Incompleting Monster Hunter World

Oh wait… but can you actually – complete – Monster Hunter World? Of course not… but I did reach a certain point of completeness, and this point was reached surprisingly sooner than I had anticipated. Funny enough, some days before reaching this point, I was very enthusiastic about this game, even commented while playing “This is such an awesome game! Hunting is so much fun!” or “I hardly feel the grind, and I am still very motivated!”
Well… obviously, something happened. But what? And what did trigger this sudden realization?

My early story so far

I purchased the game on August 8th, 2018 via Steam closely to when it released, which was just one day later (snatched ‘dem pre-order goodies!). At the beginning, I played leisurely at my own pace, struggling with the controls and the massive overflow of not well explained information and learning to wield some big weapons. Mostly I played with my kids in the backseat, so they decided which Monster to hunt and how to proceed, which was a lot of fun! We really enjoyed the time of around 40h, stretched over several months, until I stalled around December 2018. I was never really “good” at the game and I did not care much, as my Hunter Rank (HR5) until then showed.

Oh… it could have been so much fun.

Still, I was not really satisfied with my gaming experience, as I knew that the game offers way more challenging encounters and way more mechanics I wanted to explore further. In addition, not being a big fan of anonymous multiplayer experiences, no one else in my immediate surrounding was interested in joining the game, so there was not much reason to play along anymore.

A second wind

This changed, when my working colleague proudly announced during a coffee break that he bought the game in the last sale (in May) and planned to play this game enthusiastically (compensating for and recovering from his World of Warcraft depression). So together, we started playing again and it was so(!) much fun together, that I also committed a lot of time into it, investing almost 100h in the last 5 weeks or so. Even another colleague joined us, setting a rather robust group of three. Now I am HR50, completed the strange story (wait… story?) of the game and unlocked the next equipment gamma tier with Kulve Taroth and the whole Tempered Monster experience.

Glorious times ahead!

What struck me most until this point was the amazing gameplay loop of Monster Hunter. This was my first MH game and I never really understood the fan culture surrounding the franchise, but then… then I finally got it.

The pacing of progression is phenomenal. Every upgrade is not too far away from your grasp at this rather early stage of the game. The Monsters always yield the exact right amount of materials to upgrade your weapons and armor in order to keep you going. There is just some amount of such’n’such bones missing? – let’s just go hunt an Anjanath! I am missing this’n’that tooth? – let’s hunt a Diabolos!

Monster fights are FIGHTS. The game communicates very openly, that you are prepared to take the challenge, or you are not. Monsters are unforgiving, that you can maybe escape one-shot mechanics, but are not efficient in a way, that you deal enough damage to finally overcome the Monster in the later fighting phases (especially Elder Dragons). Learning to read the Monsters and to foresee their pattern (without being able to always predict it) keeps you on your toes and makes you realize that your jaw feels sore after the fight, simply of being so tense and into it.

Repetition is not a big deal. Of course, you will grind and – of course – you will do the same bounties and missions over and over and over and over and over again. However, Monsters are not always acting in the same way and the environment has its tiny interplay and interaction in every hunt you engage. This will let you have challenging fights and individual experiences when hunting.

The detailled environment is just amazing. I am not talking about graphics quality, but the detailed environment that supports the immersion and contributes to fighting in a huge arena, with various tricks at your disposal. Not always did we remember all the traps and bolders around us, but when we did, it was always very rewarding to make use of them.

Multiplayer, but not multiplayer, and voice. The game got so much better, when playing together. I am used to play alone in online games, simply because of my limited play-time in the evening and my often abrupt end of play-sessions. In MH though, the game made so much more “sense” when playing together via voice. Arena fights were so much fun, unrelated to the type of Monster, but simply the shared experience of trapping, luring, and cursing over the Monster’s ass**** behavior, finalized by bold claims of victory.

Ultimately, I was transfixed on getting the next weapon or armor upgrade, on throwing more time on whichever Monster comes or whatever event happens, on completing the Witcher event and farming Ciri’s armor, because … Ciri!? Witcher?! Megaman?!

Incompletement

It did not come to pass and a sudden urge to stop playing manifested, which may be best described as some sort of inceptive hunch, that whispered in my ear: Shhht! Hey, you! You actually completed the game, didn’t you?

Followed by rather obvious questions of reason:

  • Why would you like to and need to grind more? And for what really? Isn’t that all a big waste of time? There is so much other stuff to do with your time! I mean: check your game library?
  • Look on how many materials you need for the next upgrade; besides: what is the next upgrade anyway? What is the best upgrade? Let’s look for a reddit guide or a video…
  • Kulve Taroth raid, really? With 16 other hunters? Oh, we know how this will end: You will faint cart your group out of the game and then you will have to rely on the rest of the hunters to somehow finish this… Good times! What an experience… oh, it only last until June 6th?

Sometimes I wonder, if too much content is a good thing. Sometimes I wonder, if you can spin games forever, and they are still enjoyably fun for me.

Monster Hunter World does an excellent job in progressing and leading you to the ultimate grind – and I did not even get this far! But still, the grind is not the issue. The story is so absurd in this game, that I do not even dare to think too much about the ‘What?‘, ‘Why?!‘ and ‘WTFs!!!?‘ in it, and I wonder if there lies some reason for my sudden loss of motivation. That not the grind is the problem, but the undirected-meaningless grind. Meaningless does not only mean story-induced, but also goal-bound meaninglessness.

  • What is the next goal and where can I find it?
  • Does a game with self set goals give me a rewarding experience?
  • Is the mechanic enough to keep me going?
Exhaustion, depression, … incompleted.

My friends still love the game and they will probably continue to progress further and have lots of fun (one reached HR70+ already); for me, well, it lost the appeal completely with this awkward combination of lack of story and lack of comprehensible / reasonable goals. I envy my friends for it, because somehow, I still want to go forward and progress further, but I do not see any reason why I should do that and even sink another hour into it…

Ultimately, the Monster, that is Monster Hunter World, became too big too hunt for me; and there is no way of a capture in the end.

Stalled, because of a noticable absence of story and no clear goals for continuing the grind after the core game experience.

The Incompletionist

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