Eldritch millennial can’t ride dragons so she’ll hunt them

I’ve never been a fan of turn-based RPGs.

That is why I did not actually pick up Baldur’s Gate 3 despite its badass trailers—I checked out the gameplay, and it is turn-based all the way. (Okay, I also have very vague memories of playing a possibly pirated version of the OG BG in some guy’s dorm room a million years ago and not being enthused with it then, so why pick up the same thread decades later?)

But the trailer did make me want to pick up a new game.

I’d had fun with the latest AC titles (Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla) but since finishing those up, the gaming PC I was so proud of had mostly been relegated to the inglorious role of streaming device. Its days were filled with Sex and the City repeats, not epic quests. Hey, I still love Carrie Bradshaw & co., but it was kind of a waste of a good video card. So I fired up Steam and went hunting for games.

I didn’t really have a type of game in mind. I dig dragons went looking for modern version of Lair, which I adored in the mid-2000s, but the closest I came to “riding dragons into battle” was Riders of Icarus, which I quit after being unable to figure out how to put my character’s armor back on and refusing to send her into battle wearing only the Hotpants of Destiny.

“Have you tried Monster Hunter?” Mr. Truck asked when I vented my gaming issues to him and Miss Mac. “You hunt dragons instead of riding them…but it always looked cool.”

I had seen the Monster Hunter movie with Milla Jovovich, and was vaguely aware of the game series, so I watched some trailers. Basically you go out and fight monsters. You don’t get a pet dragon, but you do get a cat that follows you into battle. There is also apparently a pig that you can dress up, although I’m not sure if it is a fighting pig or more ornamental.

Monster Hunter World was apparently multiplayer and had good reviews. Mr. Truck began posting pictures of the monsters to the chat. They were all huge. Some had horns in interesting places. None of them looked very nice.

“I foresee myself being flattened frequently,” I said.

I bought the game.

Eldritch millennial has no lore. Eldritch millennial needs no lore.

There is apparently a lot of lore and background in the MH series. I did not look up any of it because I am old enough to remember the fun of going into a game (or movie, or show) completely cold and unspoiled by how-tos and walkthroughs. Also, I am lazy. But so far, so good: “We” (the in-game people) are trying to understand why elder dragons are migrating to a new world, and our city is made out of sailing ships, so hey, I’m already pretty at home.

I had the option to deck out my hunter in leather gear or let her wear the “Guardian armor,” some kind of heavy plate option straight out of a Renaissance Faire. (If you had seen the Hotpants of Destiny my Riders of Icarus character was saddled with, you’d understand why I went for full plate.)

BEHOLD the splendid knight errant and her be-goggled feline.

I then spent an hour creating her pet cat, which the game charmingly calls a Palico.

I thought about naming him after the Cosmic Fowl. But I had no idea if the cats in this game can perish, or get beat up, or what, so instead I called him Kraken, partially because krakens are an excellent eldritch beast and partially because I really wanted to scream “RELEASE THE KRAKEN!” at the screen whenever he did something badass (and I assume any pet cat in a monster hunting game is going to be badass).

Gameplay began in earnest. I began spamming the Truck/Mac chat with screenshots of the Palicos. They are not just battle companions; they are housekeepers, cooks, and general helpers. Some part of me wonders about the background of this species. Are they pets or indentured servants or what? They speak our language, but every other line contains a pun like “Meownster” and “Purr-fect.” They just seem to live to serve us.

Are they paid for their trouble, or did the in-game people subjugate an entire species of hyper-intelligent cats?

No, I’m not going to look it up. Again: lazy.

Eldritch millennial cannonballs into dino combat!

I chose my base weapon (dual blades, which look like exaggerated steak knives) and marched my hunter off into the Ancient Forest, which is the introductory level for this game. From there, I learned that said steak knives don’t keep their edge and I had to sharpen them frequently.

The Cosmic Fowl sat on my shoulder as I explored. He tends to like video games and sci/-fi/fantasy movies because they’re bright and colorful (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is his favorite). Then he edged down my shoulder, his beady little eyes fixed on the mouse.

“No, dude,” I said.

The Cosmic Fowl let out an aggrieved screech.

Onscreen, my cat began bugging me. “Make me equipment, Meowster,” it said.

Even my pixelated pets are demanding.

But I did figure out pretty fast that most of the gear upgrades are linked to what monster bits I collected from my kills. Sure, I was ostensibly protecting the settlement from Big, Scary Dinosaurs…but that was only part of it. If I wanted to deck out Kraken to his heart’s content, I had to slay things and collect their various components. Very sustainable, really.

I completed one quest by stabbing a bunch of tiny monsters. I gathered honey and herbs to make healing potions (coincidentally, I add those same things to hot toddies, and my new headcanon is that my hunter is actually chugging those to heal herself). I learned how to climb vines to reach other levels. I got attacked by giant fish-things and Kraken stopped them from a tiny inflatable raft he just happened to have on hand.

RELEASE THE KRAKEN…in his adorable little raft.

I ended my first day in MHW feeling pretty good about things. I ended up back on the ledge in front of the first camp, watching a herd of herbivores forage for food as the sun went down. A peaceful evening in the Ancient Forest.

Then the herd became agitated. Something was coming—something big. As I watched, I made a more personal acquaintance with the big T-rex that featured in one of the opening cinematics. OK, it’s probably not a T-rex. It looks like a T-rex, though, at least from a distance.

It lifted its head and stared in my direction. Well, my hunter’s direction.

I have a bad feeling about this.

I have got to get that girl bigger knives.