My love/hate relationship with Monster Hunter World

Well, “love” is too strong a word… Maybe “tolerate.”

I recently started playing Monster Hunter World, because I’d heard so much about it and the reviews are good. I’m thinking the reviewers played a different game, because I’d say it is fine and kind of fun, but not among the greatest games. The graphics are good, the plot isn’t (but I’m told that’s OK, because these sort of games don’t usually have plots, so even a weak one is good), the voice acting is ridiculously lacking, and the monster hunting part is pretty good. There are also very deep crafting and inventory systems that I’ve only seen a tiny part of, but they seem quite well done. That also leads to the extreme grind that will be required to get gear we want.

In terms of actually monster hunting, the combat is good, but chasing after monsters is pretty annoying, and if the hunt goes on for long, stamina limitations will come into play and make you pretty miserable. Yes there are ways to regain stamina and increase the max amount again, so I’m sure I’ll get better at that.

I’ve only had one experience playing with others. I had chased my first large monster to its lair and had almost beaten it when two other players jumped in because of the SOS flare I used much earlier. They quickly killed the monster and the mission ended. Well, I would have been able to kill it in another minute or two, so it wasn’t a great help, but it was fine.

I should have called for help in another case where the monster that I had nearly killed escaped because I couldn’t chase it fast enough. That was very annoying!

So Monster Hunter World is somewhat fun, and I’ll probably stick to it, but I don’t think I will be as obsessed with it as so many others seem to be. I am amused that we can’t forgive Destiny’s lack of plot nor Star Wars Battlefront, but everyone is okay with Monster Hunter World’s plot being pretty lame.

I’m playing Skyrim again, and it is because of Skyrim VR

After not playing Skyrim for years, I’m back at it and having a great time, and it is all because of Skyrim VR. I bought Skyrim VR for my PSVR and think it is great fun (see previous comments about it)! After playing a good few hours of it, I realized that Skyrim VR is absolutely the best way to experience Skyrim, but it isn’t the best way to actually play Skyrim.

What the heck do I mean by that kind of crazy statement? Well, in Skyrim VR, the experience is top notch. Aiming and looking are perfect, and the visceral feeling of being there is completely engrossing. But, you’re playing with a scuba mask on your face, which gets uncomfortable after hours and hours. The scuba mask, err… VR headset, also interferes with some important things while playing Skyrim: you can’t see the wiki or game guide to help with the puzzles or some of the less-clear quests and choices. Having to remove the VR headset to check the wiki on an iPad is annoying (this could be solved by adding a context-sensitive lookup/hint capability in-game – and I know I can open a browser within the VR environment, but that’s unwieldy). The other thing the VR headset eliminates is snacking and drinking, which may be good for us slightly overweight gamers, but is annoying nonetheless.

So my thorough enjoyment of the first few hours of Skyrim VR prompted me to get Skyrim Special Edition working on my PC. I had bought all the DLCs for the original Skyrim, but stopped playing before they came out (I finished the main campaign, though). Then, because I bought it on Steam, I got Skyrim SE for free (which is still one of the coolest moves in the game industry, so thanks Bethesda and Valve). Now I’ve got my character storming through the Dawnguard quest line after finishing the Dragonborn DLC and having a great time. Since I’m on the PC, I’m using a few mods to: (1) keep my follower alive – I’m sick of having to reload after my follower gets killed, and (2) let me carry more weight, since I’m a loot-hound and want pick up anything worthwhile and sell it. Skyrim VR rekindled my love for Skyrim!

If you have a VR headset, I strongly recommend Skyrim VR – it is amazing. And Skyrim in general is such a lot of fun, so I’m glad I came back to it.

I really wasn’t going to buy Destiny 2 for PC…

I played Destiny and Destiny 2 on PS4, but as we know, the console versions of Destiny 2 have been pretty much abandoned by disgruntled players. Lots of YouTubers have switched to the PC version and sung its praises, particularly with the weapon behavior, but even that it makes you feel more powerful in the Crucible (PVP matches). The fact that console Destiny 2 prices have dropped like a rock, while the PC version’s prices remained steady helped boost the conclusion that the PC version is good, thus high demand still, while the poor console versions were not flying off the shelves.

I downloaded the trial version of Destiny 2 last night and liked it. It looks quite good on my 3440×1440 wide-screen monitor driven by a GTX 970. The mouse control is precise and accurate, so even hand cannons are worthwhile now. Overall, it was good. But I haven’t played a WASD-control scheme PC shooter in ages. Even when I do play PC shooters, I use a controller. All the damn buttons needed by Destiny 2 are somewhat annoying, but the mouse clicking may be the thing that really drove me nuts. My hand has barely recovered from playing Diablo 3 on PC a few years ago, but now Destiny 2 needs lots of clicking. Even worse, aiming down sights requires holding a right click. After playing for a couple hours, my right-click finger could feel it.

