Here’s the Thing is where Rob dumps his random thoughts and strong opinions on all manner of nerdy subjects – from videogames and movies to board games and toys.
People love to whine and whinge about mobile games and how they’re “ruining” this and that. Hell, I’ve rolled my eyes at more than a few mobile adaptations over the years. Sometimes they’re actually good, lots of the time they’re cash-grabbing bullshit, but I’ve learned over the years that I really need to try them for myself before assuming they’re soulless monstrosities. Because here’s the thing: As much as I was worried about how Monster Hunter Now would translate one of my favorite franchises into a Pokemon GO-esque augmented reality scavenger hunt, it’s actually done a really good job of pulling me back in.
The Monster Hunter series has been a videogame staple in my life for almost 20 years, but unlike other series I’ve stuck with, I tend to pop in and out semi-regularly. I’ll always get the newest one when it comes out (as long as I own the console it releases on), and I’ll inevitably play it for dozens of hours within the first month or two. But I also inevitably move away from it for one reason or another. Maybe a new release pulls me over; maybe I get frustrated with a particular hunt; maybe I just put it down for a week and I blink and that week becomes six months. Even so, I always come back.
What ties all of this to Monster Hunter Now is the way it made me realize I’d been avoiding Monster Hunter Rise for some reason. I fell off of it after around 50 or 60 hours and I honestly can’t explain my thought process. It’s just that every time I thought about playing it, I decided it would be too much effort to remember the intricacies of the various monsters and re-familiarize myself with the controls – which is even more tricky when you main (or really, exclusively use) a complex weapon like the Charge Blade.
Out of curiosity and an appreciation for the series as a whole, I dipped into Monster Hunter Now on launch day and was not surprised in the slightest to find that it’s basically Pokemon GO, but now you’re hunting and slaying large monsters to use the spoils for crafting new weapons and armor. It’s a distillation of the series that’s definitely a lot less intricate but does retain some of the key elements like reading a monster’s attacks and knowing when to strike being more important than your gear (mostly).
But it’s the daily missions that really got my mind racing. Not because they’re particularly fancy or challenging, but because they encourage using different weapon types from time to time. It’s a level of combat variety I haven’t experienced in a Monster Hunter game for years. I mean it’s entirely my own fault because I got some weird satisfaction and sense of pride from seeing my weapon use stats showing only the Charge Blade, but mixing it up in the unassuming mobile side game suddenly had me thinking about trying out every other option in the “proper” game.
Sure, I’ve got a pretty solid understanding of the sword and shield combo that turns into a giant axe (that can double as a buzzsaw if you know the right moves), but what about the Great Sword? I used to main that back in the early ‘00s and it’s undoubtedly been expanded in the years since. Or how about the Gunlance? I used to play around with that and thought it was really interesting, so why not revisit it? Even ranged weapons, which I used to avoid, seem more promising to me now. I really want to see what kind of ridiculous nonsense I can pull off with the Bow – especially now that they did away with having two separate armor classes for melee and ranged.
In truth, I still haven’t actually made good on trying out any other weapons in Monster Hunter Rise yet. Both because it’s still difficult to convince myself to break my 100-percent Charge Blade usage stat, and because most nights I don’t have it in me to try to learn an entirely new approach to combat in a High Rank quest. But I’m still thinking about it. And every time I open up Monster Hunter Now to battle the Cliffs Notes version of a monster I’ve come to know all too well; it entices me even more. One way or another, I’m going to go through with it. But for now, I’m happy just to be back.
Rob Rich is a guy who’s loved nerdy stuff since the 80s, from videogames to anime to Godzilla to Power Rangers toys to Transformers, and has had the good fortune of being able to write about them all. He’s also editor for the Games section of Exploits! You can still find him on Twitter, Instagram and Mastodon.