Mini Reviews: Rytmik Retrobits, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar, Skyrim

Rytmik Retrobits (DSiWare)

Perhaps it’s that I come from a musical family, but I love playing around with music creation software from time to time. ’tis good! Pretty easy to work out to use, though selection is sometimes a little finicky, and scrolling is a little unintuitive; physically dragging right to… go right. Rather than drag the left into view.
I guess I miss the precision of the software pretending I’m actually dragging the view around. I just can’t estimate how far I’ll drag it.
I also ended up picking up the basic Rytmik, though each of the Rytmik releases is a standalone application.

Since starting on this post (quite a while ago) I’ve made a few simple things with Rytmik Retrobits. It’s easy-to-use, but transferring compositions over to anything else requires a bit of work.

Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar (DS)

Yes, yes, secret shame, one true weakness, et cetera.
Harvest Moon has always been entertaining. Grand Bazaar is competent. The Bazaar is actually fairly interesting, though nowhere near as engaging as Secret of Evermore’s bazaar. Selling mechanics are nowhere near as detailed as Recettear or even that section in Dragon Quest… 4? Chapters of the Chosen, anyway.
Also, Windmills. Windmills do all of your crafting save cooking for you. It’s vaguely windmillpunk.
That said, does let you play as a girl without waiting for the not-usually-released-over-here updated version. That’s an improvement.

Skyrim (PC)

Needs work.
Oh, it’s as good a game as Morrowind and Oblivion were, as can be expected. Maybe a bit better, though not significantly; you probably can’t do much better in terms of worldbuilding, for example.
But why do Bethesda release such bug-riddled software? I know at this point they can count on it selling despite the assurance that the game has at least three game-stopping bugs on launch, as… well, estimates place 3.5 million copies sold in the first weekend. Maybe they know that players are ultimately the ‘best’ bug-testers, as everything but the most strange of actions will get replicated many times over, and actual players won’t get bored and don’t require employing.
…I wonder how many people Bethesda pay for QA.
Anyway, great game as usual, needs work. Desperately needs January’s release of the Skyrim Creation Kit so we can have competent people creating the Unofficial patch. And good mods. Skyrim’s world is somewhat less bland than Oblivion, but whilst there are a few random locations to stumble upon, they aren’t nearly enough or strange enough, and whilst there are a few good mods out there already, they mostly relate to UI overhauls or crafting stuff. Honestly, what’s been achieved already is more than I thought could have been done without the creation kit; I really look forwards to seeing what these people will be able to do given the rest of the tools Bethesda’s teams used.

So, Doom 3 arrived today.

Not that I’ve ever been one to enjoy Doom games, aside from some remixes of the series’ music, or even most games remotely like it, aside from Marathon which has a very good story to go along with it… but, anyway, I’m glad this arrived.

See, I enjoy stealth games, and picked up the Thief Collection a year or two back. However, due to owning a… modern computer, it’s a pain to get either of the included games to run, requiring patching and settings-fiddling and, overall, more headache than it’s worth now that the games I own have been LP’d.

Some very enterprising people created The Dark Mod, for use with Doom 3; essentially recreating Thief’s gameplay on top of a game where you’re probably expected to run in guns ablazing, to hell with stealth.
And it looks marvellous. All the standard Thief mechanics and equipment have been implemented, and if not for the splash screen that appears when you start the game, you’d never know it was built on top of Doom 3. It looks far more like Oblivion (which does have its own Thief-based mod).

…come to think of it, wasn’t Thief 4 announced a couple of years back? I wonder what happened to that.

Speaking of Dark Souls…

This turned up on Kotaku today. Odds, huh?

Anyway, this is the kind of manual I’d have wanted with the game. I’m not sure how a friend ended up with a six-page manual; the PS3 European one has- wait, no, it has approximately 6 pages of useful information, and 5 pages of health warnings, content pages, deliberately-blank note pages that no one ever uses, legalese and credits stuff, and advertisements for other games.
That, there, on Scribd is a proper manual. What we got with this and, honestly, most Monster Hunter games was just functional. For a game like Monster Hunter without an emphasis on setting and story, it’s forgiveable, but for a game like Dark Souls it comes across as cheapness, once you see this thing and realise they had something like this and weren’t giving it to the players.
Did they really need to save that much on printing costs? This would have been a far nicer thing to have than the ‘mini strategy guide’, even.

Oh, well. It’s available for everyone to see now, anyway.

A General Guide to Survival in Dark Souls

I just beat Quelaag!
In honour of this momentous occasion, here’s a guide for general survival in Dark Souls. Oh, and Demon’s Souls; most of these points apply to both games.

Pay attention.

