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I feel like my time with Monster Hunter: World is almost over. The in-game clock says I’ve been playing for more than 60 hours, far longer than I could have anticipated spending with a series that I’d written off as “not for me.” Instead, World turned me into a Monster Hunter acolyte, someone who can be seen propping up an iPad with a spreadsheet explaining enemy weaknesses while they’re playing.
During the Oscars, my wife fell ill to a stomach bug, and I was left to watch the largely routine awards ceremony solo. (We were rooting for Get Out to win best picture.) I propped up a computer monitor next to my couch, plugged in my PlayStation 4, and split my attention between the two. When you’re fighting the same monster for the 15th time in hopes of getting the right combination of drops, you can pull off both.
I must have fought a high-rank anjanath, the Monster Hunter equivalent of a tyrannosaurus rex, a dozen times, all in search of a single item: the anjanath fang+. I wanted to upgrade my fire-enhanced hammer, though not for any particular reason. I just wanted a better one, OK?? Generally speaking, you might have to fight a specific monster a few times before you’ve collected everything needed, but in this case, I collected a whopping two fangs over the course of my time with the anjanath.
Two! I needed, like...seven? I lost track because I became so frustrated.
I’ve since been told this drop is more likely to appear if you carve, instead of capture. (Capturing is, in most cases, the best way to get more loot.) I’ve also been told it’s possible to knock a fang out of their mouth by hitting their head over and over.
I’m sure all of this is true, but as is the case with any game built around grind and repetition, its allure is only as powerful as your desire to keep getting back on the treadmill. If you aren’t interested in better equipment, Monster Hunter doesn’t have much to offer. The game claims to tell a story, but it’s barely there. The “turf war” fights between different beasts used to be thrilling, but now, they’re getting in the way of me finishing off a fight—or I can already tell how it’s going to end. The spectacle is gone.
One reason I keep playing is because I want to recapture the same feeling, and I want to avoid the problem Waypoint writer Cameron Kunzelman hit with Baldur’s Gate:
"I did not anticipate that the intensive focus that I was putting into Baldur’s Gate and its sequels would eventually sap me of my ability to enjoy. Thinking intently about the combat design only helped me understand the places where it falls apart. Paying close attention to the plots, subplots, and grand arcs of the franchise gave me the ability to eagle-eye in on the places where it fumbles, mismanaged itself, or seemed to give up in frustration. The deeper my knowledge of the games became, the unhappier I was, and by the end I was both infuriated by the game’s design and by my own reactions to that design."
World charmed and thrilled me for a long time, though, far longer than I could have ever anticipated. I’m anxiously looking forward to whatever creatures, weapons, and armor Capcom adds in the months ahead, and whenever they get around to announcing a sequel, I’ll be able to pump my fist in the air and breathlessly speculate.
That my time with World is almost over is fine. More importantly, it made me a fan.
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