I adore Monster Hunter, and I have been known to wax lyrical about it to my friends and even spouse. During a brief free-period, she actually played a tiny chunk of Monster Hunter World. Even though it was simply not enough time for her to become immersed in and absorbed by the fifth fleet’s expedition, she wanted to go back – she just couldn’t justify dropping the money on a game she still wasn’t entirely sure she’d enjoy.
I’m sure you’ve heard a similar story before with any other number of games, especially those that have a big multiplayer component. You just know that playing these games with pals would be an incredible experience, but they can’t reconcile with throwing money at something they’re uncertain of, and you can’t blame them in turn. That’s why I’ve been playing Apex Legends ever since launch.
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I don’t think Apex Legends is my favourite game. I’m not sure it’s even my favourite multiplayer FPS, to be brutally honest. And yet, I find myself playing it regularly, even when I feel I’ve had enough and never wish to play it again after a brutal loss against max-level Apex Predator players, I find myself going back within a week or two at the most – though it’s usually just a matter of days. And that’s all because of my friends. All of my friends have downloaded Apex Legends, even the ones that don’t play games much, and that’s because they can easily do it, whether it’s on their laptop, PS4, Xbox One, or soon even Nintendo Switch. The fact that it is free-to-play opens them up to the idea of playing a game they’re not even necessarily interested in. There’s a chance they just might enjoy it, and just might buy a battle pass to “supplement” their experience once they’re satisfied it’s worth the money.
Which brings me back to Monster Hunter. I have been shouting about this series since the launch of World, and my friends nod in approval, acknowledging that, yes, I’m probably right, but no, they’re probably not going to rush out and buy it. What I want, more than anything, is to have these pals of mine follow me into battle with wyverns and beasts, capturing fire-breathing dinosaurs and taking down ancient monolithic monstrosities. They won’t for a price, but they almost certainly would for free.
The Monster Hunter Rise demo, which is available now, is a good way to facilitate that. Players have two missions to choose from, a tutorial which allows you to test out the full variety of weapons and new moves that are available, and you can even play online with your pals that have also downloaded the demo. But it all feels a bit shallow. It barely gives you a justification for hunting these creatures other than the thrill of it, and that’s not enough.
The reason dedicated players spend hundreds of hours playing isn’t because of the thrill of the fight – that’s just what they get initially. Eventually, it becomes a hunt for better loot, better materials, more powerful weapons and armour – as it is in most games. Whether you’re warring beasties for strength or for fashion doesn’t matter, the point is that it’s engaging, rewarding, and satisfying in a way that the demo could never possibly convey.
Which is exactly why Monster Hunter is the perfect candidate for a comprehensive free-to-play version of the game – no, not one with a battle pass and dozens of microtransactions, but an expanded demo that will give players a small taste of the full experience, before they get tempted to invest in the game proper, and carry over all of their progress. I know for a fact that this is all it would take for my friends, and even my girlfriend, to become dedicated hunters like me, but as long as Capcom keeps the most engaging parts of the game behind a full-price paywall, I’ll be continuing to hunt solo.
Next: Monster Hunter Movie: 10 Things Only The Video Game Fans Will Recognize From The Film
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TheGamer Guides Editor. Opinionated about Nintendo.
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