Gaming

Monster Hunter World – The good in the bad

It’s been a week now since the release of Monster Hunter World (MHW) on the Xbox and the PS4 and I feel now is a good time to write me feelings towards it.

When it comes to gaming, I flutter around a lot, any game that takes my interests I normally end up buying. Most I enjoy for a few hours then they get thrown onto my pile of games that I’ll probably never return to. This is something I really want to stop, but that’s another post in itself. The reason I bring this point up though is that I’m sat here a week after release still really excited to get home from work each evening and play Monster Hunter World, this isn’t the traits of a game I’m just going to throw on the pile of games to never return.

I’ve come into the Monster Hunter series pretty much fresh, I’ve never really played a monster hunter game properly. I played both Monster Hunter Generation and Monster Hunter Stories on the 3DS for a combined total of about 3 hours, so I don’t really count these. I have no real reason why I didn’t play these more other than I just never got round to it.

So I had rough idea how Monster Hunter World was going to work but at the heart of it I was very much a fresh spawned hunter. There’s always that great buzz a good game can give you when you first enter it’s world and MHW was no different. I loved one of the first scenes of looking over the vast jungle with large creatures roaming around. I enjoyed their tutorial system, there is one but you are just playing the game and things are explained as you go. As a new player you just want to get in the thick of it and start fighting and it’s not long before you are.

I had already read through the weapons that you get to choose from and I had decided that Dual blades were for me. I picked them up and rushed off to battle. I quickly found I was wrong, they weren’t for me, I’m terrible at quick attacks while trying to dodge.

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So it was back to the drawing board. I headed back to the training ground and tried all the weapons. I’ve always liked melee weapons/classes in games but I’ve never been great at them so I’ve always intended to play the ranged class, be it with a bow or a mage of some type. So I was soon drawn to one of the ranged weapons, the bow was cool but something about the heavy bow gun excited me. I liked that you could load it up with some heavy ammo and fire off a heavy round at the beast. At this point I didn’t realise each different heavy bow gun had a different type of heavy shot, but this turned out to be great fun.

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So with weapon chosen I started to plough my way through some of the first monsters and quests. It was a blast, I loved roaming through thick jungle looking for tracks and then having 20-30 min fights with these huge beast, each with their own traits. I was starting to feel a bit lonely though. A few friends had said they were getting MHW but I’m still the only person I know that has it. One of the big draws to the game for me was the fact you could play with others. I played WoW for years and I loved running dungeons with others, random or friends. This sort of thing brings a game alive for me. I doubt I would have run some of the WoW dungeons as much if I had to keep running them on my own, the human interaction is the thing that drives me. I know many people will be play MWH completely alone, but that isn’t what I wanted from it.

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Now if any of you have been following the MHW news, you will know that the Xbox matchmaking hasn’t been working. I of course, play on an Xbox One. The developers addressed the issue quickly with a tweet but it was still broken. So for the first few days I played mostly on my own while messing with the matchmaking in between quests hoping it might magically work again, it didn’t.

Now I should probably explain how multiplayer works in MWH, as this is quite interesting. There is a number of ways to play multiplayer and I’ll try to explain them. The games multiplayer works using online sessions which are pretty much lobbies, each lobby holds up to 14 players. So the idea is you jump into a session with 13 others around your hunter level and work together with them to do quests. So for example, I join a session, I then have the choice of either joining another hunter already doing something or I can post my own and hope someone joins. If I chose to join another, then I get the choice of which type of mission I’m looking for, things such as quests, investigations, optional quests etc. If one of these takes my fancy then I can jump into their game and help them, one thing to consider though is your reward depends on how long they have been on the quest for, sometimes you will get no reward other than the things you harvest. There’s also an SOS system, where players can request help and you can join them and help them to take down a beast.

This is a very similar process if you wish to have friends join you. You have to create a online session and send then the ID. It’s a bit fiddly but it works once you know how, it’s just that the game never really tells you any of this.

The big kicker, and still a decision I don’t understand is that to join a quest or have someone else join a quest you are on, you must activate the cut scene. So if I wanted to run a quest with a friend, we would both have to start the quest, then go out into the world and find the Monster or the quest objective before we could join up. One thing I found quite annoying was the fact that you could find the monster but then there didn’t seem to be a way to get out of the quest other than letting it knock you out. So one of you had to faint and then abandon the quest to then go join the other. This seems a very weird system and I’ve found it a pain to have to go out, do the first part then come back to the main hub to try and find a group.

So now I’ve explained all that, and hopefully some of it makes sense you will hopefully understand why I was struggling to get any multiplayer actually going. I was battling with this system as well as the fact things like matchmaking we’re not working.

