My disdain for managing items in games dates back to 1993, when I played my first video game, A Link to the Past. I was four, so of course all I really cared about was getting Link from one block to the next. I didn’t have the time or concentration to worry about the extra things I was picking up and what to do with them. My habit of ignoring my items entirely (with the exception of healing) continued throughout my young life, and made games harder and harder to play as the years went on.
When I played Horizon Zero Dawn last year, I had so much fun with it that crafting and managing my belongings seemed less fraught. I paid closer attention, I made sure I was picking up what I needed for stronger armor, weapons, and ammo, and I stopped at nearly every merchant I ran into. That being said, item management in HZD didn’t feel like a chore. More often than not, all I needed was money. Even in the later game, you could buy monster parts from a merchant in Meridian. Plants, animals, and machines were in abundance, and I felt like I wasn’t really doing extra work for better gear.
But I was back to my old habits when I played Nier: Automata, and found myself caring less about items. I made sure I had what I needed for healing, and I sometimes paid attention to things I needed to get a new pod or upgrade my weapons. For the most part, though, I was reminded that I am just not that great at games, so my focus was on the story and grinding my way to the end.
I’ve tried to play Monster Hunter games in the past. I’ve watched my friends play them. I have always felt overwhelmed and frankly bad after trying my hand at them. I know I’m not great at games in general, but these games have always felt brutal to me. It’s the same reason I worry I’d never be good at Souls games: the diligent style of play required, to deal with difficult combat, strict care with items, etc. seems like too much. Monster Hunter just enforced those feelings.
Monster Hunter: World has changed my feelings on grinding, item management, and, shit, even my perception that I’m bad at video games. I’ve been able to get the hang of this game so quickly and in the most rewarding ways, and it’s made me feel so much better about my own gaming setbacks. Many people are calling World the most accessible Monster Hunter game, and as a person who has tried, many times, to play Monster Hunter, I can echo that statement wholeheartedly.
Learning the weapons in Monster Hunter: World is easy and fun. Even though most people were recommending the sword and shield—which seemed at first like the go-to weapon for people new to the franchise—I’ve learned the switch axe AND the insect glaive. And I feel really good about that.
I started using the wishlist feature on armor sets so I know what to look for. The investigations, which take you on hunts for specific monsters, have made foraging and farming feel like some of the most exciting activities to do in this game. I want to talk to each person after a quest to see what I can harvest, what I can add to my Field Guide, what new investigations I can do from all of the footprints and marks I’ve checked out in the wild.
Monster Hunter: World has made me feel like I’m getting better at—and caring more about—video games as a whole. I’m taking time in this game to make sure I have the things I need, and always working toward the things I want. I know I’ll take what I’m learning and apply it to future games, and who knows, maybe I’ll become a long-time Monster Hunter player thanks to World.
What are some games you’ve played that have made you feel like you’re really improving at video games in general? Let us know in the forums!