I got Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite a while ago on my Vita, played about five minutes of it, got totally overwhelmed, and gave up. The game is HUGE. Whether it’s crafting stuff, figuring out the best armour combinations (which can grant you skills, I think), or just picking a weapon that works for you, the game has tons of content and I’ve seen people say that they’ve sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into it.
My first instinct when I come across a game like this is “I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it.” That’s a shitty attitude, I agree, but it’s hard imagining myself dedicating that much time to one game when a) there are so many other awesome games out there and b) I do not, in any way, have that much free time on my hands. Still, I’m now trying to get into it again and there’s one thing I’m starting to notice, something that hasn’t really shown up in a lot of other games I’ve played recently: Monster Hunter is weirdly satisfying in an incredibly elitist way.
“It’s hard so if you’re good at it, you are basically a god.”
What I mean is that the game rewards you for being REALLY good at fighting monsters. It doesn’t hold your hand, it doesn’t have you kill bunny rabbits for your first mission, and it certainly doesn’t pretend to be a game that you can coast through.
When I put it down after playing for my first few hours with the game, I felt exactly like I did when I finally beat Mega Man 9 (which I’ve talked about before). There’s definitely a feeling of “haha, that was so insanely hard, I’d love to see anyone else in the world do that.” Of course, tons of others have beat it, but it did feel nice to be part of that elite group.
That’s maybe what I think is so appealing to all those fanboys/fangirls over in Japan where this game has completely taken off: it’s hard so if you’re good at it, you are basically a god. Of course, when enough people are good at something, you have to be better than even them to call yourself a god again, but that’s a story for another day.
So, after dying at the hands of an idiotic velociraptor-bird-thing like twenty thousand times, I decided to look up a walkthrough. Maybe I was doing something wrong? Maybe I had missed some key tutorial that would make all this ten times easier?
My hope fell through the floor when one of the first paragraphs in the game said something along the lines of “If you think this game is too hard and you came here to find out how to make it easy, we don’t want you here. This game is for hardcore gamers only.”
“The truth is, I probably won’t ever be a “hardcore” gamer. I have a wife, a day job, and a short attention span.”
I was stunned. Not just that anyone who writes a walkthrough could be so insensitive, but also that the attitude of being “hardcore” (i.e. not a “filthy casual“) was still a thing. Here I am thinking that drawing some imaginary line between hardcores and casuals was a thing of the past. Turns out I’m wrong about that, too.
There seems to be a re-emerging trend in video game promotion that calls attention to just exactly how HARD a game is. When I wrote my article about Olli Olli, I talked a lot about how the developers made it simple and quick to restart a level because, as the trailer says repeatedly, you are going to die over and over again. This same attitude is showing up in other games of late, coming into light especially with the massive popularity of Darks Souls II.
The truth is, I probably won’t ever be a “hardcore” gamer. I have a wife, a day job, and a short attention span. What I can do is appreciate from a distance what games are trying to accomplish and try to remember the heyday of Mega Man 9 victories (and maybe the twenty-or-so hours I’m going to put into Monster Hunter Freedom Unite).