Delightful Nonsense

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Last night didn’t exactly go as I had originally planned but what actually happened was probably better.  There were a couple of things that I knew I had on my list for the evening, one of which was to run to target and attempt to find clearance valentines candy for my wife’s classroom.  There are several candies that she uses in lab exercises like kisses, m&m’s and skittles.  The scene in that candy aisle was just insane with random display boxes strewn everywhere and essentially everything mostly gone.  We did manage to scavenge some plain old fashioned Hershey’s Kisses in valentines packaging for the 50% off discount.

Prior to going into the store I called in a take out order across the street at Baja Jack’s Burrito Shack, so we picked up our orders…  for me a steak fajita quesadilla and for my wife steak fajita nacho platter.  I flipped over to Twitch to see if anyone was streaming, and I appeared to be auto hosting Sushi so I tuned in to say hi.  I finishing “nomming my tasty noms” and fired up the PS4 when almost instantly I had a party invite waiting on me.  Pizza Maid was also just about to fire up her stream and was looking for people to hang out while doing so.  So I joined her, SitaDulip, Misiek, and a very drunk Welsh Fox and Wolfy in chat and prepared for an evening of delightful nonsense.

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One of the main reasons why Monster Hunter World has been scratching my MMO itch is for nights like last night.  While we lost Fox and Wolfy pretty early because they decided they were a little too sauced to be on a stream…  we had this great night of just wandering around and doing random stuff.  Sure I wasn’t necessarily moving my quest chain forward, but I was still having a lot of fun knocking out random stuff… some of it low rank and some of it high rank.  It was this furious blend of investigations, optional quests, and arena missions and a heck of a lot of fun.

I think the only high rank monster we actually took down was a Pukei Pukei at the very end of the night when the stream had whittled down to just me and Pizza hanging out.  The best moment of the stream however was when Pizza runs off to use the restroom only to find out that Aria her adorable asshole cat has rolled all the toilet paper off the roll.  Props to stealthy for clipping this because it is an amazing conversation happening off screen…  but I am chuckling along in my recognition that I have also had this thing happen.  Basically it was a really fun night and if you so care to… the entire VOD of our random adventures is available.

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Tonight however… I would actually like to make some progress.  If that means catching Pizza up to this point in the storyline and then taking down an asshole pink Rathian together then so be it.  Last night was all about hanging out with friends and tonight would be lovely if I could hang out with friends and also kill this horrible creature.   The other thing I am contemplating is doing a dueling banjos stream of sorts where I am also streaming while Pizza is streaming and then posting one of those links that allows you to see the stream side by side.  I will of course have to talk to her about this concept, also also I will have to figure out what PSN chat does to my streaming set up.  I am not sure if it is going to be a horribly echoy experience for my viewers.

Regardless if we take down a Pink Rathian or not I would love to engage in some high rank hunt nonsense.  Right now I have a handful of pools of people that I have been actively playing with and only time will tell tonight who I end up grouped up with.  Regardless though Monster Hunter is feeling like and MMORPG to me in spite of it not really being one.  It feels like I am doing all of these epic boss fights with friends and I guess at the end of the day… that was my most important requirement for MMO grouping.  I had wished Destiny 2 would feel like this, but for whatever reason the magic sauce just wasn’t there as strongly this time.  With Monster Hunter it is all brand new to me having never really gained traction in the series, and with Destiny 2…  I just kept thinking about all of the awesome things we had to give up from the first game.

A Social Weekend

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It was a pretty great weekend as far as hunting monsters goes.  I got to hang out with so many different groups of people and do so many varied things.  On Friday night it was all about hanging out with Tam, Ash and Kodra as I was finally up late enough to allow our schedules to align.  On Saturday it was all about hanging out with Pizza Maid, Wolfy and Rakuno… and then in a little pre-podcast gaming some more with Tam, Ash and Kodra.  Then Sunday I streamed for a bit in the morning between editing two podcasts.  Then in the evening I spent quite a bit of time in the evening running around with Sushi Geisha and Smashy doing some high rank egg birb killing among other things.  The variety and quality of my company was absolutely the best.

The other thing that really happened this weekend is that I spent a ton of time hanging out with various groups of folks on twitch.  I’ve never really acclimatized to that community but right now I am spending a significant amount of time with folks connected to the very awesome casual/positive Moogle’s Pom Tavern.  They have all accepted me as one of their own and call me a streamer even though I barely qualify as one.  Just to give some shout outs… some of the folks I spent time lurking or actively hanging out in are…

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Right now my jam seems to be playing Monster Hunter on the 43 inch 4k monitor while trying to cram a bunch of windows on one of the 23 inch monitors.  As a result a lot of the time I have spent soloing, has been hanging out in a twitch stream and occasionally throwing random comments.  During the shenanigans of Saturday and Sunday I actually wound up on voice chat and as a result “on stream” with Pizza and Sushi.  The world got many opportunities to watch me fail at longswording and miss attacks as monsters shifted on me in combat.  It was a lot of fun and I need to sort out a time when I can stream for myself more regularly.  I had a lot of fun with the little bit that I did this weekend and the whole Sunday morning is starting to turn into a routine.

