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Video games thread - "What are you playing?"


Well, good and bad once more on the MHW front:

Good: I now have the four Nora Brave tickets I had to get before the quest disappears. Means I can get the rest of the stuff from normal Anjanaths. Also captured Urugaan, which allowed to craft two more pieces of his armour, getting serious fire fire resistance.

Bad: Tried Nerg again and while the lance + armour stops 90% of his hits, he has this attack that basically ignores the guard and takes out 65% of my health. And that, combined with the camera being awful, means he still has enough to take me out in two hits. It’s at the point where I’m not sure a give a damn about doing him because it’s just not fun. He somehow managed to hit me while I was beneath him by bounding forward, with guard up. There is no better gear to get, no better weaponry, so I’m blocked.

The biggest problem is that this was supposed to be an “accessible game”, not a super-bastard like Dark Souls and Nioh, but it absolutely is not.


So, how to put this? Ah, yes:


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.


I’ve had a copy of Metal Gear Solid 5 sitting about for ages. Finally stuck it on this afternoon and gave the Ground Zeros segment a go. I have no fucking clue who any of these people in it are apparent from Snake/Big Boss. Oh, and I’m having a hard time hearing Snake voiced by someone other than David Hayter.


I came to the series for the first time with Ground Zeroes so I didn’t have a clue who anyone was! I still enjoyed it though. I need to try the proper full version of V at some point.


I’ve enjoyed you MHW write ups, Ben. Though I think you’ve probably scared me away — not the difficulty per se but the fact that boss battles are my least favorite part of any game!

Is there really no narrative/story mode to the game? It’s just a bunch of bastard bosses?


There’s a skeleton story and there’s more to it than just killing big monsters:

  • You’ll get told to investigate this area
  • Kill these small monsters
  • Now kill this bigger monster
  • You can just opt to explore an area and gather resources after doing the first two big monsters. The areas do reward exploration, though the large monsters will be prowling so explore carefully.
    Later, you have to find monster tracks before taking them on.

BUT.… If you wish to get better gear, which is the only way to boost your stats to a major degree, or unlock new regions with better materials, you have to take on the big guys. There’s no other way.

However… Most large monster fights will be done over several locations, so it’s not a big, long uninterrupted fight . Each location fight can be considered a round and you’ll go several, with up to 50mins alloted. So far, I only came close to running out of time on Pink Rathian, which was the 45 minute punch-up.

Once a monster legs it, you’ve options - sharpen the sword, heal up, seek out help before finding and re-engaging with your target.

Once you get it down to low health, you can opt to keep trying to kill it or wait for the snooze, then tranq and trap it. You get more rewards by trapping, but traps don’t work on Elder Dragons, that lot have to die.

Taking out Nergigante, including all the preparations for all the gear and the experimentation was about a month of frequently playing at weekends. the Elder Dragons look to be similar, but these are the endgame adversaries. The earlier, lower fights will be quicker and easier. That said, that sense of"how many times do I have to hit this thing to kill it?" does happen.


Have to agree with Sammm that I’ve really liked these write-ups. I’m not a gamer and no intention of even looking at this game, but your reports have still been thoroughly entertaining reads.


Someone asked me just yesterday what my favorite game of this generation is, and that was my answer. Have fun!


Thank you both! At some point there will be the Elder Dragon instalments, but not for a while.

I wanted to try to be fair to the game while also conveying that it can be absolutely maddening. Sounds like I managed that.

Couple of points I forgot:

The animations on the monsters tend to be very impressive, they look quite superb and it feels like you’re in a world. You can wander around and watch a Great Jagras gulp down an Aptonath and then walk off with a now-massive, swollen belly. If you want to, you can pick a fight but you don’t have to.

Getting the right combination of gear for a particular creature is hugely satisfying. Taking on Tziki-Ku-Ya with full stun resistance is a very unfair thing to do, as its main weapon is stunning you with a blinding flash. Take that away and combine with a more mobile form of weaponry, say Longsword, and its stuffed.

(Also, there are 14 weapon categories, each with their monster subsets, and there’s about 34 monsters, all doing different damage on both physical and elemental levels. It’s a very deep pool of a game.)


I played a fun little game this evening called Four Last Things. Emphasis on the little - it only lasted me less than two hours, but was still worth the experience. It’s set vaguely in the renaissance and casts you as some average peasant who goes to a particularly large church to get forgiveness for his sins. But owing to some odd church bureaucracy, he has to repeat all the sins within the church’s boundaries so he can be forgiven for them.

The game’s big selling point is that it’s all made from genuine renaissance paintings (and some later ones) cut up and pasted together. Like this:

It has a really funny tone to the game. The characters talk like modern people rather than authentically contemporary ones, which really helps build the absurdist tone of the whole thing.


