I like playing Monster Hunter: World solo. There is no other way to say it. I have not yet spent a lot of time playing the game, but so far I have enjoyed hunting monster and understanding the complicated mechanics of the game. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy playing games with Brian, Ian, Chase and all the other honorary Spoon Deepers out there, but hunting monsters is a unique experience.
I really enjoy games with complicated systems. Dark Souls immediately comes to mind, with a leveling system that forces you to learn how each stat will impact your playstyle and individually upgrade your attributes. Even Pokémon becomes extremely complicated when trying to determine type matchups and attack bonus when trying to create the best team, and don’t even start on the invisible EV stats! I enjoy playing both of those games as a solo experience, much more than the online component.
Monster Hunter is also extremely complicated, and I know that I haven’t even cracked the surface when it comes to gear, stats, bonuses, and collectibles. Monster Hunter seems to be like a fine wine; best enjoyed slowly over a long period of time. It is difficult to describe the exhilaration of tracking a monster, slowly finding footprints and clues to its whereabouts, setting up the perfect fight scenario, and then battling your prey in a one on one battle of wits and skill.
On the contrary, we all played Destiny and Destiny 2 like a keg of beer, quickly and with a wicked hangover the next morning.
I want to enjoy Monster Hunter, but I do not want the games complicated systems to consume me. I love that there are hidden levels of Pokémon and Dark Souls that I will never figure out. I’m not much of a Pokémon breeder and I still don’t know what the Poise attribute does in Dark Souls. I likely will not figure out all of Monster Hunter’s hidden depths and that is okay. I can still have fun hunting monsters.
The experience changes when online multiplayer becomes the focus. For better or for worse I feel compelled to keep up with my friends when playing the game, even if it means rushing through quests or playing for long hours. I feel like I have to compete with them for resources, or like it is a constant battle for who can do the most damage per second. Its no longer about the hunt, it becomes a race to kill the monster quickly and efficiently, and then repeat the same thing over and over again.
Earlier, the four of us took down a Tyrannosaurus Rex looking beast. However, the entire fight felt like a race for resources. Near the end of the fight I was killed by our foe and forced to retreat to the safety of the camp only to hear sounds of victory from afar. We had taken down our nemesis, whom had beaten us so many times before. On my way back to the carcass I was harassed by a flying dragon and was unable to reach the spoils of our victory. I felt saddened because my friends would now be one step higher than me and I would have to grind more to keep pace. I just decided to take a break for the night.
Today I played Monster Hunter and killed a beast on my own. It felt great. I studied the hub world and took my time enjoying the set pieces and talking to the world’s characters. I can see Monster Hunter being enjoyed in much the same way as Destiny, quickly and repetitively until we have burned out all the content in our race to be the best or at least better than the others.
I am not going to play that way. I am going to play slowly. Some times I will play a different game. Some nights I won’t play at all. Eventually I might hunt all the monsters, maybe I won’t. If I miss out on some group content along the way, that’s okay because I like playing Monster Hunter: World solo.
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks