When the Hunter Becomes the Hunter
I took a quick, informal Twitter poll the other day about the length of time Monster Hunter World players devote to the game in a single sitting (thanks to those who responded!), and the average seemed to be anywhere between 1 and 2 hours. The reason I asked was that I was concerned about whether or not I’d be in the mindset to even start playing the game if I knew that I had to devote a minimum of something like 2 hours per session.
MHW is a one trick pony, and a piebald pony with arthritis at that. You hunt monsters. You collect materials. You make stuff so you can get better at hunting monsters. Like Elite Dangerous, the sole goal is to keep doing what you’re doing so you get better at doing what you’re doing. Don’t expect to suddenly break out of the undergrowth to find that you were lost in the wilderness of Disney World all along.
The thing I learned about MHW this weekend, though, is that the fun is where you find it, limited mechanics can’t be counted on to provide that fun be damned.
I have thus completed 2 of the main story quests: the Great Jagras and the Kulu-Ya-Ku. After Mr. Ku, I went back to town and did what I was supposed to do: talk to everyone who isn’t nailed down, cook some meat, and see what I could craft and/or upgrade for me and Gato, my Palico.
Gato got some nice new bone armor. I like how he tanks, keeping the heat off me (especially versus Mr. Ku who likes to use a boulder as a shield). His new armor and bludgeoning weapon should help him stay standing longer so I can get into whatever position I need to be in for the creature we’re fighting. I was able to forge some new armor for myself, except for the headgear. I wasn’t able to upgrade my katana, though. For both of those, I needed more items from both the Jagras and the Kulu-Ya-Ku. Because I have now unlocked expeditions, I was able to head out last night to see what I could find that could provide me with these materials.
This is where I learned to embrace the meta of Monster Hunter. You are a hunter, and the game makes that plain by asking you to kill or trap dangerous creatures. This is the definition of “hunter” that a pre-teen can understand. Monster Hunter World takes it a step further, then. When I was looking for another Kulu-Ya-Ku, the first monster I saw was an Anjanath, the feathered T-Rex like-monster that’s been pacing around the Ancient Forest on occasion. Previously, this monster had ignore me, but I got a warning from my Handler to say away; the Anjanath was too tough for me right now. So stay away I did, retreating into the shadows while the creature continued its patrol.
Problem was, there was a Kulu-Ya-Ku nearby, and I wasn’t sure about the Anjanath’s pattern. I had to take the chance, though, because I didn’t want the raptor to get too far away. It was potentially dangerous to start a fight where the Anjanath might return, but I tagged the KYK and noticed it was moving away from the Anjanath’s icon on the minimap.
Now came the hard part. I had to engage the KYK. As an intro monster, it’s not really that difficult to take down… time-consuming as all hell, but it telegraphs its moves pretty overtly so as long as the environment doesn’t make evasion difficult, it’s not hard to take on. The biggest issue I had was chasing after the damn thing, what with the stamina limitation (thankfully I’d eaten before I went out). On occasion, the creature wandered into other zones. I ran through a cloud of Jagras, and had to keep ahead of a Great Jagras that the KYK ran past. Eventually, I managed to get the thing into the skull-state, but then infuriating “Kulu-Ya-Ku has left the area” message. I had been so close, but couldn’t seal the deal despite keeping my blade sharp and running as fast as I possibly could for as long as I possibly could.
Such is the life of the hunter. I closed out after that mainly because I had to pee, but the weird thing was that I wasn’t even that mad. Sure, I had spent about 45 minutes chasing this bird all over creation, hacking at it to the best of my ability (I even picked up another Palico friend who followed us around to help us out). I did manage to get some Jagras parts, but not sure if they are what I need. I will need to go out once again and find a KYK, and risk the possibility that it’ll escape again. But I still felt like I was a monster hunter, chasing after the creature and racing against time, and even though I failed, I know now that I have to consider what I can do better next time. The mechanical conceit of the game is to hunt better monsters to get better mats to create better gear to hunt better monsters, but that’s not even the main point of interest for me now. Being the hunter is really what Monster Hunter World is about.