I eventually decided to join a discord channel for MHW. I didn’t expect to get much out of it but I hoped they could at least give me some information on the xbox issues I was having with matchmaking.

While reading through the comments I noticed someone asking for more for the quest I was on. I sent them a private message and waited for a reply, nothing for about 10 mins so I gave up. Then suddenly they replied, apologising for not seeing my message and was I still up for the quest. I was! We had a quick chat back and forth and I explained I wasn’t using a mic at the moment and he was cool with that. We joined a session together and tried to start the quest, it was at this point I discovered one of the rules I mentioned above. We were both being told we couldn’t join the other because we weren’t far enough in the quest line, we were both on the same quest so we were confused. Luckily we both could type on discord while being in game so we ended up working out that we needed to see the cut scene before we could join. So we both went and did that and before long we were in the quest and battling a furious monster. It was great fun, we were both there diving around, chopping and firing away at this huge beast while it growled and swiped at us. We chased it through the thick jungle never letting it rest until we finally finished it off. It was fantastic.

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We chatted again on discord and decided to do the next mission. We unfortunately failed but that was ok, it was fun. Sadly that was all I had time for that day, being my Birthday and all, so we said goodbye and went our separate ways.

The following day, I had been reading that some people we’re starting to get the matchmaking working. So I was excited to get home and finally get to play some MHW with other people! I logged on but it still wasn’t working for me, this put me in a bad mood and I sulked off to make a cup of tea. With a cup of tea in hand I decided to try the discord again for some help on my quests. I posted a request but it quickly disappeared into the chatter of a discord room that has hundreds of people in. I waited 15 or so mins before turning it off and swapping over to my PC for something else. At this point I was a bit blue on the whole MHW experience and I just wanted to put it out my mind. Not too long later, just as I was about to click ready up for Heroes of the Storm my discord beeped. I looked over and someone wanted to join me for the quest, amazing! I quickly said yes before they could change their mind. They invited me to a ready made session, real people, in a lobby! there was at least 10, it was great! We ended up running a few missions together and he even asked if I wanted to farm a monster of my choice. My day had been brightened and when I closed down MHW for the night I had this love for the game.

Because the matchmaking wasn’t working it forced me to find my own way to play with others, a way I normally avoid, but I’m so glad I did it. I met some really amazing people through the discord channel, I may never speak to them again but it reminded me how kind and caring people can be. The people I met we’re great, they had the same mind set as me and just wanted to play and have fun, this is what we did. I’m sort of glad of problems with the multiplayer on the xbox now as it showed me how nice some communities can be.

Over the next few days I’ve played more and had some brief experiences with the matchmaking, It’s still broken but it’s getting closer to working now and a patch went out today which I shall be checking out after finishing this blog and finger crossed it will all be working as intended. So it’s had me thinking, is the system they are using good or bad? I actually think it’s both. It’s clunky and hard work at times but what it does do is give you this feeling of a living world. Take for example, the way WoW does it dungeon finder. You queue up, then are teleported into the dungeon with 4 others. This is a good system but you have little connection with the other people in your group and you tend to just hop from one dungeon to the next depending on what you need. With the way MHW does it, it allows you to see others in the world doing their own thing. There’s some pleasure in opening up the quest board and looking through what others are doing in your online session. I know that if the system was the same as WoW then I would never have gone back and done quests I’d completed or gone out farming for mats at this stage in the game. But because I can see others doing it on the board I have done. There’s a really cool sense of a community and it’s strange that limiting the multiplayer brings this. It’s just you and your sessions working together to achieve greatness, there’s something nice about it. I do wish you could see the others in your hub though, at the moment you can only see others when you and them are in the gathering hub which is an upside down ship high up the cliffs.

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So though the multiplayer system is fiddly and feels a bit outdated it some how is giving me a really fun sense of a community and it’s still quite hard to put my finger on why but I kind of like it. If only they would remove the silly cut scene feature and we would be golden.

A week in and I’m having a blast. I had to make myself write this before being allowed to log onto it or I know it wouldn’t get done this weekend. I have really being enjoy the game and I hope to write another blog soon hopefully explaining the actual gameplay a bit more but I just wanted to get my experience written down a bit and some of the pains and pleasures I’ve had with multiplayer.

The game itself is great fun though, I really like the concept. I love coming back to my hub after a long fight and going through my loot. It’s so much fun upgrading all my armor and gear with things I’ve cut from the monster itself. The combat is also really fun and I’m seeing others playing with different weapons and now I want to play that as well. From what I read, the game isn’t suppose to last forever like an mmo would but there’s so much content in here that I can’t see myself getting bored any time soon. I’m excited to get back to it shortly and I can’t wait for the PC release so I can finally play with my friends who don’t own a console.

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