Well, managed to nab the exclusive armours before MHW’s Summer Festival ends on Thursday. Though, it seems likely they’ll do this on a seasonal basis having done Spring and now Summer. And the exclusive? It actually made up for the bastard fight I had with the Tzitki Trio - and yes, all three of them went at me. It was a messed-up, bastard of a fight - but they all eventually went down. Also got the Shadow Bandage from the Shamos quest.

The only potential target left, if I think I can take out Low Rank versions of Rathalos and Paolomu in the arena - which might be easier, as their freedom of movement is far more restricted in that environment - I get the blueprints for a rocket-powered greatsword! Yeah, going to have to give that a go now. Especially as the Shadow Shades armour I got tonight allows up to 3 decorations, which means three skill additions - opens the door to all kinds of combinations.

The other point to mention is that it gives a very different picture to how “games as a service” can work. Generally, the concept has been linked to all manner of dodgy corporate activity, including microtransactions and loot boxes. MHW hasn’t done this for anything major, I know they charge for some cosmetic aspects, but you can’t pay to win. Instead, every time they’ve added a new monster, they have added quests for it, armour for it, probably low or high rank or both and 14 weapon variants - all free of charge. The next addition is Behemoth from FFXIV. The only problem with some of the additions is they are locked behind high hunter rank requirements, where you have to be at the endgame or have beaten, which is the one flaw in this. But even so, they’re still not charging for it.



I Swore I Was Gonna Quit This Goddamn Game But Failed - Part 1

Damn, I thought I was out. The Summer Festival was over, all the special quests gone - I can take it easy and play something else, right?

Er… Well, about that…

There was the hanging matter of crafting the Aloy armour, yes as in HZD Aloy - which was one of the smarter exclusive deals going on the PS4 version of MHW.

I had also, in the last days of the Summer Festival, had a number of unexpected wins:

  • I nabbed the Black Crystal shades, with 3 gem slots, which is major. Most armour only has 1-2 slots.
  • I got the Black Eyepatch, which amps up Fire Resist.
  • I nabbed the Azure Star Longsword
  • I got the Shooting Star lance.
  • I took on Anjanath enough times to get the 7 Nora Brave trophies for both Aloy’s armour and bow.
  • I took on both a low-rank Rathalos and Paolomu and actually won!

Turns out if you do Arena event quests, you do get to use your own gear which isn’t so for Arena quests generally. What it doesn’t tell you is, on these quests, you will be in a restricted location with multiple monsters! So, over the last week I took on 3 Tzitki-Ya-Ku at once, all high-rank, but with 100% stun resistance. Took on Paolumu and Rathian, with poison immunity and high fire resist. Even so, the fights were insane.

The other thing that irked is I’d kill one of them and figure I can carve the corpse later. I mean, it’s a corpse, it’s not going anywhere, right? Wrong. Corpses can and will vanish in the arena, which is sodding irritating. Still, the big gain from the Paolumu and Rathian fights were I got the 5 Master Craftsman Blueprints for a, no joke, rocket-propelled Greatsword. Went and forged that and yeah, it lived up to its rep as being an insanely good weapon.

Also did a quest in the Special Arena, the difference? More confined still, but it has weaponry! So, took on Yaku and Tziki and had a cannon loaded and aligned. Got a good line on them going at it - whammo, 5 cannon shots hit 'em both. It also has a Dragonator but, compared to the one on the Zorah quest, it was about a fifth of the power. Also tried high rank Anjanath and I’m certain they upped it, because by now I’ve done this guy over a lot - this one hit a damn sight harder. So, stuff that.

Still, got all the stuff, so nothing to draw me back, yes? No. I didn’t have the Aloy armour, still had to duff up Anjanath for the materials. I did that this morning, 3 quests, 3 captures - finally, I can get the set. Not only that, but you can seriously upgrade it too - if you but take the time to do so. You can see where this is going.

Not only that, but the Aloy armour is not weapon-restricted! I thought it might be, but it isn’t. So, for the last couple of hours, Aloy has been running around the world of Monster Hunter wielding that rocket-propelled greatsword!

Now, with the festival gone, there’s new, replacement quests - one of them gives a higher drop chance of decorations, but that drop chance is not restricted to the specific quest. No, instead it applies to hunting any of the set creatures, in optional quest or investigation, as well as event quest. So, for the hell of it, Aloy bashed the crap out of Great Jagras - from just 2 quests, I got 5 decorations, which is way, way up. Which specific gem you get is random, but I got some really, really good ones - including a Miasma gem, which if I get more, could really help on one of the Elder Dragon fights. So, it’s now, for the next week, until Thursday, open season on Great Jagras, Great Girros and Dodogama!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get more mad, I upgrade the rocket greatsword. The result was off-the-scale - I charged up a big hit on Great Jagras, he got hit for 500 damage! That is far greater than any hit I have done to date. So, ran around in expedition mode and killed it twice more, but no gems. Suffice to say I really like this new sword.


