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.

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.