As far as Monster Hunter itself…  I have now progressed into High Rank hunts but have not done a whole lot of them.  I’ve taken down Pukei Pukei which is the gatekeeper of sorts to unlock High Rank, and then taken down Kulu-Ya-Ku a bunch of times to farm bits so I could upgrade to this crazy two handed scimitar of sorts called Last Dance I.  I am wearing a mishmash of gear because I basically went to the workshop and crafted whatever the hell I could as soon as I hit high rank.  As a result I have 1 piece of Zorah Magdaros gear, 2 pieces of High Rank Bone and 2 pieces of High Rank Alloy gear.  This shockingly has wound up being a fairly reasonable set of gear to run around and do stuff with, and the added defense helped a lot as compared to the amount of damage I was taking during the Pukei Pukei fight.

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I could go into a bunch of detail about the various hunts I did, but for this morning I am not.  The weekend as a whole was all about hanging out with various groups of people for me.  That is always the problem I have when it comes to online gaming.  There are so many different groups that I want to be hanging out with.  I spent a lot of the weekend as a sort of fill in, but still had a blast in doing so.  Right now the timing for me is just weird in actually hanging with the AggroChat crew given that the majority are now on the west coast.  On most nights they are starting to get active around 9 pm…  as I am starting to wind down and prep to head to bed.  This has made organizing anything in a time other than the weekend a pretty fraught experience.

The whole grouping experience in Monster Hunter does not make this easier, given that for much of the weekend folks were having trouble joining specific sessions.  I know last night we kept trying to get a 4th in to help them with some quests…  but the sessions kept timing out.  What I crave the most for Monster Hunter World is some form of a viable friends list, with the ability to invite to parties from it…  and even more importantly have a Diablo 3 style “request to be invited” system.  I hope as time passes that the whole cludge that is grouping in this game improves.  That said… the core experience is compelling enough that I can look past all of that nonsense as I obsess about getting monster bits to make awesome weapons and outfits.

Apex Predators

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Last night I participated in a little bit of non-game related nonsense.  Over the Christmas break I rearranged my set up so that I am essentially sharing a 43 inch 4k display for both console and PC gaming.  I still have access to the PC via the secondary monitor to the side, but the main display will be showing my PS4.  The idea was that this would give me access to my proper mic while playing console games and allow me to hang out on teamspeak or discord while playing.  The only problem there is that my only sound option for console gaming…  has been to have it play through the television speakers, which means while streaming… it gets picked up by my microphone.  My alternate solution was to try and string a usb headset to my PS4 while playing but it was less than optimal and I didn’t have a long enough cord to route it around where it was not in the way.

So I set forth with a mission… figure out a way to pipe the input from my television into my PC.  The television only has optical toslink out and the pc has a 3.5 mm mini jack for input, which meant I needed some sort of a bridge to make the connection work.  After some googling I stumbled across this little device that will convert a digital input… like toslink to an analog signal like RCA/Mini.  After a bunch of fiddling and some rewiring I got it set up… and once I set my system to “listen” to the line in port…  I had console audio coming in through my PC sound card.  This left me with the problem of needing some way to have a microphone for PSN chat.

After some rummaging I found my first Blue microphone… the Nessie and decided to give it a shot.  This is the point where I am thankful I have a rudamentary system of storage boxes because I needed to find some way of stringing a micro usb cord from the other side of my monitor all the way around the back of my desk and over to my PS4.  The final solution was an old samsung charging cable combined with an amazon basics usb extender, but after some fiddling it worked.  Now I can comfortably swap between PC gaming and PS4 gaming without having to grab a new headset or do any manipulation.  While it doesn’t seem like much… it felt like a major victory to me last night.

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As far as my night in Monster Hunter…. I spent a lot of time doing minor content while watching Sushi’s stream and chatting with the other folks in channel on my second monitor.  This is the other use case I have found for this setup is letting me hang out on twitch while playing console games, which is a good deal of fun.  The only negative is I try and cram discord, slack, hangouts and a twitch window on a 23 inch monitor… that seems ridiculously tiny next to the 43 inch I am playing the game on.  I’ve been on this mission to repair my cash flow problem and as a result I have been doing a bunch of investigations that reward around the 4000-5000 zenny mark.  Essentially there are two wants right now…  being able to craft a new sword from the egg bird line to see how well it works with its high affinity rating.  The other is to craft a new set of gear but I am sorta up in the air as to what to go with.

