Nergal Reaver



One of the more interesting things about Monster Hunter World is how your perspectives shift as you level through the game and ultimately get better at it.  There was a time during the pre-launch demo that I considered Great Jagras to be challenging, and now that encounter doesn’t even bear mentioning.  I’ve beaten that monsters several times before it even had a chance to run anywhere as a way of testing out new weapons.  Similarly I remember a time when Tobi Kadachi invoked fear in me, and now it is just a chill electrical squirrel lizard that I largely ignore unless I specifically need parts from it.  Similarly I used to run from Legiana and now…  if it really wants to start some shit I will end it.

So the question is… what changed?  Ultimately the answer is that I did.  Sure I have better gear but also I have a better understanding of each of those fights.  I also understand how the higher progressed players are always willing to take on whatever happens to be that fight that you are currently considering difficult.  I remember being terrified of Anjanath but just recently farmed it to help folks get tickets for the Aloy appearance and bow event.  It is all a matter of perspective and each time you move up in the game you reach a new plateau of difficulty… that tends to make everything below it pale in comparison.


This moves us forward to last nights activities.  Nergigante was one of those encounters that I never thought would ever reach a point where I was comfortable with it.  For me at least it was an extreme challenge to get through this fight when I needed it to move the story forward.  In the meantime I have been fighting other elder dragons, that in truth are way more annoying than Nergi or at least have the potential to be more annoying.  One of the weapons I have wanted in my elder dragon slaying arsenal is a Nergal Reaper…  which does some dragon elemental damage but more importantly has high elderseal.  This unfortunately would require me to farm Nergi… and that is just what I did last night.

Instead of throwing myself at this encounter solo… I decided on the nonsense option.  That means I threw myself at SOS roulette over and over until I farmed the components I needed from Nergigante.  This also means that there were more than a few times when a single newer player used up all of our faints and I failed at my mission.  However even then…  I walked away with a point of pride because during none of the MANY times I did this last night…  did I actually faint myself.  I managed to get in… deal significant amounts of damage with my new friend the poison blade and get out each time Nergi’s gaze turned to me.

Once again I had climbed to the top of the pile through repetition and experience…  and even more importantly perspective.  I’ve now fought things way harder than Nergigante and as a result the fight while mechanically the same seemed way easier.  This is the aspect of Monster Hunter World that I think I like more than any, the feeling that I grew as a player more than my character did.  Sure I am methodical when it comes to tackling new content, and sure I seem to be moving at a snails pace…  but I feel like I am continuing to move the needle forward.  Nergi has now entered the realm of things I feel comfortable farming…  which is good I guess since my friend Grace is sitting at that step in the process meaning the cycle continues.

The Stronghold Chasm



Last night I fell down an unexpected rabbit hole.  For a few weeks I have known that my good friend PizzaMaid has been dabbling in Neverwinter, but I did not actually know that we were apparently all playing on the same server until last night.  When I got upstairs to nom my noms and check into the world, I saw that she was streaming neverwinter.  Joining her were my friends and fellow Pom’s Wolfy, Jaedia and Starspun all logging in to run a dungeon in game.  We had some confusion earlier in the week as to which server we were all on, and I thought I remembered the name Dragon at some point.  Apparently yes we are all in fact on Dragon which allows us to do interesting things together.

I had my own renaissance of Neverwinter back in January as I installed and booted up the game on a whim.  For years I had been getting press releases about the game to my blogging/podcasting email and I guess over time it built up a desire to log in and see how things were going.  What I found when I got there was an extremely fun and also insanely intricate game…  that I struggled to grasp.  I already thought there was a wide chasm of features and functionalities that I did not quite understand…  but I was apparently only on the rim of said chasm.  Last night we full well opened the maelstrom and hopped right in.


One of the activities were partook of was forming a guild, so as of last night the Owlbear Preservation Society lives in Neverwinter with the aforementioned members as the inaugural group.  This unlocked the ability to start messing around with our Stromhold which is essentially the equivalent of the Guild Hall in Guild Wars 2.  Now I had been carrying around items that assisted in the function of a guild hall for ages, likely since the game originally launched.  The problem is I never actually had a guild to spend them on… so I spent the first few minutes of my time in our stronghold trying to figure out what to do with them.

