Monster Hunter on PC.

Friggin’ took them long enough! 😛

So, my experience with Monster Hunter is fairly long, and… very rocky. 😛 There are a fair few posts in here detailing my frustration with the series, actually (this one’s okay, but plz don’t look at the other posts, some of them are so pathetically whiny and often very wrong 😛 ). I “get” the game, the idea really works for me, so I should enjoy it… right? But nope. With the exception of Monster Hunter 4 which resolved a few killer issues I had with previous games, I’ve hated every Monster Hunter game I’ve played. After playing the game, hell, even with MH4, I always come out of the other end of it thinking “for fuck’s sake, why the hell (insert complaint here)”. Let me throw out a few examples…

1: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they make these monsters so goddamn cheap?”

Most of my negative memories come from Monster Hunter games on the PSP, specifically Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite (MHFU). The “difficulty” of MHFU was just painful. Notice the quotes, indicating sarcasm. 😛 Personally, I prefer difficult games. I find them more fun, they give a better sense of accomplishment, and they generally feel much better to play. However, there’s a fine line between “difficult” and “cheap”, and when that line is crossed, I get a burning desire to dump a tanker of wallpaper paste into the studio of the developers responsible. 😛 I remember two monsters in MHFU that crossed that line so blatantly that it blew my mind that they actually got away with it, to the point where I actually still can’t believe it was for real. For example, Kushala Daora, a dragon that can generate a wind shield, was effectively broken. The wind shield instantly interrupts anything you do when you get close, so you basically can’t land any hits, and the thing you need to break to remove the shield is protected by the shield. Allegedly, the shield could be disabled temporarily by poisoning the monster, but… you can’t even try to inflict poison because of the shield, meaning that the only option is to use a bow/bowgun… which is next to impossible solo, because Kushala Daora is one of the fastest Large Monsters in the game. Another monster, Plesioth, a giant fish thing, spent the vast majority of its time in the water (effectively making it invincible), the items you can use to get it out of the water are very limited and sometimes don’t work, and the bottom line was that it took so long to beat it that I ran out of time. What was the time limit? Oh, just an hour. -.-

This catastrophically cheap bullshit never appeared in Monster Hunter 4. I never felt angry at the difficulty, and never felt like I was struggling. In fact, at times, it actually felt a bit too easy. Although that might have been because of my main weapon, a weapon new to MH4 called the Insect Glaive. It feels so overpowered that it’s actually a bit embarrassing to admit that I use it. 😛

2: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell is the collision detection so god-awful?”

Seriously, MHFU, and all other MH games on PSP, had some of the worst collision detection I’ve ever seen. 😛 Plesioth was one of the main culprits here too, and the one that sticks in my mind the most. When doing its tail swipe attack, the tail is so high up that it just never looks like it hits you, but oh, of course it hits you. Rolling underneath it is impossible because the game considers its tail as a huge box which extends all the way to the ground. And don’t get me started on its body check attack.

Again, I never felt like I experienced this in Monster Hunter 4. When things clearly didn’t hit me… they didn’t hit me. 😛 Plesioth wasn’t really in Monster Hunter 4, though. He was relegated to a fish you catch in a mini-game. 😛

3: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they put it on this stupid console?”

Seriously, Capcom must do this on purpose.

The last time Monster Hunter was on a console that made sense was at the very beginning. The original Monster Hunter, and Monster Hunter 2 (Japan only) were on PS2, which is a perfectly reasonable choice of console. However, from then on, Capcom just stopped making sense entirely.

They began releasing Monster Hunter on PSP, which, aside from the DS, was the worst possible console for this game. It had less power than a PS2 so the graphics and framerate were worse, the screen was tiny, and the controls… holy crap. The PSP only had one tiny analog stick for God’s sake. There was no right analog stick, so you had to rotate the camera using the D-Pad above the stick. You had to develop a stupid technique which (quite affectionately) became known as The Claw, where you bend your index finger in such a way where you could move the character and the camera simultaneously. I can’t actually fathom why they put it on the PSP, and then continued to do so for years afterwards.

Well, they continued to do so until Monster Hunter 3. But instead of staying loyal to Sony and putting it on the $599 US dollar PS3, they decided to change allegiance to Nintendo and dumped it on the Wii, completely ignoring the clearly successful Xbox 360. WHY did they put it on the Wii, a console with vastly below-average power and driven by a stupid controller with only one analog stick?! ARGH! And then, for Monster Hunter 4 and Generations, they continued to ignore those tasty, popular, powerful home consoles, instead choosing to release it for the 3DS! Yes it was somewhat popular and somewhat tasty, but it wasn’t powerful! I mean, it was probably good for them that they didn’t release it on the Vita since that thing tanked harder than anything I’ve ever seen, but come on, why did you choose the 3DS over every other option? They must have been targeting the weaker consoles on purpose.

I mean, this goes without saying, but the true stars of Monster Hunter are, of course, the monsters. They can be awesome, beautiful, creepy, weird, or even stupid, but I love pretty much all of them, and they often contribute towards Monster Hunter’s weird sense of humour, like Yian Kut-Ku’s run that makes him look like a chicken, Tigrex’s ice breath which can turn you into a snowman, or Congalala’s attack where he literally throws shit at you. 😛 But I’ve never really been able to see the monsters in all their glory, because Capcom keep choosing the weakest possible console to release their games on! I’m pretty sure they did this so that they could keep re-using assets over and over again. Like, I swear, Rathalos uses exactly the same textures in Monster Hunter 4 as he does in the original Monster Hunter.

This has been my biggest gripe with the series all this time. Why can’t they just release it on a console that makes sense for once?! I JUST WANNA SEE PRETTY MONSTERS AND CONTROL THE CAMERA WITH MY RIGHT HAND!!! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?! 😛

So… when they announced Monster Hunter: World for PS4 and Xbox One… I was both extremely irritated and very excited at the same time. Excited because the series had finally made it back to consoles that made sense… annoyed because they were stupid consoles that I didn’t want to buy for just one friggin’ game. But then they announced a PC version, and you can probably imagine how high I jumped for joy. 😛

And today? Finally… finally, Monster Hunter has made it to the console of the Master Race: the PC. 😀

Have I played it? No… not yet. 😛 I was planning to jump on it as soon as I got home, but I was so tired when I got in from work that I didn’t feel like it was a good idea. But hey, no worries. I’ve got all day to play it tomorrow, because I’ve booked tomorrow off. 😛 Hehe, that’s the first time I’ve booked a day off work to play a game. It’s also the first time I’ve pre-ordered a game in a very long time. So yeah… I’m a bit hyped for it, which doesn’t happen often with me, so it’s quite a special moment. 😀

Ahh, yeah! I got so into ranting and blabbing all that crap that I forgot the other half of the reason for this post. I made a little render to celebrate Monster Hunter: World’s PC release. 😀

This render was probably the reason why I felt so tired today. 😛 I stayed up way too late, trying to get the render to a point where I was happy to share something. I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything at all when I first started, but it ended up going surprisingly well!

Anyway, it’s still a work in progress, but here, check out this monster hunter:

Monster. Hunter. (WIP).jpg

He’s not a monster hunter, but he is a monster hunter. Because he’s a monster, and he’s a hunter, but not hunting monsters, he’s just hunting? And Monster Hunter was released today? Yeah?! Get it?! YA GET IT?! HEH 😛

Man, this one… seriously, I’m so happy with how this came out, even if it is unfinished. 😀 It’s probably the most mature-looking render I’ve made, but because of the underlying pun, it’s still got that hint of humour that I like to portray. 😀 It’s a bit unusual for me too, because it’s not very often I render a dragon standing on their hind legs like this. I prefer to put dragons in a more bestial or feral pose. Sure, the black dragon in Ghost Stories is on his hind legs, but he’s doing it for dramatic effect, whereas this dragon looks like he naturally walks on his hind legs. I should try this a bit more often, because I love how it came out! 🙂

Jesus, listen to this pleb trying to sound like an artist. 😛

Anyway, even though it’s just a work in progress, I hope it pleases your eyes! 😀 I’ll probably be back tomorrow to update this post with my thoughts about Monster Hunter: World after I’ve actually played it. 😛 And of course, I’ll be back with the final version of that render, too, along with some bigger versions that you can stick on your desktop! If you want. 😛

Right, I’m pretty hungry right now, so I’d better go cook some Well-Done Steak*. Cue the music!

(*i lie, i have no steak 😦 )

UPDATE!!
Monster Hunter: World follow-up

So, I’ve been playing Monster Hunter: World for 3 days now. Apparently there’ve been loads of complaints in the Steam reviews about not being able to play online or something. And that’s quite funny, because the first complaint I had with the game was that it doesn’t give you a “play offline” option. 😛 Sure, I’d like to play multiplayer, I’ve never really done it before and it’s probably even more fun. But I don’t want to risk going into a game and getting carried by someone with overpowered equipment. That’s not fun. Besides, I just can’t bring myself to play co-op with random people. Not sure why.