Basically in the coming evenings I should really start doing focused hunts and going after specific monsters to get parts.  I hate fighting the Radobaan, but right now…  it is one of my favorite armor sets.  I need Radobaan parts to complete the weapon I am shooting for as well…  so in theory it means in the near future I am going to start going after the tar dragon with seriousness.  It was a pretty straight forward fight, but was just annoying getting good hits on it and knocking off bits of the bone armor.  I am bad at actually seeking groups for things and instead just end up piddling around on my own most of the time.  Regardless…  my current set of armor feels like it is starting to be a little dated.

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When I finally got back to doing more serious content, I picked up on the quest line that asked me to go to the bottom of the Rotten Vale.  I am not exactly sure what I expected down there, but the supposed bottom floor is a lot more survivable than the one that Great Girros roams around.  There seemed to be way fewer poison clouds going on, and not much in the way of annoying adds.  While down there I ran into my favorite character that I have no clue what she is called…  but a wiki is telling me she is called the Field Master.  I question if she is actually another hunter, or if instead she is just one of the handlers that decided to break out on her own.

This lead to the appearance of a monster called Odogoron that was honestly one of the more annoying fights I have dealt with in awhile.  Much like Legiana, this one can deal a lot of damage in a really short amount of time and I wound up fainting a few times because I simply was not watching my health bar as closely as I should.  The other problem I ran into is this thing is insanely fast, so the only times I could really just go to town on it were when my palico had it distracted or I had blinded it with a flash pod.  The rest of the time I was constantly in a state of trying to make sure it was not about to turn on me and decimate my life bar.  I am not even sure how this works, but once I cut off its tail it seemed to be super susceptible to being knocked down which allowed me to unleash some spirit blade combos.

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After wrapping that fight up, I decided to keep going with the story rather than retreating into a chill expedition.  After some tracking around I found myself on a quest to essentially kill the Apex predators of the Ancient Forest and the Wildspire Wastes…  aka Rathalos and Diablos.  I did not have the energy in me to start either of those so I went back to investigations for awhile.  I now have two quests in my log ready for me to start the hunts for these two big beasts…  and I am guessing I am not terribly far from starting high rank once I knock them out of the skies.  I really could use Rathalos parts because I believe they unlock some interesting crafting options.  Still very much enthralled by this game and looking forward to venturing deeper into it.

Ice and Frost Dragons

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Yesterday was more or less madness.  The last few days have been super stressful for a bunch of reasons that I don’t really want to get into, but its a sort of stress that I am not used to dealing with.  The sort of stress that takes what should be a super familiar and safe environment and makes everything seem weird and tense.  Last night I had a very late meeting that ultimately went over the allotted time, and by the time I left…  we had gotten some freezing rain.  That meant that driving home was in itself a tense experience as well with everyone poking along at a snails pace.  There is this whole judgement game that happens as well, because in theory my normal route is the least populated of the possible routes home.  So I question if I should take it or try and stick to the busier route…  and as a result more prone to be delayed by wrecks and probably much slower.

Needless to say my normal ten to fifteen minute commute was turned into roughly an hour.  When got to town I also needed to make a run by the local grocery store around the corner from my house.  Normally this is a massive pitfall because people go insane when there is even the slightest sign of winter weather.  We were completely out of coffee creamer however…  something I really didn’t want to go home without so I went against better judgement and walked into the grocery store.  In truth it was not nearly as bad as I was expecting… there are times where even the lightest dusting of snow can cause the grocery store to look like the apocalypse hit with entire aisles of food missing.  This time however it was just about three times as busy as normal, but no frantic rushing around and hoarding food.  That said…  it had been about three weeks since we had been to a grocery store so while there I decided to pick up considerably more than just coffee creamer allowing myself to succumb to a bit of the madness as well.

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I got home and made dinner…  which in our case was some piping hot frito chilli pies because I needed something to defrost.  The actual temperature was in the 20s but with wind chill factored in… it felt like the low teens, which for the northerners that might be reading this blog is not that big of a problem.  However those of us who are used to 115 degree August weather are not exactly designed for this sort of frigid weather.  I don’t even have a proper coat because we need one so rarely, which meant I have been roaming around in this in my hoodie.  The frito pies did their job however and warmed me up enough to consider actually doing something this evening other than huddling underneath a fuzzy blanket and staring blankly at the television. Considering the late hour…  I opted to settle into my office and play a little monster hunter considering I was about an hour late for my other obligation and it would have been weird to drop in at that point.

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One of the things about Monster Hunter World is that I seem like I am only really capable of handling one big monster hunt each evening.  As a result I am progressing painfully slow through the quest content that ultimately gates everything in the game.  Sunday I tackled Radobaan and to a lesser extent Great Girros while roaming around in an expedition.  That mean’t a trip back to the Third Fleet Master to once again descend to the bottom of the Rotten Vale.  Unshockingly we once again encountered a problem that required my attention.  Our path took us straight through the hunting grounds of a Legiana, which is a giant frost dragon of sorts that seems to like to gobble up the flying bird/wyvern things that hang out in the Coral Highlands.  We pissed it off… and as a result I needed to go kill it so we could continue downwards.

