Angry Spiky Boy

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Monster Hunter Online

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There are times I do things that don’t make sense at all…  but am nonetheless compelled to do them anyways.  Last night was one of those nights and the madness that my brain was targeting involved seeing if I could actually get Monster Hunter Online installed and running.  I had decided that I would end up hanging out with my wife last night and watching some olypmics while she graded, which meant I would be losing access to my beloved Monster Hunter World.  I mean sure I could play it through PS Remote Play but the experience degrades so drastically since I am used to playing it on a 4K display in HDR.  Early in the evening I had stumbled onto a video by Arekkz from June of 2016 where he attempted playing the game.  This for whatever reason  triggered something in my brain wanting to try it, much like I will sometimes devote way too much effort to trying to emulate something that I have sitting in my closet.

The first problem is that there are plenty of guides out there for playing Monster Hunter Online.  The key problem with each of them is that they involve downloading some random package of binaries from either a file dump website or in some cases google drive.  I do not trust downloading a “verified good” client from somewhere I don’t know as the originating source of the file.  Basically that ruled out all of those options and left me sorting out the steps by myself.  Essentially the step to get up and running look a little something like this.

  1. Register a QQ Account – this is essentially the Tencent version of AIM and has a really weird profiling system that includes details like asking you for your blood type which is not creepy at all.  I filled out only the minimum of information and found it hilarious that the QQ version of the Twitter Egg icon…  is a crying baby.  Apparently all Tecent games are driven by the QQ account and this will be a numerical address combined with a password.  SAVE THIS NUMBER… there is apparently no great way to recover an account.
  2. Download WeGame – WeGame is the Tencent version of Steam for lack of a better term for it.  There is no english version so you are ultimately going to be flying blind here.  All of the categories are in chinese except for FPS and MMORPG.  Since what we are looking for is an MMORPG it was pretty easy to select that category and find the Monster Hunter Online logo shown above to start the download process.
  3. Download Monster Hunter Online – there will be what appears to be an obvious download button when you find Monster Hunter Online in the menu.  This seems to download the game in the background…  so the process will show up in Task Manager but won’t actually be a window you can flip over to through Alt-Tab or through the task bar.  I have really fast internet so it did not take long at all…  but it involves two downloads one that is around 9 gb and another that is around 15 gb so it may take forever for you.
  4. Launch Monster Hunter Online – when the game finally finishing installing which is an awkward and largely blind experience… it will show up in the left hand bar of the WeGame client.  All the while it is downloading there will be what is the Monster Hunter Online theme playing in the background…  that you can literally do nothing about.  How I determined it was finished… was when the music went away.  Immediately upon launching the game you will be presented with the next hurdle.
  5. Fake a Chinese ID – You will immediately be presented with a page from QQ stating that the game cannot be played without some sort of national Chinese ID.  This was not super surprising because when you attempt to play a lot of South Korean games you run into a similar problem.  The difference here is that apparently the Chinese ID is an amalgam of a birthdate, region codes, and some randomized number all with a check bit to verify that it is “official”.  As result there are tons of places online that offer you a generator to create your own.  The one I linked is the one that worked for me… and quite honestly since I do not read chinese we engaged in a bit of pattern matching.  You will need to make sure that you match up the names of the regions in both the generator and the client and unfortunately google translate only goes so far.  I went with Bejing and what looked to be the most distinct pattern that I was able to match in both locations.  SAVE THIS NUMBER.
  6. Plug Code into QQ Page and Pray – The page that popped up when you launch Monster Hunter World should still be sitting there in the background, and for me at least I was able to pop that code into the box, hit submit and it worked first attempt. Your mileage may vary especially depending on your pattern matching skills on the earlier steps.
  7. Relaunch Monster Hunter Online – If everything worked you will now be able to play Monster Hunter Online and have the same fun I did guessing what the buttons actually do in the character creation system.  I managed to limp through the process of creating a character by guessing the logic that was used.  On the lower left hand side there is a menu that appears to be some sort of a batch of presets…  and then the button beside it to the right appears to be some sort of a confirmation that takes you to a prompt in the center of the screen that lets you name your character and enter the world.  It accepted my english named character without any problems.

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The next question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you should actually do this thing I just explained to you how to do.  The short answer is no… you should not.  You should really just stick to playing Monster Hunter World and waiting for the eventual PC release.  The positive take away from last night is that I have a fully functional QQ account and will be able to play things that get released by Tencent in China if I so care to at some point.  The bad part however is that the game is not great.  Sure it sorta looks like Monster Hunter but more importantly it FEELS nothing like Monster Hunter World.  If I did not know this was a purposeful collaboration between Capcom and Tencent I would have assumed the game was yet another asset flip mobile game because it is not pretty.

You are treated to this opening cutscene where some monster type I have never seen crashes into your airship.  All the while the monster is clipping through the airship and as you begin to crash land the ship itself randomly clips in and out of the mountain side.  When you finally get to ground level you have to fight yet another monster that I don’t recognize… but it could have been an overly stylized version of a Rathian.  During this fight you are provided with MMO style telegraphs on the ground to denote where the monster is going to attack.  These show up well before the actual animation sequence starts taking out a bit of the fun of playing Monster Hunter in the first place which is reading the monsters attacks.

I am not sure if everyone starts out as longsword but I lucked into that allowing me to try out a weapon that I already understand the attack patterns of which helped me get acclimatized quickly.  In the grand scheme of things the attacks were all recognizable and worked much the same as if I had been using a controller.  The equivalent of my Triangle attack was on the left mouse button and the equivalent of my R2 attack was on the right mouse button… with the short jab circle attacks being tied to E.  Z for whatever reason became the interact/harvest key which is only explained after you encounter your first herb plant to harvest.  You are not really given enough time after your first actual monster encounter to harvest the corpse.

It was playable but the post tutorial interface was clogged with tons of cash shop functionality that I never could figure out how to get rid of.  It was around the time I arrived in the first town that I finally decided to just stop playing and find something better to do with my evening.  The game did not feel great and the visuals felt cheaply thrown together and appear to be vastly different than the original images I saw from the first versions of the game.  The game appears to have been stylized a bit more away from the traditional Monster Hunter vibe, and in doing so the appearance and experience seems to have been cheapened significantly.

At the end of the day I highly suggest you not do the thing that I did last night.  I still felt largely compelled to explain how I did it though in case someone wanted to follow in my footsteps.  This methodology allows you to go to the original sources and get the actual files instead of hoping and praying that some google drive share doesn’t give you a bit coin mining virus.  I could not get any of the screenshots I took last night working, so instead I had to harvest a few from the interwebs for the purpose of this post.  Ash warned me away from this madness but sometimes I just feel compelled to do stupid things.

[Edit – 2/15/2018 – 10 am]

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After posting this…  Ashgar suggested that in fairness I should at least namedrop Dauntless here.  Right now it is in fact a PC based Monster Hunter like game available in closed beta.  To get into that said beta however you either need to be a media personality/streamer of some note…  or to pay for it.  There are varying levels of access that start at $40 and end at $80 (that used to be $100 and the way you got into alpha).  I’ve played this briefly at Pax South a few years back but can’t really speak to the state of the game.  If you are interested I would suggest you check out the video by Skill-Up that I will link below.  His take is that the game has promise, but it is not really a replacement for Monster Hunter yet.  So I return to my original advise of just waiting for World to be released on the PC.

 

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.