It turns out you feed them to the mimic friend that we are all taking a screenshot with, and he then applies them to the various costs associated with building things back to their grand status.  I thought Guild Wars 2 had a pretty deep rabbit hole when it came to a guild hall… but this one might be deeper.  The problem is at this moment we have only barely scratched the surface and unlike Guild Wars 2… there are no really easy gains that can be applied and instead everything seems to be pretty slow to acquire.  Right now we are being directed to build a lumberyard, which seems to be capable of producing at least some of the materials we need to start crafting things.


Everything that is flagged with a green icon has a placard in front of it allowing us to build it.  I am guessing everything marked with a grey X is something that will eventually unlock… once we have built up a certain number of things in our Stromhold.  This is a really deep well we have fallen into and I am not entirely certain we will really make much headway.  The collection of items seems to be through “daily quests” of a sort that reset every 9 hours in the Stronghold.  I will not be playing actively enough to do these on cool down, however considering most of the activities are pretty chill I am likely to do a set of them each time I log in.

The biggest problem we have currently is the fact that there are only five of us and this seems to be a design feature that is intended to be sped through by mass amounts of players doing these and funding the building coffers.  I have no clue how wide this madness will spread, but I somehow doubt we will have a mass influx of players like we have had when a new game launches.  I might be wrong, but I am guessing this is going to be a pretty low key grind that takes place over several months.


As far as the rest of my play session, I managed to ding 41 and now that we have our stronghold… I can see that the level cap is 70.  The Stronghold itself is populated with tons of heroic encounters designed for a balanced group of players to go out and tackle which is fairly slick.  We downed a few of them and failed one major event largely because we didn’t really know what the purpose was until it was a bit too late.  It was a really fun night of nonsense and it has sparked my desire to poke my head into Neverwinter more often now that I am actually part of a guild.

Trapping Anjie


Watch PSO2 Nonsense because Sol requested it from Belghast on
Last night when I got home I fired up the stream and played a little Phantasy Star Online 2.  Over the weekend Sol made a comment over my Stream discord that I really should be streaming as I played…  I assume so she could see what the game was about.  The core problem with that is I am guessing based on some of the things I have seen is that the early game is very much not entirely like the late game.  One of the reasons why I loved PSO back in the Dreamcast days is that it was essentially “Space Diablo”.  Essentially you had a randomly assembled corridor dungeon crawler set on a series interesting tilesets that involved killing everything and getting loot drops as your reward.  This core design loop seems to be in place in PSO2, and while I absolutely knew what I was getting myself into…  I am not sure if most other gamers would view the title the same way I do.

There are certain aspects of the game that feel very dated from the relatively chunky terrain to the fact that everything is essentially a tightly closed in circuit.  Sure you can do more with your terrain than you used to be able to do…  like jump…  I don’t think you could jump in the first PSO.  This is actually used in many cases to hide secrets in the verticality of the level design… but as is also seen in a sequence in my VOD from last night it adds to frustration because the jumping mechanics are also relatively low fidelity.  There is a point where I am trying to jump between the individual islands of rock in a chain surrounded by lava, and I am constantly failing to hit the terrain at exactly the right spot allowing me to hop up onto the surface.  While the game is only five years old at this point… but in some ways it feels older.

One thing of note… it took me a bit to realize that my microphone was muted so for the first little bit of the VOD I am completely silent.  I was talking up a storm, describing the various things I was encountering…  all wondering why the folks watching were not responding.  Then I noticed the blinking red light on my Yeti telling me that I had muted it at some point.  I think I have this revelation about ten minutes into the video where I correct it and apologize.  I am not really sure how often I will be playing PSO2 but I am nonetheless glad I went through the process of installing it.  It is a fun game and the core mechanical loop of killing sci-fi monsters for fun and profit is one that I enjoy greatly.  Just not all that sure how fun it is to watch me doing this thing.


The tail end of my evening was spent in Monster Hunter World hanging out with my friend Grace and working on getting her the last few tickets needed for The Proving quest.  I had originally hoped to grab Thalen as well and help him out, but he was nowhere to be seen last night.  Generally speaking I am assuming he had pressing family matters, which I hear is a thing when you are a parent.  I mean I sometimes have pressing family matters too with my cats, but they are on I feel a completely different plateau of general needs.  Usually what I am dealing with is Kenzie prancing around in front of me trying to make sure I see the rubber band that she just dropped on my desk…  that she wants me to fling out into the hall so she can chase it.  If you ever hear the sound of a rubber band zinging through the air while I am streaming…  then I am doing precisely that.