Anyway, whatever, who cares, because the game is glorious from the moment it starts. It has an introduction that wipes the floor with every other game in the series. Also, like Monster Hunter 4, there’s a story, thank fuck, because MH4’s story, regardless of how balls it was, was a huge driving force for me, and made the game more enjoyable. No, so far, World’s story isn’t much better. Come on, it’s a game about hitting giant monsters with sticks and bagpipes, there isn’t much you can do with that. 😛 However, World’s story is told much better. Because Capcom have added something that is so state-of-the-art it actually blew my mind. Voice acting. I mean WHOOOOAOAHAHHAHAAH voice acting in 2018?! NO, surely not! 😛 But yes, finally they bothered with voice acting so that you can hear the characters, rather than having to read them all the time. 😛 Of course, not everything has voice acting. Just cutscenes, tutorials, and other important bits of the game.

Oh, speaking of tutorials, World kicks the living arse out of every other game in the series on that front, too. The game doesn’t freeze solid and perform information overload on you now; it’s much friendlier than that. Like, in MH4, when doing weapons training, you were dumped in a room, forced to read a ton of text about your weapon and how it worked (which couldn’t be viewed again without exiting and restarting the training), before finally being given control so you could try remembering and doing everything the guy just said. In World, you get a brief voiced description about the weapon you choose, before being given a bunch of on-screen controls and useful combos to try. When you’re done with trying one weapon, you can pick a different weapon from the box and try that without having to reload the mission. It’s a shame you don’t get a live target to practice on, though, you just get some boxes and shit. 😛 I found it really useful in MH4, because it’s how I discovered just how overpowered the Insect Glaive was (on my first try with it, I took out a Great Jaggi in half the time it took me to take it down with a Long Sword, a less complex weapon that I already knew how to use).

Thankfully, as far as I’m aware, it isn’t overpowered in World. Hard to tell, though, because I haven’t done a proper test of all the weapons yet. The weapon set consists of the same 14 weapons from MH4, nothing new. Some weapons appear to have new moves or tweaked move sets, though.

As for the controls, well. When I finished my first proper hunt, I just sat there, staring at the game with a smug “I told you so” grin on my face. That was the first time in the whole history of Monster Hunter where I’ve been able to move the camera smoothly and freely, and it’s a ridiculously huge improvement. And there’s more, too, because they’ve added… a lock-on camera, called the Focus Camera. And this seems to be Capcom proving that the lock-on camera is a stupid idea, because it is. I tried to like it, but it just ended up annoying me, because I found it really hard to hit the part of the monster I was trying to aim for. But don’t worry, because they’ve also added the option to use the Target Camera from MH4, where you can press LB to make the camera face the monster. They also added an option so you can use these cameras on all monsters, not just Large Monsters, but laugh my arse off NO. Just no. 😛

Difficulty? Yep, there’s some difficulty here, but I don’t think it’s horrific. I reckon the perceived difficulty is totally dependent on experience, both with Monster Hunter and with games in general, but personally, I’d say it starts off fairly mild and slowly gets harder. Overall it’s challenging, sometimes difficult. I haven’t fainted yet, but I’ve had some close calls. That just makes things exciting, though! 😛 Fainting isn’t really a huge deal in World, anyway. Since gathering is so much faster and easier, and since they added a feature where you can set certain items to auto-craft, it’s easy to restock critical items like Mega Potions, so you don’t really need to worry about wasting money on them. Also, unlike previous games, you have all the information you could ever reasonably need about monsters in the game itself, like weak points, elemental weaknesses, drops, and even vague drop rates. And the Palico (a Felyne sidekick who helps you in battle) is very helpful this time around. Right off the bat, he has a skill which can restore a sizeable chunk of your health, and he uses it intelligently. This has genuinely saved my ass at least twice, so he’s probably a gigantic help for new players. But if you do struggle, again, unlike previous games on the dumb consoles, co-op is actually a feasible option this time around. 😛

What else… oh, yeah, graphics. Well, uh… when I first saw my Palico in a cutscene I was like “OMG :3”:

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Then when I encountered my first Jagras I was like “SO PRETTY :O”:

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Then when Anjanath first officially said “hello” I was like “SO AWESOME :O”:

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Then when I got to see the legendary Rathalos finally in high-resolution glory before he proceeded to kick the shit out of an Anjanath he didn’t like, I was like “SO EPIC :O”:

vlcsnap-2018-08-13-20h16m53s315.png

Then when he kicked most of the shit out of me afterwards I was like “💩, uncool bro, that nearly killed me, but I forgive you because OMG YOU’RE SO BEAUTIFUL :O”:

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The graphics you see there are “max graphics where it matters”. 😛 By that, I mean I’m using the top LOD models, no resolution scaling and full texture quality, but everything else is knocked down to compensate. Because realistically, I can’t run this at truly max graphics. Not sure why people are going “WAAAAH IT NEEDS SO MUCH CPU POWER” because it just… doesn’t. It uses less than half of what Forza Horizon 3 does, and I know that game canes a recent-generation i5, because a friend of mine played it and always complained about the CPU usage (rightfully so). GPU power, though, well, ha haaaa… you’re gonna need that. And you’ll need to get that power from just one GPU, because World joins the ever-increasing (and annoying) list of games that don’t support SLI. -.- I run two GTX 970s (so, just one), and with my settings, I get about 40-45FPS average at 2K (2560×1440). I’m not locked by GPU memory. Here’re my settings, along with NVIDIA’s hilarously stupid “optimal” settings:

NVIDIA GeForce Experience_2018-08-13_20-34-34.png

I’ve since turned off anti-aliasing since Temporal Anti-Aliasing costs 4 FPS for something I probably won’t notice. But the gains for dropping any of the other settings are so low that there’s no point. I mean, subsurface scattering sounds pretty expensive, but it actually only costs me 2 FPS and really makes a difference in some situations (see Rathalos encounter above). And lmfao, that “optimal” texture quality of 256. Dropping from Full to 256 has no effect on FPS, you fucks! I’m bored of Monster Hunter’s traditional PS2-quality textures! I wanna admire Rathian’s pretty face for once in my life!

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It’s in the eye of the beholder, okay?! 😛

So yeah, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous if you have a good GPU, and if you have a modern 1000-series NVIDIA GPU or AMD equivalent, I’d be surprised if you didn’t hit 60 FPS at 2K. Maybe a 1070 is enough, or maybe even a 1060 if you run at 1080p. This is just me guessing, though. 😛 I’m planning on upgrading to a 1080 or 1080Ti soonish, both for rendering and for gaming. I’d get one sooner, but I’m holding out for the 1100 series. Sure would be nice if they’d just tell us roughly when it’s coming out… -.-

Complaints? Well, yes, I have a few. The first and most irritating thing about the game so far? Scoutflies. These green things:

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MY FUCKING EYES.

They’re supposed to act as the game’s GPS, because the maps are now so large and so complicated that I find it ridiculously hard to figure out how to get to places. But they also highlight things for you, like gathering points. All of this, especially early on, is just… total information overload. 😛 But even after you get used to it, they’re so bright and so distracting that I actually feel relieved when I find a Large Monster that wants to kill me, just because the flies go away when that happens. 😛 There have been so many times where I’ve thought “right, yeah, I know where the monster is, no I don’t want to look at any more footprints because I know where it is and I’ve maxed out the tracking level, no I don’t want any blue mushrooms, I just want to make my way to the monster with no guidance or distractions now, please go away…” but no, green particles everywhere, and no, you can’t turn them off. And then, when you do want guidance, they’re not only blinding, but they’re also sluggish, often very unclear, and in situations when you’re carrying an egg and have access to the Scoutflies because nothing’s trying to kill you, the route they choose is usually impossible, trying to taking you through small gaps and other areas that you can’t access while carrying an egg. In fact, the idiot Scoutflies and the sheer complexity of the maps is why I simply can’t be fucked with the mission where you need to deliver two Wyvern Eggs.

