This weekend I played a significant amount of Monster Hunter World on the PC. This morning I am going to talk a bit about my thoughts related to it and why it maybe isn’t the dumpster fire that the internet seems to think it is. First off you are not going to get much general Monster Hunter commentary since I have belabored that point at length on this blog. I love the game and think that for the most part everyone should give it a shot on whatever platform seems most comfortable for you personally. I played the hell out of it on the PS4 and only backed off a bit when I got bit by the Elder Scrolls Online bug again… which has moved recently into desperately trying to prepare for the World of Warcraft expansion. Basically don’t ever take me moving on from a game as a reason not to play it because quite honestly I am fickle as hell when it comes to game. I play a lot of different things and shift wildly between them as the mood suits me.
You can get a link to my current PC build up in the menu of this site but for those reading via RSS I will summarize the high points. The relevant information:
I technically have an SSD in this system but have long since run out of space to run games from it… so for the most part I linked the drive that the game itself is running on. For sake of reference I attempted to screenshot all of the relevant graphical settings I am using.
Essentially I set the resolution to 1080p and attempted to max everything out to see what sort of gameplay that would give me. For the most part I get 60 frames per second, with the occasional dip into the 55ish territory as you can sometimes see sub 60 numbers in the lower left hand corner of these screenshots. However it feels very smooth given that I personally cannot seem to differentiate between about 40 fps and 60 fps that well. Ultimately I wanted to throw these numbers out there however I have a 5th gen x99 setup running a still fairly beefy GTX 980 graphics card. Your mileage may vary wildly if you are using a system less capable than that, but I am not really sure how far below.
The game looks infinitely better than it did on the PS4 and had I the time this weekend I would have installed it on my laptop to see what sort of concessions I needed to make it get it running on a far lower end machine. The laptop being a 4th Gen i7 which is the generation of processor in the recommended settings, and a mobile gtx 960M… which given the rules of mobile cards means it likely performs about the same as a desktop 700 series since the desktop did not get the 800 series. Regardless it is further testing I want to do so that I could give some estimates of what the game would run like and look like on a lower end machine. The truth is I played most of the weekend on the laptop, but I did so using Parsec streaming off of my gaming machine upstairs. I still am deeply in love with that software.
The biggest takeaway for me personally is just how phenomenally good the game looks on the PC. On the baseline PS4 everything felt very muddy for lack of a better word. There were lots of moments when everything seemed like there was a thin coat of vasoline on the lens and you couldn’t quite focus on anything specific. This means that a lot of the vistas in this game were completely lost to me and might as well have been static background images. However on the PC there have been numerous points where I just stop and stare the the scenes in awe of just how cool everything looks. I have a hard drive full of screenshots already and according to steam I am only twelve hours into the game.
It is highly likely that this is an experience that the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro players have already had… but for use plebs still stuck on the lower end machines in this generation… the difference is extremely noticeable. Now all of that said… my awe of the game comes from a console player getting to see the world I already love in much higher detail. From the general standpoint of a PC gamer… the game still has some wonky stuff going on in the way that the world looks and it is the same sort of stuff you see in a lot of console ports. Textures don’t always look as crisp as you might expect and what appears to be in focus versus blurred out is all over the place. Notice in the above image who the background appears so much crisper than the character in the foreground for example, just random goofy stuff that you don’t notice in motion but do notice when the action stops.
One of the weirder revelations for me personally is that the game is completely connected into steam groups… and seems to rely on your steam friends list and the groups you are a member of in place of the clan system. This means that I already happen to have a Greysky Armada group ready to go and you can see me up in the gathering hall flying the colors of our guild… even taking into account the custom imagery we uploaded for it from FFXIV. The only problem here is… I think those of us who have lots of groups and massive friend lists at this point… are maybe bogging down the network? It seems to take forever to bring up a friends list dialog, or to browse the sessions that your friends are in. This seems to have improved over the week, but is still way more sluggish than it felt on the console.
The real problem however is that the network connectivity seems to be extremely fickle, with Match Making generally not working at all… and the browsing of existing sessions working about as well. You are going to see this window a lot with a 50382-MW1 error being throw which is essentially the “cannot connect” generic error message. Spawning your own instance however seems to work reliably well, and joining an instance a friend is in also seems to work fairly well. I’ve managed to play with my friend Wolfy at several points during the weekend, but just go into the situation expecting things to be less than reliable. I feel like the PC is a leap forward overall given that it allows you to integrate with your existing list of Steam friends… but the overall way that grouping works in Monster Hunter World is still extremely awkward. This is one thing that Dauntless has going for it, is that grouping as a whole just feels more natural.
If you want to see me fail miserably at a hunt and mash the shit out of my keyboard and mouse here is the stream from Sunday morning. The keyboard is getting more comfortable as I go but I will say it was a challenge to get used to after being fairly comfortable with the PS4 controller. For the most part I have rolled with the default keybinds, but you can in fact remap most everything. The only thing that I really have changed is that the initial set up for Longsword was Left Mouse for basic attacks, Right Mouse for thrust, and Ctrl Key for Spirit Blade… which was functional but not exactly fitting with the priority that I have those attacks. I swapped Right Mouse and Ctrl to give me something that feels more natural given that I rarely actually thrust, the only negative however is that it makes it more challenging to do the leap out of the way slash attack. My fingers are long however and for the most part I can hit any ability that I need to. Your mileage may vary given how comfortable you are reaching into odd spots on the keyboard. I do however need to sort out something other than F1 + Number to get to the quick bar items because that really doesn’t work for me right now.
All in all I am really happy with the PC port and especially if you have been waiting in the wings due to a lack of console… you should totally pick this up. From what I am hearing it is both the biggest selling Japanese Steam game of all time, and the biggest Steam launch of 2018 so far… so much of the issues that are happening currently are probably just compounded by that fact. As the crush of players coming in to hunt some monsters dwindles a bit… I think a lot of the network weirdness is going to mysteriously go away. It is 7 am CST and right now Steam Charts is showing 245,535 concurrent players… with an all-time peak of 329,333 which was also achieved apparently in the last 24 hours. Basically it is super popular right now and as a result there are going to be some growing pains. If you cannot deal with that maybe wait a month before picking it up, however the game does always default back to a single player state allowing you to get in and experience the game play regardless of the current network conditions.
If you found yourself on the fence about this title I hope this post offers some wisdom. Like I said I need to get in and actually install the game on my laptop to give it a lower end impression as well. I will try and do that over the coming days… but not likely tonight given that apparently Battle For Azeroth launches at 2pm CST? Talk about that game release sneaking up on me. I hope you have a great day and an awesome week.