The whole Anjanath farm thing had a side benefit in that I had really wanted to create Flammensucher the crazy flame axe that passes for a sword and shield.  During our final run of the night I managed to get the last of my fangs allowing me to craft it… and I have to say while I love it…  I am having a little bit of buyers remorse.  The problem is not the negative affinity, because it deals more than enough fire damage to make up for that.  The core problem so far is that it has completely horrible durability and I got down to orange sharpness while killing ten Gajau for an investigation.  I am used to being able to fight the boss through two changes of venue before dropping out of blue sharpness…  so this is a significant change for me to get used to.  The positive however is that the fire damage is still potent regardless of the base sharpness.


At some point I need to get back on the wagon and work towards downing the final boss of the game.  I’ve been sitting on that step since this weekend and have yet to really give it an attempt.  I think that is in part because I have a screenshot directory full of things that look like the above…  with me failing various elder dragon fights.  Granted I tend to fail upwards and learn from my mistakes, but it also takes a lot out of me.  This combined with the fact that I have zero burning desire to “finish the game” means I tend to languish around in the doldrums leading up to final boss fights most of the time.  My friends like Void/GrnMushroom have a deep burning desire to defeat games that propels them forward into throwing themselves against fights until they eventually batter them down.  Me… I just like to wander around and constantly find myself actively avoiding finishing things…  even in a situation like this where I know it is just the beginning of a whole new playstyle.

I do however want to uncap my level…  at least until 49 where I have to fight another roadblock…  and start farming elder dragons for bits and pieces to make interesting sets and weapons.  I really need to start throwing myself at Nergigante until he is no big deal and something I can down regularly.  The weird thing is…  I would far rather throw myself into the nonsense that is SOS Roulette most of the time than actually solo something in this game.  I am not sure what it is about soloing that feels bad to me, even though my palico does an amazing job of tanking the bosses and keeping me alive with a constant string of vigor wasps.  It just somehow feels better when I am running around at minimum with another player, and at best with a full party of varied weapons.

Sure it gets frustrating when folks are fainting and there is nothing you can do about it…  it even causes me to curse very loudly sometimes…  but the fights are interesting because I am having to deal with all sorts of random elements.  This weekend when I was attempting Teostra I was starting to feel like I needed to stop calling myself a positivity gamer given how much I was cursing.  However Sita hung out with me and we Duo’d the fight…  but even that took a few attempts.  Basically Monster Hunter World feels best when it is a game played with other players be they friends or completely random strangers.  As a result I doubt I will stop the madness of SOS Roulette any time soon.


Hiragana Boss



Saturday night on the Podcast we talked a bit about the things that were announced during the recent Nintendo Direct.  This caused me to veer off topic a bit and talk about Phantasy Star Online 2 that was announced during the Japanese only segment of the show.  There is apparently a new version of the game coming to the Nintendo Switch which I guess makes sense given that the game currently runs on the PS Vita as well as PC and PS4.  Since the Switch is a region free console… it made me wonder if maybe just maybe we would finally get to play this game.  Unfortunately though there would still be the language barrier and I somehow doubt I will be learning to read and understand Japanese before the release of the game.


Phantasy Star Online is an important game to me, because more or less I consider it to be my first real MMO.  I remember playing it for hours on the Dreamcast hooked in over the rather crappy dial up connection, eventually replacing it with the network adapter and a 50 ft ethernet cable run into my office.  I was serious about this game, enough so that I had a keyboard hooked up through a janky adapter to allow me to communicate with other players more easily.  If you are curious about where this screenshot comes from, there is another post on Aggronaut talking about getting the PC based Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst up and running.  That was another nonsense weekend project that I did some time ago and was able to flip back into playing a Cast Ranger almost as though no time had passed.

I have known for awhile that there was a way to play Phantasy Star Online 2 on the PC and that there was even the option of a good english patch.  However I was under the false assumption that it was complete insanity to get up and running.  It was around this point that Thalen reminded me that I did in fact go through some absolute insanity to get the Chinese exclusive Monster Hunter Online up and running on a whim, and that surely nothing else would be that amount of silliness.  I mean for that setup I had to fake a Chinese regional ID card…  so he had a point.  Probably unintentionally he started a thread in my mind that ultimately lead to me figuring out how to get PSO2 up and running yesterday morning shortly after editing the podcast.


The truth is it is pretty straight forward.  You need a couple of things to get it working and I will quickly run down those and how to actually make it work.  I highly suggest using Chrome for the right click translate option on pages… which will get you part of the way but will not help at all for images.