Most enemies are audible or visible before they attack you. They may not be obvious; the living pine trees blend in very well in the areas they’re encountered, for example, and sometimes enemies are around corners or on platforms above you and drop down. Enemies hiding directly around corners tend to be weak, or take a few moments to notice and attack, and why don’t you have that shield up anyway?
The game’s music only kicks in during boss battles and safe areas for a reason; you need to he able to hear when something’s walking up at you. And even then it can get confusing; part of the noise of my character jogging around in heavy armour sounds like a crossbow bolt hitting the ground near me.
It’s also distressingly easy to miss the status gauges until you’re afflicted, even though they’re placed just above the centre of the screen.
It’s the silent enemies that kill you; blowpipe-wielding toxic-inducing goblins.

Play cautiously.

I mean, do you expect to just be able to run in, take a sword to the face, and then be able to get up again? And ‘too good to be true’ situations, like a plainly-visible item surrounded by what are clearly only moss-covered clearly-defined stones, are… well, too good to be true. Enemies love lying in ambush for you, and the only cases of enemies moving on their own that I’ve encountered thus far are the mosquitos in the swamp, which just instantly aggro wherever you are and start moving in.
If you can hear something moving, it knows you’re there and it’s going to be trying to attack you. With one glitchy exception*, anything you see moving is going to be attacking you, too. Dark Souls is not a game where you’re expected to run straight in and win. You’re expected to attack enemies from behind, force them to miss you by dodging or blocking, and attack when they’re vulnerable. Enemies do it to you, after all.
In fact, on the subject of cautiousness, there’s a particular area in the game where the ground will unceremoniously crumble beneath you and dump you straight into a tough boss battle. But considering what happened the first time you were there, this makes complete sense.. and I avoided it anyway, reasoning that a hall with an open roof and ledges around the top is the perfect place for a sniper or two to sit, and that it’s probably safer to go around the edges of the room. Little did I know the trouble I’d… inadvertently dodged by not running straight in to the open area like an idiot. Didn’t even know it was there until I thought I’d cleared the area out and went to leave.
Whilst there are issues with enemy pathing in… certain areas, enemies on the whole are positioned and act sensibly. It’s much easier to kill an unaware opponent than one who knows exactly where you are. In short, if somewhere looks like the perfect spot for an ambush, it’s probably already in use.

* In the Undead Parish, one of the early skeletons, upon noticing you, occasionally just… turns around and runs straight through the portcullis to make a nuisance of itself later rather than sooner. I am not sure why. Funny, though, until you forget he’s over there and end up fighting both him and a knight at once.

Learn how to dodge by rolling, and other means.

Veterans of Monster Hunter should already know this; rolling will get you out of many bad situations. In Dark Souls you also have to deal with learning not to roll off cliffs, as an instant kill is usually worse than merely taking half your HP in damage, but the basics are the same; rolling helps you not take any damage at all, at a medium cost to stamina.
Sometimes it’s better to just recognise attacks and walk – or run – out of the way. You can also jump backwards by hitting O from a standing position.

Always carry a shield, and learn how to use it.

Yes, I know I told you to learn to roll. Some people will say that dodging attacks always trumps blocking attacks, and… I agree. Not getting hit in the first place is arguably better than getting hit and taking a hit to your stamina. But getting hit and taking a hit to your stamina, which regenerates, is certainly better than taking damage.
Some attacks can’t easily be dodged, due to having odd hitboxes or, say, taking up half of the arena. Rolling is also a bad idea in any area with a fatal drop: most of them. You can still get knocked around whilst carrying a shield, but there are plenty of easily-available shields with 100% physical defence. Upgrading a shield only realistically improves your Poise when using it, but this stops you from having your guard broken so frequently when soldiers kick at you or try to slam you with their shield.
That said, there are still attacks you’re not going to be able to block. Some enemies are strong enough to break your guard and kill you in a single direct hit. Like giant mushrooms.

You probably can’t block attacks involving weapons three times your size, and you probably can’t roll through lava without taking some damage.

Enough said. Some attacks really won’t let you dodge or block them, no matter what stats you have. Use some common sense, and learn the less hazardous things by experience.

Make use of anything else you pick up, too.

There’s no such thing as ‘too awesome to use’. You can get everything again, though granted some items are more difficult to replace or repair than others. I beat Taurus Demon with relatively little trouble by throwing 6 to 8 Firebombs of varying types at it. What’s worse; being poisoned, or using up that poison-cure item you have? When I first got poisoned, the status took four uses of the Heal miracle to fix. And the curing items are easy to get, past a certain point, though it’s still better not to get poisoned in the first place.
On a similar note, I always have at least two different means of attacking equipped so I can switch between them. After all, I have this nifty divine morningstar, and I also have a pyromancer’s flame and five slots to which I can attune stuff. That’s Physical/Magic/Divine/Bleeding damage on one thing, and !!damage!! on the other. Whilst this combination didn’t quite turn out to work on Quelaag at all well, I was still capable of dealing 52~ damage per hit with one of them.
I… eventually won.

