This Week’s Game: Metro 2033

Wow, it’s been a long time since I did one of these, eh? So, the backstory here is, I was looking for a FPS to play as a sort of palate cleanser from playing too much Dark Souls. See, I had some bad experiences in the Painted World of Aramis (freaking Wheel Skeletons) and I felt sad after defeating Priscilla the Crossbreed, who honestly doesn’t deserve it.

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Frankly, I feel ashamed. 😦

So yeah, I thought about playing Wolfenstein or Bioshock, but I had recently seen an interesting video featuring the Metro games, and I thought it sounded worth investigating. So I picked up Metro Redux, which includes both 2033 and Last Light, and started playing. And you know what? I really enjoy it. 🙂 Continue reading


This Week’s Game: Dark musings on my Souls survival

First of all, let me apologize for that horrible pun of a title. Yeah, I’m talking about Dark Souls this week. No, it’s not really a review — everyone and their dog already have an opinion about this series and its tropes, and I don’t really feel the need to pick the game apart myself.

But, as I mentioned yesterday, I’d been playing a number of different games last week, and at least three of them followed the Souls-esque formula: Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne, and The Surge. And you know? I enjoy the games, even with their legendary high difficulty. And as the remaster of the original Dark Souls is being released soon — very soon, in fact — I kinda wanted to muse on just that purported difficulty. What I mean is… are they really that difficult?

Ok, let’s start with the obvious answer: YES. Dark Souls and its sequels (and let’s not forget the original original, Demon Souls) are not games you can get from intro to finale just by mashing the square button, and attempting to simply dive into a horde of enemies and cut your way out is a quick way to get filleted and grilled for supper. Mmm, I haven’t had fish in a while, come to think of it… ^^; Continue reading

MHW: …But the Adventure Continues

Well, here we are, March 33rd. Today is the last of my articles examining the game “Monster Hunter World.” I don’t think I’m really cut out to be a writer of game guides, nor am I much of a game reviewer, frankly. Still, this was a fun project for me, and it kept my word count up for the month, so I’m feeling a bit fulfilled. Which is all I can ask for, really.

As for the future, I’m going to be spending the next week or so updating the pages on my site. I’m going to reformat the coverage I gave MHW and put it on it’s own page, or pages, to make it easier to read and navigate. I might look into formatting it for submission to Gamefaqs, just for kicks, but I haven’t decided yet. My other reviews need their own page as well, though I might post them in my “Other” section instead.

Also, my wife has been after me for a while to make her a page where she can post pictures of the decorative cakes she has created, and I keep putting her off. I’ll try to take care of that, too.

Ahem. Before we go any further:


In fact, the upcoming article features a discussion of spoilers themselves, and I will be alluding to later elements of the plot. Among other things. So if you have any concern at all about not wanting any plot points spoiled for you, do not read the following until you have fought Zorah Magdaros for the second time! Continue reading

MHW: Quests and re-Quests

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the penultimate article in Monster Hunter March! Woo! Thanks to everyone who read this nonsense while I tossed the whole “fantasy writer” thing in the bin for a while. Sadly, even considering my lack of actual output, I needed a break. And this project actually gave me some motivation to, y’know, put words on virtual paper, so for me it was a success. I hope it’s been an interesting and helpful read, in any case.

That said, I think this is the last section I need to write for my so-called Beginner’s Guide, and it’s pretty much as boring as the last one, seeing as I’m only describing the quest system. Still, I tried to pack as much helpful info as I could in… ^^;

Monster Hunter: World_20180328193606There are five (or six, sort of) types of quest, of which I am familiar with three. Yes, the other two are both online only, but I’ll try to figure them out somehow anyway. But the first three are easy to deal with.

The first type of quest is the Assigned quest. These are the plotline quests, which advance the storyline and unlock new facilities and upgrade options. They all involve hunting certain monsters in a more or less ascending order of difficulty, from small Jagras to Dreadlocks, to Angie, all the way up to Zorah Magdaros itself. Every assigned quest has a 50 minute time limit, and you fail if you faint three times, which is the standard for all quests. Not every assigned quest starts by taking it from the Handler; some require you to go to a certain location in an expedition, and follow directions until you are faced with, yes, another monster to defeat. Each assigned quest can technically only be taken once; however, after you complete each assigned quest, the monster it targets becomes an Optional quest that is already considered completed. So if you want to do the basic quest again, you can; but if you don’t want to, it still counts as complete.

Speaking of which, the second type of quest is the Optional quest I just mentioned. Unlike the Assigned quests, these quests can be taken repeatedly, but they still use the standard time limit and faint limit. There are three general sources for Optional quests. First, clearing an Assigned quest unlocks an Optional quest to hunt the same monster (only listed as completed because, y’know, you just did it). Second, talking to certain NPC marked with the traditional yellow ‘!’ will often unlock Optional quests, either to capture specific monsters, or to perform certain tasks in exchange for unlocking things like ingredients for the Canteen, production options at Botanical Research, or even gadgets for your hunter to use in the field.Monster Hunter: World_20180328194556

The third type of Optional quest are Arena challenges. By capturing certain large monsters, you unlock a quest to fight them in the Arena, a special pit with various artificial traps and terrain where you can challenge the beast without having to worry about it running away, or other monsters wandering in to complicate things. In exchange, of course, there isn’t much room to run away yourself, but hey. Think of it as a cage match with a pissed-off dinosaur, and you’ll get the idea.