  • Direct X 9.0c – if you do not for some reason already have this.
  • A Sega ID – will talk about this more in detail.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 Setup – straight forward install that is unfortunately in japanese
  • PSO2 Tweaker – assists in configuration and applies english patches
  • You Need 53 GB of Space – this game is huge
  • Choose Ship 2 – this is the unofficial English community

The Hiragana Boss


The most crucial step here is setting up your Sega ID.  There are numerous resources that walk you through the process, for example I watched this video to get me started.  The truth is google translate can get you through most of this, but as the final step you are going to have to face what I call the Hiragana Boss.  The page has a captcha on it, but said captcha is not surprisingly in hiragana given that this is a Japanese market exclusive game.  They present you a sequence of handwritten characters and you need to respond in kind…  and for me at least I do not have my keyboard or windows configured to do this.  This mean’t I had to leverage a website that offered a keyboard and the ability to copy and paste characters from it.

I thought I was reasonable at pattern matching, and managed to get through the equivalent Chinese boss while doing my Monster Hunter Online nonsense.  However what makes this one so much more difficult is that people write characters slightly different than the perfect keyboard version.  Look at your own handwriting, when you create a lowercase h for example…  it is always going to be significantly different than a serif or sans-serif h on a keyboard.  It took me roughly fifteen attempts before I finally got the character sequence correct with a lot of trying to figure out where the “signpost” character was or which “L with an accent” was the one I needed to match up to the one I was seeing in handwriting.


If you can pass this test however you are essentially there.  The install itself was relatively straight forward and my only suggestion is to ignore the text on the install buttons and just pretend it is any other windows installer.  The final step is to install the PSO2 Tweaker pictured above and let it patch your game.  It runs through a long file system check and then prompts you asking if you want to install the English patch, which you likely do given that you have gotten this far in the guide.  The only thing of note is… this is a volunteer fan patch and as a result not every possible instance of Japanese is swapped to English, however from my experience the critical path seems to be allowing you to progress and even enjoy the story bits.  If you run into issues there is a fairly active Discord community where you can ask specific questions.


If everything went smoothly, you will be staring at the Character creation screen in no time.  I wound up creating a Cast Ranger like I played in PSO on Dreamcast, but you have a bunch of options that did not exist back then including the Summoner class.  At some point I plan on playing other things, but for the moment I am having a lot of fun with the Ranger which has a much wider skillset than the original.  Right now I have three weapons that I can swap back and forth between… the very familiar Assault Rifle, a semi-sniper/semi-rocket-launcher “Launcher” weapon, and an energy gunblade of sorts that lets me upper cut mobs into the air… and shoot them before they land.  I believe Ashgar was going to also do this nonsense and had planned on playing a Hunter so I will be curious to hear what his experience was as well.


For a game that released in 2012 it still holds up graphically pretty well.  There are scenes like the above screenshot that are just gorgeous…  and then there are scenes that absolutely feel a little dated.  In some ways I think the fact that they have tried to make the game feel so familiar to PSO1 players is what is holding the graphics back.  It is very much the same sort of game where you explore a closed circuit map that is connected to other maps by for lack of a better term zone borders.  If you played the original game it will be deeply familiar to you, and if you didn’t…  it is going to seem a bit limited.  So far there seems to be a big boss battle at the end of every “zone” which maps up pretty closely to the way the original PSO was as well.  I remember fighting some big dragon thing at the end of the forest area for example, and this time around it is a giant rock ape thing.


The game seems to have a ton of systems that I do not fully understand.  For example in the above image you see a blue and a green icon hovering above the ground.  These are harvest points…  but I am not entirely certain yet what I do with the things I harvest from them.  Some appear to be materials and others just ended up being food that I could get a buff from.  All in all though I had a lot of fun yesterday and now have PSO2 installed on both my gaming rig upstairs and my laptop downstairs.  I particularly like that you can shift the ranger into over the shoulder shooter mode which seems to fit most of the weapons available for that class turning it into a corridor shooter .  The nonsense wings I am wearing are from augments that the game gave me…  and thankfully the later upgrades I found were a little more low key.

