Bad Grind Good Grind

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I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

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The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

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.

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.

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.

Catfish Dargon

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

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

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

Barbecue Heroes

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

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

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

Bone Bunny Cat

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

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

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