When you’re a busy monster hunter, it’s easy to focus on the next big thing, whether that’s sieges against golden dragons or getting caught up in challenging event quests. That means the game’s other option, arena quests are easy to ignore. I’d been putting them aside for a long time and it might be my biggest gaming regret of the year. Arena quests are tricky, and it turns out they’re just what I needed to breathe new life into Monster Hunter: World.
Arena quests pit you and up to one partner against different monsters and monster combinations, and if you’ve done event quests for special armors, you’re familiar with their additional twist. Instead of going in with whatever gear and items you want, you have to pick from a small assortment of available weapon sets. Each weapon is paired with mixed armor sets and different item loadouts. I’ve played a lot of Monster Hunter: World, but the pace of my job means that I tend to focus on hunting the newest monsters and covering those updates, which keeps me away from the arena. That’s to say nothing of the dozens of other games I cover each month taking up my time. This weekend, my friend wanted to get an armor that required currency earned through successful arena hunt. We embarked on a long string of quests, and I found myself experimenting with weapons and combat styles that I had completely dismissed as “not for me.” It was the most fun I’ve had with the game in months.
Take the hammer, for instance. I’ve seen people use it in a handful of hunts, but it’s never seemed a particularly popular weapon with hunters looking to hit something hard. That task usually falls to the greatsword, which is a mainstay of pretty much every group I join, unless the monster is particularly agile. Hammer users are rare, so my grasp on what’s possible with a hammer was also a bit limited. When the area offered my a chance to use one—while also offering my hunting partner a chance to use the bow, a favorite weapon of hers—I embraced the opportunity to have a new hunting experience. I wasn’t disappointed. The hammer is brutal weapon that excels at staggering and knocking down monsters so long as you smack them in the head. It’s an extremely unrefined weapon compared to the twin blades and switch axes that I’m used to; with this weapon, you just run up, start hammering, and don’t stop until the monster is taken care of. This was a welcome chance of pace that I might not have considered if my options weren’t limited. And because I enjoyed it so much, I might even try using it on a few normal hunts now.
Kotaku Game Diary
Daily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
Monster Hunter: World becomes more familiar and less mysterious the more you play it. Its grand jungles and frontiers lose some of their magic as your personal experience mounts. The game has added plenty of monsters, from the difficult pickle-dino Deviljho to the complex and mechanics-heavy Behemoth, but I often feel like I have outpaced the varieties that the game’s content has to offer at this point. Arena fights have offered some fresh surprises to a game that was growing stale in spite of how much I love it.
The arena offers enough variables and potential changes that it revitalizes the Monster Hunter: World experience, particularly if you’re like me and have mostly ignored it. Instead of heading out for your 40th Kushala Daora hunt, you might want to consider changing the pace with a random area fight and equally random weapon choice. You might just find a new favorite.