In a previous post, I talked about how hard it was for me to try to enjoy Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite. I tried and tried to feel like all the times I died or was screwed up by some system that I didn’t know about yet were somehow worth it in order to say that I was good at the game. Ultimately, I gave up on it.
Thankfully, my brother and I later had a conversation about how he was breezing through Monster Hunter 3 and that encouraged me to try to understand the way the game worked before finally deleting it for the extra memory on my Vita. With that little extra effort I put in (along with what was probably a competitive drive, seeing as how my brother is six years younger than me), the game finally opened up to me.
I had been missing a key piece of the puzzle, as it turned out. What I was mistakenly doing was going straight into what the game calls “Guild Quests” instead of taking the quests from the village chief, an old granny that I immediately dismissed as being the giver of “baby quests” instead of actual training quests.
“I have a new appreciation for complicated systems that might seem daunting at first but actually pay off quite a bit if you take the time to notice how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. “
On the advice of my brother, I jumped into the gathering quests instead of trying to immediately kill the Giadrome, a fairly large, snowy velociraptor thing. I spent my time picking mushrooms, dodging out of the way of monsters that were way above my level, then picking some more mushrooms. Honestly, the whole thing felt dumb and time-consuming.
What I didn’t realize was was that, in doing all those simple quests (which paid basically nothing), I had inadvertently prepared myself for the actual hunting quests. While I was harvesting that mountain herb or trying to catch my third sushifish of the day, I had completely familiarized myself with the area and was now able to navigate it pretty much blind (which can be useful because the map takes up a spot in your inventory).
Now, with twenty hours under my belt, I rip through snow raptors with ease, feeling no fear while I harvest their organs for my own selfish gain. What’s more, I have a new appreciation for complicated systems that might seem daunting at first but actually pay off quite a bit if you take the time to notice how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
As far as the mid-game goes, I’m well on my way to becoming a badass. I’ve managed to forge a suit of armor made entirely out of raptor skin and bones (partly out of spite, to be honest) and am rocking a badass katana that’s twice the length of my body. What’s more, I even figured out how to bring a cat warrior (that’s correct: cat’s can fight in this game) along with me to make things a little easier.
I won’t lie, I eventually consulted a walkthrough, something I’m not super proud of but something that almost feels obligatory in some cases. For example, when fighting a Congalala–a giant, farting monkey–for the first time, I felt like I was missing some trick way of hurting him because he would just not go down no matter how much I hacked away at him with my little sword.
Turns out, according to the walkthrough, that the game isn’t really fantastic at giving you feedback in terms of letting you know that you’re doing damage to something. While there is a little red flash (I’m talking LITTLE, especially on a Vita screen) to let you know that you’ve connected with a hit, the monster doesn’t necessarily react, which can be a little confusing until you figure out that some monsters just have a buttload of health and that your little slashes might actually BE working, even if it is slow and/or pitiful.
“Given a little time and more than a few ego checks, I’ve really gotten into the game and probably won’t be putting it down until I beat it.”
I also had to look up how to use the tranquillizers, a game-changing item that can potentially double your reward items when you beat a hunting quest. The game’s tutorial doesn’t explain it particularly well, especially since you rarely have more than a few tranquillizers for each quest. That said, it’s not an integral part of the game and, as such, I didn’t feel too guilty looking it up.
Even after all my progress, Monster Hunter is still pretty challenging, but once I got a grip on how enemies move and do damage (it’s definitely not a case of “if I touch you, you get hurt” like in some games), controlling dangerous situations became infinitely easier. I’ve even started moving onto some of the less “beginner” weapons like the frighteningly slow great sword and the hard-as-hell-to-aim bow.
What I’m trying to say with all of this is that, given a little time and more than a few ego checks, I’ve really gotten into the game and probably won’t be putting it down until I beat it, which is saying a lot since I’m only on the third-tier quests and there appears to be many, many more.