Incidentally, the Arena quests in the Optional quests section are separate from the Arena quests available at the Arena Counter in the Gathering Hub, making those quests something of a sixth type. Not only is it an entirely different location, the Arena Counter Quests track your best time, you are allowed to faint up to eight times, and you have limited weapons, armor, and items to work with. The rewards are also different from those of standard quests, including commemorative coins, for which I know not the use. 😛

Moving on… the third type of quest are Investigations. Investigations are randomized quests unlocked while out in the field. The contents of these quests are varied, from slaying a number of small monsters, hunting a large monster, capturing a large monster, or hunting multiple large monsters in a single quest. The conditions are also modified: potentially, you could have a 30 minute time limit, or even 15 minutes; you could be allowed a reduced number of players (which, admittedly, doesn’t mean much if you are not online -_- ); or you faint limit could be reduced to two or one. On the other hand, there are also potential random benefits, like an increased monetary reward, more productive gathering points, or a higher faint limit. You can attempt each investigation a certain number of times, which is counted every time you take the quest; in other words, if you take the quest and then cancel it, you still burn one of your attempts. Succeeding at the quest does not remove it, so you can take an investigation you especially like as often as it has attempts. Of specific note is that completed Investigations always reward a certain number of bonus items related to the target of the quest; the quality of the reward is related to the color of the box in the Rewards section (bronze, silver, or gold). Investigations are especially a good way to collect insect-type materials, since the insects themselves have a tendency to go to pieces. :\Monster Hunter: World_20180328195141

Investigations are unlocked very simply, by simply performing actions in the field. Killing small monsters, gathering items, breaking large monster parts, all have the chance to unlock a random Investigation for the area you are currently in — that is to say, investigations unlocked while you are in the Ancient Forest will be set in the Ancient Forest, those unlocked in the Wildspire Wastes will be for the Wastes, etc. To be able to take any of these quests, however, an additional step is required. The Resource Center allows you to manage your investigations, by allowing you to register up to 50 of the 250 potential missions to be attempted. If you fill all 250 slots (and eventually, you will 😉 ) the oldest unregistered investigations will disappear to make space for the new ones; I believe that registered quests won’t disappear until you either unregister them, or you run out of attempts.

Next is Event quests. I’ll tell you what I know: Event quests are available for a limited time, but only if you are online. And that’s all I know; I don’t know what the potential rewards are, or the advantage of taking event quests over optional quests or investigations. I’ll try to find out more, but meh. :\

And finally, after a recent update, Special Assignments was added to the quest list. I’ll level with you, I have no idea what this is about. Tell you what, I’ll update this section once I figure it out.Monster Hunter: World_20180328195949

And that’s it, I suppose. Monster Hunter World in a nutshell: take quests, hunt monsters, build gear, and learn the secrets of the New World. So, I’ll make one last post in this series on Saturday, and then it will be time to move on to something new. Not sure what that will be, frankly, but we’ll see how it goes. 😉

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Sunday Update: Acceptable Breaks From Reality, or Why I Don’t Get Bow Coatings

Hey there, happy Sunday! How was your week? Mine was ok, I think. I don’t remember anything horrible happening, anyway. Of course, I don’t remember anything good happening either. Last week actually happened, right? I posted a few articles, so obviously some time passed… well, whatever. No news is good news. 😉

Anyway, setting my problems with memory and the passing of time aside, my playtime in Monster Hunter World recently crossed 100 hours. Admittedly a good deal of that time was spent faffing about exploring menus and lore and making notes for my articles and taking screenshots, but the majority was pursuing actual gameplay objectives, like crafting new armor, experimenting with different weapons, and on rare occasions, advancing the plot. 😛

And while I am still interested in the game, and on finishing my series of articles for beginners, I’m starting to feel a little burnt out from playing it every day. So last night after finishing my article on items, I threw in what I can only call a palate cleanser, a much simpler game with clear cut objectives and little in the way of moral ambiguity. That’s right, I played Doom. 😉

That was a good decision, since Doom is quite fun, and really speaks to the efficacy of my new monitor. (Which is actually my friend’s old monitor, but it was better than the one I had and has an HDMI port, so I can play games in my room instead of on the big TV. Of course, now I never need to leave my room, advancing my Hikikomori status another level. Good thing I have children to take care of, or I might withdraw completely.)

Anyway, I’m convinced that I need to cut back on Monster Hunter a bit, which is both ok, and a problem since there is one week left in Monster Hunter March(™)(not really ™). Fortunately, I am pretty much done with my coverage, and the only further article I have planned is describing the quest system. Unfortunately I am not able to give feedback on one of the biggest draws, the ability to invite other people into your quest to help you fight your monsters, since I can’t do that myself. I think therefore that my beginner’s guide is almost done. Are there other topics I should touch upon? I’m directing this question mostly at Mario, since he’s also playing the game, but also to the readers at large: is there anything else you would like to know, before or while starting the game?

Ok. With that out of the way, let me move on to my main topic of the day: ranting about the Bow.

