I’m in Love With Two Monster Hunter Games, and It’s Tearing Me Apart

What it's like when you enjoy a "worse" game than the one you have.

Monster Hunter World is my wife. She’s been there with me for years now, totaling well over 800 hours across PlayStation 4 and PC. But there is another… Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. This Switch game I bought to keep me occupied in line at the DMV is my boyfriend — pulling me away with dirtier, sloppier controls and freaky shit like hunting giant bugs that Voltron together into stronger, gianter bugs. I invested another 200 hours into it back when I bought it. Now I’ve added another 75 or so since I started back up again earlier this month. Please don’t tell my wife about this.

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I say this because my new double life is tearing me apart. I mean that professionally and psychologically. See, I already have a real problem playing infinitely grindy games. You can probably guess that from the hour counts listed above. I simply don’t have time to play them all and beat the more traditional single-player games I enjoy just as much (and, like, need to write about for work).

Old problems aside, though, I’m really just fucking up a lot. Like constantly. MHGU plays just enough like its big console rival that it’s created a chasm in my brain — getting me beat around by electrified monkeys, super poisonous chameleons, and a living El Dorado that summons liquid gold from the heavens, as I fumble and think “Yes, this is the button I press to not get whomped by the nasty crystal spider. I’m so smart.” After which I am promptly and thoroughly whomped by the nasty crystal spider.

The diversity of those monsters between both games is really what keeps me flipping back and forth. I love the sensible quality-of-life changes introduced in MHW. I also love new monsters like Kulve Taroth, the aforementioned Goldilocks lizard. But I also love wild shit like a monkey that reaches into its own ass to grab poop and throw it at me from MHGU. The monsters of the New World aren’t always so colorful as that. That’s why I dive back into the mines, re-acclimating my brain to less quality-of-life. Then I do it all in reverse as I return to MHW.

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It’s hardly the games’ fault. The Switch version does allow you to adjust the controls. I’ve made it as close to the objectively better scheme found in MHW as possible. But it’s still frustrating. And it really drives home the issues with what was my favorite game of 2018. Namely, it’s a bit lacking in variety next to a game that pulled from two decades of Monster Hunter history.

MHW has a lot of big lizards. It’s last genuinely new creature, Safi’Jiva, is a big, Western-style wyvern straight out of Dragonheart — about as traditional a design as you can get. It’s next addition, Alatreon, which was just delayed thanks to development issues, is also a winged quadruped. Oh, sure! Both dragons have wildly different abilities. And even similarly proportioned beasts can have wildly different looks (e.g. Kulve Taroth). But I’ve played myself. I put in blood, sweat, and tears to remind myself just how good we used to have it with our creature collection. Then I turn around and remind myself how good we have it now, with an all-around smoother way to battle those beasts. As it stands now, I cannot have my cake and eat it too. It’s torture.

Does this make me a bad fan? An unfaithful one? Maybe. But it also gets me excited. There will almost certainly be a Monster Hunter World 2. The latest game is the publisher’s best-selling release ever. And the devs have said there will be no more paid expansions for it. If Capcom can marry my two great loves, using the backbone of Monster Hunter World and the back catalogue of Generations Ultimate, I’m sure I’ll find true happiness again. And maybe I’ll stop pressing the wrong damn buttons so much.

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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