Accessibility and Monster Hunter: World
The word ‘accessible’ is frequently tossed about as a derogatory term by a lot of gamers. Supposedly, the label of ‘accessible’ denotes a distinct lack of skill required to succeed in a game. As a result, those who play accessible games are either kids, old, or just plain bad at games.
When something sacred is labelled as ‘accessible’, the hardcore audience sees it as devalued almost instantaneously. To describe something as accessible is to confirm it as a mainstream, surface-level product. It has almost always been ‘dumbed down’, in an effort to be more welcoming to the masses, shunning ‘real’ fans.
This is something which could likely be traced back to the family-centric Wii, and similar products from that generation. This era, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, bred a whole host of shovelware which was marketed as all-inclusive. In those cases, things most definitely were dumbed down, to the point of absurdity.
But in my opinion, the war on accessibility sometimes reaches a point of outrage which is, in fact, detrimental to the industry. Accessibility isn’t always a bad thing.
What in the World?
Capcom’s latest venture, Monster Hunter: World, is proof of this. I and many others had previously deemed this particular series too intimidating when looking at previous entries. But, as I had hoped, World pulls out all the stops to make a late entry into the MH universe not only feasible, but comfortable.
One of the most helpful improvements made over past iterations is an abundance of tutorials. Every single important facet of the game comes with an explanation the first time you encounter it. The messages are short and to the point, successfully keeping things from getting overwhelming.
I felt the positive effects of this perhaps most strongly early in the game. This was at the point where I had to make what is always a very difficult choice. Deciding on my main weapon took a good couple of hours, but that was mainly due to my crippling indecisiveness.
With a star rating of accessibility for newcomers for every weapon, videos displaying them in action, and a training area complete with combo lists where applicable, World really does its best to ease you in. Aware of my own noob status, I opted for the light bowgun, and was soon well on my way. At no point did I feel lost.
Fly, My Pretties
The addition of scoutflies also keep me from feeling lost in a more literal sense. While out on the hunt, instead of relying on your own sense of direction to follow tracks, you simply identify footprints as you see them. Once you’ve picked up enough, a swarm of benevolent insects guide you to the monster like Mother Nature’s own GPS.
These are all changes which complement the long-established Monster Hunter formula, while deftly avoiding ‘dumbing it down’. Things aren’t made easier, just more, well, accessible. Thus, hardcore fans are appeased, and hunting novices like myself may be included at long last.
While certain quirks in gameplay do occasionally frustrate – an inability to pause mid-hunt even in solo play, monsters fleeing on expeditions just before you kill them – I’ve come to accept them as part of the MH formula, and part of its identity. More than anything, I commend the developers for retaining details which compose the series’ unique DNA.
Splatoon is another go-to example of mine as an advocate of accessibility in games. Now my most-played game on Switch, Splatoon 2 is a perfect instance of accessibility most definitely not equating lower quality.
I Have An Inkling… (No, really. I got the green amiibo).
I am not usually a multiplayer guy by any stretch of the imagination, but Splatoon 2 has me hooked. One thing that entrances me to it is its laser focus on the objective. Say goodbye to the stressful and ever-threatening KD ratios of COD and other shooters, and hello to fun. (Yes, I went there.)
That is, only if you want to play it that way. Splatoon can absolutely be played in a one-man-army, Rambo-type style if one so desires. In fact, with so many different weapon varieties, and playstyles to go with them, the game can be played however you want.
Laugh at me if you wish, but in my time with it, I have seen some players who are insane. While no one is going to put it in the same category as a twitchy shooter, there certainly is room to kick serious butt. There’s a reason I’ve played the game for about 70 hours and haven’t gone anywhere near the League Battles mode.
In my eyes, accessibility is nothing but a good thing. Returning to MH: World, the title has done incredibly well for Capcom. Indeed, it’s become the company’s fastest-selling game ever.
More newcomers have joined the player base of a great series, allowing it to thrive worldwide like it deserves. An increase in sales can only convince Capcom to develop more sequels, which is bound to please fans, both new and old. In short, everyone’s happy, except maybe the creatures in the New World, which are being slaughtered en masse as we speak.