Now, let’s make one thing clear: I understand that Monster Hunter World is a game. I don’t expect everything to make logical, intuitive sense. Like, I don’t ask why you can only carry ten Herbs at a time, in a pouch that can also carry five Large Barrels. I don’t ask why swinging around a chunk of metal bigger than your torso doesn’t cause you to have a hernia. I don’t ask why right after a large territorial monster is killed, a new one moves in that follows the exact same behavioral patterns. (I don’t ask. But I notice. 😛 )

And to be honest, I do like using the Bow. Sure, it has the absolute lowest attack power of any weapon, and sure, it is quite difficult to manage its high stamina consumption. But it can hit flying enemies without difficulty, it has a strong finishing move, and if you know the trick to it, you can potentially mount a monster without scuttling around on ledges and walls like a chump.

But there is one element of the bow that leaves me with nothing but unanswered questions: the coatings.

Bow coatings supposedly give your arrows special properties: Close-range coatings shorten your range in exchange for supposedly increased damage, but seems more like increased spread like a shotgun blast; Power coatings supposedly increase damage (but frankly, not very much?) and the various status effect coatings, yes, inflict their particular status effect. But my questions are thus:

  1. What the heck is a coating? I mean, from the name, you expect it to be something painted on the arrow heads, right? But a coating is applied by slapping something onto your Bow (with a satisfying thunk, I do admit) and removed by pulling it off. I mean, it could be some sort of gadget that paints arrows as you draw them, I guess, but that just raises further questions.
  2. Why do you need Empty Phials to create them? I mean, from a logical standpoint, sure, if it’s some sort of coating liquid it needs to be contained, but this is the same game that lets you create Potions out of nothing but Herbs. Wouldn’t it make more sense to require these Phials for potions instead? Furthermore, creating Ammo for Bowguns doesn’t require anything extra either, just the plants. Sorry, but it’s weird to suddenly treat something more realistically.
  3. Where do the phials go? I mean, each individual dose of coating requires its own phial. Each shot of the Bow with a coating applied removes one dose. So what happened to all the phials that those doses were placed in? Do they break? And where are they loaded? I seriously don’t understand this mechanic at all…
  4. Why are Bows compatible with so few different coatings? I mean, I sort of get it from a gameplay perspective, to encourage people to try different types of Bow; but why can, say, an Iron Bow use only Power coatings, while the Bone Bow can’t use Power, but can use Paralysis and Poison? I just don’t get it…

On top of everything else, switching coatings can be a pain. The game doesn’t always seem to recognize when you want to switch them on and off, especially in the midst of battle. All in all, this is the most disappointing part about using a bow in MHW, which is too bad, because I love using bows. In fact, I’m going to go finish Rise of the Tomb Raider now…

Phew, ok, I’ve got it out of my system. I use Hammers more, anyway. Let’s see, I’ll aim for Wednesday for my article on the quest system, and Friday for anything further, if I can think of a topic. Seriously, is there anything further I should talk about? Please let me know.

Have a good week, everyone, and I’ll see you soon. 😉

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MHW: Items and other Miscellenia

Welcome back! Today, we will be speaking about item usage while out on the hunt.

Ok, I admit it sounds boring even as I write it, and doesn’t lend itself to interesting screenshots, but inventory management really is kind of a big deal. I’ll try to keep it concise.

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And I’ll just recycle some pictures, because I’m lazy. 😛

First of all, usable items are very important to a successful hunt. Beyond anything else, potions you craft are your primary means of healing when things aren’t entirely going your way. However, there are many other useful items available, the majority of which can even be crafted from materials found entirely out in the field.

Of course, if you want to save yourself some time gathering materials, a number of useful items are also sold at the Provisions Stockpile; but early in the game, money is valuable enough that you probably want to make most things yourself. Fortunately, basic items tend to be quite easy to produce, so you won’t need to do too much running around to build yourself a decent stockpile.

There is a downside to carrying items, mind you. There is only a limited number of slots in your pouch, so every item you carry into the field is one less slot for gathering materials in the field. In addition, every item or material can only be carried in a certain amount: no more than 10 in most cases, and often fewer. The good news is that the amount of slots is fairly generous, at 24 slots.

Fortunately, you can adjust what you are carrying at any Item Box in Astera, or at the Tent in any camp in the field; so if you end up running out of space, you can go drop off the materials you don’t currently need. On that note, the most efficient way to do so is by creating loadouts: by pressing Options while managing your inventory, you can save the current contents of your inventory to a loadout slot; later, after using or collecting items, you can select the saved loadout to return your pouch to its previous state by refilling or removing where appropriate. If a particular loadout cannot be fully restocked, its name will turn yellow and the missing items will be highlighted. Oh, and there is no effective limit to the amount of stuff you can have in storage, so gather up anything you think you might need.

As a final aside, Gunbow ammo and Bow coatings have their own separate ammo pouch, but will be saved together with the main pouch in loadouts. The materials for crafting said ammo, however, takes up slots in the main pouch.


There are two places where you can craft new items. First, when you select “Crafting List” from the options menu, you will be able to craft items from the materials currently in your pouch; second, if you select “Crafting List” from an Item Box (or Tent) you will craft items from materials in storage. Note that if you run out of materials in storage, they will not automatically be transferred from your item pouch, and vice versa.

