I Finally Figured Out Why I Don’t (Can’t?) Like Monster Hunter

Game idea: Monster Punter, starring Chris Kluwe.

I tried to like Monster Hunter, I really did. I put a solid two weeks into the PSP’s Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and didn’t even get past the dozens upon dozens of tutorials. Protip for developers: I can learn more than one thing per introductory mission – it’s not against the law.

Then when the 3DS and Wii U Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate demos came out recently, I put a lot of time into them, as well. (It didn’t take long to realize that they’re exactly the same – a fact I was not aware of before trying both.) I keep giving the series a chance, however, because it’s a brand new Wii U exclusive coming out this week, and I would love nothing more than a never-ending world to explore with my underused Wii U.

Imagine: one game that can absorb your life for months… Sigh. I feel I am doomed to wait until Dark Souls 2 before I can find another game that will sink its barbs into me and never let go like I wish one would.

Each game in the Monster Hunter series is pretty much the same, and I think I’ve finally figured out why it doesn’t push the buttons I need, and why it probably never will. See, I grew up with RPGs, and Monster Hunter is definitely one of those. But it’s the wrong kind.

I play RPGs for the stories, the fantastical worlds they create, and the memorable characters (Final Fantasy VI springs immediately to mind). I put up with the random battles and the oft-boring and grind-y level up systems to get to the good stuff – the memorable parts in between the battles. The characters. The backdrops. The mini-games distracting me from saving the world. The relationships between the ragtag members of my team. The world-crushing enemies that will forever seem too tough to handle. We don’t play Persona 4 for the dungeons.

But Monster Hunter… the entire game is just the battles. Sure, there might be some huge scuffles with a different strategy for each of the dozen-or-so weapons in the game, but it’s a game comprised solely of my least favorite genre staple, without any of the character I want in an RPG.

That’s not to say that you should go 180 degrees in the opposite direction, though. Metal Gear Solid, for example, is just too much cutscene for how little controllable action there is. I’m not watching a movie. I’m playing a video game because I want to be the star of my story. I want to save the world, defeat evil, and get the girl. And when it’s all over, I want to think back on the time I spent in this digital world and say, “I’m glad I did that.”

One of the biggest problems with games is that, when it’s all said and done, and when you’ve finally polished off your 100-hour long epic, you haven’t actually achieved anything. You haven’t produced something useful for the world. You haven’t contributed towards bettering your environment. Hey, you haven’t even bettered yourself. Is the slight increase in hand/eye coordination and visual acuity worth the hundreds of hours the world wastes every day on Call of Duty? We’re just being entertained. And that’s fine. All work and no play makes people into serial killers. But what I want out of games, and what I want even out of RPGs… those things just can’t be provided by Monster Hunter. I wish they could.

Once, my British friend sat me down and made me watch Doctor Who. I watched about a season and a half with him and his girlfriend (not all at once), and I enjoyed it well enough. But the thing that always bothered me about it: why is the Doctor doing all this? Why does he take humans out of their normal life, put them in danger on a daily basis, and then, when they inevitably die, simply move on to a different expendable human? The only answer I could ever get was, “He’s old, he’s bored, and he’s lonely.” That’s… not really good enough for me. Boredom isn’t a great reason for putting people’s lives at risk. The Doctor’s motivation seems so… manufactured. Like maybe 50 years ago, when the series started, he had a reason. But it has long been forgotten.

And that’s the same problem I have with Monster Hunter. You hunt these monsters, and find and create better and stronger weapons and armor, and for what? You’re not saving the world. There’s no ultimate prize or goal to achieve. You’re just a person, doomed to walk these strange lands, striking down any monster that crosses your path. Why? Boredom. Because in the world of Monster Hunter, there is no other goal then to hunt and trap, or hunt and kill. Endlessly. Without remorse. Without meaning. Without fun.

Thanks, but I’ll take my traditional story-heavy RPG over this any day of the week.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I Finally Figured Out Why I Don’t (Can’t?) Like Monster Hunter

  1. arron

    There’s a lot more to Doctor Who than “he’s lonely”. In fact, if someone came out with that as a reason for The Doctor to do what he does, I’d give them a slap to be honest. They’re not thinking of why people do what they do.

    I know (according to New Who doctrine) he killed his entire race to give Christopher Eccleston something to act against, but to be honest..the Doctor never really needed the Time Lords, which is why he left in the first place. And every time they’ve turned up in his history..they’ve basically screwed things up for him. So it’s not because he’s lonely since he’s always been an exile..by choice. He left his home planet because he had no desire to sit around and watch the dust settle around him like some Oxford university professor.

