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.

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.


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.


Bathtubs and Nonsense



I’ve been partaking in some serious nonsense of late, not the least of which has been Dragon Quest Builders… and streaming me playing Dragon Quest Builders.  I figured I would lead off with this screenshot because it is absolutely amazing.  My townsfolk decided to build me a bath tub…  which I immediately installed in my private master suite.  So the funny thing about Twitch in its most modern incarnation is…  it makes it silly easy to be an Affiliate.  From the moment you start streaming it starts ticking off little achievements, which in some bizarro world way made me want to get them.  One of them is called “Path to Affiliate” and it shows up as a little quest of sorts in the sidebar of the achievements page.  It includes…

  • Stream 8 hours in the last 30 days
  • Stream for 7 unique days in the last 30 days
  • Reach 3 average viewers in the last 30 days
  • Reach 50 followers

The last one was easy because I have had my account so damned long that I have more than 50 pity follows at this point if nothing else.  In theory once you qualify and get that achievement checkmark… you are done.  Lately I have been dabbling around with streaming, and one by one each of the boxes got checked… and now I am apparently an affiliate.  I am not entirely certain why I did this thing, but it happened.  Now I actually sorta want to try and come up with a proper schedule, which is super difficult because with my managerial duties my arrive home time is super variable, as is whether or not I feel like playing any games in “live” mode.


This did force me to contemplate what would happen if someone actually subbed to me.  As a result I named them appropriately to attempt to encourage people that this is not a thing that they should actually do.  I keep expecting Twitch to lower some hammer on me for discouraging people from giving them money.  Basically I would feel super awkward to actually take any money from anyone.  This is mostly a thing I did for myself… and in part because it will allow me to create a spiffy twitch emojii if I so choose.  I am not even sure what else Affiliate includes otherwise, mostly it was just…  a thing I felt like doing because it was available.

Now however I find myself involved in all sorts of other nonsense as a result.  I talked yesterday a bit about StreamLabs OBS… or SLOBS as apparently people are calling it…  why people why.  I’ve also been dabbling with their custom Chatbot that is apparently what happened when they gobbled up Ankhbot.  As a result I now have the beginnings of a custom channel bot named MrAggroBot that will do some of the basic functionality you see in chat bots… and at least in theory also works on Discord.

Similarly I have set up a “BelStreamTime” Discord with the sole purpose of joining it while streaming, and as a result allowing anyone else who cares to hang out with me join as well.  I realize no one actually needs a new discord to join…  but I also did not want to dirty up any of the other discords I am part of with my streaming nonsense.  The highlight of the night had to be getting everything actually working so that the Chatbot joined my quickie Twitch test stream, accepted commands and also announced that I went live through the Discord.  It was more proof of concept than anything useful but I sorta felt like Doctor Frankenstein bringing life into the world…  if that life was complete and utter nonsense.


As far as doing actual gaming stuff…  I grouped up with Grace and took down some low rank monsters.  I never really reached the point where I farmed Low Rank content the way I now do High Rank, and as a result I am missing a ton of parts to make lower level items required to make the higher level versions.  I’ve been working slowly on building a Tobi Kadachi Longsword for its lightning damage, and we wound up farming Tobi a bunch of times for parts.  From there we started doing more esoteric hunts, like an Anjanath and a Pukei Pukei with a 30 minute timer in which I tried to hammer.  I am not exactly completely effective as hammer, but it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I apparently completely phased out the fact that Tam was trying to invite me to a party and wound up heading to bed around 9:20.  It was a fun night, but also one where I did a bunch of silly things with minimal use to anyone.  So yeah… I am apparently a Twitch Affiliate now and am starting to build up the infrastructure needed to do “stuff and things” on that platform.


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.

Delightful Nonsense



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.


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.


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

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

A Social Weekend



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…


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.


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.