I am sure over the coming weeks I will talk more about this game because the story is interesting…  but also a little crazy in that Persona series sort of way.  This morning I largely planned on writing out how I went about getting  connected for all the folks out there that are not a big fan of digging for information in YouTube videos.  It is not as silly a process as I feared and in truth other than the Hiragana boss it really is no harder than getting signed up for any other online account.  If I had even the most rudimentary understanding of Japanese it would have been significantly easier.  I have a feeling Ashgar for example… who has actually taken some courses will be able to breeze through the part that stalled me for a bit.  So far it appears to be a really fun game that is free to play, and while I see places where I could be spending money I have not really encountered the need to (nor do I think I can even figure out how to put money on my account).


Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle



Last night was all about Monster Hunter World as I had made plans ahead of time to run around with Grace and do the various events.  First out of the gate we worked on the Wiggler quest that grants this truly questionable helm.  It truly is the stuff of nightmares and honestly would have been a pain in the butt had we not realized that you could register multiple wiggler catches at once.  We quickly fell into a pattern of sneaking up on the wigglers and getting one in our sights… then coordinating over voice a 3, 2, 1, GO! to capture both at the same time.  Sure it took three shots at the quest to get all of the tickets needed to craft this monstrosity but here we go…  I have a goofy helm that I wasted some zenny on crafting and will likely never actually use.

From there we spent some time doing the “The Proving” quest that involves killing a fairly beefy high rank Anjanath.  We ran into all sorts of problems with PSN connectivity which made it significantly more challenging than normal.  Throughout the night I kept getting disconnected from the quest with a “Left Quest” message.  At first Ash suggested that Grace was just going off and leaving us… but I think it was more than that considering Ash and Mor both got punted out of the mission after having successfully joined with no ability to get back in.  We struggled through two kills and called the process done for the moment moving on to other things.


Grace is in that awkward in-between step where she is officially a High Rank player… but still is using a significant amount of low rank gear.  Considering her next quest is the Pink Rathian, that is probably something she needs to fix and as a result we farmed Zorah Magdaros a bit for parts.  I am still to this day wearing the Zorah gloves for the hidden element ability, and honestly its an easy farm considering the event mostly just finishes itself.  Now when I was farming this I SOS Rouletted my way into full groups that allowed us to quickly complete the event which for those who need Zorah bits is a completely viable option.  The biggest challenge I ran into… and why I kept running it was that Zorah is super stingy with gems which are unfortunately needed for the gauntlets.

As far as starter High Rank gear goes… I am way more in favor of the Alpha Bone set because it has a lot of good stuff as well as 10 fire, 10 dragon and I believe 10 lightning resistance.  All total to craft the full Bone Armor set you need…  12 Quality Bone, 10 Monster Bone +, 2 Warped Bone, 3 Monster Bone L, 3 Boulder Bone, 3 Coral Bone, and 3 Ancient Bone.  Basically you need to kill a few big monsters and run amok harvesting bone piles in most of the zones to get it.  The end result gives you a set with Health Boost, 3x Attack Boost, 3x Entomologist, Slugger, Horn Maestro, and Master Fisher.  Not all of those are winners…  but Entomologist can be super useful if you are farming bug parts.  All of that said I still think its a great starter set for High Rank shenanigans.


The highlight of the evening however was getting a Tailrider Safari with Grace’s Neutrino and PizzaMaid’s Aria.  Normally I just send Tailriders out from my room back in Asteria, but for this combination I made the trek to the Research Base so I could get the cutscene.  I am also realizing that I need to trade cards with Pizza and Grace because neither of them are actually using these outfits anymore.  The PS4 always has a bit of a delay when you attempt to take a screenshot so I am super happy that I was able to catch a decent one of this party going out to fight.

Tonight however I am thinking about kicking back and streaming some Final Fantasy XV on the PC… all depending on how well today goes.  I will be in training and in theory will have homework tonight because I am going through one of those cram session courses.  As a result my brain may be too broken to do anything interesting.

Bunny Fail Tank Returns



I’ve talked about this a bit in the past, but I have struggled with Final Fantasy XIV since finishing the Stormblood main story.  I am not exactly sure why, but after leveling my Warrior through the questing process…  and then grinding up a Samurai I bounced.  When I say I bounced… I bounced hard.  I just stopped logging in entirely and even didn’t care enough to log in for most of the major holiday events that have gone on.  At one point I made an attempt to get back into the game and pushed through the new MSQ content right up until I reached the Drowned City of Skalla.  I could not bring myself to tank that with a random group and I told myself… I would wait until I had friends around to run it with me.  That event never happened and I got distracted by a bunch of games in the meantime.