Lock-on: when and when not to use it.

Lock-on is slightly altered from Demon’s Souls; you can’t personally switch targets any more. Generally the lock-on is intelligent enough to pick the closest target near the centre of the screen. Lock-on is invaluable for blocking or rolling around a single target, and somewhat helps accuracy with melee weapons too, but if you’re up too close to an enemy and kill it, will go slightly insane until you disengage or the enemy finishes dying. Lock-on is also practically-essential for using the magic (and firebombs) in a fight. You can manipulate the aim of those with the free camera, but you’re probably not going to be able to do that with precision in a fight.
Plus it just tends to drop impotently straight down to the ground whenever I attempt to throw fireballs or soul arrows like that, with my usual angle.

However, lock-on has a maximum range. If you’re using a longbow or a shortbow this maximum range is far inferior to the range of the bow. Well, for longbows, at least. If you hit L1 whilst wielding a bow, you go into first-person aiming mode instead. You can still walk around in this mode. Don’t walk off the side of the bridge due to getting the sticks mixed up. Or let things sneak up behind you.
Also, in certain boss battles with large, slower enemies, it’s less helpful as it points at one place on the body, whilst the boss may be able to take damage elsewhere, in a less risky fashion.

Kindle bonfires.

Five more Estus Flask uses go a very long way, and kindled bonfires are permanent; even if you die, they remain kindled, so the Humanity you burned in the process is never wasted, and can’t be lost when you die.
It’s worth it even if you go around in Hollowed form most of the time, like I do, though I do skip kindling inconsequential bonfires, like the one behind the drake at Undead Parish; the bonfires before and ahead of that one aren’t far, and by the time you manage or get around to killing the drake, you’re probably capable of easily reaching the further bonfire anyway.

Keep your fingers away from the weapon buttons around friendly NPCs.

Enough said. This game won’t screw you over quite so badly as Demon’s Souls can on this front, but if you had a sword in real life, you’d be really careful with it around yourself and other people, right?
I’d hope so, anyway. The people in this game quite sensibly take hitting them with a sword or catalyst as an attack with intent to kill, and they’re probably quite stronger than you, so just avoid that headache and don’t attack them unless you mean it and think you can take them.
Something else to be careful of: jumping on people from higher ledges. Goomba Stomps deal a very minor amount of damage in Dark Souls, but it’s still probably enough to piss them off.

Be nice and leave helpful messages. Read them, too.

If you’re playing online, leave a few useful messages around; you can extra Estus Flask uses and Humanity if people upvote your messages.
Similarly, pay attention to the messages people leave around. They will warn of imminent ambushes, problem areas, and hidden wonderful items. Also ‘gorgeous views’ and the sun, as if those needed highlighting. They may suggest tactics, or bolster your morale by mentioning there’s a bonfire nearby.
Or lead you straight off a cliff. Trolls are kind of obvious, though.

Don’t mourn lost souls.

You’re going to die. A thief is going to slit your throat or you’re going to get afflicted with the Bleeding ‘status’ or you’re going to walk off the ledge in Firelink Shrine right before the tree and the stairs and why do people keep doing that? Seriously. Do they want to get rid of their body? But that bonfire doesn’t need kindling…

 Anyway, you’re going to lose Souls and Humanity this way; you’re not going to lose any single piece of equipment you’re carrying, though. Whilst Souls and Humanity are reasonably important, you can gain them again, with reasonably-little fuss, but that set of armour you just picked up is going to be with you until the end of the game.
Souls and, to a lesser degree, Humanity are meant to be spent anyway; Souls on items and upgrades to character or equipment, and Humanity on maybe becoming human, and certainly kindling bonfires. They’re going to be expended, and unless you have a very good plan you probably shouldn’t be saving up for anything that costs more than it costs you to raise your stats. Generally, if you’re at or below the general soul level for an area, you’ll be able to get the required souls for another point in a stat without too much work or risk.



For those of you who pay attention to my comments elsewhere (all… one of you), I hope I added something new to this that wasn’t there.
For them and those who don’t, I hope this was helpful in some way.

…hm. I just remembered a few things. I admit to playing Etrian Odyssey and beating the bonus boss. Maybe I do have an unnatural thirst for difficult games, after all, and I recall something about the XBox360 version having slightly-worse graphics than the PS3 version due to issues involving fitting everything on one disc for that system. Maybe check out some videos from the PS3 version and see if you feel the same about it.

Why some adverts work, and why most don’t…

Yeah, sorry, this isn’t really related to gaming. Sorry for the length, too. Something that turned up in the New York Times today just caught my attention.