Also note that on either Crafting List, you can adjust which items will be “Autocrafted” out in the field. Items marked for autocrafting will be created whenever the proper ingredients are picked up; for instance, if “Potion” is set to autocraft, anytime you pick up an Herb, a new Potion will be crafted immediately. However, if you have a full cap of ten Potions in your pouch, any additional Herbs will be placed in your pouch. A further note: if you have Herbs in your inventory and drink one of your ten Potions, a new Potion will not be created, as autocrafting only works when ingredients are picked up. On the other hand, if you have the max number of Herbs in your pouch but not max Potions, you can still harvest Herbs to autocraft more Potions, even though you wouldn’t have room in your pouch for more Herbs normally. Still following me? Good.

Using Items:

You can only use items out in the field, and there are two methods. The first method is rotating through the item wheel in the lower right of your screen by pressing left or right on the D-pad, and then pressing square. This method is fine, but it becomes more cumbersome when you have a lot of usable items (including permanent items like the whetstone, Palico gadgets, and more), and possibly could be lethal if you have to try and spin through your items in the thick of battle.

That’s where the shortcut dials come in. By holding L1, you will enter an item shortcut mode: by pressing the D-pad, you can select one of four customizable radial dials. Push the right stick in a direction and release it (without releasing L1) and you will attempt to use the item assigned to that direction. Common items used early in the game are already assigned to the top dial by default (under Shortcut 1), various ammo types for the Bowguns are assigned to the right dial (Ammo/Coatings), various social chat thingies are assigned to the left dial, and the bottom dial starts off completely empty.

Here is an important note: shortcut dials are saved together with item loadouts, so if you customize your dials to any degree, make sure you save it before loading a previous loadout — if you overwrite your new dials, you’ll end up having to manually change them again. Still, it’s helpful when loading for different types of hunts, to have dials that prioritize items that you are going to be using a lot. Seen from the other side, if you aren’t going to be using a certain item on your current hunt, having a shortcut for it is just a waste.

Finally, here is a rundown of some useful items for the early game, divided by type.


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Hint: you have less health than it does.

Health management is, naturally, a big deal when you are being chased around a forest by a fire-breathing T-Rex. Fortunately, the basics of healing are easily managed. A single Herb is all that is necessary to create a Potion, and you can carry up to 10 Potions at a time. Further, by adding Honey to a Potion, you will create a Mega Potion, which restores more health (and technically restores it faster, which might matter if you happen to be interrupted while drinking it), and of which you can also carry 10. Herbs are found literally everywhere, and are commonly quite close to camps as well, meaning that filling your Potion stock is quite easy. Honey is a bit more scattered around the various areas, but common enough that you should never be hurting for Mega Potions as well.

Of course, all the healing in the world won’t help you if your monstrous foe can take you out in one or two attacks. Setting aside improving your armor, which I’m sure you will do, you can also make Nutrients out of Bitterbug and Blue Mushroom. Nutrients will increase the length of your health bar by a small amount; adding Honey to Nutrients will create Mega Nutrients (hmmm, a pattern 😉 ) which increases your health by a slightly larger amount. Neither of these will actually heal you, mind; but if you add Mandragora to Mega Nutrients, you will receive a Max Potion, which (as the name implies) maximizes your health gauge and fully heals you. Blue mushrooms and Bitterbugs are common enough; in the Ancient Forest, the best place to find them near each other is in the northern part (Area 7 on the map). Mandragora are rarer; the only place to find them in the Ancient forest are in the treetops in the northeast, near the Bugtrappers tribe (Area 17). A bit out of the way, but you could potentially have Max Potions in your pouch by the end of your very first mission. Sadly, you can only carry two at a time.

Beyond the Max Potion is the Ancient Potion, which I mentioned back in my Bestiary entry on the Kelbi, which maximizes both Health and Stamina and fully heals you. Kelbi first appear in the Wildspire Wastes, however, so you won’t be able to create it immediately, unlike the Max Potion. (And you can only carry one. Stingy! 😉 )


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It probably has more stamina than you as well.

Lots of actions cost stamina, though for some reason swinging a sword bigger than yourself around isn’t one of them. Most of the time you won’t need to specifically restore your stamina, since it recovers at a fairly good rate naturally. However, your maximum stamina will decrease over time (due to “hunger,” in game terms). The easiest way to fix this problem is with Rations, which are sadly not gathered from the environment, but most often created through “Oven Roast” at the canteen. Just give Raw Meat (or monster hide, or monster tails, or other stuff) to the Handler and once the current quest or expedition is done, she will return a number of rations (and possibly other things, depending on what you roast). You can also receive Rations randomly as quest rewards, but that’s not exactly what I’d call a stable supply. The good thing about rations is that you can eat them quickly, and you can carry a full 10. The bad, I suppose, is that you can’t make them during a quest, but don’t worry, you have other options.

The easiest option being: kill a local monster for it’s delicious raw meat, and roast it up on your portable BBQ kit. You will receive a Well-done Steak (or Rare Steak, or Burnt Steak, if your timing isn’t quite right), which takes longer to eat than a Ration, but increases your max Stamina a good deal more. Also worth mentioning is the Energy Drink, made from Nitroshroom and Honey, which increases Stamina similarly to a Ration, and also helps you shake off the Sleep status effect. (Which you won’t face in the early game, I’m just saying. 😉 )


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To be fair, the chances of it using a trap are fairly remote.