The problem with this is that it sort of set up an artificial barrier between me and the content.  It was as though I had some sort of a mental block preventing me at just throwing myself at content the way I used to be willing to.  I knew I needed something severe to get me off high center and back into caring about what was going on in Final Fantasy XIV.  There used to be a time when I willing to log in each night and run experts with completely random groups of players from the roulette system.  However I developed some sort of barrier against doing that… one that I think was slowly chipped away given how freely I am willing to do my “SOS Roulette” nonsense in Monster Hunter World.

Watch Sleep Deprived Bel tries to remember how to Fail Tank in FFXIV from Belghast on
As a result last night I used the presence of an audience as a bit of a kick in the butt to get me back into Final Fantasy XIV and doing dungeon content again.  I streamed for a little over two hours and in that time I believe I ran four dungeons and made some progress in the MSQ afterwards.  In truth were it not for the MSQ slowing the pace down significantly…  I might have streamed longer throwing myself at more dungeons for gear currency.  I managed to pick up a chestpiece with tokens and now feel like maybe I can do this thing and catch my gear levels up to something reasonable.  At the start of the night I was 313 item level and by the end I edged it up a bit to 315.  Skalla and the next set of patch dungeons all drop gear that is an incremental upgrade, as well as some tasty tasty currency.  Basically at this point I need to reach a state where I can start doing expert roulette again to play catch up.


After taking a break from streaming and FFXIV I hopped over to Monster Hunter World for awhile and spent some time running nonsense with Grace.  I have been mostly running hammer when we are doing stuff, because it is a weapon that I like quite a bit… and one that I want to get better at using.  There are definitely times when I am fighting something that it feels like having something more than a longsword in my arsenal would help greatly.  We took down a Squirrel Blimp and I managed to unlock the third of my elder dragons while she ran around trying to find the Great Girros.  I was not in terribly long as I was already in a fairly sleep deprived state from the previous nights fragmented sleep schedule due to the launch.  All in all though it was a pretty great night and I want to thank everyone that stopped by to tune in and chat with me.  Also huge thanks to Solaria who actually joined my discord and hung out with me while I eased my way back into Final Fantasy XIV.  It’s fun lobbing comments at text messages scrolling across twitch chat, but it is even more fun when you have someone hanging out in chat to talk to over voice as well.

Frying Pans and Nora Braves



Over the last few days I have had a hankering to play some State of Decay.  This was a game that I originally started playing on the Xbox 360, then picked up when it was eventually released on the PC.  When the Year One Survivor Edition came out I picked that up too…  as well as buying it for a friend that I thought would enjoy it.  Since I had not actually tried streaming from my Xbox One, I decided to pick the game up on that platform and give it a go.  Basically Undead Labs is an awesome developer and I have no problem supporting them by picking it up on multiple platforms.  We don’t officially have a release date for State of Decay 2…  but based on the trickle of activity I am hoping we get some more news soon.  My hope is the sequel takes everything that worked well about the first game, but adds in the ability to hang out and explore the zombie filled landscape with friends.

Watch Hanging out playing some State of Decay YOSE on Xbox One from Belghast on
So as a result last night I fired up the stream while testing out a few new screen elements and bashed some zombies.  If you are for any reason interested you can check out the Twitch VOD here (or click the embedded player above thanks to Jaedia), but it involved a lot of me stumbling around trying to figure out what to do and a few gloriously brutal deaths.  I also may or may not have run over the NPC that was following me around and bashing things with a frying pan.  The kinda cool thing last night is I had a bunch of folks that were completely different from what I would consider the normal crew of people who take pity on me and hang out while I stream.  It’s really bizarre for me to have someone pop in the channel that I don’t actually know.  It was a surprising amount of fun to just hang out and publicly fail at playing a video game.


Right now I don’t have much in the way of stamina as far as “being on” goes.  I lasted a little bit over an hour before needing to go do something else with less of an audience for a bit.  I am not sure if it was just that I was tired dying in State of Decay and wanted to play something else for awhile, or if I was tired of interacting.  I need to sort out a proper way to swap games when I am just not feeling the one I am playing, because in truth I wound up logging into Monster Hunter World and farming content and it would have been nice to have a little company doing so.  I originally logged in with the goal of doing a little SOS Roulette, but noticed a note in the Login Bonus about the Aloy event going live.  For those who are curious, the quest is titled “The Proving” and shows up under events as a 6 Star High Rank mission that requires the player to be Hunter Rank 11, so you may need to do a little bit of progressing to get there.

