So what’s new in the Chinese MMORPG scene in 2015? While I might not really wna call this game “new”, it is once again, a CN MMORPG in CBT. Yes, the notorious Tencent Closed Beta Phases that make all gamers cringe ._. I sometimes wonder whether 90% of the players would have already given up on the game and went in search of newer stuff even before the beta tests end, simply because there are too many of them and they last too long. Also, with the huge number of players in China, getting Beta keys is simply annoying (you most probably won’t get it). Sometimes we buy a key, sometimes we wait and watch the beta videos made by the lucky players to satisfy the crave for more action, and sometimes we just grow tired of it and focus our attention on yet another up-and-coming game in its CBT phase as well D:
So… the game we are looking at today is the MMORPG version of the legendary Monster Hunter franchise. MHOL (Monster Hunter Online) has gotten a lot of attention from the wide Monster Hunter fanbase all over the world, since it now provides an open world with loads of players to hunt with!
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as a person entirely new to the Monster Hunter world. I have never played any Monster Hunter game before and am unaware of how amazing MH games are and how much I’ve lost out by not laying my hands on one. Here I am, trying out first-hand this MH game, and along with some opinions about the game, I’ve recorded a few video clips documenting my adventure through the first 10 levels in MHOL (I have not played much of the game simply because I’m really busy with school work during this testing phase). Mind you, getting to level 10 is pretty easy in the game, and as with most other RPGs, the game only starts when you get max level. However, many issues and features of the game can be experienced just from the early levels. Well, let’s get on with it and enjoy some of the beautiful stuff MHOL has in store for us!
Note: What you are gna read below are ONLY my personal views and opinions about the game, and you should take no offense from them. If you are a die-hard Monster Hunter fan who will get hurt seeing bad comments about Monster Hunter related games, please move your cursor over to the top-right hand corner of your screen and click once. Proceed with caution!
First Impressions and Character Creation
The first thing I look out for in a game would be the graphics. The loading screen and character creation boasts some nice graphical detail that I was pretty happy with. It might lean more towards the cartoony side of things though (especially the character model) but it’s fine. It surprised me that the in-game graphics were pretty high-quality too even at low graphics settings. Sound was fine, maybe cos I had no prior experience with MH games and this should be the moment where veteran MH players jump and scream “I MISS THAT SOUNDTRACK!” or stuff like that.
The video above shows probably all of the available character creation options currently. It’s not as detailed as many of the MMORPGs now like Revelation and Blade and Soul, but you can still create your handsome gentlemen or burly giant and stuff. Personally, this wasn’t enough for me (I have really high expectations for character customization, especially in the looks department :3 and with this system, I constantly end up with the same face that I deem acceptable, so it’s pretty linear I feel).
Combat, Controls and In-game Interface
As an old DN and GW2 player, ducking with spacebar was really awkward. Being able to sprint in towns and in combat areas was nice, and movement felt pretty smooth. I felt rather left out though, since the game did not really explain most of the interface. For instance, what are the bars below the HP bar? As a player new to MH, there really were many crucial aspects and mechanisms of the game not explained.
I do believe the developers need to make the game more newbie-friendly, since after 10 levels, all I know is how to accept and complete quests, open my inventory and storage, go out hunting and that’s about it. Opening the Hunter Ranks tab and all the confusion begins again. Maybe they will explain the ranking stars to me as I progress in levels, but now I don’t even know whether I’m 1 star yet though I believe I’ve been past a quest related to that.
So now we fight. As a mainstream MMORPG player who plays games revolving around dazzling skills and staggeringly complicated skill mechanics and interactions, it’s unbelievable that a game only allows me to hack… and slash. Well, LB lets you perform hack/slash combos at the enemy (space) right in front of you, while RB makes you jump a few spaces forward and perform a slash attack, along with a substantial recovery time. And that’s pretty much the tools you have to slay a monster at this level. I’ve heard you will eventually be able to perform combos though, and I hope that brings a lot more color into the combat system. Also, the different classes of weapons should also add some depth to the combat. MH fans would not find this an issue though 🙂
And of course with every RPG game, there’s crafting! And to craft you need to first get those materials. That’s where harvesting comes in, and also where I find the icons of items rather frustrating to look at. When the backpack eventually gets filled with all those gathered materials, and the icons offer not much of a clue what they actually are, you would simply have to hover over each and every icon to find the one you want to select, which is a pain D:
Quests and Growing Up
To eventually become a hero, we have to level; and to level, we need quests. Main quests up to level 10 were all pretty straightforward and easy, and they were basically ones that teach you some of the features of the game, like where the storage is, equipping weapon and going out on a hunt etc.
Eventually, we reach level 10, and the game rewards us with our first armor set!
So, I got curious about the equipment available for us as we level (looks are important! as always :P), so I continued checking the blacksmith out to get more info.
The above video shows all of the weapon and armor sets I could find. For the armor, only the chest piece is shown to preview the theme of the armor set.
The Town and Other Peaceful Places
The button to hide other players is F8. The developers of recent games have been kind to allow us to hide other players’ models while in town, as there are simply too many. The lag was not as bad as in Revelation and BnS since the town is considerably smaller and details are fewer, but hiding others was still a must in order to run the game smoothly. As stated, the towns are small and concise. There weren’t many redundant NPCs walking around to add to the lag, and the NPCs are placed in easily-accessible places. By level 10, you would already have been to the other town, where the blacksmith and other vendors are located at. So to make towns smaller, they split essential NPCs into several towns? Not much of an issue though, since loading between towns were pretty quick and sprinting made it less painful too.
I could not find any button that links me to a “Cash Shop” of sorts, which nearly all recent CN MMORPGs have right from the beta tests (Revelation, I’m looking at you). Well, many Chinese players nowadays are rich and it would be surprising to not have the game developers grow rich with them together. I doubt that the game would sustain without a cash shop, so it should find its way into the game sooner or later, but as of now, i cannot judge how “keng” or money-sucking this game is gna be. Good news though (or bad news), there’s a weapon/gear enhancer beside the blacksmith, so all us hunters can enjoy better gear while out facing dangerous creatures!
So that’s basically all I experienced while playing this game for a short time. Sadly, I’m not particularly attracted to this game. It feels more like a game made for all you handsome and pretty Monster Hunter fans, and the combat system just doesn’t suit my style of playing. I’m really sure this game will satisfy the needs of the fans though, so dear MHOL fans, please do not let me deter you from trying this game out! But for a mainstream MMO player like myself, I guess I’ll be keeping my eyes out for say… Moonlight Blade CBT next?
The above video shows me attempting a random hunt at level 10. It was supposed to be a hunting board request but apparently I screwed it up while getting too excited chopping the bird up. This was also the moment I discovered that monsters have points of weaknesses and those are probably the keys to victory against them ._. The vid also shows me wasting a lot of time running around chasing the damn bird. Forgive me pls, I’m simply not used to bosses running away from me 😛