This is not a terribly easy hunt for a Longsword because it spends most of its time in the air.  Sure I can chip away at it slowly by swinging up at it… but that also put me in prime territory for its two main attacks.  The first of these is a claw dive of a sort that did about a third of my health bar each time I connected with it properly.  The second is the more annoying because it has lasting effects in the form of laying down a line of frost on the ground.  Getting hit with the frost itself seemed to take me down two thirds of my health bar, and getting into the frost seemed to have a lasting slow effect that made dodging everything more annoying.  The other major problem is this monster runs way more often than your average bear…  and like all flyers in this game can travel half a map away in a few seconds forcing you to traverse some truly awkward terrain.

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I’ve only actually failed a single hunt so far in Monster Hunter World, and that was the first time I attempted Anjanath.  That one I mostly chock up to not paying attention and not watching my health bar anywhere near as close as I should have.  Legiana however…  was painfully close.  When I finally took the monster down I had less than five minutes to go on the hunt, and was down to my last faint.  The thing about a close fight like this… is that when you finally defeat it…  you feel absolutely exhilarated.  I had originally intended to just do the one hunt and go to bed, but instead I needed something to do to sorta come down off the high of the really difficult encounter.  As a result I popped downstairs and saw that Sushi was streaming, and hung out there for a bit while roaming around and doing minor things in monster hunter over Playstation Remote Play.

The night did not go at all how I had intended it.  I did not intend to be super late getting home, and I definitely had not planned on the painful drive home.  I also had not planned on fielding messages and emails throughout the night about a recent promotion at work.  All in all however it was still a good night, and I was super pumped to move the story needle at least a little bit in this game that I am rapidly becoming indoctrinated into.  Expeditions are still more my speed and I’ve spent a lot of time roaming around the newly unlocked areas like Coral Highlands and Rotten Vale.  I believe there are two more areas of the game but supposedly those do not unlock until I officially get into the “high rank” hunt territory.

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My favorite part of the night however is that all of my shenanigans allowed me to upgrade my weapon to the Hard Bone Shotel II which with my current gear layout gives me a base attack power of 505.  That is honestly the biggest problem I am seeing with switching weapons is the fact that none of them are even close to the attack power I currently have available to me through the “bone” weapon line.  I see longsword folks running around with much cooler looking weapons… but ultimately they have not been able to compete with the raw attack power of my bone weapon.

At some point I want to jump ship to the “dragon” line of weapons… but that is going to require silly amounts of farming of fairly difficult fights like Rathian.  For the moment I am happy with my damage output and the rather homely looking bone weapon hanging off of my back.  I think my big focus over the next few game sessions is going to be trying to farm the ore needed to get the next real set of upgrades over the gear I am wearing.   I feel like I am pretty close to the next “big” fight, so I might attempt that tonight as well.  All in all still loving this game and still wanting more of it.

Lumu and Watcher Cat

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Last night I did not do much in the way of gaming because I came home just mentally drained from work, and wound up logging in and out of various things while watching a couple movies.  Instead unsurprisingly I am going to talk a bit about Monster Hunter World.  This weekend I spent a significant amount of time upstairs playing it and am now in the Rotten Vale area of the map.  Weirdly enough the main screen of the game still shows the Coral Highlands, but I do love how it occasionally changes to areas that you now have access to.  At this point I have taken down Anjanath, Barroth, Great Girros, Great Jagras, Jyuratodus, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Paolumu, Pukei-Pukei, Radobaan, Tobi-Kadachi, and Tzitzi-Ya-Ku…  which feels like a lot of Monsters but ultimately I think the grand scheme of thing I am barely progressed at all.

In fact after my last play session I believe I finally hit Hunter Rank 7 which  is just a drop in the bucket compared to past Monster Hunter series games that capped out at like 999.  There is an achievement for getting to Hunter Rank 100, so at the very least World goes that high but I have no clue how much higher it continues after that.  Regardless…  I am a babe in the woods when it comes to this game and nowhere near as far along as a good number of my friends.  My play style is just way more meandering I believe than others…  and weirdly enough after playing with Tam for a bit over the weekend he wins the bloodlust trophy for this game.  He kept getting distracted during hunts by whatever happened to cross our path… whereas I seem to have a laser focus on the beast at hand often times ignoring collectibles long the way when I am in serious hunting mode.

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Paolumu or “Lumu” as everyone seems to call it is legitimately one of the weirder hunts I have participated in.  This crazy squirrel bat thing inflates an air bladder… and then uses it to bounce up and down on you for insane amounts of damage.  I managed to rip it to shreds with my long sword and even managed to completely wreck its wings…  which seemed to effect how well it could fly but not necessarily if it could fly.  That was a completely different experience from when I fought Pukei-Pukei and somehow managed to actually ground that monster completely once its wings arrived at a similar tattered state.