There are two pieces to the set, a full suit of armor similar to the Ryu gear that literally transforms you into the Aloy character model.  Additionally there is a version of Aloy’s bow that can be upgraded to a Rarity 7 weapon with some elder dragon bits.  The gear can be upgraded a total of 10 times allowing it to remain fairly relevant for a long while.  If you want to craft the gear you are looking at collecting the following….

Aloy Armor

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 4 – Obtained from Event Quest
  • Anjanath Pelt+ – 14
  • Anjanath Nosebone+ – 6
  • Anjanath Gem – 1
  • 30,000 Zenny

Aloy’s Bow

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 2
  • Anjanath Fang+ – 3
  • Monster Keenbone – 5
  • Anjanath Plate – 1
  • 16,000 Zenny

Aloy’s War Bow – Upgrade to Rarity 7

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 3
  • Anjanath Scale+ – 7
  • Elder Dragon Bone – 3
  • Wyvern Gem – 1
  • 32,000 Zenny


Now it should be noted that the only part of this that you absolutely have to collect during the event are the Nora Brave Trophies which drop at least one per mission… and there was one time I lucked out and got four in one shot.  The rest of the bits can be gained from either normal High Rank Anjanath hunts or in the case of the upgrade by taking down Elder Dragons to get those bones.  I ran the mission a total of five times last night and got everything I needed to craft both the base rarity 5 bow and the rarity 5 armor.  The cool thing about this is that it not only makes you look like Aloy… but you also MOVE like Aloy.  Not really sure how to describe it other than that, because it feels like you are playing Horizon Zero Dawn set in the Monster Hunter World setting.  I have no clue how long this event is going to run, but personally I knocked mine out doing good ole SOS Roulette.  That said more than willing to help folks get their parts if they need them.  Honestly I might farm it a bunch while it is available because it seems to be a really good way to get High Rank Anjanath parts.


Angry Spiky Boy



Before I start this mornings post I have a deep burning question for my readers that may be more in tune with the Monster Hunter lore than I am.  What are the flags representing that are displayed in Astera?  There is one more banner that is not displayed in this screenshot that makes up the main sail of the ship I happen to be standing on currently.  The only theory I have right now is that maybe that sail is the banner of the first fleet, and then each additional flag from left to right is the other four fleets?  The symbols are the ones that we see on the loading screen, but those literally mean nothing to me…  but I am guessing they are part of the monster hunter lore?  The most prominent one that we see on a regular basis is the Sapphire Star displayed on the far right banner which sorta lead me to believe that maybe it is the symbol of the fifth fleet that we are part of.  I’ve poked around a little bit online but have not really seen much talk of this heraldry.

As far as activities of the night, we spent a bit of time fighting with the multiplayer systems.  I was under the impression that if I logged in and joined the squad session…  that would be something easy for other squad members to do.  However as the evening drug on we realized that all of us had done this thing…  and we were in two completely different squad sessions.  There were two players in one and four players in the other… so nowhere near the session cap of 16.  Making life even more challenging was the fact that the group of two could not join the group of four without getting a network error.  The four of us in the first session had to join the newer session, so it makes me wonder…  do sessions eventually time out or something of the sort?


Mor and I spent a good deal of time farming nonsense, before a few of us decided on trying to get past the Nergigante roadblock.  Ash had recently arrived at that step in the quest, and Kodra with a little bit of leg work was able to get there as well.  So the three of us combined with Tam decided to make a few attempts last night.  For the uninitiated, Nergigante is a fight where you simply cannot get hit.  There is a one two punch move that he pulls off that first stuns you in place and then decimates you.  If your team members are fast enough they can throw some crystal burst at him to distract him from pummeling your friends.  However we were not always fast enough.  The above screenshot is of Nergi just about to pound poor Ashgar into the ground.


Similarly here is a screenshot of him completely wrecking my world.  The problem is you have three faints before the quest fails, and unfortunately things seem to go from “perfectly fine” to “oh god why” at a moments notice.  I’ve been told that this fight is a little bit more predictable solo with only you and your Palico to worry with and the buffer of two faints for yourself instead of having to share a pool for the entire group.  I will probably try this thing tonight, but whatever the case the fight feels really stressful because I simply cannot get in and deal much damage before needing to roll out to safety.  At first I wondered if ranged fighters had a better time of it…  but since I have been playing bow quite a bit lately for fun…  I am guessing not.  The biggest problem I personally have with bow is the lack of ability to dodge out of the way in the same manner as I do with longsword.

