Monster Hunter: World is an action role playing game (RPG) set in the New World, where you play as a Hunter, tasked to take down monsters, either by trapping or killing them. It is part of a long going series of games, now released for a mainstream audience. The game has unique mechanics, where the monsters don't have health bars and you have to look at visual cues to make out how close they are to death.
What interested me was the beautiful world of the game and challenge to take down monsters in a wide variety of ways with a huge arsenal of weapons. You could choose from dual swords, long swords, sword and shields, axes, bowguns and more. The weapons felt weighty and unique to handle.
Curious to try out the game I played the demo before the game launched back in early 2018. The demo had provided you the choices for weapons and a few tools in the inventory early on to help you in the hunt. There were 3 monsters, Great Jagras, Barroth and Anjanath, in 2 different areas. Ancient Forest and Wildspire Waste, that you could take on with an option to spawn at either of the camp locations in each area. Unlike most games, which provided you a direct pointer to the destination, this game require you to scout your target by following footprints. As you gathered enough footprints, you would be led to the monster. The time limit for tracking and hunting was set to 20 min. It was a tight constraining time and sometimes I would just lose my way just trying to reach the monster.
Then, there the Anjanath, a huge T-Rex looking monster, who breathed fire. Not only was this a potent combination, it was further accentuated by his aggressiveness. I could never find enough time to take him down and finally had to jump into 4 player co-op to take him down. Overall, the gameplay was exhausting, the time was not enough (I personally hate timed quests) and the lack of health bars made it super annoying. I gave up on the game.
Of course, the story doesn't stop there. I always had an eye on Monster Hunter, trying to understand why I did not like the game. I found the main game was a bit more liberal with the time limit, giving 50 min. Also the demo seemed to condense hours of experience into a few short missions. So, when the game came on sale in the PS store, I picked it up.
Raven Snow and Furiosa
I started playing this game on stream and was joined by TantFuriosa (TidyMice) in chat. I spun up my character, Raven Snow, for the game. One of the features of MHW is your palico companion, a cat-like creature, who will help you in your fights. You get to customize your palico and name her as well, which I was warned, in stream chat, that could not be changed. I pondered a bit on names and decided on "Furiosa", partly becuase it sounded badass and partly to honor Tauntie, who had been a long follower and companion in my streams along with Suraph and cats.
MHW had certain characters and dialogues voiced with the rest conveyed through dialog subtitles in true JRPG fashion. This gave me the opportunity of voicing out the dialogs, which I had a lot of fun doing though quite poorly.
Right out of the opening, I was in love with the game. It was an interesting story introducing you to the New World and the game mechanics. Turns out that you start out barebones, with a weapon of your choice. I chose the dual swords, which is a recommended starting weapon for series freshers and because I loved the speed of its slashes. Everything else in the game had to be earned, including access to items and areas available in the demos.
The fact we had to keep an eye out for visual cues as we weakened the monster was a lovely mechanic in my opinion. Monsters start salivating, exhausted when they are injured. When you get to 30% of their health, they start limping and even escape towards their nest for a nap to recover. Discovering this, I was very vigilant as to how weak the monster was and strategized accordingly. Some monsters like the Anjanath become really aggressive when weakened and keeping an eye on the signs is really useful in that case as well.
I moved through the game slowly, mission by mission, stream by stream. But soon, I found myself lagging behind. My schedule for stream kept getting pushed and since I never played the game off-stream, I was stuck. Soon, I decided to play the game whenever I could, stream or not.
One weekend I was joined by TidyMice and Suraph in co-op. They were series veterans and really high ranked hunters. TidyMice was grinding her way to the final trophies of her platinum for the game. While I found myself getting my ass handed to me, they made their way through with ease. My armor was not levelled up and my dual blades caused limited damage. This distracted me from the game and I planned to level up before attempting to play co-op with my friends again.
I dipped in and out of the game in 2019. I got the better Anjanath armor and upgraded dual blades, but never found the right sync. I used the barrel bombs for final attacks on the monsters.
Back in the grind
Then in 2020, I ManVsGame started streaming this game. He explained some of the mechanics of the items and how they can be used in the game. Armorskin for increasing defense, Demon drug for increasing attack, Energy drink for increasing stamina, and Dash juice for an extra bit of mileage. I looked at videos from Arekkz and understood the mechanics of dual blades and the demon and archdemon mode.