It’s no doubt come to your attention that many people are using AdBlock Plus. You probably use it. I certainly use it; the majority of advertisements served by any site are of zero relevance to me, either being for goods and services I’m not interested in, or being for something I am interested in, but prefer to rely on word-of-mouth, trusted recommendations or detailed reviews for when deciding whether or not I want to purchase it.
If a site cares enough to ask the audience not to use AdBlock Plus because the revenue for adverts helps defray the cost of running said site, they probably also care enough to make sure adverts are very specifically targeted to their audience; so I turn AdBlock off if a site cares to ask. I want the site to stay up and they deserve not to have to pay through the nose to do that.

Anyway, this start-up, AdKeeper, thinks that people will accept their product as an alternative for AdBlock Plus. They think that, in some circumstances, viewers will accept advertisements. I don’t disagree with them on this.
Sometimes a person really needs, say, double-glazing installed. In which case they look in the local Yellow Pages equivalent, or Google for a solution. Yellow Pages/Google listings are advertisements, as much as they’re directories of contact information.
So, not exactly what AdKeeper’s Mr. Kurnit is hoping for. The reason banner adverts get so little click-through is two-fold; first, the audience for advertisements like that is extremely limited, as you need to catch the right member of the audience at exactly the right time and right place, when they have a reason to be interested and haven’t already found what they’re looking for. If I urgently need a roofing specialist as the summer storms have once again caused my ceiling to start crying, I’m not going to be browsing the LP Archive, which is one reason they don’t run adverts relating to roofing. I don’t want a car, I don’t want fifty free emoticons, I don’t want a dubious offer for a free iPod if I just sign up for some scheme, and I don’t want- actually, I am interested in adverts for MMORPGS, so long as they’re not marketed like Evony was.

Second – and this is something I picked up from A-Level Communication Studies, or even GCSE English, it’s that elemental and basic – it needs to be engaging. Every single advertisement in any form needs to be engaging. It needs to catch the audience’s eye, and be memorable. This is the backup idea in some of the utter dross out there, and the primary concept for some of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen. If your actual audience doesn’t want double-glazing or a car right now, you want them to remember the advert and hence your product when they do want a car or something to occupy their time or… why do those free iPod scams even get advertising? Are they that popular?
Well, I suppose the lottery is popular.
Most advertisements out there are dross. Some are entirely dross and others are dross to the wrong audience. Some of them with a good idea of how people work try to make the advert funny in some way. People remember the good, entertaining advertisements, even if they forget all the facts. Especially if there weren’t any facts beyond the name of the product. Even if they weren’t the intended audience for the advertisement. Then they suddenly need a car and think ‘what was that advert I saw last month? The one with all the pieces?’, visit Google or Youtube, and find this again. Or this. Or even this. Two of these use car pieces in ways I’m certain were never initially intended. One only has a very tenuous link to cars, involving lots of things going down a road. I’m reasonably sure anyone reading this post can make a good guess at all three of those advertisements just from those descriptions. I’m absolutely sure that I consider the first two of those three advertisements to be the best advertisements I’ve ever seen for anything; they’re wonderful to watch and think about what was achieved with what was never intended to do things like that, and they don’t bore me with car facts. (Note: I watch Top Gear. That doesn’t bore me with car facts, either.) Most importantly, and impressively, even someone vehemently opposed to learning to drive because she’ll probably drive into some[one/thing] with her horrible reflexes and coordination, and hence absolutely not in the intended audience for any of those advertisements, finds these things incredibly memorable.

Car advertisements seem to do things like this better than most. Possibly because you can’t actually throw out any facts at all and have it still appeal to the not-immediate-audience of people-who-want-a-new-car. Or even the immediate audience, as some care about fuel economy, some care about speed, some care about appearance…
Top Gear tried to make a car advertisement, once. I liked some of the ideas that got shot down by the Alan Sugars. They sounded memorable and entertaining. Just like… Top Gear.

You can’t do that with a banner advertisement. Not positively. Evony (probably) tried and got mocked relentlessly for it; I remember it, despite not being terribly interested in browser-based things like that. It’s that much more difficult to make a still image at that size amusing and/or engaging in the same way that a two- or three-minute commercial can be. It’s very easy to make it as dull as the average TV advertisement and hence just as easy to ignore and forget.
There’s one single still advertisement that I remember, outside of the Evony fiasco. It’s for a game I already played at the time I saw it. Here.

So, back to AdKeeper. Once people save an advertisement – in other words, once they’ve already shown a little interest in it already, if only by interacting with it to make it go away – the click-through rate goes up to 3.4% from 0.1%.
In other words, if they think the advertisement is in some way relevant to themselves in the first place, such that they saved it for later viewing, they still don’t click through 96.6% of the time. That article doesn’t say whether saving an advertisement replaces the one on the webpage with another, or leaves it there, or makes it vanish from the page; I think that behaviour will have more of an impact on whether people use AdKeeper than the apparent primary function of the thing, saving banner advertisements unmemorable enough that they don’t make any lasting impression.
So AdKeeper has a purpose, and does make sense, but its audience is ‘advertising agencies and networks who think they or the people using their adverts and networks can stop people from just using AdBlock Plus, or relying only on the people who will not use AdBlock Plus’.

