A Few Thoughts Monster Hunter World and No Man’s Sky Next

I've been so excited for Monster Hunter World to come out on PC and now that it's here I'm finding that I probably should have just picked it up for my PS4. Not that I'm not having a good time with it mind you, I just feel that this isn't a great PC port.

Monster Hunting Is Hard

First there's the character controller. It blows. Whether you're using mouse and keyboard or a game pad you'll be dealing with a lot of inaccuracy. Movement itself is fine on both controllers but, with mouse and keyboard there's no way to turn off or adjust mouse smoothing and acceleration so you're always overshooting your target. With a game pad things feel tons better but in no way are they perfect. Sensitivity is weird and there are a lot of dual actions for buttons so you'll be doing lots of things on accident.

Sure, some of this stuff is just on a learning curve. Knowing when to mash buttons and when to use a bit of tact while pressing keys is a balance. My character is using a sword and shield. The way they work is by using the sword to hit stuff and the shield to block attacks. Pretty typical except that with a button combo that sword and shield turns into a big slow two handed weapon that when used tactically is pretty powerful. But it really hurts the momentum when I'm trying to block with right trigger and I accidentally use block in combination with say, the "Y" button, my sword and shield turns into the axe, I loose my target lock, my character swings wildly to one side or another until I transform my weapon back or until I manage to re-lock the target. Or if I use that block and accidentally hit "B" my character quickly sheathes the sword and re-draws it to expel the weapon charge that builds up and for some reason makes your attacks futile until I transform it into the axe on purpose and use that accrued charge to deal extra damage.

So yeah, learning when to do what is important in combination with movement. But it can be really frustrating when you're about to land the shot that finishes the fight and suddenly you stop attacking or moving in order to perform some accidental action and the monster runs away and heals while you're fiddling with buttons so can sprint after it.

Secondly, You've probably heard how hard it is to get Monster Hunter World running at 60 FPS full time. This is a PC port with some key menu choices missing. There are lots of options by the way, but not everything you'd expect to see on a PC title or port is there. The basics are there of course and that's wonderful because you'll likely be able to get the game running fine with a few quick changes. But, there's no option to toggle bloom effects, no way to toggle motion blur, or light rays, chromatic aberration etc that can have major effects on visuals and performance. As a result the game always looks blurry and frame rates fluctuate wildly. Switching from TAA to FXAA will help lots with blurriness.

This is an image with TAA on

I found that by turning off a setting called Volume Rendering the experience smoothed out quite a lot, going from 45 FPS to between 55 and 60 on highest settings with VSYNC turned off but with frame capping on to avoid screen tears. This is on my relatively old FX 8370, 8 core 4gz CPU, 16 gigs of DDR3 ram at 1600 mhz with a 390X 8gb GPU. So it's likely that newer systems with a newer IPC will handle things much better. I still hope for some patch refinements to add options though.

Now, I know I'm sort of tearing into this title and maybe making it seem less appealing to those of you who have yet to play it. But the fact is that the game play is really fun. You do have to enjoy a game that is very "Japanese" in it's feel though.

Monster Hunter World has a deep combat system and is loaded with collectible items that you'll need to keep track of in order to upgrade and make new gear and keep yourself alive. It's kind of got an MMO feeling while not quite being an MMO. The idea is that you, as a Hunter, will be tasked with research projects, setting up new camps and trail blazing, tracking and all sorts of various quests and the like. It's a kick, but it's not easy to learn so be aware of that fact.

The biggest issue I have with game play is that there are fail states built into missions based on a timer and -blegh to that forever, I say. Not everything is that way but if you take on an assigned quest you'll have 50 minutes to complete it before you fail. That is if you don't meet a different fail state by fainting (being defeated), three times or something. Not to mention this is an always online title and whether you're playing by yourself or not there's no pause button, which makes things like taking a bathroom or snack break much harder.

TAA is off in this screenshot and FXAA is on instead making for a sharper image

Combat itself is pretty fun when you're able to string it together without those accidental weapon changes I was talking about way above. It doesn't feel like it has any impact though since there are almost never reactions to hitting or being hit. Sometimes a smaller creature may go flying if you hit it real hard or stun it and the same goes for your character but mostly it's moving, swinging and seeing damage numbers float by.