Tam joined in the fight and got completely distracted for a little bit when Tzitzi-Ya-Ku crossed our path.  The worst times were when we managed to be fighting Lulu and Tzitzi at the same time… and the stupid lizard would flash knocking us all out temporarily.  Every time Tam would mount the back of Lumu it would end up subsequently taking off and flying away with him in which I wound up running after trying to sort out where it would land.  That said when we got Lumu to a point where the wings were ripped and shredded it seemed unable to really go very far and mostly just flew around the area we were in at the time.  Regardless… it was a goofy monster to fight and my strategy largely wound up with me trying desperately to hit is air bladder.  I do not look forward to hunting them for fuzzy gear because at least with long sword they were super annoying to fight.

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I feel like I need to talk about how inconvenient grouping is in this game.  On Sunday afternoon we managed to get a four player group of AggroChat folks all together trying to do some of the low level stuff that Kodra needed since he started super late.  The biggest problem we kept running into was the fact that in the grand scheme of things… what we wanted to do was just create an expedition and go off and hunt everything currently available in zone.  However there really is no good way to do that… and functionally one of two things needs to happen.  Firstly you can start a quest and after its completion just agree to stay in zone and return to camp instead of base.  The second option is to have someone start an expedition and run and find a monster… allowing you to fire off a SOS beacon…  and then hoping that all of the folks you actually intend to group with can find it in the cludgy join quest interface before someone random pops in.

This system just works counter intuitive to everything I expect from grouping in games.  My brain works in a mindset of forming a group and then going off and doing a thing…   not doing a thing and then hoping people can somehow join you after the thing has already started.  We had a PSN chat session going and it would have been so much nicer if we could have simply invited that “fireteam” for lack of a better term to participate in something rather than having to time everything just so.  Because grouping is so cumbersome… I largely spend most of my time roaming around the world by myself.  After the challenge of trying to get all four of us together in the same group… I am maybe rethinking my decisions before to jump into random games and “help” people out.  What if I was the fourth rando that ruined someone else’s attempts to play with the folks they had on voice chat at that moment?

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The real victory of the weekend is that I managed to get high enough hunter rank to do the timed event needed to get the parts to craft my palico a watcher suit from Horizon Zero Dawn.  I managed to get enough parts on the first outing to craft the suit itself, and I largely decided to ignore the weapon considering it was such a massive downgrade from what I was currently using.  The watcher suit itself however has an insane amount of defense and as a result it has gone into my main rotation of palico gear.  It does feel a little bit weird to see a watcher cat roaming around with me in the wilds because there are certain instincts I still have from playing Horizon Zero Dawn.  At least I am not playing with a bow…  otherwise I would potentially keep trying to shoot out my palico’s eye.

In the grand scheme of things I am still really enjoying this game and happy to be getting indoctrinated into the rich world of Monster Hunter.  As a closing note…  I’ve been seeing something weird happening in the Destiny YouTube and Twitch communities.  There are so many of these Destiny-centric channels that have been essentially rededicating themselves to Monster Hunter instead.  While this follows my own current evolution game time wise…  considering I only actually played a single match this past Iron Banner, it does feel really odd to have my news sources for Destiny turning into a wall of Monster Hunter.  On one hand it makes me happy… and on the other hand it makes me frustrated that the state of Destiny has reached a point where folks are abandoning it in droves.  At the end of the day you have to play whatever it is that currently makes you happy, and I to have been almost entirely devoting myself to this weird and wonderful universe of Monster Hunter.

Flame Broiled Defeat

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Last night I met my first real defeat in Monster Hunter World and completely failed a quest.  That quest was me attempting to beat Anjanath in the Ancient Forest, which admittedly I am super happy I did the tracking work I already did for this mob in spite of what everyone has told me.  I managed to find it super fast and now we get into the part of the show where I talk about my horrible ideas.  I have thought this thing was serious business since the first moment I saw it… and as a result I went ahead and threw up a flare to see if anyone wanted to join me.  Within moments I had a full party of people tasking on this monster and in the grand scheme I thought it was going pretty well…  then I started noticing other players fainting.  It was around or about this point that I remembered that you get four faints per party…  not per person.  So when I finally fainted myself…  it happened to be the fourth one our party had gotten and the quest immediately failed out.  In theory I should have just tried this on my own because I was managing to land some significant hits in on the big guy but I guess the truth is I just sorta like running with party tactics going on.  I have been joining other folks quests and enjoying trying to learn how to play off of the strengths and weaknesses of the other weapons.  Mostly I am wanting to learn how not to trip up other players with the Longsword which has been a problem that other people have reported with the weapon.  As far as I could tell this was not actually happening because I tend to favor surgical strikes rather than just flailing away with R2 sweeping attacks.  My goal for tonight is to seek revenge and down a flame breathing dinosaur.