If you are like me, you want to capture monsters as much as possible. Not only are the potential rewards slightly better, it also skips the monster’s pitiful final struggles to survive… which are nearly as deadly as the earlier encounters with the beast, so it’s worth it not to bother, right? Sure. Anyway, the two things you need to capture monsters are Tranq Bombs, and Traps.

Tranq Bombs are somewhat easy to make, requiring a Parashroom and a Sleep Herb. These are located relatively near each other in the Ancient Forest: a couple of Parashrooms can be found in area 2, the outdoor location outside of Dreadlocks’ lair; and sleep herbs are in the mid-level above and slightly to the north, area 15. Although I got lost a lot in that area. A bit confusing, frankly. 😛

The Traps require a bit more effort, however. First of all, you need to buy a Trap Tool from the Provisions Stockpile (200z, if your wondering), and you can only carry 2 in your pouch. Then, you either need to find a Thunderbug, or both an Ivy and a Spiderweb. The Thunderbug can be found on trees on all three levels of the eastern forest, and when combined with a Trap Tool becomes a Shock Trap. Spiderweb (found in caves, easily found near the Sleep Herbs from earlier) combined with Ivy (found most easily in areas 13 and 15; there is a patch near the Northeast Camp, but it’s impossible to describe how to find it :\ ) creates a Net, which you can then combine with a Trap Tool to make a Pitfall Trap. You can only carry one completed trap of each type; if you waste one, you can only make a new one, or give up. ^^;

Once you have Tranq Bombs and Traps, however, things are relatively simple. Step 1: beat a large monster within an inch of its life (hey, I said it was simple, not easy 😛 ), and it will eventually limp (literally) back to its lair and pass out. Usually, anyway; if you keep hitting the monster even once it hits the limping phase, it will metaphorically say “screw it” and fight you to the death. That’s not to say you can’t still capture it, since step 2 is luring the monster into your Trap, but planting said Trap next to its recumbent body, and trying to place it safely while it tries to disembowel you, are two entirely different propositions. Anyway, once your friendly trap is placed, and your new monster friend is inside, walk right up to its face and start dropping Tranq Bombs. Usually it will only take two bombs before the monster will pass out (again) and you’ll have a big pile of rewards waiting for you once you head home. 😉

Of course, if you take too long with the Tranqs, it might struggle free of your trap. In which case, I hope you brought an extra, or you’ll be right back in that “fight to the death” thing. But hey, at least it’s almost dead already, right? ^^;

Other Stuff:

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Let’s be fair: if you could pick up a Great Jagras and throw it at your enemies, you definitely would. 😉

I believe the above should cover about 99% of all encounters in the early game, but there are also other interesting items that could end up in your arsenal. For instance, I don’t use barrel bombs myself, but there’s nothing wrong with a good explosion, right? The problem being that barrels are only sold by Provisions, so you have to plan ahead. And of course, try not to be nearby when it goes off. 😛

Of more practical use, in my opinion, are Flash Pods. This custom Slinger ammo is fashioned from Flashbugs, and they can be used to blind monsters, making them vulnerable and yourself harder to target. While you can only carry 3 (and to be fair, you can also carry 10 Flashbugs if you really, really like them), they can help a lot if you need to create an opening, or if you need to, y’know, run away.

Speaking of running away… if you are tired of being chased around by Angie the fire-breathing T-Rex, why not pick up one of those piles of dung lying around and make some Dung Pods? Sure, it’s gross, but it might be worth it to see Angie run away from you for once. 😀

Setting that aside… most random plants are actually used to make the various types of Bowgun ammo. Or should I put that the other way around…? Oh well. I don’t use Bowguns very often (read: ever) but materials are common enough that you shouldn’t worry about using your stronger ammo whenever you feel like. Frankly, Bowguns are actually complex enough that they could use another full article, but to be honest, I really don’t feel like delving into it. We’ll see… :\

Well, this article ended up being much longer than I had anticipated; so much for concise. I guess I’ll just leave my little rant about Bow Coatings for tomorrow… Anyway. I’ve got to go figure out how to beat a Rathalos, so I’ll see y’all tomorrow. 😀Monster Hunter_ World_20180304205210.jpg

The Legend of the Five

Once, there was a world without time. The world was nothing but white light, inhabited only by people and five dragons. In that world, there was only eternity, and a sun that burned without beginning or end. And because there was only timeless eternity, nothing was ever lost…yet nothing was ever gained.

One day, the people began to wonder why their world had no beginning or end, so they asked the dragons. The dragons opened their mouths as if to answer, but from their mouths poured water instead of words. It rushed out in streams to create the sky and the oceans, and the dragons swam away.

The dragons swam to the center of the ocean, and there they began to transform into an island. One dragon sank into the sea and became the land. One dragon lifted its gaze to the sky and became the mountains. One dragon stooped low and became the lakes, and scattered its scales to create the rain. One dragon fell into a deep slumber and became the forests. The last dragon climbed into the sky to become a star of sapphire blue, shining brightly above the island.

