My girlfriend recently bought a PlayStation 4 and a copy of Monster Hunter: World. We’ve been spending a lot of time in the game together, and helping her learn the ins and outs of hunting has turned me into something of a coach. It’s been an exciting new way to experience one of my favorite games.

Monster Hunter: World is a great game that can’t be bothered to explain how anything works. There are countless weapons to learn—each with their own in-depth mechanics—and systems like crafting and cooking to wrap your head around as well. The initial hours of any Monster Hunter game are spent bumbling around like the worst kind of rookie, desperately trying to make sense of things.

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When my girlfriend started the game, she got caught up experimenting with weapons. She tried the bow and arrow on a few hunts, but it didn’t click. Eventually, I joined her and helped keep some monsters occupied in our fights. After some time hunting jagras, she found that the sword and shield was the perfect weapon for her.

We started hunting together, and I easily fell into the role of a veteran hunter teaching a newbie. We broke down the best way to locate monsters, what zoned they tended to gather in, and talked about how various elements and status effects work. All the while, we fought through the ranks. Each new monster offered a challenge, and some were more difficult than others. Occasionally, it got tough. It’s easy to get discouraged in Monster Hunter, especially if monsters are knocking you around while you’re trying to land combos. Frustration can be a mind-killer, sucking the fun out of games. Last year, I started working with an Overwatch coach after dropping my competitive rank, and among the biggest lesson I learned was to be positive and encourage folks. My girlfriend might have been frustrated if a Barroth bashed her about, but with some help and after consulting some online guides, she was getting the hang of the sword and shield. She was landing attacks and mounting monsters. My job in these moments, which I was eager to perform, was to cheer her on. After all, she’s awesome.  

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She started to grow as a hunter until she was confidently playing the game late into the night after I had gone to bed. I’m waking up to find that she’s completed armor sets by herself. I was ecstatic; she would tell me that she bested Tobi-Kadachi and my heart would swell with pride. There’ve been further lessons—how to meld items, how to set up an item loadout—that have moved things towards a more intermediate/advanced level. She’s not only embraced those lessons (and put up with my meticulous, nerdy mechanical breakdowns) but she’s progressed much faster than I did. She’s a bonafide hunter now, and getting to vicariously experience the low ranks again alongside her has been a great time.