Those missions are my second complaint, actually, the egg carrying missions. Were they even tested? They’re absolute balls. There’s no way you can do them solo without being a cheap little bitch. Delivering two Herbivore Eggs was difficult enough, because the nests are right next to where the herbivores endlessly spawn no matter how many you kill, and they’re faster than you, and there ends up being about six of them before you eventually get headbutted by one of them and drop the egg. At one point after dropping said egg, they surrounded me and pretty much gang raped me, which was somehow both hilarious and insanely annoying. So how did I finish it? I used the Ghillie Mantle, an item which effectively makes me invisible. As I said, “cheap little bitch”. 😛 And that one I mentioned earlier where you have to deliver two Wyvern Eggs? Fuck that shit. The moment you pick up an egg from the nest where she never is, Rathian senses a disturbance in the Force and immediately heads for your exact location, even if you’re wearing the Ghillie Mantle. Of course, she can’t actually see you, so she doesn’t chase you, but this doesn’t stop her from following you at a distance, waiting for the moment when the Ghillie Mantle wears off. It’s just so mind-numbingly broken. Because the route is so complicated and the distance you have to travel to secure the egg is so long, longer than the Ghillie Mantle can ever last, the only way I can imagine doing it, even in co-op, is by being a cheap little bitch and killing Rathian before trying to transport the eggs. And I don’t know about you, but that seems slightly outside the scope of the quest. 😛 And hell, even if you did do that, you’d still have to figure out how to get back to a camp without using the Scoutflies, because they’re dumb and try to take you through inaccessible areas. 😛

And my third complaint… audio. It’s a pretty minor one, but for me, the game is oddly quiet. The audio settings are all at max volume, but even with my headphones at full blast, the game’s still a bit quiet. I got around this problem by routing the game’s audio through a virtual audio cable and amplifying it before routing it back to my headset, but this is a faff, it kind of affects the audio quality and adds a bit of latency, which isn’t cool. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in a patch or something.

And that’s it. Scoutflies, egg missions and quiet audio are the only problems I’ve found. Not sure what all this screaming about broken servers is, because it works for me…? 😛 I’ve not actually played with others, sure, but I can connect to online sessions just fine, and I’ve collected my daily shit with no problem. Maybe the problem is when you’re in an actual hunt? Whatever, doesn’t really affect me, no-one I know will ever get this anyway. It’s probably a bit difficult for them, and they wouldn’t have any time for it. 😛 I’ll play online eventually, when I’m ready. Just don’t want to rush through the game or get carried by someone overpowered, that’s all. 😛 Uhhh, nope. Someone I know was interested in getting it but was put off by the alleged server issues, so I tried responding to an SOS flare and testing some multiplayer. Didn’t have a single problem. The only thing I noticed was that holy hell, the session filled up fast! The SOS flare was sent by a solo player who hadn’t had a response when I tried to join, and by the time I made it into the game about 30 seconds later, I was the last player to set off from the camp.

UPDATE 6!!: Since then, much to my surprise, my friend actually ended up getting the game, and we’ve played some co-op. And now I can say with confidence: I have literally no idea why people are complaining about the online play being broken. However, I can understand complaints about the online system, because it it were any more obtuse it’d be a straight line. Angles? Obtuse? No? 😛 Anyway, the online system is insane. You have sessions which can consist of 16 players, and within these sessions you can have hunts which consist of up to 4 players. This is all totally understandable and quite cool so far, but when it comes to making a session for just you and your mates, things get shit very quickly.

First off, the game doesn’t prevent you from trying to join the sessions of people who are in an offline session. If you try, the game just sits there for a while before saying it failed to connect. So, my friend tried creating a private online session, and sent me an invite through the Steam overlay. That didn’t work either. Some amount of time after that, I noticed that the in-game invite option was greyed out, so I tried making a normal, non-private session. That made the invite option light up, and my friend was able to join the session. After this, I changed the session options so that it was private, and that worked; no-one random joined after that. Basically, you can’t join private sessions even if you’re invited; you have to make a non-private session, do your invites, then make the session private, or use passcodes on the quests you post.

But that’s not all, because Monster Hunter: World has laughably bad multiplayer story support. When you post a quest that contains cutscenes, you have to start it single-player. After all the cutscenes have played, the quest opens to other players. So this means… if a group of friends want to play a story quest together, they all have to start the quest individually, get to the point where the SOS flare can be fired, return to HQ, and then one player has to post the quest again and have the others join it. That’s just retarded. 😛 Oh, and you know I said that the quest opens up to other players after all the cutscenes have played? Yes, but every attempt I made to join those quests ended up failing immediately. That’s probably a bug. 😛

And Expeditions? One does not simply join an Expedition. No, you can’t just join a friend’s Expedition, which is a ridiculously stupid oversight, because it’s not like multiplayer Expeditions aren’t supported. There’re only two ways that it can be done. The first way is for everyone to join a quest and complete it, and during the end-game timer, leave the option as “return to camp”. This puts you in an Expedition in that area. That’s a faff because you have to complete a quest, so the other option is to enter an Expedition alone, fire an SOS flare and have the others join you through the SOS menu. You can cancel the flare when everyone’s joined. This is much less of a faff but it opens up the Expedition to EVERYONE, so there’s a chance of someone random joining, which is annoying.

I highly doubt Capcom’s gonna address any of this. It’s probably been like this on consoles up until now, so the chances of them fixing the issues now is probably next to zero. But in summary, yes, multiplayer works, flawlessly, and as far as I can tell, everyone who is crying about broken servers is just talking crap. However, the multiplayer system is ridiculously obtuse, confusing as hell and has awful story support.

Waiting for Monster Hunter to finally land on the PC was worth the wait, though. I’m not disappointed. It’s the best game I’ve played in a long time, and I can see myself continuing to play it for a long time to come. 😀 It wasn’t long ago that I loathed the series, so this is quite the epic turnaround they’ve managed!

Now, let’s move onto the subject of “Monster. Hunter.”. The celebratory render. Guh, this is gonna get confusing, isn’t it? 😛

Monster. Hunter. render follow-up

I was really surprised with the first draft of the render. It took about five hours to put together. But after that, when the environment was in and needed to stay active because it was making a critical contribution to the final lighting… the PAIN BEGAN.

DAZ Studio can’t handle scenes like this when using Iray. It babs itself when things get even remotely complicated, sometimes taking minutes to recalculate, making it impossible to tweak the scene while the interactive Iray render is running, therefore making it extremely difficult to tweak things such as materials. In fact, not long after I produced the draft render, this scene became so heavy that it wouldn’t fit in GPU memory, so only the CPU could render it. This isn’t a realistic option. In fact, I’m not sure why DAZ offers the option. Because it’s a stupid thing to do. From experience, I think it’s about 20x slower than GPU rendering. Ain’t got that kind of time, brah.

And with this render, ohh, I’ve never seen DAZ Studio bab itself quite as much. The first problem was when the scene became too heavy for the GPU. I really wasn’t happy with the grass density, or the quality of the ground texture, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and added a lot more higher-quality grass. This pushed the scene over the edge and became too complex to fit in GPU memory… not to mention that it was getting very difficult to do anything with the interactive render running.

To cut down on memory usage, I used a tool which can reduce the size of texture maps of objects you select. After halving the size of everything in the background, the scene was able to fit in GPU memory again, which was great. Wasn’t any faster at rendering, though, and this was a problem, because I needed to tweak the lighting. After this, it just descended into a whirlpool of fuckshit which connected directly to Satan’s testes. Yes, it was that bad.

First, it started leaking memory, so I couldn’t do more than one Iray render without restarting DS. Then, for no reason at all, it began to crash after turning on the interactive renderer, if not before rendering the first time, then always before rendering the second time. And then, it began to do this really weird shit when rendering, where the top half of the render would begin after the bottom half, making the top half look darker. I imagine that was some insanity with double-GPU rendering, but who cares, it was annoying. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, bang, it stops rendering with the GPUs. Had to reduce texture quality again just to get it to stop whining. Oh, and then, I discovered a problem where the Dragon 3’s left eye would render black, even though both of his eyes are one material and the right eye rendered just fine!

Monster. Hunter. 3 (Head Fail).jpg

I eventually discovered that this was caused because of a render setting that I’d changed, “Instancing Optimization” under the “Optimization” category. I changed it from Speed to Memory, because of the multitude of aforementioned memory issues I’d been having. But why the hell. His eyes aren’t instanced objects! The only instanced objects in the scene are the grass objects! Why would this option break the eyes?! And what does it even mean?! It’s not fucking documented! Look, this is the documentation of the whole Optimization category! (Backup screenshot here in the hilariously unlikely event that they update it.) OOOH SO USEFUL!!

And then, when I finally manage to get DAZ Studio to start a goddamn render, BAM, I was bitten once again by the IDIOT default settings of a two-hour maximum render time. Just as a final “fuck you”.

