So. Alatreon finally came out. Results are… divisive, in ways that I did not expect back in March. While just about every aspect of the fight has been argued at this point, by far the most consistent point of contention is his Supernova attack, the infamous Escaton Judgement. And since I’ve had plenty of time to mull over the fight due to my many… many… MANY failed attempts, I have started reflecting on the sudden focus and idea that Capcom seems to hold dear these days: that every relatively powerful monster needs to have a massive AOE “supernova” attack. Where did this mindset come from, and when was it first introduced?
Now, the term “supernova” originated in MH4/4U, with Teostra’s massive explosion attack resembling an exploding sun. But from this point on I will use the term “supernova” to describe any massive, “you-seriously-don’t-want-to-get-hit-by-this” kind of attack. And In my search to find the first example, it brought me to Monster Hunter 2, and the Yama Tsukami.
I’m sure a lot of people on this sub haven’t fought Yama, understandably since he’s been absent since Freedom Unite on the PSP, but he was a very unique elder dragon, floating in the tower ruins, with lots of tentacle attacks. But his most infamous attack was his “vortex breath”, where he would open his mouth and suck in anything he could. The attack did an absurd amount of damage, but if he was enraged, it was a guaranteed instant kill. The only thing that would save you was the armor skill “guts” or a teammate eating a lifepowder. Now, with this attack came a few ways to mitigate it. If hit with two tranq bombs, Yama would plummet to the bottom of the arena and would present a massive opening, but only for the first time. After that, the best way to avoid it was to jump to the bottom of the arena yourself, and climb back up when the attack was over. The only way you would cart to it was if you were overly cocky and tried to tranq bomb but got hit, or panicked and didn’t know what to do. But regardless, it set a precedent for a very specific kind of attack: either meet this criteria, or die. We’ll get back to that in a minute. And I guess I should mention that Akantor would carry almost the exact same move, only accompanied by a nasty defense down status. The point of it was to one shot you, but it was easily avoided if you knew how he worked.
When Tri came along, monsters became vastly more unique and much less stiff, with the few returning monsters getting significant redesigns, so attacks could be a bit more flashy than they were back on the psp. Notably, the final boss of the single player, Ceadeus, had a similar “situational” supernova attack. When enraged, it would swim to the top of the arena and charge a massive amount of water, eventually releasing a massive beam that would aim at your Hunter, making it incredibly difficult to avoid. This wasn’t a guaranteed one-shot like Yama’s but it still did a ton of damage and inflicted waterblight, so it still stunk to get hit by it. For this attack, the best way to avoid it was to farcaster back to base, then get back into the fight after he had launched his beam. Another example of a “meet the criteria or else” kind of attack. But with Tri, and the third generation as a whole, we would start to see the massive AOE type of Supernova that would eventually come to pass with Teostra, and they were found in the flagships of the generation.
Lagiacrus, Zinogre, and Brachydios all have moves where they sit still for a short amount of time, only to unleash a massive attack that would reach a wide range, including contact damage on the monster itself, meaning you had to book it unless you wanted to eat some big damage. These weren’t guaranteed one-shots or anything like that, but they were a pretty big pause button to your fight, forcing you to be on the defensive (unless you managed a well timed part break or stagger). These would become incredibly prevalent come MHW, but again, we’ll get back to that soon.
Up next comes Teostra, who’s supernova was pretty infamous back in the day due to its fast execution and brutal damage, but what people might not know is that there was a pattern to his Big Bang attack. Teostra, now outfitted with the new blast status effect, had multiple levels of charge/rage, similar to Zinogre. Once he reached his final state, a timer started and would start ticking. You had 100 seconds to stagger him out of that state or mount him, otherwise KABOOM. While this could encourage hunters to be as aggressive as possible, taking him down and showing that supernova whos boss, it also acted as a warning to less confident hunters: “get ready for a big attack, and be on the defensive if your armor isn’t up to snuff.” This level of forcing players to be aggressive was also enforced by the everpresent Frenzy Virus, which encouraged hunters to stick to monsters like glue, at the risk of a nasty debuff (also at the promise of a nice buff to affinity should the virus be overcome). Lastly, while not as impactful as the above, the 4th generation also introduced the idea of “learn the Superman dive or learn some sweetspots” with monsters like Dalamadur, Glavenus, Boltreaver Astalos and plenty of other monsters with big, almost unavoidable attacks.
