So, I've played an altogether too large amount of both of these games. Neither was my first entry to the series. I played Tri Ultimate back on the Wii U (rip), and got through high rank on it before dropping the series altogether. I really didn't enjoy that game. Mostly due to frustrations that are still present in some amount in MHGU but it was a long time ago and my memory isn't clear enough to speak sufficiently about my time witb that game.
I got World as soon as it released for PC, after hearing about all the Quality of Life changes. I absolutely loved it, though I was really busy working for the postal service at the time so I didn't get to finish it until just a few months before Iceborne released. In that time, I picked up MHGU because I probably use my Switch more for gaming than my PC at this point.
It was… really hard to break into. I've had people tell me it has the slowest start of any MH game and its early game absolutely blows. MHWorld at least had beautiful environments and other elements that I'll get into a bit later. Basically, the high and g-rank experience in MHGU is a completely different game that the slog of gathering and repeated fights that are the early hub and village quests.
I got to high-rank, and dropped the game for a long time to play Iceborne. Eventually, I came back. But not for long. It seemed that MHGU would continually create new frustrations for me. Every animation takes about 25% longer than it feels like it needs to because even after it's complete your character takes an inordinately long time returning to neutral position, and you can't cancel the end of animations in MHGU like you can World. After switching back and forth between the two games, I eventually beat Athal-Ka, which is a great fight. But there was another barrier to my enjoyment. I mained Gunlance, going for artillery, capacity boost, farmed up an early Rugged Loader for dat shelling. But things were just getting too much to handle. Almost all fights were running to the timer at the end of g-rank.
After being unable to kill several monsters in the alotted time period, I took a while to detoxify. I really wanted to fight EX Deadeye Yian Garuga, as it's my favorite fight in GU. But the damn Rajang in the G4 quest. I can't take it. The Gunlance has an absolutely miserable moveset against him that seems incapable of actually killing him and Garuga in 50 minutes. I eventually broke down and switched over to aerial switch axe, and suddenly MHGU was fun again. Really fun. Monsters were dangerous but I actually had the tools to beat them. Learning to time the bounce to Iframe through attacks and wailing on monsters while they were down, like magic. I didn't realize that most of my problems with MHGU was how absolutely trash gunlance is in upper g-rank. It kicks ass all the way to Athal-Ka, but once monsters get the extra HP from being hyper, esepcially the more aggressive ones with no time to attack, the gunlance just can't keep up.
I think Iceborne is an excellent game. Playing MHGU really helped me realize how good it really is. I still think that GU is worthwhile, but its annoyances do still tend to pile up.
So many design decisions just seem to be there specifically to make you have less fun. The mounting randomly failing. The fact that every animation takes about a half second longer after it's complete before you can do anything. The state of gunlance. The hitboxes on smaller monsters. Plesioth.
I guess what I have to say about GU is, I've never loved a game that tried so hard to make me hate it so much.
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