Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Gaming Updates (MM39)

XBox One Elite Controller Broke Again!
I still highly recommend this controller but again, you must get Best Buy's 2-year warranty. I had to return it on April 13th as the micro-usb port wasn't connecting, which happens quite often with this type of port. It's unfortunate that controllers have moved away from the incredibly sturdy mini-usb to the flimsy micro-usb. 

A little before the port problems, the rubber backing of the handles actually peeled off. I didn't think to return it since it was wear and tear (though it was uncomfortable having the rubber stick out like that), but reading Best Buy's warranty, it covers wear and tear from regular use.

Lastly, the left bumper has started to stick, so I think if it weren't for the micro-usb breaking, it would've been the left bumper falling apart in a month's time.

When I returned it, there were no Elite controllers physically available, and the cashier even said she got so many of these returned in the past 2 weeks that this might be the reason for unavailability not only at my local Best Buy, but other Best Buys in the area as well. So a new controller was shipped and received in a rather fast 2 business days.

Another reason to buy the controller and warranty at Best Buy is the warranty keeps getting extended. To my surprise when I looked at the receipt, the warranty was extended to April 12, 2020, despite buying the controller back in August 10, 2017. Technically the warranty should only last through August 9, 2019, so 8 months was added!

The controller is so comfortable and ergonomically near perfect, it's no wonder Microsoft spent millions of dollars designing it, but you'd think that Microsoft would use quality parts. Searching Youtube, the reason why the LB and/or the RB buttons break is that they use plastic instead of metal parts for springs, so after repeating pressing on these flimsy springs, they would break. Reading through the comments on Amazon, customers also complained about the rubber backing peeling off and micro-usb disconnecting.

Despite all of this, I can safely recommend this controller because of Best Buy's warranty if and only if you game frequently. I think $150 is worth two years of use (I have a feeling that your last replaced controller will break shortly after the warranty) because preventing physical pain is worth the money.

Fortnite: I'm Back in Full Swing!
When I found out that the Spring Event was ending and I had only 2 days to finish the missions,
Level 40 StS Snowman Banner
I was very fortunate that my friend pushed me through the finish line. I was still burned out during this time, but the new Survive the Storm (StS) event really pulled me back in. I missed their very first one, and surviving 7 days (or was it the ridiculous 14 days) netted you special banners.


During the second offering of StS for the holiday/winter event, I was able to get the banner for the level 70, 7-day mission. We were fortunate to be rewarded the banner for doing only 3-days due to a bug. Ironically, the level 40 snowman banner was actually cuter than the level 70 skull banner. It was a mark of pride to wear the level 70 banner so I was using it, but then went back to the adorable level 40 snowman one instead.

In other words, I look forward to the challenge of completing a legitimate level 70, full 7-days. The advantage now is that Epic Games made great changes to resource management, so we can carry 5000 of each building material, whereas before we could only carry 999 each. Each backpack slot can hold up to 200 traps and other items, whereas before, you can only carry 20 traps per backpack space, and 99 of other items. By overbuilding, the level 70 StS may not be too bad, even if it's 7 days.


Since I was farming and doing low level missions in preparation for the level 70 StS, I began to enjoy Fortnite, and I'm now really into the game. What helped prevent burn-out is the upcoming StS challenges, and that we can now gain commander experience at any mission level, whereas before, you only get credit if you do missions around your level. In Twine, the very last area, it can be taxing. So it's refreshing to progress and see your stats move up, even when doing mundane farming. I think seeing lack of progression, having the same stale stats, and no new challenges contributed to the burn-out.

Monster Hunter: Hunting Horn
Like the Charge Blade, I never understood the Hunting Horn (HH), so I want to finally be able to use the HH with competency, like I finally did with the Charge Blade. During my leveling up to Hunter Rank 100 (HR100) which unlocks the very last mission, I thought I won't beat this quest because of this one monster. Because of Fashion Souls, I refused to wear its rather unattractive armor that will negate its main power and trivialize the monster, so I had to "git gud". 

Still having problems beating the dreaded monster, while advancing up the ranks, I discovered that one particular Hunting Horn can negate the problems, and I was excited because I can use this weapon instead of caving in and making its armor.

Eventually, I reached HR100 and beat the last mission, using Fashion Souls. Though not yet learning the hunting horn, I defeated it using the trusty Lance with the overpowered Guard Level 5 where stamina doesn't drain upon blocking, and Guard Up that blocks unblockable attacks. I really find that Lance is easy mode.

At any rate, I've never succeeded in fighting the very last post-game mission in any of the past Monster Hunter games. Not even the Japan-only one where the story missions were so easy that I could've done a no faint run on my first walkthrough, if I weren't so over-confident with the very last story hunt. However, the very last mission post-story I was never able to complete because you have to fight multiple monsters within a time limit, and I believe if you don't kill them fast enough, they show up at the same time.