AdKeeper and RealMedia think that most of the time people don’t want to be pulled away from the page they’re currently reading. Today, even Internet Explorer has tabs. Chrome’s had tabs all along. Firefox has had tabs far longer than Internet Explorer. A person nowadays can very easily open a link in another tab for reading once they’re done with the current tab.
I think people don’t pay any attention to advertisements because, 99.9% of the time, banners simply aren’t relevant, or interesting.

This game contains scenes of violence and gore, My Little Ponies, and a cute Khezu

Kirin was less tough than expected, health-wise at least, and it was very theraputic getting to beat on something that looks like a My Little Pony. Or… for some reason, it made me think of Bambi. As far as attack goes, due to the Vespoid set I spent the fight running around in, it hurt more to get walked on than to get caught by lightning. Either way, it died very quickly; from my previous experiences with Elder Dragons in MHFU, I was expecting that fight to last right to the limit of the quest… but it fell over around the 10 minute mark.
I still need two tails from it; two attempts and it kept giving me Lightcrystals and manes. I realise both are technically more rare than the Kirin’s tail, but that’s really no consolation when I want a new bow.

Now, about that Khezu. It’s the one in Small Shadow over the Swamp. Everything’s been… downsized. Except the damage – seems about the same – and the distance it can jump.
Watching it try to fight was pretty amusing. In the end this thing took longer to take down than the Kirin, though; it has much more health than even the Gathering Hall Khezu.
That said, it’s just as slow as a normal one, and with the wide-open spaces the Swamp allows you to fight in, more of a non-issue that the original ever was.

Today we tested out Ad-Hoc Party

Oh, and I beat Tigrex, I suppose.
I’m pretty sure I’ve moaned about that thing before, so I’m not going to add anything at the moment. Besides, it’s late and I want to play Rune Factory.

Impressions of Ad-Hoc Party and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite:
Mostly very-nicely done. I wasn’t expecting to see other hunters running around in the Gathering Hall, though I’m not sure WHAT I was expecting. Guild Card sharing wouldn’t work, for some reason; having dug around and found one or two posts with the same issue, I’ve changed the channel the PSP uses under Network Settings, and will see if it works better tomorrow.
So my friend and I ran around doing a few quests he needed to do; he wanted Kut-Ku Ears, so a Kut-Ku was located and turned into a pincushion.
We then tried Blue Kut-Ku – one of my quests – and both him and a random person who joined in got stepped on many times whilst I sniped from afar. It was more entertaining for me, but after that we decided normal Kut-Ku was probably best.
Then we tried Khezu; it lasted a little longer, as he got hit by one of the lightning balls and fainted, and the other random person was using a lightning-element longsword, but went down without too much trouble.

After that, Tigrex. Solo, naturally, since it was a village Urgent quest and I was feeling adequately-practiced with a bow again.
I… barely won. I detest the Tigrex’s habit of doubling in speed when it rages, and taking off two-thirds of my health with its charge no matter how slightly it clips me, and for having a hitbox that, after Tri, feels like Plesioth’s. I sincerely hope 3rd has hitboxes more like Tri’s. For once, time wasn’t an issue – it went down with ten minutes to spare – but the sheer damage it deals with just that one move, and its habit of homing in when you’re far enough away, and sometimes turning an unexpected third time…
Bleh. Somehow I doubt I’ll be running around in Tigrex armour any time soon.

I used a bow for that fight, but I want to try bowguns in Unite; I made one cheap one, but I don’t think I seriously tested them.

Anyway, after that and checking what upgrades beating Tigrex down unlocked for the farm – bug tree, and… nothing else – I went back to helping my friend take down Yian Kut-Ku, to relax.
To HELP me relax, I took along a hammer forged with the blood of Elder Dragons. The Yian Kut-Ku couldn’t have known what was hitting it. I… may need to bring something weaker, next time, though; half the time they died before the ears were broken. Oh, and several times my internet connection dropped me unceremoniously. Something or someone doesn’t like me doing anything online at night, annoyingly, but at least my entire connection wasn’t dropped.
On that note, I’ve still got a bunch of ruststones I need to sort out. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Switch Axe? This is supposed to be an axe?

