first time in a long time, I was hit by the hype train a picked up a game for its full MSRP. I went into this purchase pretty blind, not watching anything but the trailer on its Playstation Store page, which really doesn’t give you much of an idea of the depth that this title seems to pack. It shows some big beasts and various characters attacking them, and that’s about all you need to know I suppose, though the RPG elements add some needed feeling of progression. I had never played a Monster Hunter game before, but I knew that it was a successful franchise and people were raving about it. I was actually given a glowing recommendation by one of my long time blogging friends over at Socially Sour, and he compared it to Dark Souls, and that did it for me. My Internet has been spotty as of late so I decided to order the game from Amazon and avoid the large download, so I had to wait a few days to play after pulling the trigger. I fired it up the day I received shipment, but only ran through the brief tutorial, but managed another play session in between other things last week. You start out creating your hunter:

The character generation in this game is pretty robust in most areas, though I was disappointed to find that you couldn’t pick a different pet that follows you around. I would have preferred a dog to a cat, but that’s just me. You can also set yourself up in beginner gear — either leather or chain armor (I assume better variants are available later on) and pick a starting weapon. This is where I had my biggest stumbling block, but more on that later.

The tutorial was effective enough. I was surprised by the combat. It is sort of like Dark Souls in that you need to be semi methodical about your actions and try to avoid the enemy’s telegraphed movements. It feels a bit more button mashy, but then doesn’t at the same time. It’s definitely more forgiving than any Souls game I’ve played, but I haven’t pushed too far into it either.

As I said, there are various weapon styles you can choose from, ranging from the traditional to the absurd. Pictured above is a “bowgun” which looks like a fucking cannon. I stayed in this training area for a long time testing out the various styles and settled on the Spear with the bug launcher. It seems to suit my playstyle well enough, but perhaps I’ll change things around at some point.

I don’t know what it is about food in JRPGs, but between this game and Final Fantasy XV I’ve seen so many different things being cooked and consumed by my characters. Food plays a role in many games but it’s never quite as celebrated as it is in JRPGs.

I’ve also heard of comparisons to Destiny, in that the game sort of takes place from a hub city where all of the vendors and quest givers hang out — which also serves as a lobby where you can meet up with friends (or strangers) as the game is a co-op title. There are various NPCs that will give you quests or you can visit the quest board. You’ll be greeted with the above screen where you can select a mission and either host or join an instanced area where you’ll complete your objective.

Along the way you’ll pick up ingredients. They’re everywhere! Not only will you gather plantlife and mine minerals, but you’ll also be able to harvest meat and other materials from the monsters you’ll be killing. With these ingredients you can upgrade your existing weapons and armor or create new ones.

Eventually you’ll end up on missions where you have to fight a real monster like this huge lizard, and then the game becomes more like what you’d expect from a Souls title or even Shadow of the Colossus. The creature will be bigger and badder than the things you’ve encountered, and it will take a ton of effort to bring it down. One of my abilities allows me to vault into the air so I was able to hang onto this guy’s back and repeatedly stab him. There were still three separate times you had to fight him — he runs off in between each encounter.

When I quit after my last session this big ugly thing had just been revealed, and rather than being just a bigger version of something I had already seen, this looks like a proper monster. I’ll be heading off after him the next time I play!

When you complete missions you’ll earn various materials and watch various scales increase in value. Apparently my little cat buddy is level 4 now. It doesn’t appear that my character has a level though? It’s all so strange and new to me I really don’t know.

Overall I think Monster Hunter is unique enough to keep me entertained. It’s not my favorite title ever by any means, but I see enough potential here to play it through. Now if only I could convince one of my friends that they should pick up their own copy so I could co-op my way through it, that would be even better.

Thoughts on Until Dawn

My girlfriend is an interesting character. She has shown no interest in playing video games, nor does she particularly enjoy horror movies, but for some reason she enjoys watching me play horror games. This started when I was playing through Resident Evil 7, and since then when I end up with a new Horror title to play with, she wants to watch. It works for me, and it gives us something else to bond over, even if the game isn’t particularly good.

Last month, Until Dawn was part of the Playstation Plus monthly free lineup, and I downloaded it without knowing when I’d get around to playing it. I had heard decent things about it back when it released in 2015, but it was never a game I felt I had to have. Having actually played quite a bit of it now I can say that it’s an interesting title, but I’m glad that I didn’t pay money for it.

That isn’t to say it’s terrible. It’s chock full of cliched horror tropes, the voice acting and character models are fine, and it has some jump scares and gore to boot (plus lots of talk of sex, though that typically means someone is about to die). Despite being full of these cliches, it manages to mix themes from several horror movies that we’ve seen over the years, and there are some interesting sub-layers that I would assume make for a more complete experience.

You remember that movie “The Butterfly Effect?” That is one of the main sub-themes of this title. The Butterfly Effect is a principal that goes like this: A flap of a butterfly’s wings can lead to a string of events that cause a hurricane elsewhere. This game splashes this concept throughout, and you choices in individual scenarios change the narrative of the game. Like TellTale games and other titles where “choices matter,” it’s apparent that there are likely multiple endings and ways that things can go with this game.

I powered through the first 6-ish chapters and have found the story line to be intriguing, if not a bit vague and confusing. Scenes between “episodes” have a mysterious figure being seen by a therapist. I won’t spoil anything here but the mystery man plays a major role in the story. I’ve made choices and people have died. I’ve made choices and people lived. Various innocuous actions have various consequences. It’s definitely more of an interactive narrative than a Resident Evil or Silent Hill game, combat is next to non-existent and there is more time spent chatting and watching cut scenes than actually playing. Of course there are plenty of QTE’s as well, which fans of horror/adventure games will be used to. Honestly, if you play TellTale or similarly styled games you’ll probably enjoy this one. As long as you can get past the terrible teenaged drama these kids bring upon themselves.

As I haven’t finished the game yet I can’t say if the ending will make me want to play through again for a different one, but I will see it through to its end. If you got it for free like I did, you should at least give it a whirl. Otherwise I’d recommend waiting for a sale, as it’s not really worth a full $60. Still a mildly entertaining diversion.