Even though I completed the very last HR100 mission for the first time ever in my Monster Hunter career, I really want to learn the hunting horn. Each time I learned a new weapon, I played a new game. The game does an absolutely fantastic job in helping you to progress by gating how much you can improve your armors and weapons, so you're forced to be skilled enough to fight particular monsters. Only when you succeed and become proficient enough with your weapons, can you then level up your armors, weapons and charms. The game is a masterpiece in this way because you end up getting to know your weapons at quite a competent level. Instead of "tanking through" the walls such as Anjanath and Nergigante by leveling up to overpowered levels (like you can do even in Dark Souls), you're forced to beat them with limited amount of offense and defense.

I felt this time I should try and "save time" and use my current Lance character, wearing the starting low rank armor. For Fashion Souls, I'm only wearing the leather headgear and the leather greaves since her socks look ridiculous. I'm using the starting hunting horn on low rank Jagras (our first monster) and working my way up. I can't use Niki, my Palico, or buff with meals because both are fully leveled.

I'm now at Kulu-Yaku (second monster), but with Defense at 3 and having a completely un-leveled weapon, I cart at least once to the chicken. I'm going to continue at it, but I have a feeling that I'll start a new game to progress more organically. Ironically, it may be the case that actually starting a new game will save more time than using my current character.

I'm hoping I can have some competency with the hunting horn, being a great support weapon (though secretly quite an offensive and powerful one), as I look forward to doing more COOP.

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fortnite--Improved Gameplay! (MM38)

Once I reached Twine and completed a couple of missions, I was burned out especially as the missions prior to reaching Twine in Canny Valley, there's no story. To advance through Canny Valley, each mission is to do 3 quests, usually Retrieve the Data, Deliver the Bomb, or Category 2 Storm. However, I was spurred on despite having no story and repetitive quests, as reaching Twine is a huge goal.

Even when Epic Games introduced the hover board, which makes getting around the map so fun, as opposed to sprinting which takes up stamina, I still was burned out.

The newest patch, however, changed things. It's amazing how such small changes really made the game exciting.

The burnout of Twine is that as a Ninja, we are viable up through level 100 (there are quite a few Youtube videos as proof), but you need to put down a lot of traps in strategic places. The problem is that the backpack space is very limited, and it's considered over the top when I had 80 traps of each type, as that takes up 4 backpack slots.

Because you may not be able to level up all of your weapons and traps at the same time, you're going to be using different quality materials, again taking up a lot of slots.

However, one of the most welcome change is that now, each slot can hold up to 200 items, including traps! After consolidating, my backpack space went from 185/185 to around 90/185! My storm shield storage is now actually able to store things, as it was on overflow (from Epic Games returning materials when people lost all their backpack items).

In other words, I don't have to worry about dropping unnecessary materials all the time, and I can farm to make even more traps while listening to music, so it's easy to then go from mission to mission, as opposed to having to farm after every single mission.

The other refreshing change is stamina management, especially for the Ninja class. Sprinting no longer takes up stamina, so it's incredibly nice to be able to run up to a group of husks and dragon slash immediately. Prior, after sprinting to the husks, you may have to shoot them as you wait for your stamina bar to fill up enough so that you can perform a dragon slash. 

The double jump (mantis leap) used to cost 1/2 of the stamina bar, to the point where it wasn't worth it for me to do so, and I'd build stairs instead, because by the time I reach the husks, my energy would be depleted if I double jumped. However, it's now only 20/100! Therefore, as a Ninja, I now feel nimble enough to double jump my way through!

The most significant change for me that really prevents burnout is that in the past, if you want to take it easy and play easier missions, you can do so, but you do NOT get any commander experience points. These points are needed to buy special perks and abilities. Therefore, if I want to get these abilities, I must do missions in Twine.

However, now, you can do any mission and get Commander experience points. Of course, if you do missions in Stonewood (the first area) as a high level hero, you're going to get less experience points. However, it only took 4 or so relaxing Stonewood missions for me to level up once! I think because of that, they may have increased Commander experience points across the board, because in the past, it took quite a few Twine missions for me to level up once.

Of course, I would like to get to level 100, which means going through Twine missions, but if I want to take a break and do the daily quests, I can do them in Stonewood and get Commander experience points at the same time!

In video games, you want to make progress, so every time I think of playing Fortnite, the thought of doing only Twine missions as the only way to advance eventually led to burnout, as they are quite involved with farming and building. Thanks to this new change, I can do whatever mission I want and still be able to make considerable progress!