Haaah… so yeah… I wasn’t particularly calm. 😛 I even resorted to singing out my anger over a track from Disgaea 5 after it started playing as part of my “every piece of music on the PC” shuffle playlist. It helped a tiny bit. 😛

To be honest, though… the pain was worth it. Because look at THIS:

Monster. Hunter. (Character Focused)
(Available in these flavours: 2560×3072 “Character Focused” Version, 1080p, 2K, 4K)

MORE PLANTS! MORE GRASS! MORE FORESTY! 😀

Yes, it’s still a work in progress. UPDATE 2!!: I replaced the WIP version with the final version. I increased the texture resolution on the tree and added something that went missing in the last WIP render. 🙂

I… don’t really know what else to say. I mean, I’ve really surprised myself with this one. It was only gonna be a quick celebratory render, so I never imagined it would turn out as good as it has! 😀

Oh, wait, of course, I do know what to say: RENDER STAAATS! 😀 And oh, it’s a biggie. My longest render ever. That render, at 2560×3072, quality level 2 and 94.5% convergence (because I needed to kick off the desktop renders before going to bed and couldn’t wait another hour for the last 0.5% convergence 😛 ) took 20 hours 57 minutes 45.31 seconds. BOOM, R-R-R-R-RECORD BREAKER! Holy CRAP that’s a long time. But there’s a reason. The scene, despite all my efforts, flat out would not fit in my primary GPU’s memory, because DAZ Studio needs 2 GB just to show it in the viewport, the render needs about 3GB extra, and my GPUs only have 4GB of memory each. So I had to render it with the secondary GPU only, because that didn’t have anything in memory.

UPDATE 3!!

Heyyy, as you might have seen from the updated links under the image, I’ve added some desktop versions, the traditional 4K, 2K and 1080p trio. The 4K version took 11 hours 46 minutes 29.91 seconds to render… which is odd, since it’s about 400k pixels larger than the character focused render. There’s one very good (and equally confusing) reason for this, though: I was able to use both GPUs to render it. Not sure how… because again, larger image. They require more memory to render, right? 😛 It was basically a miracle, because the scene was 49MB off not fitting in GPU1’s memory. Look!

MSIAfterburner_2018-08-15_09-27-01.png

4047MB peak usage! The GPU only has 4096MB of memory! I didn’t even want to sneeze on the computer just in case it went over the edge. 😛

Anyhoo… normally I render all three resolutions individually, but this time I just rendered the 4K version and scaled it down. The main reason is because of Iray’s irritating grainy renders. Basically, any areas of the image that are even slightly dark, reflective or translucent turn out grainy, regardless of the convergence ratio or render quality settings. To counteract this, I apply blur manually to especially bad areas by converting the image to a Smart Object, applying a Gaussian blur as a Smart Filter, and airbrushing the mask white wherever I want to reduce the grain. This helps with the 4K image, but then I have to repeat the blurring process twice more with the 2K and 1080p images, and that’s really boring. 😛 So instead, I apply the blur to the 4K image, then downscale it. This not only saves time, but it reduces the grain massively at lower resolutions, and actually looks better than if I’d just rendered it at those resolutions.

And since we’re on the subject of postwork, I’ll mention what else I did in that area. 🙂 Apart from the signature and the blurring, I also added a vignette and a slight levels tweak to the desktop versions. But that’s all. 🙂

That’s all from me for now, but I hope you like the pic! Laterz. 🙂

UPDATE 4!!
(obsolete, see update 5)

I don’t believe it. After posting the final version here, after creating those desktop versions, after posting it to DeviantArt, after posting a follow-up comment on my Bookface post with the “finished” version and a link here for the desktop versions… I’ve noticed a huge mistake in the pose.

He’s NOT DRAWING THE ARROW CORRECTLY, oh my GOD I’m such a MORON!

Just… yeah. Just look carefully, and you won’t un-see it. The bow string is tensing against… what, exactly? It’s supposed to tense against the back of the arrow, you absolute dumbfuck MongMaster, what are you smoking?! This was my number one focus when posing. I looked at a lot of pictures of people drawing bows, and spent a lot of time making sure it looked just right, because I’ve only ever drawn a bow once before and was afraid of getting the pose wrong. And now look. I got it wrong. For fuck’s sake.

Not happy at all. I’ll fix it, but it’ll take a couple of days. -.-

UPDATE 5!!

Okay, I’ve replaced the renders with a new version where the dragon is drawing the arrow correctly, and all is good again. 😛 But hey, even though I had to spend another evening rendering both versions of this picture again, I found another silver lining! I learned another DAZ Studio dumbfuckery! 😛

As I said before, the character-focused version of the render wouldn’t fit in my primary GPU’s memory, so I couldn’t render it with both of my GPUs; I had to use my secondary GPU by itself. The knock-on of this was that it basically doubled the render time to nearly 21 hours. When it came to rendering the scene this time, I was wondering if there was any way to squeeze the scene size down just enough so it could fit in GPU memory without any major quality sacrifices. I tried some dumb things like closing DAZ Studio viewports and panels to try and save memory. Of course, this did nothing, so as a last-ditch, blue-sky thinking, really-clutching-at-straws-here attempt, I tried shrinking the DAZ Studio window down so that it was really small. Lo and behold, doing this actually freed up 100MB of GPU memory. Absolute top lel. Maximum lel. Lel overload. 😛 If you don’t believe me, here’s a demonstration.

That 100MB saving was enough to do the character-focused render with both GPUs. This saved about 11 hours, which means I can actually play Monster Hunter again tonight instead of using my PC to re-render this scene constantly, yay! 😛

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FINALLY, they got this monster right.

Well, I’ve had a 3DS for a couple months now. Not regretting it even slightly. Even if I’d bought it for full price I wouldn’t be regretting it. 🙂 It’s so nice to have a portable console with more than 4 games on it. 😛

I got a few extra games since I last posted. The first one was Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. I bought that because of Explorers of Sky, its predecessor, that I played on an emulator. Twice over! I quite liked the gameplay; it was a pretty simple dungeon crawler, but occasionally, it got quite brutal, and you had to stop and think about what you were gonna do next or you’d get hammered. It almost felt like a roguelike at times. Almost. 😛 Its strongest point by far was its story, though. Explorers of Sky had such a great story and such good characters that I can’t actually think of a game that surpasses it. It’s almost embarassing to admit that, and I feel like there has to be a game with a better storyline or better characters, but I don’t know why I can’t think of it. 😛

The new one, Gates to Infinity, didn’t disappoint either. The gameplay is almost the same, but a bit easier; they disabled the hunger system in all dungeons apart from the uber 99-floor endgame dungeons, they removed lookalike items (dangerous items that had very similar names to helpful items, eg: Oran Berries heal you, whereas Oren Berries cause damage), and Monster Houses (random rooms that contain more items inside than usual might turn out to be almost completely rammed with enemies) seem less frequent since I managed to get through more than half the game before I stumbled upon my first one. I mean, I only wiped out twice throughout the whole storyline, and one of those was due to insanely bad luck; an enemy used Peck which steals and uses a random item if it hits, and it just so happened to pick a Blast Seed I had lying around in there which does big damage to anyone in front of the item user. 😛 But despite the lower challenge, the story and characters were the highlights once again. I just found the characters so great that I actually ended up caring what happened to them. And okay, I’ll say it; I was that close to losing it at the end of the main story. 😛  Why? Why can this spin-off do it and pretty much no other game can?! I mean, even my most favouritest game of all time, Diablo II… the story was goodish, and some of the characters were good but I never really cared about them. It’s weird, especially when you consider I don’t actually like the vast majority of Pokémon, so it’s nothing to do with the fact that they were Pokémon or anything. I guess the Japanese are just better at making heartfelt stuff. 😛 The game time in Gates to Infinity was a little shorter than Explorers of Sky; I clocked 50 hours on the storyline compared to EoS’s 61 hours, but that’s not exactly something to snort at, especially when EoS has a much longer secondary storyline. I really hope they make another Mystery Dungeon, but judging by the sales and general reception of GtI (even in Japan), that really doesn’t look likely. Interest in it looks like it just divebombed from Explorers of Sky. 😦 No idea why, I mean, Victini could sell it on his own:

V-WHEEEEEEEEEEEL!!

I also got Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. It took me friggin’ ages to realise it was a download-only title. 😛 I was a bit wary of it for some reason, but it turned out to be really fun as usual; completely ridiculously convoluted cases, over-exaggerated speech, a guy who is allowed to throw shurikens at you in a courtroom, the same overworked judge presiding just like almost every previous case, it pretty much has it all. 😛 Although, I dunno if it was just me, but it felt like there was much less interaction this time. Like… there was much more reading and less actual thinking and cross-examination than usual. And the end of the final case was kinda strange and felt kinda unfulfilling. That, and I never really got stuck. Made some mistakes, but I never got stuck like I did with some of the previous games. Still, I reckon it was pretty good. Lasted quite a while, too. 🙂 The one thing that pissed me off about it the most, though? The sheer. Amount. Of spelling errors. I cringed the first time I noticed one. “Nggggggg, a spelling error in a visual novel?! Noooohohohooooo, that’s bad.” But then they just kept appearing again and again. And again. It eventually went beyond human error and beyond a joke. It was just flat-out careless. I started taking pictures after the fourth mistake; here’s a few samples:

The truth will always WIN*...You cannot POSSIBLY* overturn my claims...In which WE* live...To OVERLOOK* critical symptoms...

