Nergigante. The apex predator, the ruthless killer of elder dragons… or is it? In the Monster Hunter community it’s generally accepted that Nergigante is a hunter of elder dragons, but today I’d like to share a theory that suggests this might not be the whole story. Bear with me, because it’s going to be a fairly long post, but hopefully you’ll at least get to see some ideas you may not have considered before.
Anyway, let’s begin with what we know about the newest flagship monster in Capcom’s beloved series. I’ll start by addressing the obvious point: Nergigante is the ‘Eater of Elders’. Although Monster Hunter does have a good track record of exaggerated monster titles (Deviljho the ‘World Eater’, anyone?), this one at least is not lying to us. In one cutscene, the Chief Ecologist says the following:
“Based on the evidence you provided, we’ve figured out what it feeds on… and that’s elder dragons. Shocking, yes, but true. Nergigante feeds on elder dragons.”
So we can be fairly confident that Nergigante feeds on elders. But what do we actually know about the elders? To answer this question, we need to look at the mysterious elder crossing, the regular-ish migration of elder dragons from the old world to the New World. Let’s take a look at what the seeker has to say after the conclusion of the main story:
was what first drew the aging elders here, to satisfy its cravings for energy.”
Now, that may be speculation on the part of the Seeker but it’s not the Xeno’jiiva part that interests me. Instead, what stands out is the mention of aging elders. It seems like the characters know that the elder dragons making the crossing are old ones. And this is supported in part by the role of Zorah Magdoros in the story. Zorah comes to the New World to die, and the Commission attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen in the Everstream. Remember Zorah Magdoros, because we’ll return to it later on.
Well, now we can be confident that Nergigante eats elder dragons, and that the elder dragons in the New World are not exactly young and spritely. So what’s my whole theory even about, isn’t it fairly clear that Nergigante hunts and kills these older elders? Actually, no. Far from it, in fact. Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves how Monster Hunter as a series likes to deal with predator-prey relationships.
Deviljho’s infamous introduction in Monster Hunter Tri and 3 Ultimate, and
is Great Jagras being introduced as it swallows a Kestodon whole.
is Anjanath killing and eating a Great Jagras. There are, of course, other examples of the series handling death in situations other than predator and prey scenarios.
is Zinogre tossing Iodrome over to be eaten by its own pack, and
Brachydios can be seen killing Agnaktor in what amounts to a turf war before they were cool. Even if we choose to focus on things other than cutscenes, we get a similar story. In World, for example, we are told that Deviljho “hunts species to extinction”. In short, Monster Hunter is not a series to shy away from showing death in an ecosystem. Monster Hunter: World in particular has such a huge focus on portraying just such a living, breathing ecosystem that it formed a large part of the marketing campaigns, as I’m sure you all remember.
So then, in a series like that we might expect a predator-prey relationship between Nergigante and the elders to be either shown to us (by a cutscene perhaps, or an ecology video) or outright confirmed by other means (think monster notes or NPC dialogue). But when you start to dig through the dialogue regarding Nergigante and the cutscenes that involve it, you might be surprised to find that not once is such a relationship confirmed. We get nuggets of information that could be interpreted as Nergigante being an elder killer (such as its diet, of course), but nothing like the confirmation we get for other monsters in the series. What’s more, it’s not as if Capcom didn’t have the opportunity to slip this in somewhere. Nergigante is a pretty major part of the main story, and there’s a good few paragraphs of dialogue to go through. It strikes me as odd that, in a series so unafraid of handling death in an ecosystem, Nergigante only ever gets vague comments by way of addressing this question.
Despite this, there is one offhand comment that stands out. Again, this is our friend the Chief Ecologist speaking:
“It does explain why we only see Nergigante during Elder Crossings and also why it hunted Zorah Magdoros so relentlessly.”
There we go, Nergigante hunted Zorah Magdoros! Case closed, no? Again, not quite. While it is true that ‘hunt’ is defined as ‘pursue and kill a wild animal for sport or food’, it has another definition: ‘search determinedly for someone or something’. And what do we see Nergigante do? We see it follow and search for Zorah Magdoros. On two separate occasions, an encounter with Zorah is interrupted by the arrival of Nergigante, almost as if Nergigante has been following Zorah from a distance. And when we drive Zorah Madoros away, the Handler has this to say about Nergigante:
*“Nergigante… the only one who wants to find Zorah Magdoros more than we do. *
That sounds like a search to me. Nergigante’s behaviour around Zorah coupled with this line of dialogue certainly make me think that the word ‘hunt’ was referring to this kind of search. But maybe that’s pushing it a little, to use a secondary definition just to point out ambiguity. If that thought occurred to you, I can’t say I blame you one bit. But consider for a moment the name of the franchise: Monster Hunter. Consider the term the game uses when it wants to stress that you have free choice in a quest: ‘hunt one Anjanath’ means ‘capture or kill one Anjanath’. The game itself uses the word ‘hunt’ to show ambiguity, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to consider the same thing happening with Nergigante hunting Zorah Magdoros.
Even if you don’t quite buy into that idea, the alternative is that Nergigante was going to kill Zorah Magdoros. But come on, take a look at the size of them! As well as being a walking/swimming volcano, Zorah’s only known weak spots (the magma cores) will cool once destroyed to the point where even weapons made of Nergigante parts can’t damage them, so what exactly was Nergigante going to attack? And when Nergigante lands on Zorah’s back, it flails around a bit (seemingly to attack Zorah) but no damage is done to Zorah during the process. What’s more, Nergigante will fly off again with or without the intervention of our hunters. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t put me in mind of a potential Zorah Magdoros predator.