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My enjoyment of this series is way more focused on playing with my Palico than probably any other element.  So much so that the first thing I do whenever I drop down on a map is find where the free roaming tailrider Palicos are and go get one.  I love the sequence of events that happens when your Palico meets one out in the wild.  They get together and then high five and cheer…  and moments later you have a new friend following you around and helping you.  This is literally the best part of monster hunter and the most purest joy I feel in the game.  Last night I found a Palico wearing the Horizon Zero Dawn Watcher suit and I just about lost my mind.  It too had the Pukei-Pukei bow equipped so it was an interesting combination of two mostly ranged characters helping me out.  My weapon development is sort of stalled out at the moment because I am not exactly sure what I need to get the next ranks as I have been using the Bone Shotel III for a few nights now.  I can in theory make an elemental version… but its base attack is slightly lower so for the moment I am sticking with what I have.

I will close out this mornings post with a video of one of the varied Monster Hunter World cooking sequences.  I just cannot explain how happy the Palicos and the Felyne chefs make me.  I find myself getting a meal cooked even when I am just going to go wandering around in the wastes doing nonsense for an hour completing bounties.  There are a lot of people who lament the change in the cooking song, but I never knew the previous one so its not like I am missing anything particular.  What I love is the completely over the top cooking sequence…  which admittedly was also one of the things I loved about Final Fantasy XV so maybe I just like digitally rendered food?  I’ve tried to play Generations again but find it particularly hard to control the game with my existing 3DS XL…  which is still way too small for my tastes.  As I have talked about in the past… I have large hands and a lot of controllers just feel awkward in them.  I play PS4 with the Hori FPS Plus which itself is a way larger controller than the default PS4.  It really makes me wish that Generations existed for the Switch because I think I could get into the game there knowing I had the option of playing docked if I want to…  which admittedly I play switch docked 90% of the time.  Side note…  I consider the default Xbox One controller a little small as well and similarly have found an aftermarket alternative that I love in the form of the  no longer made Power A Fusion Pro.  Thankfully I have managed to pick up a couple of those… one for PC and one for Xbox One off Ebay for way cheaper than that Amazon listing.

Catfish Dargon

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At least on some level I feel like I might be playing this game wrong.  I’ve put a little over eleven hours into the game at this point and I am just now hunter rank 4.  At this point I have managed to take down Great Jagras, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Pukei-Pukei, Barroth and Jyuratodus.  Now some of those I have taken down multiple times like I keep farming Barroth for bits and pieces to craft gear and I have taken down Kulu several times just because killing the angry chicken is fun.  Side note…  hunting Kulu in Wildspire Wastes is so much easier than Ancient Forest because it doesn’t keep running away up into the canopy of the trees.  My mission for last night was to farm some Barroth and attempt to get better gear… and another Monster Bone M which I did in both cases.  I don’t have a full set of gear yet, but I did manage to upgrade two pieces of Barroth gear and one piece of Jyuratodus.  It is around this point that I decided to start using the Samurai cosmetic armor because wearing Barroth armor makes you look like you are a walking rack of prime rib.  Jyuratodus so far has been the most annoying thing I have fought to date because it cannot decide if it as a Catfish or a Dragon…  so from now on it will simply be known as Catfish Dargon.  I never really got to a point where I was in danger….  I just found it terribly annoying to fight because being in the water and mud is dumb and I never want to do that.

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On my Palico front I now have Kenzie kitted out in a full set of Pukei-Pukei armor which seems to be working well.  I am completely in love with my Palico, and it sorta makes me sad that in the above screenshot she ever doubts that I will be bringing her along on the next hunt.  Side note… I have no clue if my Palico has a gender but in my head canon Kenzie the Cat is female so Kenzie the Palico is also female.  I feel like I am improving at the game largely because of the continued shortening of time it takes me to hunt certain things.  My first Barroth kill was a complete bear and I wound up firing an SoS flare because I had run completely out of mega potions.  On kill number two at the beginning of last night I still struggled a bit, but never really got close to either fainting or running out of resources.  On kill number three…  it finally felt like I knew what I was doing and simply executed a sequence of attacks I had rehearsed over time.  The other thing that I finally started getting the hang of last night was mounting the monsters and going into rodeo mode.  I think more than anything that has probably sped up my process because when I finally knock them down I can get in a bunch of really powerful attacks.  When I took down Kulu last night after my first ride the monster was already limping.  So far all of the monsters have been challenging, but I feel fairly comfortable in my longsword abilities and it is mostly me just executing on the same things I have learned to this point…  which I guess is maybe the point of the game?