Which brings us to World, where almost all of the previous effects I mentioned come into play, especially with the elder dragons. Of course Teostra kept his signature kablooey, Nergigante got a similar “timed” attack in his divebomb, which also had players learn the Superman dive, and Xenojiiva had a move similar to that of the 3rd gen flagships, where he would slam the ground and send out exploding shockwaves, forcing hunters to play defensively. These were mostly fine, though the Divebomb was regularly criticized at launch, but the real peek behind the supernova curtain came with the release of Lunastra. Now upgraded and much more pissed than she was 9 years prior, she had her own version of Teostra’s supernova that caught just about everyone off guard. Rather than a one and done big blast that was fairly easy to see coming so long as you didn’t overextend, Lunastra’s was much more painful due to its larger range, wind pressure forcing you off your balance, and the constant draining being a guaranteed kill without some way to mitigate it. And there were plenty of ways to mitigate it, to the point where it got almost fun to find different ways to escape. Farcasters worked fine, eating max potions/jerky would save yourself, you could simply run to another area, fireproof mantle all but nullified it, it wasn’t too bad in practice, but in conversation it became pretty hotly debated, and wether or not the “supernova” attack was starting to get out of hand.
And then we got Behemoth.
While he may have been tough as nails, I always found Behemoth to be a pretty fun crossover fight with a lot of moving parts. His tornados were troublesome, but manageable if you knew how. His biggest claim to fame was his take on the supernova attack: the Ecliptic Meteor. Not only was it a guaranteed kill, it covered the entire map. Nowhere was safe, except for the spots behind comets that he would drop, and the skies themselves, using the crossover “jump” emote (and I guess the canteen too but that was definitely unintentional lol). While an attack that cataclysmic would likely be controversial, and it was to an extent, it was completely avoidable with a little know how.
Then came Iceborne. And I guess those attacks in World were well received because Iceborne went insane with the AOE attacks. Glavenus, Brachy and Zinogre were back, sporting their classic massive attacks. Stygian Zinogre even got an upgraded version that required running away to avoid! Bazelgeuse got a supernova! Vaal Hazak has a supernova now! Velkhana has a supernova! Ruiner Nergigante got a NEW Divebomb attack! Shara Ishvalda? You guessed it! Supernova! Safijiva has two! Xenojiiva’s returning shockwave attack, and his new signature “star fall” explosion lifted right out of the behemoth fight. What did Raging Brachy come with? Do I even need to say it at this point?
Really, it’s unreal the amount of “supernova” attacks that can be found in Iceborne, but why all the history lessons? And what does this have to do with Alatreon? Two things.
One, notice that while I did my best to include every monster with a big AOE move I could think of, Alatreon wasn’t one of them. His move set was largely absent of them in Tri.
Two, every single supernova attack I described above shows up in Iceborne Alatreon’s moveset.
His fireball erupts into shockwaves, like Brachy or Xenojiiva. His Ice/Fire ground covering drains hp about as fast as Lunastra. His dragon charged explosion is remarkably similar to Teostra’s. But of course, I can’t talk about Alatreon without talking about the most infamous attack since Plesioth’s hipcheck: Escaton Judgement.
By now y’all know what the deal is with it, but for the sake of comparison: Alatreon has 3 different forms with different elemental focus, and different elemental weaknesses. When switching to his dragon form, he lets off a Teostra-esque dragon explosion, but when he switches to fire/ice, he floods the map with damage dealing effects, draining health faster than can be healed: almost certainly guaranteeing a cart. To mitigate this, players need to deal a lot of elemental damage in order to stagger him, reducing the amount of damage the Judgement deals (about as much as Lunastra’s supernova) so it can be survived. Yes, not so it can be avoided, but survived. There is no preventing Escaton Judgement. And unlike every other supernova, there is no way to avoid it. You can’t tranq him like Yama. You can’t farcaster like Ceadeus, you can’t avoid it like the flagships, not even the Fireproof Mantle or jump emote, introduced for World, will do anything. You either take tons of damage, forcing you to use a valuable healing item (which are more scarce than usual since you can’t farcaster to get more) or die. And if you’re playing with a team? It’s an instant TPK.
Now, on one hand, forcing a player to be aggressive isn’t new, like I mentioned. At first it reminded me of the frenzy virus, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of when I first encountered it. But after playing some 4U and GU this week, the Frenzy Virus is almost comical in how easy it is to dispel compared to Escaton. Alatreon takes MUCH more effort and damage to break his focus, and unlike the frenzy virus, where failing to dispel it led to a health debuff, failing to mitigate Escaton results in swift death. But it doesn’t stop there. For the frenzy, different weapons would overcome it at different intervals. Fast weapons would take several hits to get rid of it, where a Greatsword could do it in a few well placed charged hits. This is not the case for Alatreon. He has his elemental threshold, and it does not scale for different weapons. Meaning heavier weapons that typically do poorly with elemental damage are left in the dirt, contradicting Ryozo’s statement that you “can use any weapon you want”. Sure, it’s possible, but it’s much more difficult.