Sure, I know I could hook up a controller, but then it’d be much like the PS4 version, so I wouldn’t get the benefit of the smooth mouse aiming. I may try that sometime, but it seems a waste.

So this morning, I decided that I wouldn’t buy Destiny 2 for PC, because I didn’t want to pay so much and have to deal with a control scheme that may induce carpal tunnel or some other repetitive stress injury. And then Amazon put the damn thing on sale for $26… So I bought it.

See you in Destiny 2 PC, I suppose.

Skyrim VR is better than it looks!

Well, there’s a backhanded compliment if I’ve ever written one. The implication is that Skyrim VR doesn’t look good, but as a game, it is better than it looks. Yep, that’s exactly right. It looks surprisingly bad on my PS4 Pro and PSVR system. Like 640×480 bad. Well, maybe 1024×768 bad. Everything is jaggy, seemingly with low polygon count and low-res textures. The lighting is pretty bad too, with horrible shadows obscuring faces, for example. It’s also really cool and I highly recommend it.

I played (and loved) Skyrim on PC with a few mods to make it look even better, but even vanilla Skyrim from ages ago when it was released looks better than Skyrim VR. It looks like they must have needed to dumb down the graphics so it would work on the original PS4. It really does look like it is running on a low-spec machine at 1024×768 resolution. That is, until you realize that the world revolves around you smoothly as you move your head.

As a VR gameplay experience, Skyrim VR is excellent. The VR headset tracking is perfect, and the control scheme I’m using (using the Dualshock 4 rather than dual Move controllers) is intuitive and outstanding. I haven’t played too far, but because of the VR view, I felt much more connected to the gameplay than playing normal Skyrim. I’m using theĀ Dualshock 4 controller scheme because it makes movement simple and doesn’t require lots of flailing around in my limited space to swing weapons. I will try the Move controller mode sometime so I can figure out which I prefer. The right stick on the Dualshock controller is normally the camera control, but you’d think that would work poorly with headset tracking and induce nausea. It is still camera control, but it does a quick rotation of maybe 45 degrees, so all finer look/aim is done with the headset tracking. This makes gameplay easy, because turning around just requires a few taps on the right stick rather than turning my body and head around or however else it could be done. I applaud the control scheme that I’ve used so far.

The game is just like I remember it, but aiming is precise and looking around is very immersive. If you have a PSVR and any fond memories of Skyrim, get Skyrim VR – so far, it is very cool!

My only concern is that I will really miss the mod that prevents my follower from being permanently killed. Since they’re so stupid and just run into battle without any thought to their own welfare, things could get ugly.

Enjoying Destiny 2

I’ve been playing Destiny 2 exclusively since it came out, which means Diablo III, Elder Scrolls Online, No Man’s Sky, LOTRO, Star Trek Online, etc. have been gathering dust (digitally speaking). I miss them all, but the compulsion to level up in Destiny 2 is an addiction that takes precedence. I imported my Destiny characters into Destiny 2, but I sort of miss that I didn’t create new ones. Besides, my Warlock is pretty pale in Destiny 2 – I don’t remember him being quite so pasty before.

I enjoyed the story of Destiny 2 more than that of the original Destiny. While this story didn’t seem as long, not as diverse in terms of discovery and exploration, it was more epic (there was a specific villain, not some unseen “Darkness”), and the conclusion was more definitive.

Though the story seemed short, the amount of stuff to do seems great. Each planet has many quests (now called Adventures), in addition to the usual patrols and public events. There are new challenges and other things to keep us busy.

Levelling up to level 20 is easy, but getting to a reasonable light level is harder. I know plenty of people who are in the 280s, which I’m 253 with my Titan at the moment. My Hunter and Warlock are still early in the story, so they’ve got a long way to go.

There seems to be a great controversy about the changes to Shaders, which change the color/appearance of our armor. It is now a consumable and must be applied to each piece of gear, rather than the old approach of applying to all the gear at once. It is also purchasable for real money, and we know we don’t like paying for stuff like that. At first, I would have been concerned, except I’m not much into fashion, but as I levelled and opened loot chests and such, I now have more Shaders than I know what to do with. I’ve yet to apply one, since I don’t think any of my gear is final, but sometime I may experiment.