Just these three small changes really make Fortnite so much more fun. It was already an addicting game, but once you burn out on the game, it's hard to get back into the game due to the restrictions placed on storage, stamina and progression issues. 

I feel that I can finally get over the burnout and reach level 100, thanks to these huge improvements!

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Importance of Evil Villains in Video Games (MM37)

The Notorious Pickle
Yes, this is related again to Monster Hunter: World since I'm starting a third character, maining lance.

I was watching quite a few Youtube videos of the new DLC introduction of the Deviljho (Pickle) since I didn't know how to access him. While doing so, I was taken aback because they all mentioned how they hated the Handler, even though she was created specifically to be "likeable", because I felt the same way, and in fact, I hate almost all the other NPCs as well!

However, in past Monster Hunters, I quite liked the NPC characters such as Junior from MH3U and the Guild Marm from Generations. After thinking about this, it all boils down to the monsters, of which almost everyone recognizes that humans are the real monsters in this game. Except for Kirin whom I hate with a passion.

For one thing, none of the monsters ever attack you, and only do so in self-defense. This is a complete reversal from the past series, where you only have to step in an area, and ALL the monsters go after you, even the trifling ones like the Bullfangos. Although ideally, even though it's better to avoid dangerous situations in the first place (but if in danger, to run away and hide), it's completely understandable if you end up hurting a perpetrator in self-defense.

The best example I could think of regarding how crucial it is to make your enemies despicable is Alex and the sincere Ma-nons from Xenoblade Chronicles X.  The Ma-nons are aliens who come to live with humans. Upon seeing Alex's "Cultural Assimilation" flyers, and talking to him, the absolute sincerity and willingness to adopt human culture was heartfelt. They really do want to fit in, get along with others, and do their very best.

Therefore, they join one of Alex's "meetings" where he ends up killing, if I recall, half of them as his intent is to kill all aliens. It's unclear to me as the hero, why we just sat there and watched, because at this point I was in a murderous rage and I wanted to kill him so badly! When you do, you feel absolutely justified and no guilt. I couldn't wait for the opportunity to do so, and really rushed through that side quest just so I can end him, which was so satisfying.

To reiterate, in World the so-called monsters are quite the pacifists until you threaten their lives, which is understandable. I wanted to slap the Chief Ecologist when he asked me if we value living beings and he said "of course you do". The other NPCs are also presented as "good people" but they're all contributing to killing innocent animals. The only NPC that I sort of like, aside from our Palicoes (cats are after all, natural hunters), is the Huntsman, because at least he's not hypocritical and is really, really into hunting, egging us on during our fight against one of the elder dragons.

I feel that some Gamers might be turned off by the prospect of killing animals that don't do any harm (except for Pickle and screw Kirin), so I hope that future Monster Hunters will make the monsters vicious and violent like past series. However, they did a great job making Kirin so despicable that I relish seeing him getting nuked by Pros (even though he too doesn't attack unless you do so).

Of course, this is in the context of playing a true hero, and not an anti-hero as in the God Of War or Grand Theft Auto series. There are quite a few games where the enemies are more 3-dimensional where they have good intentions, but their intentions are leading to mass suffering. However, this is a Monster Hunter game so I can't foresee them having talking monsters in the future. Further, I don't expect a Monster Hunter game to have the emotional resonance of a James Baldwin novel, but at least make the monsters truly horrific like in the past series so the NPCs can be more sympathetic!

Do you feel the same way about the NPCs in this game? Are there any other reasons why we hate the Handler? And, do you feel bad about killing these poor monsters (except for Kirin and Pickle)?

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monster Hunter: World Further Thoughts (MM36)

Infinite Replayability
I'm clearly obsessed with MH: World and started a new playthrough focusing on the lance. Since every single video showed how destructive and lethal the Charge Blade's Guard Points (GP) are, I really want to get down GP, but failed miserably except in the controlled training room setting, which never quite translates in real hunts. Who doesn't want to be able to GP

which lead to stunning AND damaging him at the same time, as well as even charging phials?

So, fed up with not getting down GPs, I've decided to dabble with the lance. My thinking was that if I pursue a Guard Lance playstyle, I'll spend more time guarding (and at times evading when the situation calls for it), as opposed to dodging. By focusing on timing guards using the Lance, this will help me transition smoothly into CB's guard points.

Indeed, I was using the defensive part of Charge Blade like the Switch Axe (SA). Since the SA doesn't have a shield, the defensive maneuvers consist of dodging. The rationale of the CB, having a powerful shield component, is to use the shield to guard, but even then it doesn't have the destructive power of GP's parry and riposte type system. But still, the shield is there to block so it's reasonable to just guard as a CB wielder.