    Unfortunately one of the problems that I had when it came back (and is only fading now we’ve had two seasons of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor) is that the Doctor was portrayed as some grief stricken loner by RTD so they should shovel in a load of schmaltz at least once an episode. You only have to look at episodes like “Fear Her”. “Voyage of the Damned” and “The End of TIme” in how they were utterly ruined due to the heavy handed approach to story arcs, cliche driven set pieces, and extended slushy endings that were ruined by someone who doesn’t know how to build a proper plot or write something that holds together coherently for the purposes of driving a story to a logical conclusion. To support what Who should be like..I would put forward “Pyramids of Mars”, “The Girl Who Waited”, “The God Complex”, “Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, “Terror of the Autons”, “Genesis of the Daleks” and “Hand of Fear” for stories that jump up and grab you.

    You only have to compare most of Jon Pertwee’s or Tom Baker’s time on the show to anything written by Russell T Davis to realise what a appalling bad writer he really was. He may have a bigger budget than before, but that’s no excuse for sloppy writing. Word processing is cheap.

    One of the reason that I think Matt Smith engaged me as a long time fan for decades was because it got back to that which it was missing a lot of in the 1980s..wonder and mystery. The first Christmas Special Matt Smith did (Christmas Carol) was an amazing contrast compared to the previous ones. Not only did it take a traditional Christmas story and cleverly invert it with the aid of time travel to produce a story that was forever changing driven by The Doctor’s sense of childlike wonder and comedic timing..the tragedy that could not be avoided still played out because the main female character could not avoid death. If this had been a RTD story, they’d have gone for some elaborate ‘Deus ex Machina” or some slurpy “We tried but failed”. In this, it was a case of better to love for one day, then never love at all. There’s no getting away from the inevitable. You might delay it, but eventually you’ll have to face it..people die and there’s no point trying to save them.

    The master-stroke of the whole episode was changing the miser to be good being that Christmas Future was Scrooge’s boyhood self seeing him as a twisted old man..which rewrote his history in seconds. It’s an almost brutal tactic worthy of Dumbledore. A game steeped in mystery and shadow..that is imperceptibly played out by a genius who never lets on how clever he really is. The ambush he plays in “A good man goes to war” is another such example of how utterly clever a temporal chess player The Doctor really is.

    The Matt Smith Doctor character is someone who is much like me..fascinated with the universe, almost childlike in their need to understand and see as much as they can..a strategist, a person with a plan who never misses a trick..whilst having the maturity of someone who has seen too many bad things happen in his time. Most of which he’s probably caused either directly or indirectly. Someone who is both a child and very very old wishing things could have been different.

    It’s not a coincidence that the last Christmas special (The Snowmen) had more than a hint of Sherlock Holmes about it. Both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker both played the characters they did like this very well.

    So to answer the first question having at least four decades of Doctor Who in my head..Why does he do what he does? It is because like all of us..he knows that life is short and if you don’t make a difference the here and now, you never will. Don’t sit at home wishing for change. And even with a time machine..there’s only so much one can change in ones travels.

  2. arron

    The reason why The Doctor seems to get other people killed is because in this game he’s playing fighting the bad things and injustice that he encounters..people wind up being sacrificed as the game pieces that they have become. He doesn’t mean to, but in all games of chess, one cannot get to a winning position without accepting losses. The only problem is that some of the pieces he’s been playing with he desperately doesn’t want to lose and tries to move them off the board before they wind up as causalities in the game. In the case of Amy and Rory, that didn’t work as they found themselves back on the board and destroyed. The Doctor was very saddened by their loss. Like he was by Adric, Sarah Jane Smith and Jo Grant when they were lost before their time.

  3. I wondered if there was any kind of story to Monster Hunter. The game looks good, plays pretty smooth and I hear nothing but good things about the series, but I couldn’t get into the demo either. Now I think I know why.

  4. Derpington

    Mmmm, I wonder why people do the tutorials at all?

    The game is essentially: grind monster parts, make the next tier of gear tailored to your play style (for example, a set that gives you attack bonus+1, evade+1, and you use greatsword), so you can take on the next tier of monsters, to make the next tier of gear, to defeat the next tier, and so on.

    But the main draw, i.m.o., is the skill you acquire. As you play the game, and your skills increase and your dexterity becomes a thing of glory, you start playing with self imposed restrictions: no armor, ridiculous weapons, not getting hit, time attack, etc… all because you want to show off to your friends, or to your youtube subscribers, or, like me, just for your own verification of talent.

    To sum the story up: village is under attack by X, verify your skill by doing Y, and finally you can defeat X.

    ***Guild hall is where Monster Hunter thrives.*** The fact that the 3DS release has ZERO multiplayer support (aside from collecting your buddies into a room) is the main reason I did not buy it.

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