I also found out that instead of killing the monster you can capture it at 30% health and avoid the last bit of fighting. Capturing a monster requires a shock trap and a couple of tranquilizer bombs. When the monster limps towards it's nest and takes a nap, set the trap. As soon as it gets snared in the trap, drop the tranq bombs and et voila, mission complete.
I started trying out a combination of techniques with the items equipped and the aim to capture and not kill. I got the defender armor, which had really good defense stats and this helped me take on the monsters with ease. I had grinded enough to get enough amount of items to help me in my hunts. As long as it never explicitly stated that I had to kill the monster, I made it a point to only capture the monsters. The game was really rewarding and a whole lot of fun. I was enjoying the grind.
I even discovered you could recolor the armor and that customization applied to the entire set. So even though I couldn't change out of the Defender armor, I could recolor and customize the combination.
Grinding the Aloy armor
One of the things I was hyped for in MHW was the Aloy armor. This was one of the key driving factors when getting the game. The game was a live service, with a number of events running through out the year, which featured armor sets from some of my favorite games, Horizon Zero Dawn being one of them.
I am, if you do not know, a big fan of Horizon Zero Dawn. It was one of the fist games I got for my PS4 and I have spent a lot of time with Aloy. So, I really wanted to get the Aloy armor set. Early on, when I played with Suraph and TidyMice, I discovered that I was too underleveled to even attempt the quest.
But now, I was back on the grind. I had progressed enough in the story that I could attempt the HZD event quests. I first unlocked the Watcher armor for Furiosa, but was nowhere near the requirements for the Aloy armor.
Then at HR 11, the quest unlocked and turns I had to hunt a High Rank Anjanath. I attempted the quest multiple times and gathered the Nora Brave trophies but the one item that was a rare drop was the Anjanath Gem. It was dropped from only from the nose or tail. In MHW, you could bring down a monster any way you like, but attacking certain parts of the monster rewards you better. The head and the tail are two such parts.
The Anjanath being particularly aggressive and most of the time, keeping its tail lifted, I made my attempts to grind at the head. I am never one for grinding, but I always sandwiched my attempts at Anjanth with other quests. After getting caught in the brunt of the fiery flames it breathed and knocked down, one fine day, I got it, the Anjanath Gem! I was overjoyed!
Racing to the end
Like I said, the missions in the game had a time limit of 50 min. So, I got into the game in one hour sessions, grinding away to reach the end. I though the game was ending when we completed guiding Zorah Magdaross and defeating Nergigante, but then there was the Pink Rathian, which introduced the concept of tracking a monster across areas. After your research, you discover the location of the monster and then you have to hunt or kill it. This was the same mechanic followed for finding the last three elder dragons.
Most of the time I chose to do the tracking through High Rank side quests instead of directly through expeditions. This allowed me to grind through the game while uncovering the tracks to help research the location of the elder dragons.
The Elder Dragons
Fighting each of the elder dragons started out to be quite challenging. I got my ass handed to me by Teostra, the fire dragon, quite a few times, until I upgraded my armor with fire resistance and started using Cool drinks, which gave protection against fire damage. This helped me take down the monster in the volcanic Elder recess.
The second elder dragon I took on was Vaal Hazak, which ahd the aanoying ability to cut down my health. Nulberries helped cut down the effect of its miasma, but I started running out of them quite soon, until I figured out the timing and the lead up to its attacks. All in all, this was quite a challenging fighting as well.
By the time I reached the third elder dragon, Kushala Daora, I was expecting the worst. But being a wind dragon, it's effect was not as devastating as the other two except the last part where it started whipping up wind cyclones in a small arena. However, compared to the other two I was able to take down this dragon with ease.
Again I was misled to believe that this was the end until the final mission had this point of no return type feel to it. The final dragon was soon introduced. Unnamed at the time, the Xeno'jiiva was a beast and most devastating with it's attacks. It took me a few attempts to work out it's patterns until I figured out the range of it's attacks.
It seemed that the game was going to give me a challenging and satisfying conclusion to the story with Xeno'jiiva and so it was.
My journey with this game went over two years and as I learnt and got a grip on the mechanics, I found the game to be deep and rich. I enjoyed each and ever minute of it. Even now, when I go back to the early missions of the game, I feel like an overpowered beast. A true mark of a well done RPG. Unlike most RPGs and JPGs, with the indicators and the hand-holding, I loved how this game made me discover everything by myself. The magic of the surprise added a layer of value to the game. I will be sure to try out more co-op with my friends and the Iceborne expansion in the future.
Until then, Raven Snow will get her much deserved rest.