However, to really master CB, you need to get down GPs, but again, you don't need to even use CB's shield at all to get through the game. In fact, a lot of the time, I whiff on the most powerful attack (Super-Amped Elemental Discharge), and yet I was able to beat all missions (except the very last) with unoptimized armor (Fashion Hunter).

But, MH: World is the type of game where you really want to get better and master your weapon of choice, even though not necessary, which is one of the reasons why this game is a masterpice.

At any rate, this is a roundabout way of saying that MH:World has Infinite Replayability. For one thing, anyone can always get better at their weapon of choice, but once you get bored, you can go to another weapon, and the game really feels like a totally different one!

Improvements: Character Creation, Weapon/Armor Design, and Tutorials

The major improvement is inclusion of more monsters, which I covered in last Monday Musing's post, but here are some additional enhancements that I'd like to see:

Character Creation
If you want to switch to a different weapon, there's NO need to start all over again like I did. Initially for my main CB character, Niki after my orange tabby, when I decided to try out the lance, I wore the starting leather set and wield the starting lance, fighting low-rank Jagras and then Kulu-Yaku, the first two major monsters in the game, so I can work my way up by learning the basics like you do at the start of the game. I had to leave behind my trusty Palico Ninja, since a level 30 kitty is quite OP in low-rank.

However, in the end, I decided to switch roles so my main character is Ninja (ironic since the hunter is fearless, and Ninja's scared of her own shadow) and my trusty Palico, Niki so I can make an orange tabby. But in order to make these various changes, I had to make a whole new file.

I was upset that this game is following the bad MMO tradition of charging you real money just to change your character's appearance. They gave us a one-time free voucher, but you can only change your character, but not names, and you certainly can't change your Palico. If you make a mistake with this free voucher and want to change yet again, you have to purchase, with REAL money (not in-game dollars), more vouchers.

So a huge improvement would be the ability to change your character and Palico's appearances and genders, as well as their names. I really don't see the issue of being able to change them anytime you want, as this is purely cosmetic and doesn't affect gameplay.

At this point, I'm upset in the sense that Capcom is going down this route as it appears like a cash grab. However, I'm really not upset about starting a new character, as it's fun to relive the story and start from scratch as a newbie Lance user, that is for me. That's the key point, it's not a problem for me, but it's certainly not fair to others who really want to change names and appearances, but don't want to start all over again.

Weapon and Armor Design
I'm hoping the next MH will have more weapon variety, as well as changing designs as you upgrade. The past Monster Hunters, there were multiple weapons of the same element, but in World, there may be 1 or 2 of each element. Further, in past series, whenever you upgrade a mere 3 times, the weapon drastically changes in appearance, getting larger, more intricate and more "bad-ass".

However, in World, the low-rank weapon upgrade goes through at least 6 upgrades, the name of weapon even changing, but still looks exactly the same as the starting weapon, which is a bit of a let-down.

Some of the ultimate weapons look amazing, such as the CB's Nergigante final weapon but others look underwhelming such as CB's Diablos and Kadachi final weapons, so hopefully they'll improve the design.

From memory, I believe the armor only changes in appearance when you go from low rank to high rank in past MHs, which I hope will be the case in the next game. To motivate the player, I wonder if all the low rank armor look good, but the high rank markedly improved?

Fashion Disparity between male and female armor sets
They also need to rethink Fashion Hunter, as some of the armor for women look horrendous. Here, for the Brigade Armor, he looks like a dashing swashbuckler, and yet she looks like one of the hub attendants, which is very uninspiring. Further almost all the helmets look bad. Yes there's a "hide helmet" feature which should be included, but at the same time, why not make more flattering helmets?

I was able to beat the game and all the missions (except the last) using Fashion Hunter, so my armor was not optimized. I'm seeing if I can keep this up for the very last test when you reach HR Level 100 (I'm in the 80s).

However, it's annoying not having optimized armor just because of fashion issues, so I'm hoping that this game or the next will include a feature where you can equip the armor you're using, but then set different pieces of armor for appearance, as in Xenoblade Chronicles X and from what I hear, a lot of MMOs do this as well.

Tutorials
Lastly, I'm hoping the next Monster Hunter will have better tutorials. My friends who are newcomers didn't even realize that you're supposed to cook steaks as a primary way of recouping stamina, which is so basic, and in fact, I believe that was the first thing we did in Monster Hunter 3U, which was a title that Capcom specifically wanted to appeal to newcomers.

Further, the training room is lacking. When I was practicing lance, there's a list of combos on your screen, but, I didn't see the inputs for the running move where you can chase after monsters, which has been a classic feature of all lances. Further combinations of this running move were shown but only when you figure out how to run. Those who never lanced, how are we supposed to figure this out on our own? In the end, we resort to Youtube to get down all the moves and special attacks, but that really kills immersion and off-putting to potential new players, to say the least. 