The people could not understand why the dragons had left, or why they had transformed. Eventually, a lone youth decided to go to the island to seek the answers from the dragons themselves. He donned a simple cloak, climbed into a simple boat, and cast off alone into the murky seas. At last, guided by the light of the sapphire star, he reached the Island of the Five.

Some time passed, and the youth returned. “Did you speak with the dragons?” the people asked. “Yes, I spoke with them,” he replied. “Then tell us, why did they create the island?” But the youth did not answer. Instead, he reached into his cloak and pulled out five dragon scales, which he gave to the people. And then, before anyone realized, the youth disappeared.

The people left their white world and sailed across the ocean. Using the five scales, they created their own lands, their own mountains, their own lakes, and their own forests. Last of all, they created a bright moon, so that the sapphire star, which had guided the youth during his voyage to seek the dragons, would no longer shine alone in the sky.

The land grew large enough to obscure the sun, and day and night were born. The mountains, lakes, and forests breathed together, and the seasons were born. The moon cast its light on the ocean, and waves were born. And thus time was also born. Swept up in the almighty current of time, the people came to know death. But the people also came to know life.

Countless days and countless nights have passed since people first came to live on the lands they had created. As time passed, they lost their memory of the Five Dragons, and even the memory of how time itself had been born. But deep in their hearts there dwelt a quiet knowledge of the Island of the Five, the most sacred place in the world, which to this day sleeps in the middle of the ocean, uninhabited by people, and unchanged even by the relentless flow of time.

-The Tale of the Five

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Good evening, everyone. In this article, I’m going to take a bit of a segue away from the gameplay elements of Monster Hunter World in order to discuss story elements. I have said before that the story is more of an excuse plot than anything else, and that is true as far as it goes. But while the playable story doesn’t shift much from, “Pursue elder dragon; local monster makes things difficult; defeat monster and unlock new options; continue pursuing elder dragon,” I believe that there is another level to be had: specifically, the myth above, the Tale of the Five, goes a long way to taking the “excuse” out of “excuse plot” in my mind. Let’s pick it apart a bit, shall we? Continue reading

MHW: Welcome to Astera!

Phew… glad I had the foresight to take yesterday off. It ended up being a bit brutal on my poor, fragile psyche… Never would have managed to get this article done. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll get it done today. If this post goes live on Wednesday, you’ll know I didn’t make it. 😛

Well, setting myself aside, welcome to Astera, your home away from home! Except, now that you are stuck on this side of the ocean in the New World, I guess it’s the only home you have? Well, there are definitely worse places to live, and it’s scenic as you could ask, so let’s go sightseeing, shall we? Continue reading

Sunday Update: The Bestiary (Final Part)

Hey, everyone, happy Sunday! Today is the last day of my monstrous presentation, and I hope my humble commentary has been helpful in some small fashion. I really like how the game escalates the difficulty of the missions, and then doesn’t hold your hand as you figure out how to clear them. You are free to use any weapon, any tactic, any item you want…

…And now, you’re going to need all of it.

Large Monster #7: AnjanathMonster Hunter: World_20180318192451

Yup. It’s a T-Rex. It’s absolutely a T-Rex. Big freaking T-Rex. It has big gaping jaws and teeth like a T-Rex. It has short stubby forelegs like a T-Rex. It can breathe fire like a T-Rex [citation needed].

I call it “Angie.”

(Yeah, I know it doesn’t fit the rest of my naming scheme. But, see, the nickname for the tyrannosaurus from Jurassic Park is “Rexie”; and since Angie is absolutely a tyrannosaurus, I wanted something similar.)

So, we first meet Angie when it unintentionally saves our character and the Handler from Dreadlocks at the very start of the game (y’know, right after the ship your riding gets stuck on an elder dragon and you plummet into the jungle. Man, I love this game. 😀 ) There is a chance that you have had it chase you around the Ancient Forest while out on an expedition. If you have attempted to fight it, however, you may have learned something very, very important: the Anjanath is an absolute beast. Harsh attacks, a hair-trigger temper, and yes, the ability to breathe fire make Angie an absolute terror.

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Its favorite pastime is savaging Dreadlocks, though, so it isn’t all bad. It’s like sharing a hobby. 😛

That’s not to say that you can’t defeat Angie early; as mentioned earlier, it often wanders around the Ancient Forest during expeditions (but not early investigations, fortunately) and you can give it a shot in a (relatively) risk-free environment. Of course, the thing to remember is that during expeditions monsters will leave the area after a while, and if you have any trouble damaging this monster, it will probably run down the clock on you; on at least two occasions I had Angie on the ropes, only for it to burrow under the water and disappear, leaving only my consternation and rage. (And a few loose scales, so it wasn’t a complete loss.) 😛

But you will eventually have to fight this behemoth. Fortunately, despite being a T-Rex, Angie is not invincible; but it can become a big scary wall if you’ve been scraping through fights by the skin of your teeth. Here, therefore, is my vague checklist for preparing to face your fears:

