Over the last few days I have been thinking about where Monster Hunter World has succeeded and Destiny 2 has failed. I know this is probably a strange way to start off a post, but I am playing MHW the way that I fully expected to still be playing Destiny 2. If you add up the total time I have spent with the Destiny franchise across different platforms you wind up with 741 hours. Given that sort of track record I fully expected to be playing that game currently. That said I have missed two faction rallies, two iron banners and have not really even logged in during the current crimson doubles event. Sure I could be getting all manner of cosmetic gear from them… but the weapon and gear system just feels hollow given that I have collected most everything I am interested in using.
While I love the token loot system, Destiny 2 has a problem with not giving us a meaningful grind to be focused on. Doing event after event hoping to get a Masterwork Weapon or Piece of armor doesn’t really count. When I say meaningful grind I mean something that I can do on a nightly basis that is fun, but also feels like I am making progress towards some larger objective. In many ways the fickle nature of loot in Destiny 1 and the existence of things like the Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge gave me something I could do… that felt like I was potentially moving in the direction of something that I wanted from the game. As it stands there are too few interesting weapon options and the watered down version of exotics no longer really make them worth chasing in the way we used to before.
It may simply be because I am playing on the PS4 with friends that I am drawing the conclusion… but as I play Monster Hunter World I think about the ways that it has given me this path to madness paved with little incremental rewards. When you kill or trap a Monster you are hunting you are showered with a bunch of monster parts… some of which are useful and some of which are not as useful. The thing is, regardless if I have 50 of an item… I am still sorta excited to see them because I know that eventually I might need to use them to craft some new weapon that I then have to upgrade up to the final version. I might suddenly decide that Hammer is awesome and then have to start building up my collection of weapons much the same as I do for my beloved Longsword.
I know that every thing I kill, and every object in the world that I loot is taking me towards some bigger goal. The number of times that I have had to go out lately and farm herbs… one of literally the first items you encounter in the game… is shocking given that I am dealing with a completely different set of monsters than I did back then. However it doesn’t seem like tedium because they have placed value on almost everything you can encounter out in the wilds and while you may not need it today… there is likely going to be a time at some point in the future where you will be wishing you had more of it. While literally every moment I am not hunting a big epic monster is busywork… none of it feels like it because it feels valuable to the larger mission of the game.
While Destiny has never really had something close to this grind, I am thinking maybe it should. The central focus of all of this for me personally is the Smithy, which is a menu driven crafting system that allows me to turn all of these bits and pieces of critters I have taken down… and meld them into usable gear with interesting stat combinations. I’ve spent a good deal of time farming up Odogoron, which is a giant hairless blind hell hound looking thing. I personally really like its armor set and I want to be able to wield the full thing a a potential replacement for my mishmash of gear I am currently wearing. This gives me a goal, and the grind itself is slow enough that each kill feels like meaningful progress without ever giving me that landfall moment of getting everything I possibly need in a single round.
Imagine for a second if you had gear and weapons in Destiny based on a similar concept. Each time you took down the Fallen example, there was a chance of getting an item that could be used in the crafting of Fallen themed weapons or armor. The common items would drop from Dregs, medium rarity items from Vandals and the rare bits from Servitors and Walkers. Then say you wanted to craft the Vex Mythoclast you would need to maybe take down a Gate Lord to get the focusing lens, and a bunch of Minotaurs to get the armored housing. All of this is more meaningful than collect 40 of token Z and hope the RNG gods smile upon your en devour as you may or may not get the item you want from a relatively deep loot table. It also turns Banshee-44 into more than the Gachapon machine that he currently is, by giving him the actual ability to craft specific items for you.
What Monster Hunter World does better than almost anything is that it gives me a target for my nightly nonsense. Granted right now I cannot craft the Chrome Slicer I because I lack the zenny to do so…. but I know where every single piece that it requires drops from. I know that I can run loops around High Rank Wildspire Wastes for most if it, but to get the Fucium Ore I am going to have to make my way down into the Elder’s Recess. If I notice a weapon requires parts off of a specific monster I am given a bunch of different ways to target that one specific encounter and run it over and over if I so choose. In my case what I personally tend to do is answer SOS beacons for that specific encounter, feeling like I am actually helping out someone else in the community take down that critter for fun and profit as well.
More than anything what I think Monster Hunter World does so well is that it eases you into all of this. You quickly learn the value of the items you can grab out in the world as new patterns start showing up that you can craft. You notice that items have ??? beside some of the materials and it drives you to go out and explore until you find them. All of this creates a feedback loop of take down epic feeling monsters, get items, craft interesting gear… so you can take down even bigger monsters. Sure a lot of the gear is not strictly required… but for someone who is very gear focused it certainly makes the journey feel a lot more meaningful. The monster battle portion being fun enough that while I am actively engaged in fighting… I am not even thinking about what might drop which is not the case in most MMORPGs.
When they first started talking about Destiny 2 being a much more open world and quest driven game… this is honestly the sort of experience I had been envisioning. What if you could fight a Destiny boss the same way you do a Monster in Monster Hunter World? What if getting every player to focus on taking out a Gatelord’s weapon arm caused it to no longer be able to fire that weapon… and instead forced it to change up tactics and start engaging in melee attacks. What if the way you fought a boss mattered just as much as the weapons you took into the fight? When we got Destiny 2 and it was a stripped down version of what we had in Destiny 1… I was disappointed, but the mechanical loop of the game kept me engaged for way longer than the game itself probably deserved. I had enough hype built up to carry me through the console launch and restarting with the PC launch… but now I just don’t ever feel like even logging in.
What I want is a good grind. That doesn’t necessarily mean running Omnigul hundreds of times hoping that maybe just maybe you will get that one in a million perfectly stated Grasp of Malok. What that means for me personally is something that I can do on a nightly basis that feels like I am eventually heading towards some goal down the road. Maybe at some point in the near future I will feel like I am out of grinds in Monster Hunter World, but I can at least see a road map in front of me that seems like it is going to be an interesting ride. Right now I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of objectives that I could be chasing, and as I move up… it feels like the world keeps expanding out rather than narrowing down to a pin point like the raid cycle does in an MMORPG. Monster Hunter World is a really great grind, that is attached to a really fun experience of taking down giant monsters that fight in a fluid and believably organic manner. Maybe Bungie will find its footing at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying discovering the Monster Hunter franchise.