So I finally got around to trying out the Switch Axe.
Why? Because Ceadeus finally gave me enough Crooked Horns to make one of his weapons, and there doesn’t appear to be a bowgun, longsword or hammer option for them, sadly. At least the Ceadeus long sword doesn’t need Crooked Horns, though I’m still not sure where to get Wyvern Stones, in its place.
Which leaves me trying to choose between the great sword, the sword and shield, and the switch axe. Effectively, I’m trying to choose between the sword and shield and the switch axe, as great swords are detestably-slow and I hate them.
Alternatively, I could make the Selene Cap, but I’m not liking the look of the recoil penalty on the armour, even though I like the look of the armour itself; in return I’d be able to reload faster, I think. It’s not a good exchange for me, anyway.

My first impression of switch axes was that, as the title says, they’re… not very axe-like. Okay, so it does look like an elongated axe, but the first two hits of the powerful combo act like a lance, and the third is the longsword’s overhead swing.
My second impression was that the sword form is essentially a great sword and hence horrible to run around with; rolling is twice the speed of trying to run with that sword.
That said, it’s not irredeemable, and I’m realistic about how frequently I’d use the Ceadeus weapon if I made a sword and shield, instead. I managed to do with the switch axe what I’ve been failing to do with a hammer for a while; break Qurupeco’s beak.
Not that I’ve been trying to do that, but it is good for reaching higher targets, and is good on the raw power front.

I tested the single switch axe I already had on Qurupeco, which may have been a mistake, as the Bone Axe doesn’t really have enough sharpness to it to get through most of Qurupeco’s body; it’s yellow sharpness at best, and has issues with Qurupeco’s… feathers, I guess. And its feet. The only thing it would reliably go through was its head. If this game were incredibly realistic, I’d take anything that goes through any head over something that can connect anywhere else – …for, well, enemies where you can get at their heads, anyway – but decapitation isn’t implemented and all deaths are the death of a thousand papercuts, so…

I’ll make Ceadeus’ switch axe anyway, as I see potential in the weapon, and if I want to hit stuff with water damage I either use a bowgun or the Barbarian Blade, so the Sea Striker is obsolete from the get-go.
It’ll be useful for causing overwhelming damage on smaller stuff, anyway.

Also, why on Earth do I keep forgetting to snag Ceadeus’ data? I just realised I failed to get that done, again, today…

Repelling and/or Slaying Ceadeus 101

First, bring the right equipment. Potions, Megapotions, paint balls and/or shot as applicable, Armorcharm and Powercharm if you have them, Well-done Steaks, et cetera; the kind of gear you’d bring to take on anything significant.
1. Lightning- or Fire-element weaponry. I suck at dealing with Lagiacrus, so I’m stuck either using the single Thundacrus part I have in a bowgun, or using a Fire-element melee weapon instead. I started with Wyvern Blade “Fire”, but Red Bludgeon is probably a better option. Did you know I had more trouble getting Flintstones for an earlier stage of that weapon than the Rathalos Shells? Use whatever you can deal the most damage with; I kept failing to get Ceadeus into the third zone with a bowgun, and ammo… runs out.
Dragon-element weaponry would probably work, too, but… I don’t have any. Not sure if you can get early Dragon-element stuff through Ruststones, as they only ever give me cheap hammers and lances I’ve already made.
2. Good armour with Water and/or Dragon protection: Ceadeus’ most-damaging attack inflicts Waterblight, so I guess its water-element. It can also inflict Dragonblight with some of its other attacks. I don’t know whether they’re actually this element, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
3. Oxygen Up. Not completely necessary, but it saves needing to signal Cha-Cha for air, or breaking off to find one of the air points in the arena. I have a talisman that gives me all the points I need for this, at the cost of something mostly inconsequential in this fight.
5. Ancient Potion and Max Potion: some of Ceadeus’ attacks hit pretty hard, and the extra health really helps out. They’re also a nice cure for ‘oh god I’m almost dead’ situations.
4. Dragonfell Berries: Ceadeus’ charges all tend to inflict Dragonblight, which affects your Affinity. Dragonfell Berries will cure this rather cheaply.
5. Waterblock Seeds: re: waterblight. I keep forgetting I have too many of these in my chest. Due to the amount of quick-swimming you’ll need to do just to keep up with Ceadeus when he’s moving slowly, Waterblight is actually annoying and more worth getting rid of than Dragonblight, honestly.

Ceadeus starts in Area 1 on your first attempt at the quest, and you’ll get a cutscene of him swimming around in the sea whenever he starts at that area. If you successfully get him into Area 3 by dealing enough damage, he’ll spawn there until killed, whether you manage to repel him or fail after that point, and there’s a shortcut to just before Area 3’s entrance in the camp area; you can jump off into the water near the cliff, to the right of the tent.
It’s possible to fail at the end of Area 2 by not having dealt enough damage to him before he picks which tunnel to smash his way through, What the villagers say about Ceadeus retaining damage is true if you get him to Area 3 and fail to repel him, but I’m not sure about beforehand; when I was using Wyvern Blade “Fire”, I tended to fail that stage before succeeding on the next attempt, but I’m not sure whether I was just being more aggressive after the initial failure.
I’m also really not sure how the Guild tells the difference between a successful repel attempt, and ‘oops, Ceadeus swam out through the wrong tunnel and got into the ocean again’.