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I love the cheesy grin and weird uppercut pose on my guild card, so you are likely going to keep seeing it over and over.  The biggest thing I am not quite grasping at this point is how the hell multiplayer actually works.  My theory was that I could potentially hop in on quests that folks were doing in the game session I happened to be in.  However when I click on a name everything seems to be grayed out.  I have no clue how social connectivity is supposed to work in this game and I have no clue what throwing someone a guild card actually does but I keep receiving a bunch of them.  Connecting with other people to play the game just feels way harder than it should be.  It should be as simple as…  is a friend of yours on…  okay click to join their game and kill monsters together.  Instead it feels like this weirdly contorted system that makes absolutely zero sense to my western brain.  I keep thinking back to the madness of Final Fantasy XI and World Passes…  and trying to place my mind into that sort of mindset because I just do not get it.  If someone could explain to me like I am five how this system works… I would greatly appreciate it.  I would love to be able to just hop in on someone else’s session and kill monsters because at this point I could give a shit about quest progression and just want more crafting bits.  Based on what I heard from Grakulen last night apparently people can’t join me when I am in an expedition, which seems sorta broken.  Regardless I am having a lot of fun in my own little sandbox… but sorta want to start learning how to group to take things down.

Barbecue Heroes

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Last night was apparently all about Monster Hunter World.  The game seems to have gotten its hooks into me because quite honestly all I could think about all day long was getting home and playing.  More than anything I spent a fair amount of processing cycles trying to figure out how I was going to shift up my attack combos to be more efficient with the Long Sword.  Right now I am focusing on a single weapon, and mindset wise…  I am tending to think about this game much the same way as I would a fighting game.  Traditionally with a fighting game I will focus on a single character and learn them first, so for example… with Street Fighter II I originally focused in on Ryu and learned everything I could about playing him before branching out and picking up Guile or Chun Li for example.  Additionally I tend to focus on finding a workable sequence of attacks and getting the most out of those before introducing new things into my mix.  For the moment this largely means building spirit gauge with triangle four times and then dumping spirit gauge with r2 four times.  I’m trying to work in fade slash in place of just rolling out of the way, but the press X to survive behavior is already deeply ingrained.  I need to sort out how to actually do the fade slash that turns you blue and gives you invulnerable frames…  but I am not quite there yet.

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As far as the evening went… I spent a good deal of it wandering around in the desert.  I made it far enough in the quest chain to unlock the next major area of the map and immediately found myself going into explorer mode trying to scout everything I could find from the new area.  One of the things I did not realize was that objectives do not show up on the map until my scout flies have found them…  so as a result I spent a good deal of the night trying to train up my scout flies for the new area while working on bounties.  I am still desperately hunting a M class monster bone, which I am guessing I cannot really get unless I take down something else big.  I have been sitting on one for awhile and need another to move up to the Bone Shotel III.  Ultimately I think I need to take Barroth down a bunch of times because I could use the materials from him to upgrade the armor for both me and my palico given that is the next big boost stat wise from the bone set I am wearing.  Unfortunately Barroth is also the first monster I have had to call for help on… not necessarily because I fainted too many times…  but because I saw myself quickly running out of resources.  I was down to my last two mega potions and I was having hell gauging how close to finishing it up I was so I went ahead and threw up an SOS flare to get someone to come help me.  Unfortunately by the time it was answered I had almost managed to take him down solo…  with Barroth falling within a few minutes of the new hunter joining me.

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Hunting with a second player though does make things like needing to sharpen your weapon way easier, and stopping to do that constantly really made a difference in my kill time and efficiency.  When I fought Pukei Pukei it took me forever to actually find the damned thing because it wasn’t pathing where I had seen it the night before.  However once I did… I managed to take it down way faster than I had almost any other monster to date.  It ran twice but I managed to kill it at the third location by I believe disabling its wing.  I am constantly ripping parts of monsters but also sorta not really understanding exactly what I am doing.  I’ve taken off a bunch of tails largely because that and the hind quarters in general seems like a place where I can get solid combo hits without fear of bouncing the attacks.  I wish I more fully understood what causes a bounce versus what causes a solid hit.  I struggled with bounces constantly with Barroth and I am guessing that was just a side effect of its armor coating.  Once I knocked off some plates and exposed the sinew below I managed to land really good hits and started dealing serious damage.  I am guessing this is where a weapon like the hammer comes in handy for knocking off the armor plates.  I can definitely see how each weapon is functionally deficient against specific types of monsters and why something like the charge blade that is flexible becomes a huge boon.  For now however I am focused on my Long Sword and getting the most out of it before moving to something else…  which admittedly may be the hammer or great sword next to see how bigger slower weapons feel.  The goal for last night was to finally get in the squad and I managed to do that finally towards the tail end of the evening.  Monster Hunter does not make grouping with others very easy, and I feel like it is still stuck in the mindset of having a bunch of 3DS around a table where everyone is physically present with each other.  All in all though…  I’ve already gotten far more out of this venture into the Monster Hunter world than I have with any other version of it I have played in the past which was my ultimate hope.