Since I have about 15 more, I’ll just leave it there before I post way too many. 😛

Despite the immense spelling errors in that one game, I have no regret for buying the console. But that’s just because of the games, not because the system is any good. The 3DS itself is pretty average. Well, no, I’d say below average, actually. There are a bunch of issues that just annoy me. Take the ergonomics. I’ve already mentioned how uncomfortable the system is to hold before, but it’s really annoying now. If you’re not playing an action game, it’s fine. However, if you are, you tend to grip the console a bit harder than normal, and it starts to hurt pretty quickly. This brick of a console presses into the bottom right of my right palm really firmly, and the bottom left of my left palm too. Whatever you call those locations. 😛 After it presses too much, it gets quite uncomfortable. :/

Another annoying thing is the 3D effect. I’ve gotten used to it enough now that I can have it on max. But eventually, I noticed something was wrong. Certain objects, usually objects that stand out amongst their surroundings, seem to appear appear “ghosted” quite strongly to the left and right. At first I thought it was my eyes, and tried turning down the effect. Then, after noticing the issue on the setting I used to use, I started to think it was a calibration issue. I’ve recalibrated about 4 times and messed with the manual calibration (whatever that’s supposed to do) to no avail, so it can only be the crappiness of the effect itself. I still like the effect and think it makes a pretty significant difference, but this ghosting issue ruins it almost completely. Faulty device, maybe? I doubt that; it seems like this kinda thing would be a software bug.

Other gripes include the stupidly low pixel density yet significant frame drop when using the 3D effect which, in combination, demonstrates the device’s idiotically low power. And despite this low power, the battery life is fairly short, meaning that the battery is probably cheap and low-capacity. Nintendo can’t seem to let go of the past, either. In this age where it’s common for a 6-year-old kid to know what kilobytes and megabytes are, Nintendo still insists on using blocks as a unit of measurement. Fucking blocks! What the hell is a block?! The last non-Nintendo console I know of that used blocks as a unit of measurement was the Xbox, and I’m pretty sure even they don’t know why they used it. I mean, Sony had already dropped it and switched to KB after the PS1! One other thing? Nintendo sucks at the Internet. I mentioned in a previous post that you can only save three sets of wireless access point information, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. But the amount of time it takes to connect to various online things is amazing. No, I can assure you it’s not my connection. 😛 Connecting to the server to browse DLC for a single game takes about 40 seconds, which isn’t much less than the amount of time it takes to open the entire eShop! Oh, and about the eShop? It can either download one file at a time while the console is open as long as it’s not interrupted, or it can queue a bunch of stuff to download, but only if the console is put into sleep mode! What the hell? Why can’t it download while I’m doing something else with the system?! Christ. Even the new C-Stick is pretty shoddy. It’s weird and completely devoid of feeling, and because it’s so small, it has a microscopic range.

Hah, YES. Finally. Been waiting to find the right place to mention the C-Stick for ages. 😛 Since I’ve mentioned the C-Stick, that means I’ve got a game where I’ve been able to use it, and that game was supposed to be the focus of this entry but I DO THIS ALL THE TIME SOMETIMES. 😛

This game has pretty much been my nemesis ever since I played it way back when. The reason why it’s my nemesis isn’t really because of the gameplay or challenge or because the game was crap. It’s because it’s the only game I seriously wanted to like, that I couldn’t like. It had an awesome concept, but it’s like they made the game without thinking about anything important at all. It was a great game hidden behind layers and layers of artificial challenge, a terrible learning curve, stupid choices and tons of catch-22s.

Monster Hunter.

Fuck you Kut-Ku. And fuck you Kushala Daora. 😛

So from my words, obviously, my experience with Monster Hunter has been pretty rocky. The first one I played was the original on the PS2, but I can’t remember it that much. All I remember is that I gave it a try out of curiosity, but it pounded me into the ground somehow and I gave up. Some time later, after I managed to get custom firmware installed on my PSP, I thought I’d try out Monster Hunter Freedom 2, which I’ve actually posted about a couple of times before. I went through the tutorial quests and did pretty well, and started to think they’d greatly improved their game’s difficulty curve from the original. Nope. 😛 After I left the tutorials and started on the quests, I immediately noticed something. The weapons provided in the tutorial were different from the ones you start with. “Different” as in “WAY more powerful”. I had serious problems with the Velocidrome, which is a… well, guess. It’s a velociraptor. 😛 Wait, was it the Velocidrome? Nonono, it was a Giadrome; that’s it. Although it’s pretty much the same thing, just a texture swap and possibly different spit. 😛 Anyway, it’s the first large monster. It took me 20 minutes to beat it. And no, I didn’t complete it first time.

I didn’t really understand why I was having such a hard time. I mean, it was the first quest. I didn’t have the materials to upgrade my weapons or craft any armour. Eventually, I made some headway by switching to the Light Bowgun and suddenly ended up destroying the Giadrome. I start riding the wave, clearing quest after quest, but then all of a sudden, the Yian Kut-Ku turns up and wipes me out. It’s the first wyvern you come across, a quite-scrawny-definitely-looks-kinda-like-a-chicken wyvern, but a wyvern nonetheless. 😛 It nuked me. Absolutely nuked me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t beat it. Because you don’t know exactly how much health your target has left, I was convinced the AI was cheating by switching areas and recovering most of its health when I wasn’t looking. This was the monster that made me give up.

It wasn’t just the Kut-Ku. It was that absolute spastic learning curve that gets you used to the power of weapons you don’t own before suddenly dropping you against the same monsters with dramatically weaker weapons at your disposal. There was the complete inaccessibility of multiplayer, too. To play with your friends, or anyone, you need to be in the same room at the same time, which isn’t really possible when you live so far away from each other. Not many of my friends owned a PSP, and none of them really seemed interested in Monster Hunter anyway, but I reckon it would’ve been way easier with a team-mate, even some other random nooblet like me. 😛 I believed that having two targets would make the AI lose the plot completely. 😛  My biggest problem with the game, though? The controls. On the PSP, they didn’t make any sense at all. There’s no lock-on, and I can’t really see why not, because lock-on eliminates the “camera wrangling” layer of Fake Difficulty; making the camera impossible to control makes the game more difficult for no good reason. In Monster Hunter, you can make the camera look in the direction your character is facing by tapping L, but if you wanted to move the camera to look at the monster you’re targeting, well, the camera controls are bound to the d-pad. Which, on the PSP, is above the analog stick. So to control your character and move the camera at the same time while still having access to the rest of the controls, you needed 2 left hands. -.-

Or, well… so it seemed. But I’ll get onto that in a bit. 😉

About a year after dropping Monster Hunter Freedom 2, I was playing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker when I discovered to my complete surprise that it contained secret missions based on Monster Hunter. 😀 After I made Snake cook a Well-Done Ration and shoot a Rathalos about 30 times in the face with a rocket launcher, I thought I’d give Monster Hunter yet another chance. Why? I dunno. MGS Peace Walker may have had Monster Hunter missions but it played completely differently and I only just hesitate to say that I reckon it was the best PSP game ever (I only just hesitate because Patapon 3 was also immense 😀 ). I mean, I found it possible to use the camera while moving for one thing. 😛

MHFU annoyed me when I started it up because it looked exactly like MHF2. 😛 It turned out that it was an expanded version of MHF2, meaning it was exactly the same apart from at least two things: G-Rank endgame quests against stupid monsters no-one in reality could ever kill short of using many many anti-tank missiles and/or a nuke, and when playing solo, a Felyne companion (they’re epic anthropomorphic kitties 😀 ) who was completely useless at dealing damage but amazing at taking hits by distracting stuff away from me. 😛 But no, soon, I noticed something else. I cleared most of the quests to the end of 2* and only fainted twice. One of those faints was “uber-cheap”, as I explain here:

Fighting Velociprey, took two of them out. As I was gathering from them, the camera screwed up and got stuck near the wall, and the sound of the Felyne throwing bombs at the other Velociprey drowned out the sound of Tigrex entering the area. I heard the danger music start, thought “What the fu…?”, spun my camera around, and saw Tigrex’s grill right up in my grill. He fired an ice blast, which knocked me down and took out a massive chunk of my health bar. Got up again… but the Random Number God said “you’re stunned”. Couldn’t do shit. Tigrex then bit my head off. Screwed by the gayness that is the RNG.

Yep. Sounds pretty cheap. 😛 But despite this… I was doing alright. And it didn’t make any sense, since it was exactly the same game as MHF2. Either they had dropped the difficulty dramatically, or I had improved by not playing it for about a year. 😛 I kept piledriving through the quests all the way up to 4*, and ended up switching to the Long Sword midway through. I also ended up mastering a technique I later found out to be called “the claw”, allowing you to both move and control the camera. Basically, while you have your thumb on the analog stick, you bend your index finger back and curl it forward like a claw. This is generally incredibly uncomfortable, but it places your index finger on the d-pad, so you can control the camera. 😀 Hell, I was doing so good, I even ended up making a complete mockery of my old rival, the Yian Kut-Ku, by accidentally killing one with a kick. 😛

But then, just as I thought I was really “getting” it, SPLAAAT! I ran into a difficulty cliff.