I'm not sure how difficult this is to code, but perhaps have a trainer. It can be even better if there's a trainer for each weapon, but at the very least, a melee and ranged trainer. Each trainer will go through all the basic and advanced moves, as well as special attacks. He or she would say, press triangle for basic attack, which you then follow and once you get that move down, the trainer will then show you the most important 3-move combinations, and so on.

What other changes would you like to see in this and future Monster Hunters


The How of Happiness review.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monster Hunter: World Hopes and Prediction (MM35)

Although the very first Monster Hunter I played was Monster Hunter 3U for the Wii U, the very first one I experienced was Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PS Vita, which I promptly died to Tigrex when he showed up out of nowhere. As a result, I thought the game was too hard and quit. Aside from Tigrex popping out of the blue, the other striking memory of this short-lived experience was how you must drink hot drinks to go through this cold area, which I neglected to do, stamina bar draining throughout this first inauspicious run.

Indeed, hot drinks are such a staple item, almost as necessary as well-done steaks that upon completing my solo Fashion Hunter "challenge" run maining the Charge Blade, I noticed how there's absolutely no cold zones, and as a result, no hot drinks! The trope of a lot of RPGs is to feature volcanic and snowy areas. World has the volcanic Elder Recess area where you can finally make cold drinks. So yeah, there are cold drinks, but where are the hot drinks?

That being said, World is a complete and finished game with a solid, fleshed out story and lore, so I'm hoping that Capcom will come out with a DLC of a snowy area, to feature our beloved classic monsters. No hunter would be upset if it's paid content, as I'd gladly pay for a completely new section of the map (the left hand side of the general world map looks conspicuously open) featuring a cold, snowy region and our trusty hot drinks.

In this new cold region DLC, I'm hoping for our favorite monsters such as snow-variants of Arzuros, Nargacuga, Zinogre, and my personal favorite Yian Kut-Ku, and include snowy mammals such as Barioth and Lagombi. I know Khezu was not well-liked, however, the uniqueness of the monster would be a hopeful addition and add variety to World. I recall vividly my friend remarking, with total revulsion, how disgusting he is in this ecology cutscene from Monster Hunter Freedom Unite:


I'm also happy to hear that it's not just me, but in Japan, Yian Kut-Ku is one of the top 5 favorite monsters and there's even a stuffed animal of him! So how can World not include this staple? And how can you not have Hot Drinks? So I predict as well as hope for a snowy map.

Indeed, I would have to say that World is the best Monster Hunter and is better than all its predecessors in every aspect I can think of, except for not having as many and as diverse monsters. I wished the game were as goofy and zany as past series with the "So Tasty" after cooking a well-done steak, and the utter chaos of Palico chefs, but that's subjective:




Although it's rather tiring to have yet another quest of a Rathalos/Rathian variant, and indeed, in World it got old to fight yet another reskin of not just Rathalos, but Monoblos/Diablos and so forth. Yet, the past Monster Hunters had all kinds and types of monsters including crustaceans, insects, snakes, you name it.

Again, no one would see this as a cash-grab DLC, because the main-game is complete and polished, just as no one saw Horizon: Zero Dawn DLC, The Frozen Wilds as a cash-grab. In fact, fans were demanding new HZD content, which Guerilla Games delivered. Indeed, their forum became even more positive and loving after this release, if that's even possible.

Lastly, I wish we can chose past theme songs from past Monster Hunters, as I must say, the music was a bit repetitive in Astera. This is my favorite Monster Hunter song which I hope they'd let us chose among many others:




What are your thoughts? Would you be open to buying a DLC of a new cold, snowy region featuring classic monsters? Would you like to be able to chose past Monster Hunter theme songs for Astera? 

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Monster Hunter: World Charge Blade Advice (MM34)

Since the Charge Blade (CB) was first introduced in Monster Hunter 4, I wanted to main the weapon because it was considered overpowered along with the new Insect Glaive.

The other appealing aspect of CB is related to my playstyle. I'm the type of person who always wants a build that can "do everything" such as in Dark Souls where I level up all the important stats to 50 (soft cap), and then I work on getting 80s down the road. So I'd like to use a weapon that can do everything.

Although the first weapon I mained, the hammer, is extremely fun, and so satisfying when you slide down a gentle hill and you spin like this, not to mention knocking out monsters. The problem is that you can't cut off tails, and sometimes that's the only way to get certain materials for your upgrades.

So you need to resort to another weapon that can cut off tails. I used the Switch Axe as it felt the best to me. Note: ALL the weapons are excellent at cutting off tails that are not named Hammer or Hunting Horn.