And unlike Teostra where the time limit only started once he reached a certain point, it’s always ticking with Alatreon. And again, unlike Teostra, you can’t afford to play defensively when failure to stop it results in death. Meaning from the word go you are forced to play as aggressive as possible, dealing as many hits as you can in order to stop the one shot machine in its tracks. And as many will know, playing aggressive usually ends up getting hit by a nasty AOE attack, of which Alatreon has plenty of. But it doesn’t even stop there. While the safest place to hit Alatreon seems to be his back legs, to prevent him from changing elements (that is from fire to ice, he still uses Escaton no matter what), you need to break his horns, which puts you in the most danger possible. So say you mitigate Escaton but you don’t get the horns, and he switches to Ice mode. That ice weapon you have there? That you brought because he starts off incredibly weak to ice? It’s now completely useless. He’s immune to ice damage now. Want to change your weapon/set so you can be more effective? Sorry! You can’t farcaster. So even if you survived the first one, chances are you won’t proc the DPS check in order to survive the second. And you’d better pray you don’t break those horns on accident, locking you into another round of ice form.
Okay. So you need to be incredibly aggressive with an elemental weapon in order to mitigate his strongest attack, as well as be precise enough and lucky enough to break his horns to prevent him from changing elements. The price of failure for either of these difficult tasks is certain death. That’s… a lot. And the community is more than a little peeved.
So… what do we do? Is the answer really just “git gud”? Well… yeah, I guess. That’s always the answer. But it’s unfair to say that without realizing why people are upset. Alatreon was slated a “the return of a fan favorite monster” and honestly? This is nothing like Alatreon. It’s entirely fair that people who wanted him back are disappointed that he’s almost completely different. And to a lot of other fans, he represents something bigger than just a difficult monster. We saw what happened when a monster had a really strong supernova: we learned to deal with it. We saw what happened when a lot of monsters had a supernova: we got pretty tired of it. But this is the first time (in the main series anyway, not too familiar with Frontier) that hunters have had to deal with one monster having a TON of Supernovas. And honestly? It’s hard as hell. People are being forced to abandon their builds, learn entirely different play styles, even unlearn everything the series has taught them so far about supernova attacks, all for a chance to beat a monster that honestly has a few too many tools at his disposal. It’s a rough time in the community right now.
Do I think he needs to be nerfed? A little, yeah. But more than anything, I think he will be tweaked and adjusted because of the split in the community right now. Monster Hunter has always survived, and more recently thrived, based on Word of Mouth. And if veterans don’t have good things to say, then it’s in Capcom’s best interest to fix what’s wrong. Look at the weapon designs and the guiding lands. We’ve seen nothing but improvements there ever since Safijiiva launched, around the same time that fan feedback was at its peak. But that’s why people are struggling. Because it’s different. More so than AT Nergigante, more so than even Behemoth: this is a beast that goes against what Monster Hunter has been teaching players since 2007. That’s hard to adjust to. And frustrating. By the beard of White Fatalis is it frustrating.
So ends my little history lesson. I didn’t want it to sound like I’m complaining (cause tbh I’ve done quite a bit of that the past few days), I just wanted to highlight a little “how we got here” and maybe shed some light on why so many fans are struggling with this monster right now. To anyone that has found themselves getting frustrated over this fight, remember that this isn’t the last monster for Iceborne. There will be new weapons, new gear, and new strategies down the road. If it’s not working out now, there’s no shame in waiting until you’re better prepared.
And if there’s any hunters here who’s first MH was World and are finding themselves fed up with Iceborne, might I recommend some of the older games in the series? No, not Generations Ultimate or 4 Ultimate, I’m talking about Freedom Unite, Portable 3rd, maybe even Portable 1 or the PS2 original if you’re feeling really freaky. Sure the older games might be a bit rougher around the edges, but I think you’ll find a pleasure in the simplicity of a MH before mounting existed. I know I did. This series has been popular for a very long time, and with good reason. The older games have their own charm that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys MHW or Iceborne even a little bit.
And if you’re loving Alatreon and don’t think he should be changed at all? Godspeed. I wish I felt the same.
Thanks for reading. It makes me sad seeing so many people going after each other for different opinions on a monster. We’re all hunters, our only enemy is the desire sensor, laughing at us while it keeps us from getting our plates, gems, mantles and everything in between. Be good to each other, and whatever game it might be in, happy hunting.
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