I’ve been on high center for the last two weeks and would really like to move past Nergi and on to other fights.  So in theory tonight if I actually make it home from the current icemageddon, I will likely spend the evening working on trying to get through this one on my own.  In other interesting news… Byf has started releasing lore videos for Monster Hunter World.  The first one came out yesterday and talks about the fall of what seems to be a pretty technologically advanced civilization that existed in the Monster Hunter universe before the current relatively primitive one we have currently.  Byf and Myelin were a good deal of what made the original Destiny so special for me, because they dug deep into the lore and assembled the fragments into a cohesive narrative.  I am hoping that Byf can do the same for Monster Hunter seeing as I am coming in so late into the series.  There is clearly a bunch of interesting stuff here, and I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Bludgeoned with Adorable



I have been a horrible person and should feel bad.  One of the usual suspects missing from the Monster Hunter madness has been my good friend and often partner in crime…  Grace.  Her original line of logic was that she was going to wait until the PC release, and I was largely cool with that because when I started playing Monster Hunter World I absolutely intended to do what I did with Destiny 2.  That is to restart when the PC version came out and focus on that from that point forwards as my primary platform.  However the longer I have played Monster Hunter World the more I have doubted if I could actually do this thing.

Quitting Destiny 2 on the console and restarting on PC felt like it was a no brainier… and at the end of the day I was not really giving that much up.  However I already feel way more attached to what I have on Monster Hunter World than I ever did to a handful of weapons that I easily regained the moment I started grinding things out again on Destiny 2.  The other core problem is the fact that there is no announced date for Monster Hunter World for the PC.  When I decided to restart Destiny 2 only a month had passed since the launch of the console versions, and really…  it allowed me to redo all of those things I maybe should have done differently.


When Monster Hunter World finally launches on the PC something along the lines of six months or more will have passed and that is more than enough time to get acclimatized to a game and pass the threshold of being willing to give all of that up to go elsewhere.  In part Monster Hunter World feels more like an MMORPG than Destiny 2 did, and those are the sort of games that you really move into.  I love my gear and my weapons and having to give all of that up would feel extremely alienating.  While I might have every intent of trying out the PC release, I have a feeling I would bounce pretty hard without my stuff.  Now in Destiny 1 I reached this point and it was in part why I had so much struggle getting any measure of traction on the Xbox One client.  I am not saying never to Monster Hunter World on the PC…  just that I doubt it will become my primary platform over night.

As a result Mor and I have been waging this guerilla campaign of deluging Grace with pictures of Palicos and Poogie.  Last night for example I sent her the above image of the two Palicos in my room playing harp music for me.  I think the final straw that broke her with adorable…  is when I sent one of the Tailrider Safari cutscenes.  Whatever the case she relented and downloaded the game last night, installing it and joining the madcap community of folks playing Monster Hunter World.  When she first started Destiny I made the mistake of trying to drag her around to experience all of the content that I loved.  However this wound up with a really choppy experience so for the most part I am going to be around to answer questions, but try my level best to just let her experience this game.


That is not to say that shortly after taking down the Great Jagras I did drag her through a Kulu-Ya-Ku kill for completely “pure pure” reasons as PizzaMaid would say.  The Great Jagras costume for palicos is not exactly a good one… so instead I figured that a single kill of Kulu would get her more than enough parts to make that set of armor for her Palico so she could begin the process of dressing it in increasingly ludicrous costumes.  As a result she is now the proud owner of a lute wielding fake moustache cat, and I think the barbs of the hook are officially set.  The game is completely nonsense but has a charm to it that is undeniable once you experience it.  I also think that while taking down that Jagras, she got a taste of the other side of the coin that makes the game super fun to experience.

Regardless…  I should feel bad by bludgeoning my friend over the head with adorable pictures from the game until she caved.  However I don’t really because this is absolutely the sort of game that she would love and was only waiting for an undetermined PC release date that might see her playing alone.  For awhile I had said that Horizon Zero Dawn was worth every penny of buying a PS4 just to play it.  I feel like Monster Hunter World is also sort of in that category, with the exception being that it also exists on Xbox One.  The problem there is…  my core base is on PS4 and as a result I see very little reason to play anything but the scant exclusives on the Xbox platform.  Most Xbox exclusives eventually see a PC release apart from Forza and Halo, and in the grand scheme of things at least in that scenario I would rather wait.  PS4 is my console and ecosystem of choice and I am pretty happy about that.

The Good Grind



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.