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Fight Wedge, fight Nessie, and fight Fluffy until you are comfortable with fighting large, mobile monsters. Learn your chosen weapon inside and out, and be aware of when you are most vulnerable while using it. (When in doubt, Aqua Hammer. Actually, why wait until you are in doubt? 😉 )
  2. While you are fighting and practicing, you will naturally gather materials for making armor and weapons. Make the highest available water weapon of your favorite type, and start picking out the armor you want to wear. There is no advantage to wearing an entire set (yet 😉 ) so evaluate what skills you would like to have, and whether it has extra fire defense. Two pieces worthy of note: the Kulu headdress has the skill Fire Resistance and decent base stats; and as I mentioned yesterday, Kestodon Armguards have both good physical defense and significant resistance to fire. (Of course, when you pick and choose pieces from different sets you end up looking like a fashion disaster; but what’s more important, looking good, or survival? Don’t answer that. 😛 )
  3. Take and complete bounties, especially easy gathering bounties. Completing bounties scores you Armor Spheres, which you can use to level up your armor’s physical defense. Hopefully you have been doing this all along, so you won’t have to deliberately grind these too much; but leveling up your armor can be the difference between being one-shot by a giant T-Rex, and surviving until the second bite. >.>
  4. Carry a full inventory of Potions and Mega Potions, and make sure you are comfortable selecting them off the item radial dial. I would also suggest creating and carrying items to increase your defense and attack power, especially defense. Finally, if you are using a weapon that needs sharpening often, I suggest fishing up some Whetfish Scales: these items greatly decrease the amount of time needed to sharpen your weapon, and are much safer to use in a combat situation than the ordinary whetstone. (Safer, but not safe; it’s still best to find some cover before fixing your weapon.) And if you really want to treat yourself, carry an Ancient Potion for emergencies.

Now, if you wait until the story assignment to face Angie, the battle will start with a cutscene of you dropping a bunch of rocks on Angie’s back. Take that as a hint: the battle will be much smoother if you take advantage of the environment. Lead it into traps, lead it to other large monsters, and generally do everything you can to make sure you don’t have to face 100% of its gentle attentions. 😛

Inevitably, however, you’ll have to wade in and deal your damage directly. Things to keep in mind: if you stand in front of Angie it will charge and bite you, if you stand behind it you will be smacked with a strong tail swipe, if you stand beside it then it will shoulder check into you, and if you stand beneath it Angie will kick you. The takeaway? Keep moving. Don’t stand in one place and whale away unless you are absolutely sure Angie isn’t about to tag you. Take a couple swings, dodge away, and check to see if it is looking at you before heading back in again.

Now, large monsters have a berserk state where their attacks become more deadly; and Angie goes berserk early and often. Watch the little eye marker on the minimap while you are fighting; when it turns red, Angie is about to unleash its most violent attacks, including a huge diving body slam which will absolutely ruin your day — especially if you get caught between it and a tree, in which case you might be in serious trouble. Finally, it can pick you up in its mouth and toss you through the air, which is fun to watch although bad to experience. Fortunately, this attack doesn’t do additional damage past the initial bite, but it will leave you prone and vulnerable to follow-up attacks.

The other thing that happens when Angie gets ticked is that it will start spouting fire from its mouth. If you get bitten at this time, you will be set aflame (in addition to taking damage from being chewed on, naturally). Fortunately, all you have to do to put yourself out is to do a series of dodge rolls, which since you were just bitten by a giant dinosaur, you are probably doing already. It can also spout sparks in front of itself in an arc, like it’s swinging a fiery sword, so watch out for that. Lastly, it can take a deep breath and spit out a huge flamethrower-esque line of pure death. Yeah. Don’t get hit by that. You’ll be sad. :\

And if worst comes to worst, there’s nothing wrong with running away. Heal up, make new potions, maybe eat at the mini-canteen at camp, and go find Angie for another round. You have fifty minutes, so don’t try to rush too much. Play it safe, and keep up a steady pressure, and eventually Angie will capitulate.

And your reward for victory (apart from access to Anja materials and better bounties) will be a major setpiece battle against the world’s most volcanic elder dragon, Zorah Magdaros! It will be grand! Seriously, though, it’s fun, so look forward to it.

Oh yeah, armor set:

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Small monster #7: KelbiMonster Hunter: World_20180318201851

It’s a deer. Yup. It’s a dear deer. You’ll find them immediately when you enter the Wildspire Wastes.

It is harmless. It won’t even pay any attention to you until hit it with your large, scary weapons, and then it will zig-zag away and try to find some cover to watch you from, and hope you don’t come after it.

You can carve it for its hide (a craftable material), its liver (worth commision points), or bog-standard raw meat. It doesn’t even have an armor set of its own, and is only used as a secondary material in a few other sets.