The never-ending grind for better stats is not new, but it is very intense in Destiny 2. I hope I can sometime turn it off to play other games again, but we’ll see. I’ve been getting crashes (well, lock-ups) on my PS4 Pro in Destiny 2. It’s apparently a known and common problem, though not universal, so I hope they fix it soon. It is frustrating to crash at the end of a Public Event and not be able to loot the chest. Crashing in a mission is worse, however, but that’s only happened once or twice.

Overall, it seems like Bungie learned a lot from Destiny and has made Destiny 2 a very good game.

Destiny 2 Beta Observation: We’re Weak!

I played the Destiny 2 Beta a bit more last night and my observation is that we Guardians are weaker than we were in Destiny. Our guns are weaker, our abilities are less powerful, and our grenades are downright paltry.

I created a Hunter last night and played with both the Arcstrider and Gunslinger abilities. Both are good, and the Hunter was indeed more agile and able to avoid (or get into) trouble than the Warlock and Titan I created the night before. It was when I used the Golden Gun super ability that I realized that we’ve been nerfed. It used to be that Golden Gun would kill any red bar enemy. Well, I shot and hit a Cabal Gladiator (which are admittedly pretty tough) and needed a second shot to finish him off. Then I started playing with grenades. It used to be, if you lobbed a grenade into a mob of red-bar enemies, some would die. Now, they all get hurt some, but fewer or none die outright. Sure, it varies by grenade type, but they sure seem weaker.

I think this is a strategy by Bungie – they’ve said they want to make the game harder, and by weakening us, that’s one way to do it.

I enjoyed playing the Destiny 2 beta, but it doesn’t seem to be holding as much interest as I thought it would. After dinner last night, I created my Hunter, then did the first mission and the strike. When I started, almost my entire PSN friends list was playing Destiny 2 beta. When I was done, I was the only one. Most of the others were still logged into PSN, but were playing other games, including the original Destiny. I will likely play some more Destiny 2 beta Crucible before the beta ends, but the limited content makes it not overly compelling to play for too long.

Destiny 2 Beta guns and abilities – different, but good

Having only played the Destiny 2 beta for a couple of hours last night, I found that I like the changes that I saw to guns and abilities, and for the few that I didn’t like, I can live with them.


There are still 3 gun slots, and 3 ammo types, just as before. The top gun slot is for kinetic damage primaries, essentially as before, but some new types are added, including SMGs (which are terrible, at least the ones I have). The second slot is also for primary-type weapons, but these have burn damage (solar, arc, void). So auto-rifles and hand cannons with burns are common now, and green ammo is plentiful and you can carry a lot. The third slot is for your big guns, which now includes shotguns, grenade launchers, fusion rifles, and rocket launchers, all of which use purple ammo. Since purple ammo is hard to come by in the Crucible, we won’t be having lots of shotgunners, as we did in the early days of Destiny (well, until recently when they nerfed the green ammo). I have yet to see a sniper rifle, so don’t know where or if they fit in.

They’ve gotten rid of Sunsinger Warlocks, which is somewhat OK. Sure they were handy for Nightfalls and for cheesing the bridge to Crota (until they patched that), but the ability to revive was held in reserve until needed, thus Sunsingers didn’t contribute orbs to others, because we didn’t use our super ability unless we had to.

The new ability each class has is interesting. I’ve only experienced it with Titan and Warlock, but Titans can make a little shield quite often, which can be handy, while Warlocks make a healing zone, also nice. This is activated by holding the circle button on PS4, and so far, seems more useful in PVE rather than PVP. As we all get used to it, I’m sure we’ll get good at these abilities.

Overall, the changes aren’t so significant that the game feels unnatural, but they do take a little getting used to.

The Destiny 2 Beta is good, but shows an annoying mechanic

The Destiny 2 Beta performed very well for me last night, with none of the problems I saw on Reddit or Twitter while I was at work impatiently waiting to get home to play. I didn’t get disconnected once, and all the activities provided worked just fine. Since I’m on PS4 and preordered, the beta opened up for me yesterday. I hope the Xbox One players that can start today have a similarly good experience.

The first character I created was a Titan, and I played both Sentinel and Striker in various activities. I also created a Warlock, and played a bit with that. I’ll make another post later about the abilities of the classes. The gameplay was very comfortable, yet new, as the gun configuration is different from Destiny 1, as are the abilities. For the most part, though, it was easy to play and felt right.

The bad news is that Bungie has figured out how to make their engine draw big moving, rotating equipment, and they love using it. In both the mission and the strike, they have huge rotating machines that are meant to be puzzles, but they’re just annoying. In the mission, the rotating cooling rods are insta-death, while the strike has huge rock crushing arms that are just as good at crushing Guardians. While they don’t insta-kill, they do stun and are tricky to avoid. In any case, I still don’t know how to get to the strike’s final boss, because I was busy with the puzzle and got pulled along. So this does not bode well if they’re going to over-use this new, annoying mechanic.

