Aptonoths: Weirdly Non-Threatening

Monster Hunter World released lately, and I’m doing that thing I often do where I commiserate about not being able to afford the new thing by instead playing the old thing, specifically, Monster Hunter Tri. Monster Hunter, for those unaware, is a series where you hunt dinosaurs in order to wear their hides as a hit that will give you bonuses to hunting other monsters. Every game has the same plot: Go and hunt some monsters. Like, Tri does have some stuff about how there’s been some earthquakes near an island lately, and that’s caused some flooding, and also driven this giant leviathan up near the surface, and it’s pretty heavily implied that it’s left its deeper hunting grounds because something even bigger chased it out. Probably other Monster Hunter games have some kind of similar paper-thin plot, but they’re about as important as the framing story for a Mario game.

The aptonoth is a vaguely iguanadon-esque beasty that you encounter very early in the game. Here’s a gameplay shot so you can get a size comparison:

This Is An Aptonoth

And here’s a more zoomed out shot so you can get a look at that thing’s tail:

This Is An Aptonoth, Too

You can only clearly see the tail on the aptonoth child, here, but it should be pretty apparent that you don’t want to get walloped by that thing. If you haven’t played Monster Hunter, you may be wondering if these things serve as standard hunt targets or maybe an early-game miniboss or something. Nah, they’re trash mobs that you chew through on the way to hunting real threats. Like this one:


Now, these little fellows only qualify as “real threats” in the early game, and even then only in large numbers. They very quickly sink into becoming trash mobs, usually serving as backup dancers to the significantly more powerful jaggia and the great jaggi, the game’s first boss. Being such early threats, even when they’re relevant foes they aren’t dangerous enough to actually kill you unless you’re completely asleep at the wheel. So, it’s not like the jaggi are super threatening or anything. They’re slightly smaller than human size raptors up against a dude in metal armor with a bigass sword, and they’re about as threatening as you’d expect from that.

My point here, though, is that these guys are more dangerous than aptonoths. Not in the sense that they’re more aggressive (although they are, for some damn reason – why are carnivores so incredibly eager to pick a fight with something bigger than them and which regularly wades into their nest to kill their alpha?), but in the sense that if you pick a fight with a jaggi it is more likely to kill you than if you do the same to an aptonoth. Aptonoths are significantly bigger than a horse and have a tail that looks like it could probably break bones straight through the chainmail or even plate armor you go hopping around in. It’s not unusual for RPG characters to tank swords to the face or anything, so I’m not complaining that the aptonoth’s attacks don’t shave off two-thirds of your health bar even through decent armor. Just because the aptonoth’s tail looks like it should be very likely instantly fatal doesn’t mean it should actually be that dangerous. No, what I’m saying is that however absurdly durable hunters are, attacks should still be proportionately as dangerous as they would be to a real human. If a tail with spikes the size of your forearm is a total non-threat, then fangs the size of your pinkie should be even more laughable.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just that the aptonoths are the smart dinosaurs here. Whereas jaggi will immediately try to tear your guts out no matter how reliably your guts turn out to be protected by a cuirass, aptonoths don’t actually have attack animations and will flee as soon as you attack them. And honestly, considering how reliably Player One kills monsters (even if you take an Iron Man approach, beating the game in one playthrough is hard, but any individual monster is unlikely to be the one who does you in, and non-bosses pretty much never stand a chance except as support to boss monsters), the aptonoth has the smarter survival strategy. So maybe the aptonoth is bizarrely non-threatening, or maybe it’s just smart enough to realize that doing a bit of damage on the way down doesn’t really change the fact that you’re dead at the end of it, and the smart thing for any dinosaur to do when a hunter shows up is to get the Hell out of Dodge.

On the other hand, if aptonoths actually fought back, I’d be a lot less willing to run over and kill one whenever I see them just for the extra resources, so the joke’s on them either way.

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