So why do I even mention it, you may ask? Well, if you strike it directly in the head, you might break off one of its horns (why the horn can’t be carved from the body itself is, of course, an open question.) This horn is used in a very useful crafting recipe that I think you should know about. For this recipe you will need:

1 Bitterbug

1 Honey

1 Mandragora

1 Kelbi horn

First, mix the Bitterbug and the Honey to create a Catalyst, which has no use on its own but is part of many other recipes. Next, mix the Catalyst with the Mandragora mushroom to create Immunizer, which… apparently increases your recovery rate? I haven’t actually tested it yet… but never mind. Take the Immunizer and add ground Kelbi horn (Ok, ok, you don’t actually have to grind the horn, just work with me here. 😛 )

The final result will be the Ancient Potion. Not only does this little beauty heal your wounds, it also maxes out both your Health bar and your Stamina Bar, very useful if you want to finish a long drawn out fight against a monster in peak condition. The bad news? You can only carry one at a time. How big is that potion, anyway…? 😐

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should go out and hit gentle deer-creatures in the head with dangerous weapons… Man, it sounds even worse when I put it that way. Seriously, check your conscience at the door when you join the 5th Fleet, people… ^^;Monster Hunter: World_20180318201825

Ok, that concludes my coverage of interesting monsters in the early game. Naturally, there are many more to find, confront, and “research”, but this is definitely enough to get the beginning hunter started. I’m going to take tomorrow off, but I should be back the day after with coverage on the home base of the Research Commision: Astera. Hope you have a good week, and see you later! 😀Monster Hunter: World_20180317234833

MHW: The Bestiary (Part 6)

Sat down to write this article → Fell asleep. Not an excuse, just the reality. Still yawning, even… :\

Large Monster #6: Tobi-Kadachi

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I call this one “Fluffy”. Don’t you love its fluffy tail? …Until you look closer, and you realize that the tail is actually a mass of scales and spikes, anyway. >.>

Tobi-Kadachi is a bizarre cross of snow fox, flying squirrel, and lizard. Like our old friend Mohawk, it tends to mind its own business until you agitate it, and it will likely wander right by you as long as you don’t start poking it with sharp sticks. (Makes it easier to screenshot, I’ll say that much.) It prefers the upper levels of the Ancient Forest, but it will commonly wander downwards in search of water and food. At least, I think it’s looking for food? I’m not actually sure what it eats…

Monster Hunter: World_20180317120037

Anyway, start a fight with the cute little(?) monster and you will quickly learn just how dangerous a flying squirrel can be. You see, Fluffy is a thunder-element wyvern, and it can channel that energy into its tail for a powerful rotating swipe, or cause a powerful arc between the horns on its head that looks absolutely painful. On top of that, it is fast and agile, able to leap onto the trunks of trees to launch attacks from above, and even from level ground it can jump into the air and glide for a few moments before somersaulting into an extremely powerful full-bodied smackdown with its electrified tail. The more it moves around, the more severe its electric attacks become; according to the field guide, this is because it builds up static electricity in its body, but I prefer to believe that it is just getting more excited as the fight goes on. It also has a chance of inflicting a status blight that makes you vulnerable to stunning, so keep the Nulberries handy.

Monster Hunter: World_20180316135145
So cute… Hmm? I have weird tastes? Well, maybe. 😛

I would say that you don’t need any new tactics to fight Fluffy, beyond learning its attack patterns and tells, of course. The real way to gain an advantage in the fight is to properly prepare beforehand; because your character does not level up, the only way to improve is to change and upgrade your gear, which in turn encourages you to go back and hunt previous enemies multiple times to gather the things you need. In this case, Barroth armor provides both excellent physical defense and Thunder element defense, so creating a full set and upgrading it with armor spheres is an excellent way to prepare. It’s a pity about its appearance, though… Additionally, Fluffy is weak to Water damage, and conveniently enough, Jyuratodus parts make for excellent water element weapons of every type. So if you have trouble with Fluffy, go hunt Wedge and Nessie for a while, and get the gear you need. 😉

Of course, once you can beat the Tobi-Kadachi reliably, you will be able to create the most fashionable armor:


Ah, that’s much easier on the eyes than the previous two sets. And it provides a significant amount of Thunder defense, too, so it’s great for additional fights with Fluffy. (It’s weak to water, though, so don’t wear it into a fight with Nessie.) 😉

Oh, and if you think this entry hasn’t been fluffy enough… allow me to deliver the finishing blow:

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Now that’s fluffy. 😀

Small Monster #6: Kestodon

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So far, the only monster with pronounced sexual dimorphism, and indeed they are identified as Kestodon (Male) and Kestodon (Female). The females are small, and act something like proximity detectors: they get upset when anything passes nearby, and if a hunter or monster continues to loiter, they will incite the males to attack. The males are bigger, and their headgear is more extensive. Both genders will try to headbutt you, but the females will generally hang back and let the males do the fighting if possible. They usually hang around in groups of two males and three females, but variations exist; there will always be more females than males, however. Not the toughest monsters on the block, all in all.

Like the Gajau, they don’t have a full armor set, but they do make a very good armguard:

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Not only does it have good defense and a significant resistance to fire, it has the skill Sliding Affinity, a skill that literally increases your weapon Affinity for a brief period of time after sliding down a hill. Affinity is a bit esoteric (I had to look up an explanation myself) but it basically allows a weapon to occasionally deal more damage than it normally would — a critical hit, if you would. It is possible to have negative Affinity on weapons (Barroth-based weapons are a good example), where they will occasionally do less than base damage. So in conclusion, this skill lets you increase your critical damage (or eliminate reduced damage) in hilly areas. Um… that was a long explanation, but it’s better than it sounds, trust me. 😉

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Well, then. A difficult fight looms on the horizon, so join me tomorrow as we meet an escapee from Jurassic Park, whom I like to call: “Angie.” See you then! 😀

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Somehow, posting a picture of a paralyzed and tranqed enemy has become the norm for these posts… 😐