Skill Elements in Monster Hunter World
I recently bought the Monster Hunter World and I found out it is very different from the previous version I played decades ago. I can still remember when I first played Monster Hunter on PSP, I was blown up by this action game, you can fight with those dragons, raise your cats and building your farm for materials.
When talking about skill elements I want to share the concept of flow and the original skill elements in Monster Hunter P2, Monster Hunter P2G, and Monster Hunter P3. The concept of flow means the player can gradually learn a skill from a challenge, use the skill to overcome the challenge, receive the reward and then face a new challenge and keeps looping I think this process entertains the player most because they feel they are smart or strong enough to succeed. People always want to succeed. In the MH portable series, weapons player are easy to use, players do not need to care about the time to use special moves, they only need to focus on where should they hit and when should they leave the monster to avoid being hit. Those players have to rely on their own control system to do everything from attack to the defense which means even if you are strong enough to challenge some weak monster you will also be in danger under some certain situation especially when you did a wrong move. Last but not least, the game is very easy to help players understand how to defeat a certain monster easily, the player only need to wear the equipment from that monster and the damage will reduce a lot not only because of the defense point but also it will provide the player with resistance properties.
In MHW, the designer changed those systems a lot so that the flow and the skill elements of this game have totally changed.
First change on the skill elements is the core game mechanism, weapons. My favorite weapon is Tachi and this weapon in this game requires more skill to become a top Tachi user because the designer gave this weapon a new move called Foresight Slash so that during this move if the player was hit by monsters the damage will be prevented and the player can get a full energy to upgrade the Tachi to get more attack up which means if you can use the Foresight Slash every time before you were attacked you can upgrade your weapon very quickly and you can defeat the monster easily without any damage. This move requires two skills, first is the memory, which means you have to put every monsters' attack move in your brain so that when you see the signal before those moves you know you can use Foresight Slash. The second requirement is that you have to react to those signals very quickly or you will miss the time to use a perfect Foresight Slash. Because you can not use the FS directly, which means you have to use other moves first so that you have to react to those perfect situations in time.
Second change on the skill elements is designers design several special support equipment to help the hunters while players can only get them after they have acquired enough skill degree of that certain equipment. For example, the most useful equipment in this game is the auto dodging cloak. While the mission which will give you this equipment is the most difficult mission at that time. I think the thought process of the designers is that since the player has defeated the most difficult mission they should get the best reward for their skill so that they can enjoy the previous boring farm battle. Which leads me to think about that the flow channel in this game. In the previous game, even though the player has got a whole set of a certain monster he still needs to challenge the monster because of some super rare materials. So the game becomes bored during this situation( the reason will be analyzed at the fourth point). I think the designers want to change the situation so that the player can have more fun during their farm process, which means they use a stronger reward for the skill to enhance the fun.
Third change on the skill elements is designing a QTE system for the monster battle. The system is if a player can ride the monster he will enter the QTE system he will have two choices. The first choice is attacking so the player keeps pushing the Y button (on XBOX one controller) to attack which is very intensive because if you can attack more times the monster will lose more HP. The second choice is enduring so the player keeps pushing the RT button to endure when the monster uses the environment to knock the player out which is also very intensive because if the player succeeds enduring he/she can get a bonus time to continue staying on the back of the monster. If the player succeeds in staying up on the back of the monster the monster will fall down and the whole team will get a bonus time to produce huge damage to the monster without the danger being hit. However, the requirement of skill of this system is whether the player can find a path to jump up on the back of those monsters. So the QTE system is the reward of the riding challenge, and the free damage period is the reward of the QTE system. And the challenge becomes easier while the QTE system is more intensive than the riding challenge so that the process combines these challenges which have different skill requirement together to build a better flow for players.
The fourth change is on the other core game mechanism which is the skill system. In the previous game, the flow is like this: when you dress the whole set of equipment from a certain monster, it would be very easy for you to battle with this certain monster. This concept can be easily understood as the reward for your skill on hunting this monster so that it will help you to farm it to challenge the more difficult type. And if you want to get a certain skill to counter this monster you can only dress the equipment from him. While in the MHW, players only need to build the graduation set so that they can defeat all most all monsters, while the graduation set comes from the most difficult monsters which means if you can farm the most difficult monster at that time you can easily solve other challenges until you have to face the other type of difficulty monsters. I think in this system player can get more reward if their skill set already matches the requirement. The equipment system here provides two choices, a normal player can choose to build different equipment and defeat the final boss slowly or he/she who has an excellent skill can choose to challenge the final boss and get the biggest reward, the strongest equipment set.
In conclusion, I think the game designers of MHW have improved this successful action game a lot on the aspect of the flow so that MHW succeeded again not only on PS4 but also on Steam.