Bone Bunny Cat

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I spent a good chunk of my weekend roaming around aimlessly in Monster Hunter World.  I was not terribly certain about this game…  until I unlocked expeditions.  I’ve talked a little bit about my aversion to timed content, and I was deeply concerned that everything I had been picking up from the quest board involved some sort of a timer.  While I had managed to complete most of them well within the time limit…  my initial Great Jagras hunt was roughly 27 minutes out of the 50 minute limit.  The problem is knowing there is a timer hanging over my head keeps me from doing the things I want to be doing…  which is largely exploring and learning the map.  Once I realized there was a mode of gameplay that worked much like patrols in Destiny 2…  I was all on board with this concept especially since it meant that I could still hunt the big monsters freely on my own time table there.  I’ve been spending most of my effort trying to learn the longsword and at this point I have upgraded to the Bone Shotel II…  and need a M class monster bone to upgrade to the third step.

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My biggest challenge however is now that I have found expeditions…  my desire to do any other than bounties has pretty much dropped off the face of the planet.  I know I should be progressing the main story through the quests, because I realize I am on somewhat of a timer to complete the Horizon Zero Dawn quest before it disappears.  I’ve heard you can join missions from folks already doing that quest and just get your six parts that way, but I would actually like to reach the level required to properly do it.  As of last night I got a full set of Bone Armor equipped on both me and my palico and have upgraded all of my pieces to rank 2.  I did what so many others seem to have also done… and named my Palico after my real life middle cat Kenzie.  It’s fitting because if I was going to go out adventuring with one of my animals… it would absolutely be her.  She is my shadow most of the time and can deliver quite a wallop with her paw if she needs to.

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If you look at my card it looks like I have made ZERO progress in the game, but I am just sorta doing it in my own style.  At this point I have fought Great Jagras and Kulu-Ya-Ku and have been training up tracking on Pukei Pukei and Anjanath which I will tackle before too much longer.  My biggest problem right now is the fact that I know going into a big monster fight is a serious time commitment, and as a result I am reluctant to start one because I am not entirely certain when I will get pulled away from my screen.  My wife needed my help with something in the middle of the Kulu-Ya-Ku fight yesterday and I was trying desperately to finish it off quickly.  Side note…  until last night I had no clue I needed to be sharpening my weapon in the middle of these fights so in theory things might go a little smoother next go round.  There are so many of those little things that I am starting to pick up this time… that I absolutely did not in Generations.  It almost makes me want to go back and give Generations another go…  but I realize a big part of why I am starting to grok this game is the fact that it isn’t on a tiny handheld screen.  I am definitely not bouncing the way I have in the past and I want to spend more time getting into this title…  but also I still have the desire to play other things as well so it is a bit of a juggling act right now.  At some point soon I hope to meet up with Stormrazer in game and join his Squad.  The whole grouping thing feels like it could have been a lot more transparent and still feels like it was designed for handheld interactions where you are sitting across the room from the people you are playing with.  Hopefully they will tweak it over time and make it less obtuse.  All in all though I am enjoying myself quite a bit, and I am happy to finally grasp at least the basic concepts of the game that allow me to hunt things without fainting all of the time.

Character Created

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I’ve largely squandered my normal blogging time this morning by logging into the PS4 and getting things set up initially for Monster Hunter World.  I left my system running over night hoping that everything would go ahead and patch successfully.  I had heard there was a short day one patch to download and whatever the case I was in fact able to just log in and go this morning.  I may or may not have spent way more time on character creation than on doing anything else so far this morning.  I truly am a babe in the woods when it comes to Monster Hunter games, but I found a character design that I liked and named my Palico after my middle cat so I think I am going in the right direction at least.

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Normally when I create a “Belghast” character I tend to go with black hair, but in this game…  black was like absence of all light black.  It just sort of looked artificial without any real highlights or reflections.  Instead I opted to go with what was actually a dark dark blue grey, which I guess is fitting given that I myself am starting to turn grey.  I tried going with the full bushy beard but it didn’t really fit the character in the way I would have hoped.  I gotta say that Elder Scrolls Online still has the best beards and quite frankly I am happy that this has beards at all given the proclivity of Japanese and Korean games having shitty facial hair options.  In truth I am not even sure how much I will be seeing my own characters face given that it should be encased in some sort of armor.

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As far as weapons go…  right now I am planning on starting out with the Iron Katana and see how that treats me.  Always in the past I have used the equivalent of the buster sword, the super slow and hard hitting weapon and I always feel like I was not terribly agile.  This time around I am going to go for what I hope is a reasonably hard hitting weapon that offers some more nimbleness.  It goes against every instinct to not pick sword and shield, but I think I am going to try something else at least for awhile.  I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about yet because I literally just got up to the first quest this morning, but I plan on poking my head tonight and seeing just how bad I suck at this game.