However, the issue with even the Switch Axe is that I needed to face Diablos and worse Black Diablos, and often, when they go underground, it's often hard to roll out of the way. I thought, it would be helpful if I can just shield myself instead. Further, I'm a turtler, and always have my shield up in the Dark Souls series, often prizing defense over attack power.

Enter the Charge Blade. It can do all these things, plus it's very powerful. It can knock out monsters, cut tails, and shield you from attacks. Therefore, I felt that once and for all, I should really try to understand the CB.

But, you may ask, what about the Sword and Shield (SnS)? Indeed, the SnS could be even more powerful than the CB due to consistent damage, cut parts, and you can use your shield not just to guard, but also to knock out monsters.

The SnS also excels in applying status effects very quickly (along with the Dual Blades), all the while abusing health/attack boosting items, since you don't have to sheathe your weapon! You can imagine, whaling on the monster, then taking a quick break to throw down a life powder to help your teammates, and then resume attacking the monster.

However, to me, the CB feels better than the SnS because I like the heaviness of it, I quite like the mechanical aspects of transform and fidgeting with the phials, and it has better range than the SnS. Most importantly, to me, CB was more fun than the SnS. 

I'm going to write down the MOST basic concept of Charge Blade, but NOT the moves, because when the CB was introduced, no matter how many times I read tutorials, it didn't make sense and made my eyes cross.

For instance, does this make sense to you: If you want to gauge the distance between you and the monster to pull off a Super Amped Elemental Discharge (SAED or super) more consistently and most efficiently, then making sure your shield is charged with ideally full phials, triangle to hit, circle and push the analog stick away from the monster to create the necessary distance, then you can do your triangle + Circle x 2 combo to unleash the SAED.

When you read the combination instructions of any weapon, it makes no sense, which is why I was struggling with understanding the CB when it first came out. Further, I don't believe I found out about Gaijin Hunter back then, otherwise, I would've watched his tutorials, and probably would've used the CB when it first came out.

STEP ONE: THE VERY BASICS
Charge Blade is both a sword & shield and an axe. It transforms between those two forms.

This is very much like Bloodborne's trick weapons. Because of these two modes, CB is very versatile. You can cut off tails in both modes, use shield to block, and KO monsters with the axe if your axe has impact phials.

Conceptually, the way the CB works is that every time you hit monsters with your sword, you produce energy and store them into phials. You can put these phials of energy into your shield, which will make your shield stronger, so it will block better.

Further, the head of your axe is actually your shield, so by powering up your shield with these phials of energy, you can be sure that all this energy will make your axe attacks stronger.

You can also spend these phials of energy into special, powerful attacks.

Indeed, the complexity of CB lies in the manipulation of these phials of energy, and what to do with them. The videos will show you all the moves of both forms, and how to manipulate your phials. So, with that being said:

Go to Step Two. 

Additional information here (NOT necessary to read):

 

STEP TWO: THE VIDEOS
Now that you know the basic concept, and if you like the idea that the CB can do everything, go to the training room and watch the following videos instead of reading tutorials. A picture is worth a thousand words! Also, practice your moves in the training room along with the videos.

I would start with Rurikhan as on overview, as the World Charge Blade has a new feature where you can charge the sword, so Gaijin Hunter's 4U video wouldn't include how to charge sword.

Video One: Rurikhan's Monster Hunter: World Charge Blade Tips

I would then practice those moves until you feel you get the basic ideas down, including even the concept of the Guard Points. I found that Rurikhan did a superb job showing you how to pull off GPs, and indeed it's very tricky.

Once you know how to do all the attacks, combos, and guard points, to refine your approach, Gaijin Hunter's fantastic video is really helpful as he literally explains each single attack. Again, since this is based on Monster Hunter 4U, there was no charging of sword back then, and there's some minor differences that you''ll notice, but you won't be confused as you have already digested Rurikhan's video. I have a feeling he'll come out with a World Charge Blade tutorial, in which case, it'll be a must-view.

Video Two: Gaijin Hunter's MH4U: Ultimate Charge Blade Tutorial

If you really have all these basics down after watching these two videos, it's time to go on real hunts! Once you get the hang of the CB, I would then watch Arekkz Gaming's superb CB tutorial. I recommend watching his videos last because Arekkz talks so fast, that when I first watched his video, his instructions went over my head, so I had to find other CB tutorials.

However, after familiarizing myself with the CB in the training room and having real world experience, I still had to rewind a lot, but at least I understood what he was saying. Indeed, it was worth going through multiple times to get down all the nuances of the CB.

His second video shows a small correction (which you will know right away from Rurikhan's video and practicing CB), and how to gauge the distance for your Super Amped Elemental Discharge.

