Monster Hunter, a franchise better known for its steep difficulty curve than its deep mechanics and gigantic beasts, is attempting to bring its success across the Pacific Ocean to new players with the January 26th release of Monster Hunter: World. It’s a daunting task that even its most hardcore fans recognize, that’s why some veteran players who’ve clocked thousands of hours figuring out game mechanics, skill stacks, and the best strategies to hunt even the biggest games, are teaming up in a grassroots effort to pull in fresh blood - for free.
It's all part of the Adopt-a-Hunter initiative, a program where novice players are coupled with veterans to learn the intricacies of the game in a productive and supportive environment.
“Nobody remembers how they learned to ride a bike,” said Woulfe Condra, the program's founder and veteran monster hunter. “They just know how easy it was once they learned how and we’re trying to land a similar feeling.”
Condra was generous enough to spend a few hours playing through the beta with me before the game's launch. My time with him single-handedly convinced me to pick the game up and join the program in my free time. The insight he gave into the game's mechanics made playing a completely different experience compared to playing alone or with other random players online. It’s clear that running through this program may be the best way to jump into the series, especially since it’s completely free of charge and very flexible with accommodating new players.
Our time was a crash course; the things I learned were taught at an expedited rate due to the limitations of the beta. A regular veteran-novice relationship would develop over multiple play sessions as experts slowly communicate the knowledge they’ve gained over thousands of in-game hours.
The First Hunt
The Adopt-a-Hunter program is about more than just teaching about the world of Monster Hunter; it’s about catering the learning experience to the preferences of the new player. Condra encouraged me to choose the weapon that I thought was most interesting since that initial intrigue usually leads to the play style you’ll stick with for a large part of the game.
I chose the Insect Glaive, a double-edged rod capable of quick attacks that could also double as a pole vault. Luckily, Condra has more than 10 thousand hours of Monster Hunter playtime across the whole series, so he’s worked extensively with nearly every weapon in the series. “We’re not going to worry about your armor, palico or anything else right away. We’re gonna focus on your weapon,” Condra said. “The game is pointless if you don’t know how to use your primary weapon.”
We jumped into the beta's easiest mission, hunting the Great Jagras, before getting into any informational bits about gear, weapons, or monsters. “We want to let somebody get their feet wet before we start the teaching stuff, letting them get a taste of what could be there so that they want to learn more,” Condra said. “Give somebody an initial experience before hitting them over the head with the information bat.”
We focused on the different features that the Insect Glaive had, including its unique ability to send out a Kinsect, a beetle-like insect, to collect essence from a monster. Those essences, categorized into red, white and orange colors, gave different kinds of stat boosts for a short time. Condra explained that firing my Kinsect at different parts of the Jagras during battle would give me various boosts, altering my attack power and jumping height. He then coached me until I could pull off combining these boosts with the different attack types.
It was a lot to take in at first. I had trouble remembering everything, but I had already learned more in my first hunt than I had in my time with any of the previous games in the franchise.
The Training Room
Once I got a taste of how to hunt, we entered the franchise's first training room to expand my slowly growing pool of knowledge. The room was a small, static space during the beta that Condra couldn’t join me in, but he could coach me over Discord since the room remained the same over each open beta (the full game may include multiplayer training rooms). Condra was able to use different pieces of the environment (an overturned barrel and a broken pillar) to simulate parts of the monster from which to get essences. It was something he learned from spending time in the room on his own, as the game didn’t communicate everything about this new space.
We walked through different button combinations, environmental interactions, and different approaches to attacking monsters-- all in a controlled environment that felt far smoother than any developer-curated tutorial would. Condra took time to address other things that the game doesn’t explain clearly, including how quickly button combos should be performed and how different surfaces affect the sharpness of your blade.
“The training room is a no-pressure area where hunters of any skill level can just try things out without the threat of a monster,” Condra said. “[It’s] the first time Capcom has provided us a place with no time limits where we can test combos, learn how to use the tools that have been given to us, and just generally 'fooled around' with things at our own pace.”
Taking time in a closed space to debrief was incredibly helpful to grasp not only what I learned, but why it was important in context of future hunts. For example, the Insect Glaive makes it easier for me to gain the higher ground against monsters; this, combined with how mounting a monster from above distracts it from the rest of the team is an invaluable asset to a group hunt.
Back in the Field
After we spent time in the training room, we hit the same Jagras hunt a second time. We used the same moves I had practiced, making the hunt much easier and far more enjoyable. Condra then expanded my toolset again by introducing poison, paralysis, and traps that allowed for more strategy.
Even though it was the same mission from before, it felt like a whole new experience. Not only did the monster behave in a slightly different manner than the previous mission, I had a whole new way of approaching him. Since this mission featured a tame monster, it was the easiest in the beta; it didn't give a taste of how intimidating the bigger beasts can get later in the game.
“Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are good hunters,” Condra said. “We hope that over the course of several hunts with their veteran, a novice will begin to feel more comfortable with the mechanics of the game and be less overwhelmed by Monster Hunter as a whole.”
The Adopt-a-Hunter team's efforts haven’t gone unnoticed; more than four thousand people have joined the group, whether it be through their Discord server or the SubReddit. Capcom has also connected with some of the program's admins to offer support, although neither party is sure how or when that support will take shape.
“The Adopt-a-Hunter initiative sounds like a great idea that makes great use of modern community and communication applications out there today,” said Yuri Araujo, Senior Online Community Specialist at Capcom. “We’re looking forward to seeing how this program will help new hunters grow and become veterans that will, in turn, help the next wave of novices in Monster Hunter: World.”
Monster Hunter veterans are doing this for more than just the satisfaction of bringing a new player up to speed with the game's complicated mechanics and lengthy list of creatures. They see it as an opportunity to make the future of the game and its community brighter. “We’re putting in time to teach new players so there will be one less person standing in the corner, not knowing what to do,” Condra said. “It’s also just better for the game overall; the more people that get involved, the more likely Capcom is to keep supporting it and give us the opportunity to put in more hours into a franchise we love.”