Tag Archives: MMO

Monster Hunter World: There is no enough

I’m struggling hard to be the jungle-swinging-dino-killer and attentive boyfriend with a game that demands chunks of my life with no brakes. You cannot pause the game and go see what it she needs. I’m stressing as I rush to try and finish what I’m doing or find a bush to hide in for a while before she walks back in the living room wanting to throw what she needed at me. First world problems.

As worthless as it is to say, I’ve felt guilty I’ve been absolutely drawn into Monster Hunter: World. Most especially for my girlfriend who has futilely attempted to grasp my attention over the sounds of pissed off dinosaurs being slashed at with an axe that morphs into a giant sword. Without saying more, there were conversations and alterations made.

The core of World, like nearly every other entry in the franchise, is a slow and steady grind towards apathy. It’s a grind Destiny 2 or MMO players are well acquainted with, for example. The siren call for better, prettier gear channeled through the challenge of addictive battle keeps the wheel moving.

 

Unlike Destiny 2, World offers continued challenge through free downloadable content in the form of new monsters and new, flashy things to wear. Yes there is stupid DLC like $3 gesture packs (to make your avatar do a specific emote like Ryu from Street Fighter’s hadoken), but there isn’t any paid DLC that directly involves itself into the ever spinning wheel.

If you’re new to Monster Hunter as a franchise, this is the definitive starting place. While its past handheld entries will always be held close to my heart (bye 3Ultimate, 4Ultimate, Generations), so many concessions have finally been made in world that to go back would be a very noticeably different experience.

It’s also a game obsessed with numbers. Lots of numbers and bits of miscellaneous information that may or not be important to you at any given time but it’s still important to know regardless. World does its absolute best to ease you into the game’s very intimidating amount of information (most of which won’t really be relevant until you reach the High Rank stage anyway).

There is a routine, a flow to things you’ll be expected to do automatically before the start of every quest: Visit your box, dump the crap you don’t need and organize your field inventory; Visit the canteen and eat food (always!); visit the forge and see what you need built to tackle your next challenge; go craft new consumable items and make sure you’re well equipped in potions, food and buffs; check on your farmers who cultivate combine-able items for you each time you leave the village. Suffice to say, there is a lot of shit to keep track of. It just goes on and on.

 

Your first 10 hours hunting will probably be intimidating then a sudden jump to bad-ass. This is all before you realize that really hard T-Rex you’ve been fighting 10 times was a weaker version of one you’ll be seeing more often with flying dragons. But by that point, any hunter worth their salt loves those kinds of parties.

I definitely could waste a lot of your time rambling about the similarities and minute differences World improves upon its predecessors, but the simple thing to say is the game wants to constantly keep you busy and out in the field as much as possible. Like nearly 24/7 – 365 busy. Yeah, like I said there are a lot of things to keep track of when at home but things like the wishlist system automatically tell you mid-game when you’ve collected all the components needed for something; which beats in the past having to endlessly visit the blacksmith to double check info.

There is a gradual rise and sense of progression to things also. While the physical gear is the literal representation of leveling up here learning how monsters operate and their place within the food chain is also invaluable knowledge. Fights easily break down to demonstrations of skill over gear. You can wear the best equipment the game can provide and still get your head smashed in if you’re careless.

 

When playing online the group is afforded a limited number of re-spawns per mission. Each KO is a significant blow to not just the team but even your purse at the end. There is a definitely thrill when running with the top dogs hunting the baddest of the bad, because you’ll need to rely on your partners and watch their backs more than you may want to. However it also drags having to keep the weakest link alive when their doing their damnedest to die.

On that note, I would highly recommend new hunters hold off on multiplayer for a while. Not out of some plea to keep scrubs off our sessions but because you genuinely learn a great deal more facing monsters on your own than relying on high power strangers to save your ass. Studying monster movement, behavior, and their place within the food chain is crucial wisdom.

 

With all that said: I’m not convinced World will change the minds of people adverse to the grind. Because let me reiterate: there is a grind. The game is the grindGRINDING. Because just beating a monster isn’t enough, you must also cover yourself head to toe in it. However, World easily comes off as one of those quality-of-life games where it just becomes a routine. You hop on for an hour, either do a few hunts or wander around picking shit up. You learn a little something new one day, and eventually the game just opens itself up to you.

This all comes at a heavy time investment. There is no dipping your toe in the game. You must go balls deep. When firing this up, it’s demanding every bit of your attention until you’re sleepy little eyes safely save the game back in town. It’s creed may as well be come correct or not at all. For those up for the challenge, welcome to your new addiction.