Video Three: Arekkz Gaming's Charge Blade Tutorial

Video Four: Arekkz Gaming's Advanced Charge Blade Tutorial

Finally, Arekkz Gaming's video on how to be a better monster hunter is very compelling. Even someone like Arekkz ,who mastered the series and all weapons, said that you should slow down and not over commit if you notice yourself getting carted frequently, as you have 50 minutes! So you must avoid the fetish of fast kill times.

I was heartened to hear a professional say that, because in MH circles, there's always the unfortunate thinking that "you suck" if you can't kill monsters fast, when the reality is to enjoy the game and avoid being carted (albeit in expeditions it doesn't matter if you're carted).

As Arekkz says, it's better to live another day then over commit, so be patient and take things slow. I noticed that when I slowed down and attacked when there's a clear, safe opening, yes I might take 30 to 40 mins but it's more refreshing then being carted twice and barely completing the mission. Further, fighting the same monster over and over again using a more thoughtful approach, depending upon the monster, my time often gets shaved down to 20 mins or shorter with practice.

I also like how he didn't cherry pick one of his many flawless hunts, so there was a point where his hunt went south, advised not to be flustered, but to get yourself back under control and then resume.

Lastly, I would advise capturing the monster rather than killing since you get more rewards through capture. However, if you want the challenge of killing the monster, Arekkz gives excellent advice on how to deal with that scenario.

Video Five: Arekkz Gaming's How To Be A Better Hunter

TL/DR: I feel that if you understand the basic concept of Charge Blade of being both sword & shield and an axe, and that you manipulate phials of energy for powerful attacks, watch the videos, go over your moves in training room and on real hunts, that you'll become a proficient CB practitioner. I hope you'll consider using the CB, as it's a truly satisfying and elegant weapon!

What weapons are you maining and/or recommend? What are your thoughts on the Charge Blade?

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monster Hunter: World Tips and Advice (MM33)

Now that I have beaten the game, World is definitely my favorite Monster Hunter and I wanted to give general advice on how to fully appreciate this masterpiece.

You don't need specific advice to enjoy and beat the game, because there are no missable trophies and you simply can't make mistakes in this game. You may feel you might have wasted materials, but you can always farm more, and the game gives you so many chances of getting even the most rare items, that if oops, I used up Rathalos Ruby on the wrong equipment (I actually got one finally as a drop!), you can actually buy one now!

That being said, I agree you shouldn't willy-nilly upgrade rare equipment (common equipment is fine because it's easy to get these mats) because the farming is real, so in these situations, do look up on the internet what the strongest armors, skills and weapons are for your weapon type as you upgrade.

First Advice
The most important advice is to try all the weapons in the training room, even ones that you think you won't like. You do that by going to your room on the first floor (Trading Yard), to the right of the elevator lift and talk to the cat housekeeper, then chose Training Room.

As with all Monster Hunter games, there are weapon tier lists, which I would completely ignore, as every single weapon is absolutely viable. The temptation is to use the S-tier weapons, which are considered the dual blades and long sword from one list, but why?

I can understand wanting the most powerful weapon if this is PvP, but this is a single-player and COOP game. If you don't find these weapons fun, what's the point of playing the game?

If you love more than 1 weapon, definitely use ALL the weapons that you're interested in, or even vaguely interested in and find interesting. The concern I see floating around the internet is that it will be a lot of grinding to make more than one line of weapons.

However, at the very beginning, you're given ALL the weapons (Ore Tree) so you can try them all out, and even un-upgraded, they're all viable for quite a few story missions. Therefore, just use the starting weapons for the first few story missions. At least up to the third upgrade, it doesn't take much grinding to get enough materials to upgrade all the ones you like along the ore tree path, as these materials are common.

Now, as you go higher, some of the materials are hard to get, and will require a lot of farming, but you can take your time upgrading your secondary weapons. It's not like you MUST get the maxed out Nergigante (Ore Tree) and Diablos (Bone Tree) line immediately of all your weapon types. Work on upgrading your main one first, and then your other ones later.

Further, a lot of the weapons along the ore tree are considered the strongest up through the Nergigante line, so it's not going to be a waste of materials, since you're investing in a very strong weapon line. Furthermore, if you need materials, you can "roll-back" the upgrade and get materials back, up to a certain point. The smithy gives you a warning when you can't roll-back so pay attention before you commit.

In conclusion, you can use ALL of your interested and favorite base starting weapons at least on the low-rank, easier monsters, maining and upgrading your favorite, and then come back and upgrade the others down the road.

So, even as you find just one weapon that "clicks" I would still experiment with other ones as you move up the ranks. For instance, I loved the hammer out of all the ones I tried, but I needed a severing weapon to cut off tails since blunt weapons such as the hammer and hunting horn can't do that. I tried out the long sword and the Switch Axe, and settled on the Switch Axe due to how it feels. Both are equally great at cutting off tails.

