Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

After being about half way through, I deleted my save game from Monster Hunter Stories 2 and started over. With RPGs that is something that happens actually quite frequently to me: Somewhere mid-game I arrive at the point where I think I mostly understood all the game mechanics and flow of the game, and then I realize I would have more fun if I had taken other decisions earlier in the game. With Monster Hunter Stories 2, this was my own fault: I simply overleveled. I completely forgot about the main story (in my defense, it *is* forgettable) in area 2 and got completely engrossed in collecting monsters, splicing genes, hunting rare “royal” monsters and the like for many hours. When I finally moved on to area 3, I was far too strong, and all combat was trivial. Oops! I decided instead of rushing through that area and hoping to catch up with the difficulty, I’d rather start over and only grind when I need it to get strong enough for the main story.

For another role-playing game which I started over earlier this year, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, I would say it wasn’t my fault. I made a choice of a character class, cleric, not knowing that two of the NPC companions I would encounter were clerics too. Only once I had encountered all possible NPC companions could I possibly know which character class would work best with them, so I restarted with a wizard. Yeah, I could have played with a bunch of custom mercenaries, but then I would have missed out on all the NPC companion story content. That is a bit of a problem with games that have you make lasting character decisions long before you actually can understand what the consequences will be. I much preferred Divinity Original Sin 2, which offers a complete respec of you and your companions; in Pathfinder you couldn’t change your character class on a respec.

One reason why I often don’t mind restarting RPGs is that I often enjoy the earlier parts more than the end game. As I discussed here before, that is also true for D&D: Having ultra-powerful characters that don’t evolve very much anymore is less fun than early character development. In a computer RPG the added benefit of restarting is playing this early part now much more consciously of what will be needed later. So in this second playthrough of Monster Hunter Stories 2 I now have very different priorities when collecting monsters, because I now understand the gene system and other game mechanics much better.

I like the beginning of RPGs much more than the endings as well. Usually for me the beginning I enjoy growing and learning and discovering the world. I only stick around for the ending when the story/characters have hooked me enough.
Same here. Though sometimes the mechanics can be the hook. I suspect I will finish the flawed and overlong King's Bounty: Darkside because it just delivers on tough combats that you could not have handled a few levels ago, and a silly but engaging storyline.
I usually find that if I allow characters to die (in games that let them) that seems to balance out the over-leveling issue nicely. It also then makes sense to have multiples of the same class available, and/or have player made mercs take up empty slots.

Basically I got tired of save scumming when my play-throughs all started looking like Disney movies that only had story-scripted deaths.
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