Monster Hunter is having a moment. The series once struggled to find anything but niche fandom outside Japan, where the series has been a cultural phenomenon at points. But Monster Hunter: World is different. It’s not just a hit, but a blockbuster. Case in point: they’ve managed to get me on the hype train. And while Monster Hunter: World is the most accessible Monster Hunter to date, it’s still a hefty mountain to climb, and the easiest way to wrap your head around it is with a friend guiding the way.
Enter Adopt-a-Hunter, a website to connect series veterans with newcomers, in order to “alleviate the burden” of learning the game. Veterans aren’t there to slay the beasts, but to help players understand how they can be the one who ultimately take it down.
The program has been up and running for weeks, and even includes a curriculum outlining what players can expect. Through Adopt-a-Hunter, players are walked through everything from basics—picking the right weapon, boosting stats through cooking, etc.—to more advanced mechanics, like choosing armor skills. The curriculum even introduced me to a concept I didn’t know about: bouncing. OK, then.
There are separate sign-ups for veterans and novices, and for the moment, there aren’t stringent requirements to become a mentor. (They’re even encouraging non-English players to sign up; they want a big pool.) Adopt-a-Hunter operates on a system of trust, hoping those who sign up won't be dicks. If you’re a beginner looking for help, once your application has been accepted, you eventually receive a notification in Adopt-a-Hunter’s Discord, when you’ve been properly paired up with a hunter.
Adopt-a-Hunter was started by Woulfe Condra, who became a Monster Hunter fan by accident in 2004, after his grandmother bought him a copy of the original game because, as she later told him, “it had dinosaurs on the cover and you like dinosaurs.”
“I didn't really feel strongly one way or another about dinosaurs at the time,” said Condra, “but try telling that to your grandmother as a 15 year old and the only response you'll get is a tut-tut and a ‘teenagers.’”
Like most, Condra didn’t really get it at first. It was unlike any other action game he’d played before. If there were other options, he might have stopped playing. But Condra’s family didn’t have much money. He only got two games per year—one on his birthday and another at Christmas—so he was forced to grapple with Monster Hunter.
There wasn’t a big Monster Hunter community in 2004. Condra was on his own.
“Once I made it over that learning curve I fell in love with the challenge,” he said. “I began to cherish the action economy that rewarded intelligent play and reading the monster rather than just mashing a random attack button repeatedly until it was time to ‘wait’ again. Sure, you still attack and wait, but now you do it because you had to learn a monster's behavior!”
He probably could have used something like Adopt-a-Hunter!
But Condra didn’t come up with the concept for matching players. In early January, on the Monster Hunter subreddit, user SloppyBulldozer proposed a system to connect players because “new hunters are worried about asking questions” and “some older hunters give off an elitist mentality that may spook or sour some of the fresh faces.”
Condra was one of the first people to sign up, but...nothing happened. With a background in events management, Condra wondered if SloppyBulldozer could use help. They agreed, prompting Condra to open official reddit and Twitter accounts, alongside a Discord server, where people could get together and organize.
(SloppyBulldozer eventually walked away from the program, citing personal issues.)
Adopt-a-Hunter is a formal version of something Condra was already doing in real-life.
“I remember buying a Wii U for my roommate in college so that we could play Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate together,” he said. “I bought my ex-girlfriend a 3DS for Christmas along with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and got her hooked on the game. It was almost tradition at that point for me to identify somebody who might enjoy Monster Hunter and then act as their sherpa up the mountain of information so that they could join me in conquering the hordes of Rathalos, Rathians, Plesioths, and more.”
Capcom has taken notice, too; the company has spoken with Condra twice, and though reluctant to share specifics, he indicated Capcom plans to throw some weight behind Adopt-a-Hunter. They’ve already mentioned Adopt-a-Hunter on a few streams.
“Our goal and what we hope Capcom sees,” he said, “is to ensure that anybody who decides that Monster Hunter just isn't a game for them doesn't do so because they just didn't ‘get it’ and couldn't get any help.”
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