Ceadeus, like any monster, has a bunch of attacks it can use on you. Most actual attacks it has are hard-hitting, with large hitboxes due to Ceadeus’ size, but reasonably easy to see coming and just get out of the way in time, unless you’re right in the centre of the target area.
‘We are as ants to him’: Ceadeus’ fins are large enough and strong/fast enough to cause some damage if you come into contact with them. He’s not even trying to attack you and it hurts. His two ‘arm’ fins and his tail will catch you like this if you get too close, and it’s probably a pretty humiliating way to die, so try not to get killed by these non-attacks.
Headshake: whilst travelling to Area 3 and/or the exit, Ceadeus will occasionally pause to shake his head. He does this even when you’re not nearby. It’s more damaging than getting ‘hit’ by his fins, and since he shakes his head pretty wide, difficult to avoid if you’re hitting anything near his head at all. If he stops swimming on the way to Area 3, he’s either going to turn, or attack, and this is the most common one.
Tail-smash: Man, my names for these attacks suck. Ceadeus rears up and backwards, and lashes his tail up at where his head was. It’s fairly nasty to get hit by this, but the hitbox is strange. I’ve been at the side of Ceadeus’ head, cutting or hammering away, he’s tried to do this to hit me, and missed entirely. The affected area is pretty large, but I guess Ceadeus is larger still. Something to watch out for if you’re hitting Ceadeus’ head from ahove, below or in front. Does not inflict Deagonblight.
Twist: Lagiacrus’ twisting melee attack. If you’re below Ceadeus, you’re probably safe, but if you’re at the level of his head or higher, you risk getting hit by him or his horns. May be another Dragonblight attack; I… just don’t get hit by this one often enough to remember. You can get lucky and dodge it by just being brushed aside by Ceadeus, but the attack is pretty damaging; I wouldn’t recommend relying on that.
Snap: Ceadeus will quickly move forward, snapping at whatever happens to be in front of him. I’ve never been hit by this one, though at least one dodge was a matter of luck.
Sideswipe: Another of Lagiacrus’ attacks. Ceadeus will back away before sweeping his whole body sideways. It’s the modern version of Plesioth’s hipcheck without the obscene hitbox. Inflicts Dragonblight.
Turn: Ceadeus turns like Lagiacrus and Royal Ludroth. He doesn’t have claws, but as mentioned above, his fins are large enough and fast enough to hurt if they touch you.
Charge: Ceadeus will curl into its resting position – the one you see when you enter the area for the first time each mission – wait a second or so, and then charge forward in a corkscrew. Inflicts Dragonblight.
WATER LASER: this is the one that inflicts Waterblight. It’s also Ceadeus’ more damaging attack (…in my armour with -5 water protection, anyway). There’s a fair amount of warning that he’s about to do this attack; he’ll hold his mouth open and start sucking in water for a few seconds before showing off his answer to the tiny fireballs wyverns use. That said, it’s difficult to avoid as the ‘beam’ is very wide; I think this is where the hitbox on his tail attack went. If you’re beside his head OR behind it when the beam goes off, you’re going to get hit for a lot of damage as the beam pushes Ceadeus backwards, adding to the affected area.
Vertical WATER LASER: when Ceadeus is enraged, he can rear up before sucking in water like he normally does; this means he’s going to produce a water beam/twister/laser that sweeps vertically, whilst still dealing the same amount of damage and still inflicting Waterblight. It’s easier to dodge this one as the preparation time is slightly longer, and it’s easier to see what’s going to happen as he rears his whole body for this one. I don’t often get hit by this one, but got caught by it whilst gathering up UW Ballista shot.
…maybe I should find a new Oxygen talisman.

The first part of the fight involves getting Ceadeus into a cave rather than swimming out into the ocean again; you need to deal enough damage before he reaches the end of Area 2, at which point he’ll decide which path to open up; if you’ve dealt enough damage, he’ll break the right-hand path open, but if not, he’ll break the left-hand path open and escape. Target areas are the beard, if you brought an edged weapon, or his beard and the top of his head, if you brought a hammer. You can hit his horns, but you won’t be able to break them until Area 3.
As mentioned above, Ceadeus can hurt you somewhat without even trying; if you’re attempting to deal damage through his beard, watch out for the fins, as they’ll get closer to knocking you about whenever he moves.
This stage is really just a matter of hitting him as much as you can, whilst not taking too much incidental damage. Ceadeus will occasionally launch weaker attacks at you, but this is fairly rare; the greater dangers are the attacks Ceadeus launches to get through the path to Area 2’s end. Don’t get caught in his charges when you know he’s going to charge to break something. It’s silly.
So long as you inflict enough damage, it doesn’t really matter how much you took getting Ceadeus to go to Area 3, though; once he’s there, you start further missions from that point until he’s slain, and thus can pick up replacements for anything you used getting that far.