However, since Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, I've always wanted to try out the Charge Blade (CB) and Insect Glaive (IG) because I fell into the trap of wanting to main the S-tier weapons, which were considered CB and IG for that edition. I simply didn't understand the CB, and I really can't aim at specific parts of monsters with the IG. Therefore, when I used the IG, I wasn't effective because you really need to get at least the red essence to increase your attack power.

After finishing the game maining Hammer and secondary Switch Axe, I decided that once and for all, I really want to understand the CB and when I stuck with it, I fell in love with this weapon. I find Gaijin Hunter's tutorials the best. He hasn't yet done a tutorial of the CB for World, but I watched his ultimate MH4U CB tutorial, which has almost similar move-sets as World and he goes through every single move precisely. He explains each step clearly and slowly so you can follow what's going on, and you can try these moves in the training room while watching his tutorials.

Now that I have some mild success with CB, I'm going to revisit IG, the lances, the hunting horn (another weapon that I always wanted to master) and the ranged weapons!

So I strongly agree that if you love a lot of the weapons, try them all out! You get the base forms of all of them so at least you can use them on the low rank, easy monsters, and slowly upgrade them from there, rolling back mats if you feel you need them.

On the flip side, do NOT main the weapons that you don't like even if they're S-tier weapons! So if you don't like the dual blades and long sword, don't use them!

Second Advice
The second advice as with all great games is to truly savor the game. I was taken aback when one of my PSN gaming buddies was struggling against Anjanath and was about to quit. He wrote that he didn't understand the game so of course, being an evangelist, I gave him basic advice and he agreed to stick with it, and give it a second chance as this is his first ever Monster Hunter game. The key here is this is his first ever Monster Hunter so we don't expect him to be a pro like Arekkz Gaming or Gaijin Hunter, which is a ridiculous expectation.

A few days pass by, and he wrote me and was in the HR50's! I was floored because this was someone who was about to quit but he achieved way more than me at that time!

I'm sorry, if you get to that rank, you have to be good at the game because there are monsters that are walls, such as Anjanath, Diablos and Nergigante, that you can't just level up and tank through. For each point in the game, you can max out your weapons, armors, and charms/gems only so far, as you have to open up upgrades through story missions, so you're blocked from raising your attack and defense power. But as you practice and recognize attack patterns, despite having the same stats, you can defeat them.

However, after he told me that he beat the game and was very highly ranked, he then said he sucked at the game despite this being his first Monster Hunter game. He mentioned that he must be awful since he's seen people take down monsters in well under 5 minutes, but it takes him 15 to 20 minutes to kill hard monsters. He said he was bad due to "slow kills" despite the fact that he was maining the long sword, the light bowgun and now the insect glaive. So he has mastered ranged and melee weapons!

Of course I wrote him back and said he was excellent at the game, and that in order to get to 3 mins and under, every swipe of your weapon has to hit the monster with absolutely no wasted movements, and fully optimized gear.

The point of this is that even a first-time Monster Hunter sees the fetish of needing to kill monsters as quickly as possible, so this goes to my second advice. Who cares, unless you're going to join Capcom's upcoming competition of fastest arena kills? Most hunts you get a full 50 minutes, so why not enjoy the environment, farming resources along the way, and take time killing the monster? With the gorgeous, living environment (except for the intentionally grotesque Rotten Vale), why not stop and smell the roses?

In fact, this is the problem I'm facing as a CB user, with this fastest kills culture of Monster Hunter. I also feel this pressure to kill monsters as quickly as possible even SOLO, so I fixate on this ultimate move, and keep missing as a result due to its long animation, because I don't wait for the most opportune moment. Further, with this need to kill monsters as fast as possible, I try to charge my shield and sword immediately, even if the charging doesn't attack the monster at the same time. To be technically good at CB, you have to time your moves precisely, but with the pressure of destroying monsters quickly, I'm developing bad habits.

In fact, I feel the panic of charging the shield and sword as quickly as possible, that I would sometimes forget the initial R2+Circle (RT+B) to put the energy into the phials first. For instance, I would collect up to the red phials, but then straight out charging the shield and wonder, why the shield didn't charge? Well, that's because in my rush to kill the monsters fast, I didn't put the energy into the phials first, before charging, missing basic steps!

So I'm going to follow my own advice and slow down, and perform the movements at the best times, even more necessary in COOP play as you don't want to trip your hunting buddies!

Furthermore, as you get better and better at using your weapons and knowing the monster attack patterns, you're going to kill the monsters faster.

TL/DR: Experiment and enjoy all weapons that you find interesting, and don't worry about killing monsters fast! 

The How of Happiness review.

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