There were two quests that stopped me from breaking past 4*. One was to beat a White Monoblos, which is a sort-of-wyvern that frequently burrows underground and just moves around aimlessly with its fin poking out of the sand, and there’s no point in running after it because it can move about three times faster than you. The standard Monoblos took 25 minutes for me to beat, and apart from rendering the quest as cleared, it was actually detrimental because I used a lot of items but didn’t get any materials I needed. The other one that stopped me? Kushala Daora, the first actual dragon you encounter. Er… “actual dragon” as in “not a wyvern”. Even though wyverns are dragons. Oh whatever, what I meant was that Kushala’s a Western dragon, not a wyvern like nigh on everything else in Monster Hunter. 😛

Kushala Daora was Fake Difficulty personified. Or… well, dragonified, if you prefer. 😛 He has a wind shield that makes you stumble if you go anywhere near him, making close combat insanely difficult. But since insanely difficult isn’t hard enough, he’s ultra-fast, and his scales are so hard that the very few attacks I managed to land using a weapon with green sharpness usually ended up bouncing. I couldn’t GET anything higher than green at the time! I didn’t actually understand what the game wanted me to do about it!

But wait, there’s more! I haven’t told you about the catch-22’s! Apparently, if you attack Kushala’s head and break his horns, the wind shield completely disappears. However, you can’t, because the wind shield knocks you back if you get too close! In the event you DO land a hit, it bounces, because the sharpness required to cause meaningful damage is higher than is available at that point in the game! Now, you can poison him to stop the wind shield temporarily, but I hit him with five poison throwing knives and nine poison smoke bombs and didn’t poison him once, so I’m pretty sure he’s IMMUNE to poison. The only way I can imagine beating him is by being a distraction while a team-mate with a bowgun/bow shoots the crap out of him.

I even tried looking for some kind of guide. Just a few hints on how to deal with the wind shield, what weapon and armour people recommend, how to go about attacking, any tell information, whatever. Best recommendations? Use a weapon made from unobtainable Rathalos materials, and a full set of armour made from unobtainable Tigrex materials. WHAT. THE FUCK. They were monsters that appeared in THE NEXT TIER UP, or maybe even higher! That made me feel like the game really was impossible, because they’d obviously had to hack that equipment into their game just to beat it. Either that, or I was playing some broken version of the game or something. What’s more, because Capcom are stupid as hell, you only unlock arena missions against specific monsters for practice and bonus materials until AFTER you beat the monster for the first time. DURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

I deleted it and swore I’d never play another game from the series. Monster Hunter 3 came and went, and I laughed at it because it came out on the Wii, an even less suitable console for it.

I’m crap at keeping my word, though. 😛

Ever since I got the 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has been breathing down my neck. I kept seeing it on the eShop store, kept seeing it in the recommended list on Amazon because it probably knew I had a 3DS, kept seeing it advertised by Amazon in the sidebar on Facebook because Facebook is fucking creepy and spies on my browsing habits, and I kept seeing it in newsletters from GAME and ShopTo. It was all over the place probably because it’s basically The Game That Sells The 3DS. 😛 I kept thinking “No, I’m not playing it. It’s screwed me over way too many times.”

I can’t remember when I did it or why, but I eventually buckled and downloaded the demo from the eShop. 😛 It was a pretty bespoke demo. The first thing it asked was whether you were new to Monster Hunter or not. The first time I played the demo, I said I was a beginner. That option makes you stronger than normal and gives you two missions, one to fight a Great Jaggi (a bigass dinosaur), and another to fight a Tetsucabra (a bigass frog but it’s quite a badass bigass frog 😛 ). I did them in order using the weapon I remember the most from MHFU; the Dual Blades. The fight with Great Jaggi showed off the new mounting system, and the fight with Tetsucabra showed off the insane vertically-inclined environments and your protagonist’s legs of steel. 😛 Great Jaggi was beaten in a blink and Tetsucabra wasn’t too hard either. So, I switched to experienced, and not at all to my surprise, a third mission appeared; one to take down Gore Magala, a completely badass black dragon who definitely hates you. 😛 I got him using the Dual Blades on my third try, which was way faster than I expected. I actually kinda enjoyed the demo, but I was still super-wary. I mean, you were given preset equipment and items. I wasn’t convinced that the equipment the demo gave you would be obtainable at that point in the real game. Still… Monster Hunter was back on my radar. I thought “Well, I’ll consider it if I find it cheap somewhere, but £35 is way too steep to take a chance on it.”

Guess what was on sale recently? 😛

I picked it up for £20 a couple weeks ago now. And I can barely believe how much I am BULLDOZING everything.

Seriously, I’m at the end of 4*, where I was blocked in MHFU. I’m about to fight the Gore Magala that I fought in the demo and I am completely confident that I’m gonna win. On my way here, I’ve fainted ONCE, and that was because I couldn’t fucking MOVE. It was during a mission where Gore Magala appears for the first time, shows off, and attacks your boat. Since the dragon takes about 60% of the space on the boat when he’s landed, there’s pretty much nowhere to move when he does. I got pinned against a corner underneath Magala while he did some attacks that I couldn’t really see as I desperately tried to run or roll THROUGH him somehow, and eventually I just gave up and let him drain my health. But that’s literally the only time I’ve fainted. What the hell? Have I just gotten better at games or something, or is MH4U just easier?

I think the main reason why is because I did some proper weapon tests and found a new favourite. I went through the majority of the weapon training, getting used to each of the weapons before entering the arena with a Great Jaggi, timing myself from that point. I logged 4 minutes 16 seconds with the familiar Dual Blades, and finally proved to myself that I’ve been wasting my time with that mediocre weapon all along by posting a time of 2 minutes 56 seconds with the Long Sword. Then something unexpected happened. I picked the Insect Glaive, one of the two new weapons. Without fully understanding what I was doing, I FLATTENED the Great Jaggi in 2 minutes 17 seconds. What. Thinking it was a fluke, I tried again. 1 MINUTE 53 SECONDS. Holy crap!

Understandably, the Insect Glaive became my new weapon of choice. This overpowered-as-hell I-can-do-literally-everything-except-block-but-why-would-you-waste-your-time-with-blocking weapon has nuked every single anything that’s gotten in my way so far. Was that my problem from the very beginning? I’d been using the wrong weapon? It must’ve been at least part of it. 😛

But anyway, now that I can actually play the game properly without being butt-raped by the weakest monsters in the game, I can progress through the game and attempt to enjoy it for once. And as for the biggest, most immense improvement MH4U has over the previous games aside from the more reasonable difficulty? Wanna know? Go on, guess.

It haaas… A NARRATIVE.

Top lel, yes! It actually has an additional sense of progression outside of the number of stars shown by the name of the quest. There’s a STORY. It only took them THIS many years to realise Monster Hunter didn’t have one despite the fact it’s a role playing game and could easily have had one from the very start. 😛

It’s not the best story in the world, but because it has one and it’s interesting enough, I want to know what happens next, and it’s cool to make the story unfold. “Hey mate fuck up this Gypceros because we need its stuff to make a boat!” Ooh, where’re we going? What’s the boat gonna look like? Ahh, I’m not gonna know until I help out the village by splattering this bigass Nerscylla first! OHHHH SNAP I’M ON A BOAT, take a good hard look at the motherfuckin’ boat, yeaaaaaaah! OH SHIT, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING OH GOD IT’S A DRAGON WITH AN EYE FOR CRAFTSMANSHIP AND IT HATES THE BOAT A 13-YEAR-OLD-GIRL DESIGNED, BOOOOSH SMASH WHAAAAM oh damn we barely made it to land. Gore Magala, I’m totally gonna smash your face for messing up my boat BIIOOOOTCH!

*ahem* Yep. So because of the things I madly wrote down in the previous paragraph (if it even qualifies as that) without re-reading them yet, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is actually a good game for once. 😛 It has a story, a unique vibe and good sense of humour, a camera that can be controlled properly, a deepish combat system with a large selection of weapons that feel unique, and a realistic difficulty curve. Finally, I can enjoy the game I’ve always wanted to enjoy.

Obviously, there are some flaws. The most obvious one is the weapon balance. I can’t believe that the Insect Glaive is that powerful. It’s overpowered. Hell, even the Charge Blade is overpowered, because I still don’t understand what I was doing with it when I managed to rank it second fastest at mullering a Great Jaggi on my second attempt. Hell, it was faster than the Long Sword which I know how to use already. I’m gonna have to go back through the weapon training at some point and post a list of my best times with each weapon.