Fun has definitely been had! I remember reading about the Ground Zeroes instalment of MGSV and the seeming lack of playtime (the main story can be completed in less than half an hour) and I was unsure how much I’d be able to squeeze out of it. Turns out I’ve been able to spend about 21 hours on it thanks to the various side missions and the fact it’s great to just pick up and play for a short blast. I’ve found a lot of replayability in each mission by going for speed runs, no kill runs, stealth runs or focusing on all the extra challenges. Replaying the missions with these in mind really helps you hone your skills and play the game the way it feels like it’s meant to be played. Ended up getting a S grade on the main story mission without really trying. If the main feature - The Phantom Pain - is anything like this then I’m going to be very happy.


I Swore I Was Gonna Quit This Goddamn Game But Failed - Part 2

So, did a succession of quests tonight, some kills, some captures - the kills with this nuts Greatsword were faster than expected, as were the captures.

The gem drops? Were quite random - on the other hand though, I’m up to 3 Antipara gems - so giving full Paralysis protection if equipped and 2 Poison Immunity, just one to get Poison Immunity left, if I get lucky.

The big win was taking on a Great Jagras, Great Girros and Dodogama in the restricted space of the Special Arena and winning! At some points it was frantic chaos with all three trying to whack me and each other. Other times Girros was stunning the other two, or Dodogama was doing flaming boulder bombardment while I was healing or sword sharpening. Got just two gems out of all that! So yeah, it really is random luck.

And yeah, the corpses vanished very quick too.

Still, a good run, got more gems than I had, some that aren’t that useful but can be used to create ones that are.


I enjoyed it for this reason too. All the different mission conditions and times of day make things feel very different each time. I was impressed by how much value they got out of a single location.


I’ve just (thanks to the school holidays) been able to really sink my teeth into MSG V.
I am now tempted to load up Ground Zeroes as I only gave it a very cursory glance first time round.


Recently I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the GBA, which is a sequel to Kingdom Hearts, but isn’t Kingdom Hearts II. In fact, it’s almost a port of Kingdom Hearts. Well, not a port, as the GBA doesn’t have a hope in hell of doing 3D graphics (it does manage a couple of very short FMV cut-scenes mind). More a rehash. Sora, Donald and Goofy are still looking for Mickey and stumble on a mysterious castle, where they’re promptly locked in and told to reach the top, to stop the gradual loss of their memories.

Along the way, you go through floors that are all worlds from Kingdom Hearts 1, reconstructed from Sora’s memories. Yep, the second ever Kingdom Hearts game and it’s just making you retread the first.

There is a twist though. Instead of the real-time action RPG stuff, the game mechanics are based around trading cards and deck building, with all of Sora’s attacks, from simple sword swings to character summons, requiring cards. It is every bit as complex as you would imagine it to be, but now, about halfway into the game, I feel like I’ve got the hang of it. One cool thing you can do is group up to three cards together and use them to do stronger, more complex attacks. Unfortunately, the GBA doesn’t quite have enough buttons for all those mechanics to be comfortable, and that’s even before you factor in that the battles are still real-time. It’s more than a tad awkward to be cycling through a stack of cards to find the one you need, while dodging and avoiding enemy attacks. There’s also counters and reloading to consider too. There’s a lot going on and I’m still not convinced that it wouldn’t have been better turned based or at least grid-based, like MegaMan Battle Network.

(It very much reminds me of this old PA strip:


The card motif extends to exploration too. Each world is a set layout of rooms, but you can choose what’s in each room using map cards that you’ve won to unlock doors. So you can spawn a room that’s just got a treasure chest in it, if you want (and it meets the door’s points requirements - yes, even the map cards have values) but can you afford to avoid grinding a room of enemies? It’s a clever thing, once you get your head around it.

And that’s Chain of Memories all over. It’s intimidatingly complex, but once you get on its level, it’s quite fun, despite just retreading the first game massively.


I finished Horizon Zero Dawn. Ultimately, I wasn’t a huge fan. There were some neat elements but I didn’t feel it strongly differentiated itself from a lot of open-world games. I think I’m starting to feel down about how similar games are these days.

Anyway, I think I’ll give Titanfall 2 a crack from the old unplayed-games pile. I’m not certain it will be for me, but I don’t want to commit to an epic—I only need something to tide me over until Spidey hits in 5-6 weeks.


That Helis had more health than a goddamn Thunderjaw really undermined the endgame of HZD. As did that pain-in-the-arse time limit combined with infinite support enemies turning up.

To me the real wins in HZD are the character of Aloy, a quite involved combat system, the world design, how the climates fit together geographically, with altitude and so plus the robo-creatures. Do many other open world games have robo-crocodiles?


I liked all of that stuff about it, and liked some of the supporting characters too. As I said it is a reflection of the homogenization of gaming. I had been thinking of playing the latest Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider game next but I feel like it would be too similar.

Not to say it’s “bad” of course. Only an idiot would think the game is bad.