The Guilt Of The Hunt
Monster Hunter: World has its claws deep into the A.V. Club gaming crew, and after William Hughes wrapped up his all-encompassing look at the game, I took a stab at running down why I find its ecology so wonderful. Down in the comments, DL echoed something I mentioned struggling with in last week’s What Are You Playing This Weekend?:
I think that “orderly chaos [of nature]” sounds fun in theory, but I’m still on the fence about the concept of hunting these animals. When it comes to most games, I don’t really take killing of creatures or enemies deeply to heart, but I’ve tried a demo of MH4U, and I really didn’t care for it. It was the presentation of the hunt that turned me off: having to get up close to wound and kill animal, then having it try to limp away for survival, defeated and powerless. It brings back painful memories of those pets and creatures I’ve seen hurt, suffering, and dying in real life, and my compassion kicks in hard.
It’s a concern I’ve seen a lot of people bring up, now that World is bringing the series to new audiences and rendering these beasts with far more characterful and even sympathetic detail. Naked Snake left a wonderful explanation of how the game’s adherence to natural order softens the guilt of hunting down its creatures:
This emphasis on having an authentic natural (and wild) world pays dividends in terms of how it forces the player to change their orientation toward hunting. Modern hunters may set out from their civilized enclaves and plunder and kill in nature. For the hunters, trappers, and foragers of yore, though, they had to truly understand the natural world and become a part of it if they wanted to be successful. And I feel like Monster Hunter: World does a good job of emphasizing that aspect and encouraging the players to throw themselves into the role. In order to find monster tracks, you often need to seek out the monster’s favorite plant (or favorite prey). You scout out different monsters’ dens, each of which betrays insights into how the monster sees the world. You even start to communicate with them, on some level. For both big and small scale creatures, I have discovered that different actions and distances will provoke or mollify them. What the game succeeds in doing is transforming you into another animal—another predator—in this world of monsters. You prowl, you track, you interact, and while not every encounter leads to violence, the threat of violence is ever present. In the end, every major battle feels like a mutual decision.
Last week, I dropped a review of Dragon Ball FighterZ, the really quite amazing new fighting game based on the ever-popular anime, and in the comments, nmiller7192 left a really quite insightful summation of what it feels like to play this type of game and feel your expertise grow:
I’ve been having a lot of fun with this so far. I haven’t played a real fighting game in a really, really long time, and as a result, I had next to no idea what I was doing. But it’s been a lot of fun learning on the fly. It is immensely rewarding to feel yourself improve. Matches I was barely scraping by in are now totally manageable. In the arcade mode, for instance, I went from getting Cs to As within a few rounds. And I think that level of learning curve is pretty perfect for the franchise. Dragon Ball (especially Super) has often relied on characters taking on opponents way out of their league and getting stronger and adapting on the fly. In FighterZ, you start seeing the things the AI is doing, and you learn not only how to counter it but how to implement it yourself—and that is just so very Dragon Ball.
Odds And Ends
Dipping back to last week’s What Are You Playing This Weekend? thread, we find RespectableishC playing Playdead’s monochromatic classic Limbo for the first time and laying down a reading of the game’s ending. Naturally, some spoilers follow, if you’re still averse to hearing about the very vague imagery at the end of this very vague story:
While Inside tells more of a story with its backgrounds, Limbo has a lot of blank voids in the back. It’s a testament to PlayDead’s talents that Limbo still manages to be a compelling experience. From the giant spiders to the murderous kids, there’s a lot of creepy and fascinating imagery, and I kept hoping for more glimpses to what was happening. There’s also so many neat little details that really sell you on the morbid reality of our boy’s world like a spider leg coming off and twitching or flies buzzing around a corpse. The game excels at suggesting decay and ruin.
As for the deeper themes, when the boy breaks brough the glass at the end, it feels like an escape but as soon as he landed, the screen (and the title) made me think of a red herring. The boy is dead. He’s stuck in a loop looking for the girl (his sister, apparently). That the game ends with the sister straightening her back might imply a happy ending, but I’m not sure. Having looked up some of the theories now (Kotaku had a good summary) I believe they’re both dead, probably from falling from the tree house. The flies buzzing on the same spots they stand seems like a major suggestion. All the other theories are tenuous but inspired in some way.
I’m not going to get into the plot, but I’ll just say I really liked how much it felt like an evolution of the rural and urban terrors of Limbo. It felt weirdly class conscious, with a fear of the collective being exploited by—or exploiting—specific individuals. The overwhelming paranoia feels like it came from some kind of Eastern European social angst, which isn’t that different from Playdead’s previous game. Speaking of which, I played a couple minutes of Limbo again via the double-pack I got Inside in, but stopped. There’s a weird audio issue, where every sound comes on two to three seconds after it’s supposed to. I don’t remember this with the Xbox 360 version I played, but it is a little frustrating, especially given how good its use of sound is.
Elsewhere, Doctuar began chronicling their attempt to mod the hell out of Fallout: New Vegas to make it look shiny and new. I know from experience that this is way harder than it sounds (after many hours downloading, installing, and managing mods only for the game to still crash like crazy, I just gave up), but it can lead to some fun bugginess amid all the frustration:
This week I have been mainly playing something called Getting Fallout: New Vegas To Run Stably With Mods and let me tell you, Dark Souls ain’t got shit on this.
My first installation was with Fallout Mod Manager (FOMM), and I was kind of drunk when I did it. Some of the stuff didn’t install correctly, so I had to go back and manually reapply it, I noticed a load of warnings I hadn’t before, etc. The second time was with Nexus Mod Manager, which went a little better, but by this point I had re-installed the game at least once and had made so many changes that I don’t think my poor savegame knows what is going on. At present, whenever I load a game up my character will be clipped under the floor. I can fix it with console commands but doing it every time is a pain in the behind.
The game will crash before it loads, during a save process (I disabled an automatic saving mod called CASM because of this), when I enter a door, at random in the wild. I have tried all kinds of fixes and solutions but I am now at the point where most of the graphical mods are disabled, which goes against the entire reason I installed the game in the first place.
Some of them look great, especially the Fallout Character Overhaul. I had started the game with this activated and I hadn’t played New Vegas in so long that my brain fooled me into thinking, “This looks better than I remember it...” When I disabled FCO last night, I was abruptly reminded that most people in vanilla Fallout look like characters from a Mike Judge cartoon.
However, I’m happy to report that, as of this week, things seem to be running more smoothly for Doctuar, and now we all get to enjoy their wonderful screenshots:
That’ll do it for now, friends. As always, thank you for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week!