So what was Nergigante doing? Following a large, dying elder from a distance suggests to me that Nergigante was planning on scavenging from the body once Zorah Magdoros had died. This is somewhat supported by a line from the Handler:
“Because to Nergigante, the Elder Crossing is an all-you-can-eat buffet. A buffet that’s packed to the scales with energy stores! Thing is, Nergigante didn’t get a chance to have its main course when we lured Zorah Magdoros out to sea. So it’s gone to the Elder’s Recess to find other elder dragons to snack on.”Загрузка...
With that, the Handler tells us that Nergigante’s main plan for feeding was Zorah Magdoros. If it was going to kill Zorah, then us driving Zorah away hardly makes a difference and Nergigante would still have been able to feed on it. Nergigante can fly, remember. But to me, this idea that it now has no opportunity to feed as planned strongly supports the scavenger theory.
That line also brings us rather nicely to one of the biggest obstacles to this theory: Nergigante’s aggression towards other elder dragons. Why would a scavenger be so intent on chasing down the elders at every opportunity? Let’s take a look.
Alright, I’ll start by getting some things out of the way. When Nergigante, deprived of its main meal, goes on the prowl for more food the other elder dragons (with the exception of Vaal Hazak, who is totally unaffected by this whole thing and won’t be mentioned again until later) were observed to relocate from the Elders Recess to the Ancient Forest and the Wildspire Wastes. The implication is that the elders are hiding from Nergigante, and indeed this is suggested by the Commander, who mentions “elder dragons fleeing Nergigante’s wrath”. However, this is not the whole story. Firstly, the Commander also says the following before that part of the dialogue:
“As you all know, when Nergigante descended into the Elder's Recess… It stirred up a veritable hornet's nest. Being that Nergigante feeds on elder dragons, you can imagine that every monster in the recess got spooked. Initially, I thought we could nip this problem in the bud by eliminating Nergigante, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Despite our best efforts the situation has escalated.”
So the elders do not settle down again once Nergigante is eliminated… hmmm. Secondly, the elders do not relocate to an area they’re not comfortable in. Teostra is known to be native to deserts, and Kushala Daora is known to inhabit environments similar to the Ancient Forest. They didn’t flee their homes so much as they fled their bedrooms and headed for their living rooms, and that’s not exactly a sign of a panicked creature. Thirdly, Nergigante doesn’t follow the elders when they relocate. If it’s desperately hunting them down for food you’d think it would be capable of flying the short distance from the recess to the wastes to snag a Teostra for dinner, but Nergigante never invades elder quests in these other locales. It’s not like Nergigante can’t go the wastes, since we fought it there in the demo and we know that it
there. So why doesn’t it follow? To me, this is again suggestive of an opportunistic scavenger. It stalks the recess hoping to catch a dead or dying elder, but won’t follow the livelier ones in order to hunt them, even when it’s desperate for food as in the story.
And finally, the elephant in the room. The turf wars vs
. Surely these show a definitively victorious Nergigante, capable of wiping the floor with these elders? I’d argue not. In order to see this, we have to take a look at the mechanics of turf wars and of these ones in particular. To me, there are two things that are unusual about these turf wars. The first thing is the fact that both monsters involved take damage, and the second is that neither monster is toppled by the turf war (by this I mean that neither monster ends the turf war in the ‘tripped’ state). Amongst all the other turf wars in the game, these traits are highly unusual. In fact, they only appear elsewhere in four other turf wars.
. In light of this, I’d argue that those two turf war features are Capcom’s way of showing some level of equality between monsters. While the animations for Nergigante’s turf wars make it clear that Nergigante holds the upper hand in terms of sheer strength, Capcom has put in place mechanics that tell a different story, that muddy the waters and leave us in some doubt as to whether it’s such a clear victory after all. But maybe I’m overthinking it, perhaps the reason Nergigante takes damage at all is because the animation demands it. Not at all, as it turns out. Here’s
. You’ll notice that although Odogaron appears to be holding its own initially, even taking two bites at Vaal Hazak’s head/neck, Vaal Hazak takes no actual damage and Odogaron ends the turf war in the tripped state. To me, that proves that Capcom absolutely made the conscious decision not to have the turf wars with Nergigante be as clear cut as they could be.
As a quick side note, it should be mentioned that the turf wars make it apparent that Nergigante has no innate elderseal ability, contrary to the speculation of some. None of the elders will have their aura deactivated by the turf war if they start it with the aura up, and Lunastra even manages to get off a supernova-esque attack. Side note over, let’s continue.
Now, the more knowledgeable of you out there may be aware that damage taken in a turf war inflates based on monster HP, hence the videos of regular Bazelgeuse dealing a hug amount of damage to tempered Deviljho. Using base HP values from Kiranico, in the turf war I linked above both Nergigante and Teostra lose around 45% of their base HP. Obviously the exact value will be different due to quest modifiers, but the rough percentages will remain around the same as one another. So not only does Nergigante take damage, it loses around the same proportion of its health pool as Teostra does.
This begs the question: why? Why not show Nergigante indisputably dominate the other elders if it’s meant to be the elder killer? My answer: because it’s not meant to be the elder killer. It’s meant to be the desperate elder scavenger, only taking on the elders because it feels forced to. And what’s more, I don’t think it’s unlikely that Capcom are planning on having a similar reveal of this in a possible G Rank expansion. It would be a plot twist, but all the clues are there. Capcom are deliberately avoiding making Nergigante an elder killer in order to have a dramatic reveal in future iterations of the series.
Of course, that’s just my own theory and speculation (especially the part about a planned reveal, that’s just me having fun with this idea). I’m simply joining the existing dots in the way that I feel makes the most sense, and naturally other people will see it differently. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this, since I think it has the potential to be an intriguing lore discussion.
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