Within Area 3, you have either 15~ minutes, if you coerced Ceadeus to head there in the same mission, or 30~ minutes, if you started from that point, to deal enough damage to Ceadeus to either repel him or slay him. Whilst Ceadeus isn’t constantly swimming away from you any more, which means it’s easier to get more than a few hits in a row on him, he will start targeting you directly here.
The important thing is to just keep inflicting damage, though; due to how the fight works, I had less issues with Ceadeus than Lagiacrus or Barioth. Its horn can now be broken off, and can be carved twice, and you’ve got a Dragonator and two underwater ballista (plus ammo piles) nearby. The Dragonator resets approximately every ten minutes, giving you three uses if you started in Area 3, and two if you started from the beginning; the button’s the suspiciously-well-lit orange area, and the ballista are left and right of there. The ammo piles for the ballista aren’t unlimited, and will run out, but they will deal respectable damage to Ceadeus from very far range, and are usually how I break the horn off.
The dragonator… worth using. Very worth using. Not sure whether one hit alone is enough to make Ceadeus flee, but any hit you land on it using this thing will make Ceadeus hurt.

Unlike Elder Dragons from previous games, Ceadeus won’t flee until time runs out; you’ve no way of knowing whether you’ve dealt enough to force Ceadeus to flee until the fight’s ended. That said, failing to repel or slay Ceadeus just boots you out of the mission without any reward; apparently the amount of damage you did even in the failed attempt still counts against Ceadeus, and I do believe his horn stays missing if you broke it.
So keep trying, even if you don’t beat it the first time.

I beat Ceadeus, and all I got was a scale, some fur, and a few gems

Admittedly I only repelled it, though.
So, Monster Hunter. I haven’t played it for a while; got annoyed at Diablos, I think.

I picked it up again on monday, fought a few things for practice, successfully cut off a tail – Royal Ludroth’s, which is still an achievement for me, considering it requires melee-work, what with my utter uselessness with Slicing ammo – and today I somehow beat Uragaan and Ceadeus.
…huh. So many new urgent quests…

Anyway, Uragaan and Ceadeus.
First, Uragaan. This huge-chinned thing reminds me of Dodongo, especially when it runs straight over me. That thing turns faster than it ought to be able to. Well, it’s a relative of Barroth, so I was expecting it to be occasionally-fast, but… ow. Getting run over takes off two-thirds of my health in Rathian kit. I need to go strike the earth at the Volcano and hope for GOOD Armour Spheres.
Uragaan was my second proper use for Pellet shot, as it’s very large – twenty metres long – and the chin alone is large enough to take more than the one hit from it. I’d also brought Water shot, and run out of it with a rapid-fire gun long before Uragaan showed any signs of wearing out.
Somehow I took it out with Exhaust shot. I think I’d run out of everything else by that point. I forgot what horrible range the stuff has, too; it just arcs downwards, depressingly, into the ground when you don’t aim it, or aren’t too close to the enemy.
Not really looking forward to fighting it again, but I’d rather fight it than Gobul. The armour set might be nice.

Now, Ceadeus. This one reminds me of the Wind Fish. I’m not sure what it is with me and Zelda, today. I initially attempted to take it on with a bowgun with a Thundacrus part and, uh, failed at the end of the second area. I guess I didn’t do enough damage.
I started over toting Jaggi kit, a talisman for Oxygen Up, and one of my long swords – Wyvern Blade “Fire”, as for some reason water-bound monsters seem to be susceptible to that element. Not at all sure why.
It tried to eat me a few times, but I successfully got to the last area before running out of health/Ceadeus’ patience. It is a great relief to be able to start over from that point afterwards, though. From there it was a matter of doing another mission and firing less underwater ballista ammo at it than I thought I’d need. I even got its horn off! …and only got scales from it. Ech. It seems everything Ceadeus wants crooked horns and/or deepdragon gems or whatever those things were called.
I really want to see the armour, though, and the weapons. Ceadeus is the first giant elder dragon I’ve managed to get to, let alone beat.
So, yeah, I beat a horned sea slug. Yay.

Also, when did I get enough Lagiacrus materials to make any piece of its kit? I haven’t fought it since last I stopped playing, and if I’d known I had the stuff I would have made it.
On that note, Lagiacrus is currently rampaging around the island. I think I’ll take it on next, for a break. I was originally preparing to take on the ‘trap Lagiacrus’ quest, or was trying to get enough Thunderbugs to make traps to be ready for the quest, but then I got distracted by Ceadeus. As long as Lagiacrus is running around the island and I need rare trade goods, though…

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