Another flaw is their inability to teach new players properly. Going through the weapon “tutorials” feels like trying to cram for an exam; it gives you ALL of the information while the game is paused. You can’t move around while the dialogue appears in the corner and try out the weapon as he explains the controls. -.-  Also, some of the tutorial messages only appear when you do what the tutorial message teaches you. I ran off a ledge and was immediately interrupted by some dialogue that said that you can run off a ledge (or evade off a ledge if you have your weapon drawn) and attack for a mid-air attack that has a chance of knocking down monsters and opens up a mounting attempt. I’m pretty sure I could’ve figured that out for myself eventually. 😛 Thankfully, you mount your first monster automatically in a cutscene, so I learned how to do that before I did it for myself. However, it still felt like a cramming session, because the game was paused while it explained what buttons to press while mounted.

I don’t like this looming feeling of needing to grind for equipment, either. Well, I say “looming”, but it already happened, actually. I spent about 4 hours a day for the past three days trying to get TWO friggin’ materials I needed to complete a set of armour that I wanted before taking on Gore Magala. I needed two Gypceros Heads to trade for Basarios Scalps. Now, if this game made any sense at all, this would be no problem. I mean, you just kill two Gypceros and take their heads, right? Noooooo! You see, item drop chances and conditions are hidden from the eyes of normal players. After killing about 12 Gypceros and capturing another four without a single one dropping a Gypceros Head, I had to turn to the Internet where people somehow have this kind of information. You know what the drop chance of a Gypceros Head is when you carve its body? One percent! ONE!! Despite the fact that I can see its head riiiiiight there! Goddamn it, no fucking WONDER I never found one! It turned out that the best way to get one was to go for the much more realistic 30% chance when you break the crystal on its head and then complete the quest, because breaking its crystal means you can cut its head off, obviously. 😛 Anyway, this was kind of a good learning experience because I decided to try the Hammer after finding it does big damage to Gypceros when you hit it in the head but reduced damage everywhere else. I thought that would reduce the chance of accidentally killing the monster before breaking its crystal. After breaking one of their crystals but failing to kill either of them and almost running out of potions and antidotes after 25 minutes, I gave it up to recover my items, registering my first ever failed/abandoned quest in MH4U, and concluding that while the Hammer may have a massive damage value, it’s actually a steaming pile of shit and I will never touch it again outside of training. 😛

I got the two heads in four kills after switching back to the Insect Glaive and being more precise. 🙂 So, with this armour, I’m pretty much ready to kick Gore Magala’s badass tushie and bitchslap that “Ace Commander” after he says “WHOOOOAOOAOAOAOAAHHHAHHAHH”. 😛 If I do that, I’ll reach 5* for the first time. 😀

Well, fuck. 5000+ words. Sorry, I’ve written waaaaaaaay too much. I’ll shut the hell up now. 😛 But I’ll probably be back tomorrow at some point to update this monster of an entry to tell you about how I smooshed Gore Magala which will make it EVEN LOOOOOONGER! 😛

Hey Capcom? Achievement Unlocked. (not)

Capcom didn’t make WordPress, so no, I’m not talking about this shitty site which still irritates the hell out of me. I’m talking about the one series that’s stopped them from achieving a perfect record with me. Monster Hunter. Yes, I love MegaMan. I love Dead Rising, even though technically they didn’t MAKE it. I love Street Fighter. But for many years, I’ve wanted to take a Great Sword and hunt down the developers of that irritating hack ‘n’ slash. 😛

The thing that got me the most was that it was an AWESOME game at its core. Very nice selection of weapons and armour, a fairly deep combat system, and I really liked the semi-free-roam map style, where you could go anywhere on the map at any time to go gather stuff or whatever, but the maps weren’t huge to make hunting annoying, in the “required travel distance” sense. 😛 I REALLY, REALLY wanted to like it, because I could sense there was a seriously deep, rewarding, long-lasting, satisfying, fun game there.

However, this gem of a game had been shat on with a pathetic, clunky, ridiculously overcomplicated control system, inaccessible and ambitious multiplayer, various other irritations such as “JUST USE THE FUCKING ITEM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, STOP POSING!!”, and of course, Capcom’s signature difficulty curves, which are more ridiculous than almost ANYTHING.

The difficulty curve is unpredictable; one moment you’re in the training school using fairly powerful weapons, raping the shit out of every monster you come across, even the training boss! After that, you’re in the main quests, doing alright, and then suddenly, WHAM. A boss battle. The boss kicks your ass to the moon. Of course, I blamed it on my weapon choice, so I changed to dual blades. Same thing. Tried Sword and Shield. Same thing. Lance, Gunlance, Long Sword… all useless. Then I pick up the Light Bowgun and DESTROY the boss. WHAT?! :S Then, as I was doing well with the Light Bowgun, I get the dreaded Yian Kut-Ku quest, which is the point where I usually fail so hard I give up. And… well, yeah. It trampled the crap out of me. Multiple times. And each time, I never knew how close I was, because there is no enemy health bar, and I SWEAR that the bots were cheating. Disappearing into another area for a split second, and regaining all their health. They’re monsters, they don’t HAVE health potions, and they already have enough damn health as it is! So I gave up.

That was Monster Hunter Freedom 2. I thought that, with a friend, I’d grow to enjoy it. However, that brings me onto the multiplayer inaccessibility.

To play a game of Monster Hunter with a friend, you need a friend who has a PSP, a fairly unpopular and expensive handheld console which no-one ever uses. Furthermore, they have to like Monster Hunter and own a copy of it, which isn’t really that easy when it comes to MY friends. 😛 Also, you both need to be in the same place at the same time with a fair few hours to spare. All in all… almost impossible. 😛 What’s more, when they released Monster Hunter 3, they released it only on the Wii, which has the worst netplay service in the history of the world. Do any of my friends that I speak with on a regular basis own a Wii? One. Do they play Monster Hunter? No. Do I even own a Wii? NO. 😛 Furthermore, releasing it on the Xbox would have actually reached the audience who LIKE those type of games. And it would have support for DLC, and it would have better graphics, a smoother framerate, and better controllers. And it would be much easier to find someone who would want to play it co-op. Because I actually have a 360. And some of my friends could get the demo to try it.

Capcom, go to school. Go directly to school. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 intelligence points. 😛

So, what’s the point of this entry then, you ask? Well, partly to vent, but mainly to say that I’ve recently given Monster Hunter ANOTHER chance. That’s FOUR now. 😛 Normally, I’d NEVER give a series more than two chances, but this just shows how much I really WANTED to like it. 😉

This time, it was Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. Or as they call it in Japan, Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G. Yeah. 😛 Downloaded it a few days ago after discovering that MGS: Peace Walker actually contained secret Monster Hunter missions after fulfilling a bunch of other conditions. Oh yes. Hideo Kojima – psychotic, awesome legend of games design. 😀

MHFU annoyed me when I started it. Because I found out that it is pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME AS MONSTER HUNTER FREEDOM 2. Same areas, same weapons, same dialogue. Same story. Same everything. GAY. Under my criteria, any game like that gets an instant ZERO on the F.A.G.G.O.T. Rating System. But, I decided to give it a chance, and went through the beginner missions and all that, until I got to the point where you hire a Felyne recruit. As in, an AI to help you on missions.

Awesome idea… juuust a BIT flawed. You see, AI has never actually been intelligent. They only seem intelligent in simple games such as Pacman, but that doesn’t really make them intelligent. 😛 The Felyne I chose CONSTANTLY throws bombs, and around 30% of them end up landing on ME. Another 50% miss, and the rest actually hit the target and cause… minor damage. 😛 The best thing that I’ve seen so far is that the bot is an EPIC distraction. Three Velociprey and a Velocidrome? Fairly tough as a newbie when they’re all trying to jump on your face. But, when the Velocidrome and one of the Velociprey is attacking your basically invincible companion, EASY AS PISS. Take out the extras, then focus on the Velocidrome. Unleash maximum rape, QUEST CLEAR. Didn’t even get a chance to retreat. 😀

I’ve only fainted twice so far, and I’ve almost cleared the 2-star difficulty level. And one of those faints was uber-cheap. Fighting Velociprey, took two of them out. As I was gathering from them, the camera screwed up and got stuck near the wall, and the sound of the Felyne throwing bombs at the other Velociprey drowned out the sound of Tigrex entering the area. I heard the danger music start, thought “What the fu…?” , spun my camera around, and saw Tigrex’s grill right up in my grill. 😛 He fired an ice blast, which knocked me down and took out a massive chunk of my health bar. Got up again… but the Random Number God said “you’re stunned”. Couldn’t do shit. Tigrex then bit my head off. Screwed by the gayness that is the RNG. 😛 However, actually managing to beat a Yian Kut-Ku and the whateveritisyoucallit that comes after him with only a single faint between them, shows that either I’ve improved dramatically by not playing it, or Capcom have actually realised that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for beginners and dropped the initial Japanese Difficulty Cliff.