Enjoyed the Titanfall 2 single player campaign

I recently finished Titanfall 2’s single player campaign. It isn’t too long, but it is well done, fun, and hits you right in the feels. The story holds together with a fair bit of pilot (out of the Titan) action as well as some really fun Titan-on-Titan battles, and a Titan boss fight at the end of each chapter.

The checkpoints are pretty frequent (with exceptions, below), so even if you make a mistake and die, you’ll be back in the action very quickly. In “normal” difficulty, the battles aren’t too tough, and since my goal was to experience the story, normal mode was good enough for me.

The mechanics and controls are very intuitive and convenient, so the game felt very comfortable (I played the original Titanfall on PC and, later, Xbox One, but am now playing on PS4, and it works fine). The graphics are pretty good, as is the sound and voice acting (though everyone has a South African accent, which is somewhat amusing – I didn’t expect South Africa to be the first to colonize other planets, though perhaps Elon Musk had something to do with that). There are some very interesting game mechanics in the middle of the story that I won’t spoil, but they’re pretty awesome and lead to some nifty puzzles.

There are some nifty collection parts to the missions too. Most areas have some pilot helmets hidden around them, so collecting them gives a nice sense of accomplishment (though I didn’t prioritize it, so didn’t always collect all of them). Some of the helmets are pretty obvious and easy to get, while some I stumbled upon by accident, and a few were visible, but in areas I had no idea how to get to.

My only complaint is that some of the wall-jumping puzzle sections are incredibly frustrating, and there are no checkpoints in the middle, so I had to start over (and over and over and over…). Two in particular were really annoying. I knew exactly what I had to do, but getting the timing, jumps, and speed right can be a challenge. After making seemingly endless (but probably 25) attempts on one, I even tried lowering the difficulty to easy, but that doesn’t seem to affect the wall running difficultly. Eventually I got it by watching people do it on YouTube and tried to exactly follow their path.

The campaign for Titanfall 2 is good fun, pretty challenging, and well worth it. Then I did just a taste of the multiplayer, and that was fun too (though I was pretty bad at it). Well worth getting!

Lack of gear diversity in Destiny makes it a chore to play

How can I possibly say there is lack of gear diversity on Destiny, when there are hundreds of items in each category, more than anyone can possibly know, and all of our vaults and gear slots are completely full? Well, I think the current light level scheme and rewards mechanism are forcing us into using just a few guns and equipment pieces, and this lack of choice is annoying and tedious.

The problem is twofold:

  1. Rewards drop based on your current light level, not the highest light you can be nor on the highest light item in that category in your inventory.
  2. Therefore, you have to always equip your highest light items at all times, thus neglecting gear that would be good (or at least worth trying), but it is a lower light level.

So this is a different lack of diversity from when everyone was using Thorn and The Last Word in PvP and Ice Breaker and Fatebringer in PvE. Now the entire community isn’t forced into using the same guns, but each individual is. Sure, if you do the raid enough times, you might be able to infuse some of those lower light guns you’re interested in, but since we haven’t used them, we don’t know if it is worth it.

So I can be 398 on my Warlock, and 397 on both Hunter and Titan, and I’ve been noticing this during this week’s Iron Banner. I started off around 390 on all 3 characters, but had some reasonable guns at that light level. As I get new drops, I tended to use the higher light drops to infuse my known good guns, thus (a) not being able to try out the dropped guns, and (b) leaving others far behind, thus leading to a lack of diversity in my choices. If I wanted to switch to an auto rifle rather than my Clever Dragon pulse rifle, too bad, I don’t have one anywhere near my light level. In other words, I felt forced to use the same guns over and over, and while that worked, I would have preferred more choice.

How to fix it? There are many ways:

  • The Division’s gear score is one way, and since they don’t have gear XP, it is easy to swap stuff around to try out different loadouts.
  • Make loot drops take into account the maximum light of the character, not just the currently equipped light level
  • Even better, make loot drops look at the maximum light within the category of the drop. So if I have a 395 light primary gun and a primary drops, it would be higher than 395, even if I was being held back by the ghost and artifact. (And no, my ghost and artifacts are pretty good and not holding me back, plus I know how to get then in the Archon’s Forge.)

So while I’m disappointed at being almost forced to use the same loadout over and over again and am not able to experiment as freely as I’d like, Destiny is still kinda fun and worth playing occasionally.