So, how to put this? Ah, yes:
I BLEW NERGIGANTE’S ARSE SKY-FECKIN’ HIGH!
I have wanted that bastard dead for the best part of a month. I’ve gone to the extent of crafting dedicated weaponry that took advantage of its weaknesses, armour to nullify it’s advantages - both involved a good deal of monster carnage - slayed Tziki-Ya-Ku, hunted and captured Toba-Kadichi, captured Anjanath, killed Dodogama, captured and killed Urugaan, captured and killed Radogaan - all in pursuit of one aim: Killing Nergigante. And it has to be killed, this fucker can’t be captured. Nor do traps work on him.
So, started off better than anticipated then he he somehow got close so all his moves ignored guard - yeah, you can guess how that ended. Still, the kit was able to reduce his hits significantly - albeit with a full Chef’s Choice platter, Mega Armourskin and Mega Demondrug - which accrue to a significant stats boost. Believe me, you need it. Had a second faint, bugger - went on the third and final time, hit him a few times, blocked a lot of his crap and then, up it came, skull icon.
OK then, cue the Cheating Bastard Plan - hey, the game screws around six ways to Sunday, anything is permitted in return. Up to and including placing two super barrel bombs near his head, while he sleeps and detonating them! Once the bombs go up, leg it back to the camp and grab two more bombs. Make sure he’s gone back to sleep, give him a loud awakening. I did this several times and after the sixth or seventh pair of bombs went up, he died - and I carved all kinds of material off of his corpse!
After this, it turns out you get tasked with hunting three proper Elder Dragons. Thing is though, I don’t feel the drive to immediately annihilate this trio in the way I did Nergigante. In terms of MHW’s story, it’s fair to say Nergigante is the end boss of it in truth. It turns up in the opening cinematic, it turns up in each of the Zorah missions that follow and then, in the endgame, you have to kill this thing that has been shadowing you the entire time. It feels far, far more significant than the dragon trio, thus when you finally kill the bastard, it feels like a big deal.
Did I try that trio out? Of course I did. One thing that irritates is, on a first hunt, they do this introductory cut scene for each monster - but that also works against the point of the game. Would any hunter, as soon as they see their prey, go: Yoohoo! Over here! Because that’s what practically happens in this cutscenes. Second time around? You have full leeway to track and engage.
Kushala Daora - Looks the hardest, flies around more and relies on air attacks - which suggest an obvious counter, if you but have the gear.
Teostra - Likes to get up to close and personal, did better on this one, got a few hits in, avoided his instant kill supernova move a few times too. This one requires heat and flame or blast resistance, along with high-level evade enhancements, if I can get them.
Vaal Hazak - Seriously guys, a zombie dragon? Ok, fine, I’ll whup its undead arse. Turns out he has a health debuff ability, think I can counter that too. Did manage to knock a couple of pieces off and grab the material. So, easily the best one by far.
Will they fall? Well, with a bit of luck and Batman-level preparations, a whole lot of preparation, probably. Each of the big fights exists, in part, to get you to understand the tools available to you and how they can work together. Nergigante is primarily a physical adversary that hits hard and hits often, this lot rely far more on flight and elemental damage in contrast.
Next? Well, next is probably playing some other games! I’ve put in around 120 hours into this thing at this point and it feels like a good time to take a break before it sucks me back in. The game is fiendishly addictive. You have a fight, have an idea of what makes it easier, craft the gear and go again and it plays differently. Zorah, this time? With 13 fire resist? Significantly easier. And that’s how it gets you, what if you used this weapon, with this enhancement, in combination with this armour and those stat-boosts and special skills? You keep running ideas through your head. It even allows you to save specific combinations! I haven’t done that as I wanted to kill Nerg kill but I’ll probably get around to it.
And there is that little matter of completing the hitlist for the Aloy armour set…
Even so, game world is now more-or-less totally opened up, save for the final boss, who gets their own, special custom arena for that battle.
Would I recommend this?
It is absolutely a love-and-hate game. While there, technically, is a difficulty curve, the criticism that you’re either doing comfortable fights or in-over-your-head duel to the death / capture is accurate. In this respect they could have made it far better. The game system would be very open to difficulty levels. It’d be easy to do - the difficulty level determines the gear and upgrade ability for it you have available.
Graphically, it is a masterpiece. At one point, I was fighting Nergigante on a damn lava field! As he was pounding the ground, lava came out in response, splashed everywhere - it looked amazing! Also, really, really distracting when you’re fighting a six-limbed dragon demon! For all its takes time to understand the maps - and yes, it is very frustrating when you don’t - they do fit together very well indeed. They’ve gone for quality, not quantity. When I walked into Teostra’s lair, the graphics went up another notch.
Gameplay - Can be massively frustrating on a regular basis due to how nerfed your “hunter” is and the litany of ways the game has to stun you. Monster roars? Stun. Get hit too often? Stun. Earth tremor? Stun. Mini-tornado? Stun. Blinding flash? Stun. Similarly, your character, unless they have the specific speed-up skill, does things slowly - this includes healing and dealing with status effects. You have to draw and sheathe your weapon and the camera will not be your friend. And yet… And yet… That central loop is bloody addictive and the monster fights all feel suitably epic.
Is it mainstream and for everyone? No. No way at all. It belongs in the super-bastard category to me, but they’re selling it as this mainstream, accessible game - it really isn’t. You can call a game that I had a 45 minute boss fight in accessible - no, this is for a certain gamer only. If you think that’s you, you might end up having quite a time but don’t do what I did. Unless you’re really confident in your skills, don’t buy digital.