There are times I do things that don’t make sense at all… but am nonetheless compelled to do them anyways. Last night was one of those nights and the madness that my brain was targeting involved seeing if I could actually get Monster Hunter Online installed and running. I had decided that I would end up hanging out with my wife last night and watching some olypmics while she graded, which meant I would be losing access to my beloved Monster Hunter World. I mean sure I could play it through PS Remote Play but the experience degrades so drastically since I am used to playing it on a 4K display in HDR. Early in the evening I had stumbled onto a video by Arekkz from June of 2016 where he attempted playing the game. This for whatever reason triggered something in my brain wanting to try it, much like I will sometimes devote way too much effort to trying to emulate something that I have sitting in my closet.
The first problem is that there are plenty of guides out there for playing Monster Hunter Online. The key problem with each of them is that they involve downloading some random package of binaries from either a file dump website or in some cases google drive. I do not trust downloading a “verified good” client from somewhere I don’t know as the originating source of the file. Basically that ruled out all of those options and left me sorting out the steps by myself. Essentially the step to get up and running look a little something like this.
- Register a QQ Account – this is essentially the Tencent version of AIM and has a really weird profiling system that includes details like asking you for your blood type which is not creepy at all. I filled out only the minimum of information and found it hilarious that the QQ version of the Twitter Egg icon… is a crying baby. Apparently all Tecent games are driven by the QQ account and this will be a numerical address combined with a password. SAVE THIS NUMBER… there is apparently no great way to recover an account.
- Download WeGame – WeGame is the Tencent version of Steam for lack of a better term for it. There is no english version so you are ultimately going to be flying blind here. All of the categories are in chinese except for FPS and MMORPG. Since what we are looking for is an MMORPG it was pretty easy to select that category and find the Monster Hunter Online logo shown above to start the download process.
- Download Monster Hunter Online – there will be what appears to be an obvious download button when you find Monster Hunter Online in the menu. This seems to download the game in the background… so the process will show up in Task Manager but won’t actually be a window you can flip over to through Alt-Tab or through the task bar. I have really fast internet so it did not take long at all… but it involves two downloads one that is around 9 gb and another that is around 15 gb so it may take forever for you.
- Launch Monster Hunter Online – when the game finally finishing installing which is an awkward and largely blind experience… it will show up in the left hand bar of the WeGame client. All the while it is downloading there will be what is the Monster Hunter Online theme playing in the background… that you can literally do nothing about. How I determined it was finished… was when the music went away. Immediately upon launching the game you will be presented with the next hurdle.
- Fake a Chinese ID – You will immediately be presented with a page from QQ stating that the game cannot be played without some sort of national Chinese ID. This was not super surprising because when you attempt to play a lot of South Korean games you run into a similar problem. The difference here is that apparently the Chinese ID is an amalgam of a birthdate, region codes, and some randomized number all with a check bit to verify that it is “official”. As result there are tons of places online that offer you a generator to create your own. The one I linked is the one that worked for me… and quite honestly since I do not read chinese we engaged in a bit of pattern matching. You will need to make sure that you match up the names of the regions in both the generator and the client and unfortunately google translate only goes so far. I went with Bejing and what looked to be the most distinct pattern that I was able to match in both locations. SAVE THIS NUMBER.
- Plug Code into QQ Page and Pray – The page that popped up when you launch Monster Hunter World should still be sitting there in the background, and for me at least I was able to pop that code into the box, hit submit and it worked first attempt. Your mileage may vary especially depending on your pattern matching skills on the earlier steps.
- Relaunch Monster Hunter Online – If everything worked you will now be able to play Monster Hunter Online and have the same fun I did guessing what the buttons actually do in the character creation system. I managed to limp through the process of creating a character by guessing the logic that was used. On the lower left hand side there is a menu that appears to be some sort of a batch of presets… and then the button beside it to the right appears to be some sort of a confirmation that takes you to a prompt in the center of the screen that lets you name your character and enter the world. It accepted my english named character without any problems.
The next question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you should actually do this thing I just explained to you how to do. The short answer is no… you should not. You should really just stick to playing Monster Hunter World and waiting for the eventual PC release. The positive take away from last night is that I have a fully functional QQ account and will be able to play things that get released by Tencent in China if I so care to at some point. The bad part however is that the game is not great. Sure it sorta looks like Monster Hunter but more importantly it FEELS nothing like Monster Hunter World. If I did not know this was a purposeful collaboration between Capcom and Tencent I would have assumed the game was yet another asset flip mobile game because it is not pretty.
You are treated to this opening cutscene where some monster type I have never seen crashes into your airship. All the while the monster is clipping through the airship and as you begin to crash land the ship itself randomly clips in and out of the mountain side. When you finally get to ground level you have to fight yet another monster that I don’t recognize… but it could have been an overly stylized version of a Rathian. During this fight you are provided with MMO style telegraphs on the ground to denote where the monster is going to attack. These show up well before the actual animation sequence starts taking out a bit of the fun of playing Monster Hunter in the first place which is reading the monsters attacks.
I am not sure if everyone starts out as longsword but I lucked into that allowing me to try out a weapon that I already understand the attack patterns of which helped me get acclimatized quickly. In the grand scheme of things the attacks were all recognizable and worked much the same as if I had been using a controller. The equivalent of my Triangle attack was on the left mouse button and the equivalent of my R2 attack was on the right mouse button… with the short jab circle attacks being tied to E. Z for whatever reason became the interact/harvest key which is only explained after you encounter your first herb plant to harvest. You are not really given enough time after your first actual monster encounter to harvest the corpse.
It was playable but the post tutorial interface was clogged with tons of cash shop functionality that I never could figure out how to get rid of. It was around the time I arrived in the first town that I finally decided to just stop playing and find something better to do with my evening. The game did not feel great and the visuals felt cheaply thrown together and appear to be vastly different than the original images I saw from the first versions of the game. The game appears to have been stylized a bit more away from the traditional Monster Hunter vibe, and in doing so the appearance and experience seems to have been cheapened significantly.
At the end of the day I highly suggest you not do the thing that I did last night. I still felt largely compelled to explain how I did it though in case someone wanted to follow in my footsteps. This methodology allows you to go to the original sources and get the actual files instead of hoping and praying that some google drive share doesn’t give you a bit coin mining virus. I could not get any of the screenshots I took last night working, so instead I had to harvest a few from the interwebs for the purpose of this post. Ash warned me away from this madness but sometimes I just feel compelled to do stupid things.
[Edit – 2/15/2018 – 10 am]
After posting this… Ashgar suggested that in fairness I should at least namedrop Dauntless here. Right now it is in fact a PC based Monster Hunter like game available in closed beta. To get into that said beta however you either need to be a media personality/streamer of some note… or to pay for it. There are varying levels of access that start at $40 and end at $80 (that used to be $100 and the way you got into alpha). I’ve played this briefly at Pax South a few years back but can’t really speak to the state of the game. If you are interested I would suggest you check out the video by Skill-Up that I will link below. His take is that the game has promise, but it is not really a replacement for Monster Hunter yet. So I return to my original advise of just waiting for World to be released on the PC.