Been reading a few different posts from other bloggers that are monthly recaps and being the wholly original person I am decided I might like to write one as well. I don’t know that this will be a permanent addition to my writing rotation, but I’ve been struggling to write full length articles about some of the games I’ve been playing so a recap post seems like the ideal way to ramble about my thoughts. As stated in my recent blogger recognition post that is the reason why I started my blog in the first place. Without any further preamble, let’s dive in.
Not much to say on this front. I’ve still been trucking along at my own pace. I did try to write about a few of the games I’ve played over the last few months, but that didn’t materialize. One post I did manage to put out was about my time in Yakuza 0, which I really enjoyed writing. I think it is one of my best written posts to date. Hopefully I’ll find more sparks of inspiration in upcoming months.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
To absolutely no one’s surprise I spent most of March playing more Monster Hunter World. I’d been playing it and very little else since completing Yakuza 0 back in January. With around eight weeks of play time I’m now almost at a thousand hours spent hunting down monsters for sport. That’s a terrifying thought. It’s time I enjoyed, but I don’t have much to show for it.
I’ve tried to write a post on my time with Iceborne, but I’ve had a great deal of difficulty doing so. Every time I try it comes out reading like a thousand word rant where I nag the developers for not making the most of the expansion. This ultimately results in me deleting the whole draft and starting again another day, wherein I inevitably write the same thing. I’d have published a version of the post if I hadn’t deemed every draft irredeemable. I didn’t enjoy editing them, so I assumed no one would enjoy reading them.
Now some of you may be wondering: why? Why is it that I keep writing negative posts for the expansion to a game that I’ve spent almost a thousand hours playing? It’s because the phrase quantity over quality aptly describes the Iceborne expansion.
The reason for my perceived lack of quality stems almost entirely from the newly introduced mechanic: the clutch claw. It’s a grappling apparatus that lets you hook onto the monster so you can perform a specialized attack that weakens their hide allowing for increased damage output. The other function is that while you’re on the monster’s head you can perform a flinch shot, which will send them charging forward. If they happen to collide with a wall they’ll topple over taking massive damage. Conceptually it is really cool and visually using the claw is one of the most badass things you can do. However, to say that it lacks consistency is a bit of an understatement.
There is no short supply of videos on both Youtube and the various Monster Hunter sub-reddits that highlight the clutch claw exhibiting buggy behaviour. And my experience mirrors these videos. There have been numerous times where I’ve aimed the claw at a monster and grappled onto a completely different part than where I was aiming. Some of the more extreme examples showcase me shooting the claw at the front leg only to end up stuck on the end of the tail. I’ve also frequently had the flinch shot glitch out. It is extremely frustrating sending a monster flying into a wall only to have it skid along the wall rather than topple over. In a game where even a slight mistake can be punished with death the lack of consistency exhibited by the clutch claw is incredibly frustrating.
I still believe the mechanic is a neat concept, but the same level of attention that was put into the monsters and the various weapon attacks was not translated to the clutch claw. It needs a lot of fine tuning for consistency if the development team has a desire to keep it in future entries of the franchise.
Yes I am still playing Fantasy Strike. I took a bit of a break to focus in on Monster Hunter for several weeks, but got pinged by a few members of the community asking me to play in the weekly community tournaments once they started up again at the tail end of February. I was a little worried that all of my skill would have deteriorated, but it turns out there was no skill to lose.
HA HA HA HA!
No but on a more serious note: I was able to jump back in almost as if I hadn’t stopped playing for five or six weeks. That was a really great feeling. I also think I’ve been playing better, which I can’t make much sense of as I’ve been limiting myself to trying to keep a more casual mindset about the game. Maybe that’s just the natural result of playing the game more. You do thing X long enough and you’re going to improve even if you only improve a little bit.
Over March I played in three different tournaments. One was a large fighting game tournament that was designed to raise money for COVID-19. I did quite well in that particular tourney placing in a four way tie for ninth place out of thirty three entries. I also competed in Toronto Top Tier’s weeklies since they’ve moved to an online format in light of the global pandemic. I’d intended to drop by Toronto and visit the Fantasy Strike crew that resides there sometime this year. That doesn’t look feasible at the moment, but I’ve enjoyed playing in their Wednesday night weeklies over the net. I’ve done fairly alright in those, managing to never come dead last. I look forward to continuing to participate for as long as they continue to allow remote entry.
And finally I returned to and finished Lamplight City. I actually rather enjoyed this one, though I needed some help from Mir to actually get through it. I kept getting stumped on the first case when I was playing it alone, but with a second detective on the case we were able to make it through.
The elevator pitch for Lamplight City is that it’s a detective point and click game where you have the ability to alter how the game plays out based on the decisions you make. The actual execution doesn’t quite live up to that pitch, but it isn’t entirely disingenuous either. Based on how cases play out you have multiple suspects that you can convict of the crime you’re investigating. You have to determine which suspect makes the most sense and turn them in. It’s a neat system, but there is a correct answer for every case and knowing that meant we’d meticulously pour over every detail until we had definitive proof and knew the correct answer. And in every case the correct answer is so blatantly obvious because they are the only suspect without any holes in their motivation. In that way it felt more like we were solving a puzzle rather than making big narrative decisions.
Don’t take that to mean the game isn’t enjoyable: it is. If you’re a fan of point and click games I think you’ll probably get on with it better than I did and the story had me wanting to see it through to the end.
I also got back into doodling again. I finally felt motivated enough to sit down and finish some doodles instead of just lazily sketching stuff in my book. I’m sure that most of you would have seen the fruits of my labour in my latest Ruining your Favourite Pokémon post, but I also did some facial expression practice.
Having a lot of fun doing art. Hopefully, like Fantasy Strike, I don’t get discouraged due to my own lack of ability, again, and I can just enjoy what I can do while I slowly improve from extended practice.
Well that’s been my March in review. I know this was a hard month for a lot of people. I wish I’d seen more people having a similar experience to my own, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I think we’re in for another month or three of this, but I encourage anyone reading this to stay strong. If you haven’t already I highly recommend engaging with some folks socially through the internet whether that be through streams, or voice chatting programs. It’ll make a world of difference.
I rather enjoyed writing that. Hopefully I’ll have a few more articles and work through more of my tag post backlog in April. I’ll see you in the next post.