Monster Hunter World keeps surprising me. Remember in the last article how I talked about the really simple systems that somehow manage to find a complexity of interaction between them? Well, turns out food is no different. Like everything else in this game, the relatively simplistic presentation of the system completely obfuscates the actual complexity that exists under the hood.
Like most who have been playing the game, I typically try to stop and grab a bite on my way past the Canteen in order to collect the small buffs offered by eating hearty before one dines in hell. I usually just took whatever option seemed to give the best buffs of what was available, but recently learned that I was missing the most important part of eating… The skills.
First some basics about how food works, though. It matters because once you look hard at the skills, you’ll be making custom meals from now on instead of picking from the pre-determined choices you find in the menu. Late game, the bonuses to health and stamina matter less, but even a small edge is an edge.
The tabs are meat, fish, vegetable, and alcohol (missing in pic). They buff attack, defense, resistance, and skill chance respectively. Rows are courage, resilience, vigor, acumen, and artillery from top to bottom.
The first consideration is fresh or not. Fresh is always better, but of course it’s not always that simple. Fresh ingredients give you a bonus chance to one or more of the three skills activating, and they also give extra bonuses to health for you and your Palico. Though, which ingredients are fresh is apparently random. I do wish we could collect ingredients on hunts or expeditions and have them show up as fresh, but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t seem to make any difference in general.
Completing quests unlocks more ingredients in the Canteen. Specifically, completing fishing quests will unlock new ingredients consistently, but I’m pretty sure some of my other quests or research projects have unlocked others. You can also get extra options as your access to the Canteen levels up. You’ll unlock the ability to use two, four, and then six items at a time, which gives you more power and flexibility.
The next step is to chose types of ingredients, or which combinations of ingredients. Meat, fish, vegetables, and (later) alcohol all give bonuses for every two of each you use. Meat gives you bonus to your attack, fish defense, vegetables elemental resistance, and alcohol increases the chances of skills being triggered. Just like equipment, skills stack. For every two meats you use, you’ll get an increase to your attack. It scales so that two meats will give you a small bonus, while four would be a medium bonus, and so on. The same applies for the other ingredients.
There are three tiers of each type of skill, dependent on whether you have 2, 4, or 6 of each sub-type of food. It doesn’t matter if it’s meat, vegetable, or fish, but rather just that it’s two each of courage, vigor, etc.
But once you have the ingredient, there’s more to choose. You’ll notice each type has five rows of options corresponding to courage, resilience, vigor, acumen, and artillery. Each family of ingredients has three tiers of skills going from a small bonus to a much larger and related perk. As an example, courage gives a bonus to the time it takes to re-sharpen, then to mounting a monster, and lastly to stunning a monster.
Just like types of ingredients, these subcategories work in pairs. Four meats from the courage row would net you a medium attack bonus and replace the top skill of the three possible skills with the skill buffing your ability to mount a monster. Spitting it up two and two with something else would get you a small attack bonus and a small bonus to defense or resistance, and then you’d either get the buff to mounting or the buff to sharpening and something else depending on if the other two were from the courage group or another.
The key is that by picking multiple subcategories of food to get multiple skills allows you to replace the three randomly selected daily skills that would be otherwise available. Replacing those skills may or may not be what you want, which is why you had the odd combining options. You can combine ingredients to get whatever result you want. For instance, the daily skill that increases bowgun damage doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use the bowgun, so you might opt for two less powerful skills to ensure you don’t get the one useless option.
I haven’t done any of the high-level content yet, but I’ve been told that the elemental resistances and optional skills all become far more important as you get involved with the later content. Even early on, I can tell the differences in the skills has a noticeable impact on my hunting, though. I like the idea of having a lot of systems granting small bonuses rather than few systems granting larger bonuses. Because so much of it is randomized, it eliminates a lot of the min-max that tends to rob a lot of joy from some games for me.
I continue to be surprised that I’ve enjoyed this game as much as I have. Like I’ve said before, it fairly well embodies everything I would normally say I don’t like in a game, but they’ve done such a great job with he general game-design piece that I can overlook all that. Each time I’ve felt like I’ve had my fill, I’ve stumbled into something else that seemed simple, but turned out to be a lot deeper than I’d expected. Well, this week that was the food system. There’s no telling what’s next. I’ll probably find out my Palico can get different special skills for completing some sort of quests that I hadn’t learned about yet.
…Mother… Okay, apparently that’s a thing, too. See you all next week.