This was originally going to be a commentary on why I think Escaton Judgement is an interesting mechanic, but it turned out to be a full essay about Alatreon and why I think he is one of the best monsters in the game. So be warned, long read ahead.
To be frank, I hated everything related to that move with a passion, it was the only thing between me loving Alatreon and me hating him. But now that I defeated him a couple times, I think I learned to like this move and Alatreon as a whole.
The entire Alatreon fight was designed to make you play better and Escaton is just a way to tell if you're good enough or not. Most of his moves allow you to dodge them and instantly go back in the offensive, like his ring of fire, you can dodge the first ring into the second, and before the second explodes, you dodge back into the first one, which is just about where alatreon is. Or his back away into lightning barrage, they start far away from him and have enough time and space in between each strike to you get up to him and start smacking, and if you see the startup animation you can just follow him and keep attacking while he is doing the whole attack animation. Those are just a few examples, and I think this is mostly due to him having well telegraphed and very distinct attack animations, not only that, I also think it's because of his tight and consistent hitboxes that let you dodge and be more certain of your positioning and aggression without having to worry about jank, unlike certain monsters. By forcing you to be aggressive, he's not saying that you're wrong for playing defensively, he's making it so that you really know which opportunities to take, he's essentially refining your playstyle into something better, to not take unnecessary risks but also to not let good attack opportunities pass.
About the dps check, I feel like it's more of a game knowledge test, matching elements is crucial if you wanna have a good chance. His elemental hitzones are mostly bad, even for the correct elements, but I think this gives you more time to learn the monster and correct your mistakes, and it creates this feeling that Alatreon is in control of the fight and that your first objective is to survive rather than defeat him, but you gotta learn and keep on pushing your own limits to take it back. And the horn break mechanic is again more reward for knowing the game and your enemy, if you correctly break his horns and you have the correct element you get three phases of great elemental damage output and two of moderate, so the elemental flinches will come naturally, and also that is more than enough to finish him, you are rewarded for knowing his fight and which micro objectives to complete and when to complete them. Also, if you're not really confident in your skills, you have the option of using thunder element which deals mediocre damage across all of his phases, but you won't get punished if you didn't break a horn.
He also tests your abilities to manage resources, which items to bring and when to use what. The fact that you can't farcaster in a fairly long fight, makes it so that you really don't want to get hit, if you do get hit, that's at least one mega potion, one mega potion that you won't use on Escaton Judgement. But you don't need mega potions during Escaton, it gives you red health which is curable by astera jerky and also there are other items which are quick cures like great sushifish scales and max potions. You can't really pop max potions left and right like in most hunts, you have to know when and where to use items.
I'll admit though, he isn't perfect. Some weapons really got the short end of the stick, like the gunlance, that really is terrible when it comes to elemental damage. That and all the amount of information you have to know in order actually have a chance can be really overwhelming at first. And also the fact that if you play with randoms, you have to pray that they know what they are doing. Also, there is the fact that the hunter's notes are kinda useless.
Alatreon was made to kick your ass, he was made to frustrate you, but also he was made to make you a better hunter. He tests every part of your abilities in this game, and forces you to get even further. He's made so that you're yanked out of your ordinary hunting habits, you can't make all of the mistakes that a lot of World's quality of life changes allow you to. He's a Black Dragon for god's sake, he is better than you, you can't expect to defeat a being that powerful in your first few tries, especially if you're not willing to get out of your comfort zone. It all comes to down to getting the control of the fight from him and using everything this fights has to your own advantage. His fight is balanced around Escaton Judgement, every single aspect of it is made so you have to get better, albeit in a fairly aggressive manner.
He reminds of Matador from SMT Nocturne, in Nocturne, Matador is usually one of the first big walls you hit in the game, he is incredibly hard, he also does test your game knowledge. If you're not willing to adapt to him, it's very unlikely you will beat him, while he is fairly difficult, the game gives all the tools to defeat him, and forces you to learn certain game mechanics you weren't paying too much attention to, like buffs and debuffs or resistances. This is due to two things his moves while powerful, also can be used to your advantage, if you have the correct resistances, that and also his signature move, Red Capote, which gives full evasion buff, so you have to use buffs and debuffs to rebalance the fight in your favor. Both Matador and Alatreon are designed to defeat you if you don't adapt and get better at the game, and both do that in the form of an "unfair" move.
As someone who only played Tri and World, and wasn't able to fight him in Tri, due to me getting other games I wanted to play at the time and the servers being shutdown when I decided to come back, my hype for Alatreon has been building up for about 10 years. And he is literally everything I could have asked for, a tough but fair fight, that tests everything you know and pushes you into getting even better than you thought you could, it rewards hard work and punishes inability to adapt. And to me that is the essence of Monster Hunter, adapting to the monster, seizing the control of a fight while in a clearly disadvantageous situation, and most of all, getting better and better at the game.
I really could go on and on about how much I love Alatreon and talk about every aspect of him, but this is already too long of a text. So in summary, I really think Alatreon just might be one of the best designed monsters ever, from his lore, his design, his music, his fight and how all of it blends together into this really challenging and extremely rewarding experience that really pushes you to your limits.
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