Monsters themselves however, are really amazing! The way they move the way they look and sound and the pure creativity the developers have put into them and the world they live in is spectacular. They may be grazing a field and coexisting peacefully one minute and the next they're fighting each other in these titanic clashes that go on for minutes. Some hunt in packs working to surround prey while others roam about patrolling their territory and keeping challengers out. They really do feel alive.

I'll probably do a more full review on this after I've played a lot more of it and learned systems better etc. For now though I will say that if you're into learning something deep and demanding, check this one out. If not, then wait for a sale because it can feel pretty overwhelming.

 

Next

Alright so I was one of those sad saps that pre-ordered No Man's Sky back when it first released, and I mostly enjoyed it for what it was even though it wasn't exactly what was advertised. In point of fact it was pretty far from it. Though just as a simple exploration game it was pretty neat to have this huge seamless area to play around it and discover new things. The problem is that after about 30 hours of that I was bored to tears and I uninstalled it.

I picked it up again when Hello Games came out with that first big update to add graphical improvements and some base building but again I was bored within a few hours so I again uninstalled it. Then came NEXT.

I was skeptical since it's now been two years and Hello has finally gotten around to putting most of what they said they would have at release in the game. Still no flowing water or lava etc. And in my opinion we still need things like binary stars and gas giants. But mostly it's what they said it would be and it was a free mega patch so that helped win me over in my decision to reinstall yet another time for what I was sure to be bored with as soon as I saw it again.

Priority one was getting through that six minute first time load screen where all the shaders are pre-cached but once that finally happened I was lucky enough to start on a world where I didn't die to the elements before fixing my star ship. At first I was unimpressed because not a damn thing felt different. The inventory is still bad, if a bit improved. The game as a whole still runs bloody awful. And now there's even more of a grind to get started... effing yay! Now you'll have to not just mine materials but also refine them in a machine you'll have to build by first mining materials... then build more machines. I came within moments of uninstalling again and washing my hands of it all but, some curiosity spurred me forward just a bit more.

The opening few hours are a boring, slow trudge. Get past that though and you'll start to feel the content get a bit juicier. There's a bit more story now, so there's a better reason to follow a path. You'll be able to create bases and recruit your own fleet of interstellar vessels that you'll send on missions of discovery and exploration, trade and combat. And you can do that with your friends now in games you create together. Or play randomly with some randos in random games at random!

This is my fleet as it stands now: my freighter and six frigates. You can have up to 30!

There are different game modes now and whether that came before Next, I don't know or care but, you can choose from a few different options including a survival mode for those of you who want to play third person Don't Starve. The addition of a photo mode, though lacking in features, is nice because there are some truly weird and beautiful vistas to take in.

It's still got some bugs to work out with building on freighters not always working without reloading a save (and it does not load quickly let me tell you), or sentinels not dropping aggro when they should so you've got to either again, reload a save or dock with a space station. Then there's that really scary one where your star ships just all disappear until you learn that you just have to summon your fleet again. And who knows, it could be another two years before Hello fixes those problems at the rate they seem to do business. But I'm more hopeful now than ever. This Next, patch has really made No Man's Sky feel like a new game. It's intriguing again and that's important in a procedural title where your focus is exploration.

I'm not planning to fully review No Man's Sky at all. It's been done to death and I'm sure this is no better but, I wanted to get my two cents in regardless. If you liked the original iteration of this game, maybe give Next a shot. It's pretty damned decent. If you didn't, maybe try it anyway because it really is a different experience and it may surprise you. The update is, at it should be, free after all.

System Requirements For Both Games Are Listed Below Respectively

MHW:

MINIMUM:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: WINDOWS® 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-bit required)
    • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-4460, 3.20GHz or AMD FX™-6300
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760 or AMD Radeon™ R7 260x (VRAM 2GB)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 20 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectSound (DirectX® 9.0c)
    • Additional Notes: 1080p/30fps when graphics settings are set to "Low"
RECOMMENDED:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: WINDOWS® 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-bit required)
    • Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 3770 3.4GHz or Intel® Core™ i3 8350 4GHz or AMD Ryzen™ 5 1500X
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 (VRAM 3GB) or AMD Radeon™ RX 570 (VRAM 4GB)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 20 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectSound (DirectX® 9.0c or better)
    • Additional Notes: 1080p/30fps when graphics settings are set to "High"

NMS:

    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions)
    • Processor: Intel Core i3
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: nVidia GTX 480, AMD Radeon 7870
    • Storage: 10 GB available space
RECOMMENDED:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system