I don’t get it. It’s pretty much exactly the same as it was before, so why has MHFU managed to convert me? This happens extremely rarely at this kind of magnitude, so Capcom can hold their heads high. 😉 Maybe I shouldn’t speak too highly of it yet – I still haven’t reached 3-star. Maybe we’ll see the classic “it’s impossible unless you have friends who play Monster Hunter” problem then. 😛 I still stand by my claims of a GAY control system, and really stupid things the developers put in probably just to give it a “lighter” feel (such as that ANNOYING “look at me, I’m awesome” pose when using an item, etc.), but overall… it’s not bad. Let me just do a F.A.G.G.O.T. Rating…

Fun: 6/10 – Fun, and it has great charm… but it can get a bit tedious, and there are various irritations, such as gay controls.
Audio: 8/10 – Nice music. The sounds are mostly nice, too, but this gets bonus points for the EPIC NPC voice acting. Speak to the farm guy, you’ll see. “S!!” 😀
Graphics: 7/10 – Nice models, but some textures are stretched and that’s NOT nice. The framerate is very steady, and the environments look nice.
Gameplay: 8/10 – Challenging, but not to the point where you want to kill yourself. The gameplay also feels quite rewarding, and very deep. Great combat system, and a mostly awesome bunch of monsters. The big letdowns are the clunky control system, and the feeling that this could have been done at least a little better on any other console.
Online: 5/10 – One word: Inaccessible.
Total (after Importance Machine): 6.9 (Very Good). (lolumadbro? see updates.)

Remember, I use a 0-10 scale, not a 6-10 scale like normal reviewers do. 😛

Anyhoo, that’s that. 😀 I’m off to see if I can complete 2-star level, and to find this inevitable Japanese Difficulty Cliff. Buh-bye! 🙂

UPDATE!!

Okay, nope. I’m at four stars and I’m still doing okay. Apart from the fact that the AI blatantly cheats every so often, and the Random Number God is NEVER on your side. And the Plesioth is gayer than anything ever. 😛 Still feel like I want to throw the PSP at the wall every so often because of these things, but the good moments outshine the bad ones. 😀

Especially what I accidentally did last night. 😀 Now, I don’t care whether you’ve got a maxed out character that can take out anything in one hit or whatever, because what I did was so much more awesome. 😀

I was on a mission where you have to take out a Kut-Ku and a Blue Kut-Ku in the same mission. Sounded a bit daunting, but I’d recently got the hang of the Long Sword, which kicks serious ass, and I thought I had what it takes. Started the mission, and took along a couple traps and some tranquiliser bombs, hoping I could capture them both.

At first it was a bit gay, because I didn’t expect them both to be in the same zone, and that was a nightmare, because all I could do was dodge out of the way since they didn’t let up in their attacks. Over time, the Blue Kut-Ku switched zones for no apparent reason, leaving the normal Kut-Ku with me. I was absolutely destroying it, and within a couple minutes, it started limping. As I went to FINISH HIM!!, I remembered about my traps and said “No, no, wait… let him switch zones, and I’ll capture him there.”

He took off, landed in another zone. I followed, and he was still limping, and for some reason, not paying any attention to me. I put down my trap, and waited for him to attack, but he didn’t. So, to get his attention, I went to poke him with my long sword, but I didn’t know how much health he had left. So, instead, I decided to kick him, which usually gets their attention and does pretty much no damage.

So I put my weapon away, got closer, and kicked him in the foot. And, to my surprise, a notification appears on my screen: “One monster left!” LMFAO, I couldn’t stop laughing, I actually managed to kill a Yian Kut-Ku with a KYICK! Talk about Critical Existence Failure! 😀

Computer wasn’t very happy about that, as was evident when I found the Blue Kut-Ku again, which proceeded to cheat the hell out of everything. He charged through a tree, hit me with his beak when he clearly did NOT, same thing happened with the tail, and when he went into berserk mode, he attempted to combo whore me by doing successive attacks which you can’t dodge, because they hit the very MOMENT you get up from a previous attack.

But the AI was so shit that it couldn’t win even if it cheated. After an EPIC combo by me, draw overhead slice, overhead slice, thrust, upward swing, full spirit blade combo, the Blue Kut-Ku pooed himself and switched zones. Followed him, set a trap, woke him up with a FALCON KICK (it DIDN’T kill him this time, which was a bit of a shame :P) led the cheating bastard into the trap which it was conveniently avoiding, even though it’s an AI and can’t see traps, and managed to capture him. 😀

Possibly the most epic-filled Monster Hunter mission in the history of ever. 😀 Just wish it was on the damn Xbox, so I could ACTUALLY play it co-op. 😛

UPDATE 2!!

*sigh*… okay, never mind. I hit the Japanese Difficulty Cliff, and that’s it. Can’t get past four stars because I can’t complete two of the missions. Seriously, this is a fucking stupid gameplay mechanic. “If you get stuck, tough, you’re not good enough, stop playing.” I should review the F.A.G.G.O.T Rating of this game, because that sounds like instant-zero material.

I have the white Monoblos to beat, and the NORMAL Monoblos took me 25 minutes to beat and the victory didn’t actually benefit me in any way – didn’t get any needed materials, used quite a lot of items. Knowing THIS game’s difficulty curves, the white Monoblos might take sixteen years to beat.

The other one is Kushala Daora, who is crammed so full of Fake Difficulty is makes me want to cry and rip my own face off. Stupid overpowered wind shield, stupid speed, bot keeps detecting all my moves and dodging every single one of them, and it has unrealistically high sharpness requirements. I can’t GET anything higher than green sharpness yet! WTF DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!

In addition, it’s full of catch-22’s. Attack the head and break the horns to stop the wind shield… but the wind shield knocks you back when you get within range. In the event that I DO land a hit, the attack bounces, because my sharpness is too low even though it can’t possibly be any higher at this moment in time, or he immediately dodges it. Apparently you can poison him to stop the wind shield for a while, but even after riddling him with five poison throwing knives and throwing NINE poison smoke bombs at him, nothing. So I’m guessing he’s actually IMMUNE to poison. But what REALLY irritates me is it’s NOT EVEN FRIGGIN’ HARD! He’s got SHIT attacks, I can read him like a book, and I could probably destroy him so easily, but NO, Fake Difficulty. Impossibly hard scales and that gay wind shield that knocks me back are the only things in my damn way. That shield also leaves me wide open to a MASSIVE combo whore by the cheating bastard computer. Fall down, get up , immediately get a face full of dragon claws. Fall down, get up, fall down again because of wind shield, get up, instantly hit by ice blast, fall down, get up, instantly get hit by retarded nonsensical twisty move, fall down, get up, and FINALLY manage to move again!

Searching on the ‘net for help didn’t really get me anywhere, either, since it seems that 95% of people who play this game are mentally fucking retarded. Use overpowered X weapon and ridiculous Y armour. Um… I can’t. I don’t HAVE THE ABILITY TO GET THAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT YET! Rathalos and Tigrex materials? Have I even FOUGHT AGAINST Rathalos or Tigrex yet? NO! So how the fuck do you expect me to get the RIGHT EQUIPMENT?! Just because YOU cheated with whatever tool you use to cheat, doesn’t mean I want to!

Oh, and do you know what’s hilarious? Capcom’s intelligence. When I decided to say “this is bullshit, I’m quitting this mission”, and quit, I was expecting something like “Kushala Daora Training  Unlocked!”, and some hints just to help me along in getting past that mission. That would’ve been REALLY nice, and REALLY helpful. But do you know what ACTUALLY appeared? “NEW VIDEO UNLOCKED IN THE GALLERY!” NOT USEFUL, FAGTARDS!

I’m going to bed, and tomorrow, I’m going to try one more time. If  I still can’t do it, it’s basically said “you’re not good enough, stop playing”, which means it will get a zero and a one-way ticket to the recycle bin. Oh, and Monster Hunter will be put on my blacklist for good.

UPDATE 3!!

Okay, it’s lost it’s appeal completely. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I keep losing, and it’s almost impossible to get equipment better than I have right now without grinding. And as stated in the official F.A.G.G.O.T Rating System Rules, “Any game which requires noticable grinding comes under MongMaster’s criteria for speedy deletion. If a game meets the criteria for speedy deletion, and if there is no redeeming counter-feature, the game will be deleted in a speedy fashion and recieve half the currently accumulated F.A.G.G.O.T score.” Ya rly.

And so, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite requires grinding to progress, and is too frustrating and not fun enough to counter this fact, so it now no longer exists on my PSP and recieves a 3.4 (Lame). Not, since I’ve revised the system, and I had to re-rate MHFU, so it actually gets a 2.22(Terrible). And since it’s failed to impress consistently even through FOUR attempts, it also gets put on the F.A.G.G.O.T Blacklist, which means I’ll never play another game from that series. I knew I shouldn’t have spoke of it too highly earlier.

Sorry Capcom, looks like your achievement was just revoked. 😛