 

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Case For/Against – The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

The concept was pretty cool: take the massive role-playing experience provided by the likes of Skyrim and convert it to a MMO in hopes of creating a more narrative-flexible MMO in a genre that’s typically inflexible. Much like Star Wars: The Old Republic tried this last, and Elder Scrolls Online tried to cash in on a single-player franchise and apply it to it’s total opposite. It’s was a gambit that fell relatively flat quickly, despite early praise, and (also like Old Republic) quickly went free-to-play surviving off initial purchases and its atypical in-game store.

Tamriel Unlimited is among the first (Neverwinter having the distinction of being the first MMO on next-gen consoles) in likely many more console-headed MMOs. It controls and plays admirably on a controller, especially in a genre that features many nuances requiring key-logged macros, but things work pretty well. I can’t speak for the experience as a whole. Full disclosure I’ve never been a huge fan of MMOs. The last two I voraciously consumed were City of Villains and the first Guild Wars. I found myself chronically wanting to assault people in real life during my very, very brief stint with World of Warcraft, and after that effectively gave up on the genre until my next very, very brief stint with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach talking about this game, so I’m just going to do this in the most simplistic way I can:

Pros

On the plus side, if you’re a big time Elder Scrolls fan whose been playing since the days of Dagerfall, it’s a treat to finally explore the whole world of Tamriel. Finally getting to see the likes of Elsweyr or Black Marsh was pretty cool. Especially after just having only read about them in in-game lore for several years. Maybe these will also be locations I’ll one day fully explore in a single-player setting since playing online felt like a non-stop chore.

I digress, to Elder Scrolls Online’s credit the world looks really good and true to Elder Scrolls’ fantasy design (though generic it might be anyway). Also the character creation system is pretty damn flexible. From the character creator itself, which allows very detailed avatars, to the build of the characters themselves. Instead of investing points into a general pool, Elder Scrolls Online tasks players with developing the character through repeated use, much like in the singe-player franchise. Want to wield a greatsword? In true form you must use one over and over in order to specialize with that weapon. Unfortunately, I also have beef with this system which leads me to the…

Cons

… of the specialization system. I get what the game wants the player to accomplish. Become good through use. Instead of waiting to level up to use something, you just use that weapon type from the start and keep with it. Instead of investing general points into pools, like being good at all swords or staves or bows, you have to invest in specific weapon types of those weapons. Meaning there are multiple types of the same magic staves to invest points in. So say when you invest in restoration staves, those point buffs don’t match to the other staff types like the destruction magic staves. It’s way specific as even the mainline games don’t do this. This means you must at times knowingly stick with weaker weapon options because that’s what you invested points in. Did that all read a little confusing? Good now we’re both on the same page about it.

As for the rest of the game very little of it feels like anything but the same MMO archetype I’ve experienced for decades. Sure, there are some occasional lines in a side-quest that check to see if I’ve been paying attention to the story but generally I’m not. I’m trapped in an eternal loop of fetch quests running around like a dumb bitch. Might as well make it mandatory to name your character Gopher, because I’m constantly going for other people’s shit. There’s nothing particularly engaging about the plot. A Deadric lord stole my soul, that alone should lead to a badass revenge story, but instead it’s, “Our nation is at war! Oh by the way, you have no soul, did you know that?” And I suppose that’s the fundamental problem when it comes to these story-focused MMOs.

The story wants you to suspend your disbelief and ask you to believe your unique (you’re not, ever) despite seeing an endless supply of new characters join you in your seemingly pivotal moment. It’s like being nominated for an award, onto find that every single person who was nominated won anyway. What the fuck is the point of this. As for it’s basic MMO elements, it’s grouping system also sucks to boot. It’s faster and more efficient to just spam, “LFG, LFG” over and over than trying to use the built-in system. So there’s that too.

MMOs are a dime a dozen now. There are some games that are worth your time and others that simply aren’t. Elder Scrolls Online, in my humble opinion, isn’t. Exploring Tamriel with friends might be cool, and the experience system makes it flexible enough to make whatever build your mind comes up, but that’s where the fun ends. There will be two minds on this game as long as it exists: the fans of the singe-player games disappointed with how unrecognizable the MMO is, and MMO fans who have been so inundated by other MMOs that they don’t give a shit anymore, it’s another fix.

Mandatory Score: 6/10

The nicest thing I can say about Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is that it’s decent. But decent isn’t enough. Not when there are plenty of better, and subscription free, MMOs out there if you’re desperate to fulfill your OCD needs of eternal character grinding. Granted, it’s not all bad but it’s hard to want to invest in something that invested little in itself.