I had Felynes pegged simply as bipedal cats who don't do much besides walk around, look cute, and give the Hunters something to pet as they rush from one hunt to the next. I've since learned I'm very wrong. They're the hardiest and most versatile race in the Monster Hunter universe by far.
One particular subset of Felynes, the "Palicos" that accompany Hunters into the fray, deserve an extra-sincere apology. When I learned the Palico I lovingly constructed to resemble my black cat comes with me on my hunts, I was worried. "Oh no, Night Fury," I said, "You'll just get in the way. You'll get hurt." But I didn't want to make her sad, so I let her come along. I thought maybe she'd stay out of trouble and pick flowers or something.
But when a Great Jagras cornered me on my first major hunt and belted me mercilessly with its paws, I learned the true calling of the Palicos: They're Monster Hunter's vital answer to rodeo clowns.
I've only put a modest number of hours into Monster Hunter: World, but I doubt I'd last much longer if Night Fury wasn't there to lend a paw. She heals me when I'm hurt, she points out important landmarks I might miss otherwise, she takes chunks out of monsters when she can, and most importantly, she draws away wrathful monsters at vital moments. After I've riled up an Anjanath (I own at pissing off giant carnivorous dinosaurs), she draws away its ire, giving me time enough to use my whetstone or drink a potion.
Night Fury does all this with no thought to her own well-being, which is why she gets kicked across the battlefield from time to time. But she always comes limping back, and she always begs to go out on missions with me. How can I say no?
Of course, I reward her by forging only the best armor for her little furry bod (unless it's ugly, stupid-looking, or just not cute enough).
I'm not the only one who's recently discovered Palicos are more than cute, whiskered faces that hang around camp. Redditor "Caddy-Whompus" is likewise a series first-timer who jumped in with Monster Hunter: World, and they're blown away by the tenacity, loyalty, and light insanity demonstrated by the Felyne warriors.
"Tonight I was fighting Anjanath and got some help from a Jagras, and I thought 'cool, thanks bro,'" they write. "A minute later I notice that my Palico had freaking mounted the Jagras and was riding him around like a warhorse while pelting Anjanath with arrows! Freaking awesome!"
Felynes demonstrate incredible bravery on the battlefield, but I also want to take a minute to honor the quieter cats who help behind the scenes. Of special note are the Felynes that run the canteen where you fuel up before a hunt. The apprentice chefs make an art form out of grilling, sautéing, and stewing, while the grizzled, one-eyed head chef agonizes over putting that sprig of parsley on your fish just right.
(Shouldn't you guys be wearing, like, full-body hairnets or something? Eh, you're all so great at roasting meat, I'll overlook the occasional clump of seared fur in my food.)
Finally, a shout-out to the Felyne who keeps my quarters tidy and manages my equipment. I share that glorified shack with two other Hunters, and I have a menagerie running around. Yeah, once I learned you can capture live creatures, I netted my first Shepherd Hare, turned it loose in my bedroom, and haven't done a thing to keep my living quarters tidy. In other words, wild animals have turned my room into a flophouse. According to logic, my walls should be blasted with pee, poop, raked with claw marks, and generally look like art pieces for a house of Satanic worship.
There's nothing, however. My room is spotless. Someone's keeping on top of the housekeeping, and it sure as hell isn't me. All credit goes to the kitty-cat.
Thank you, Felyne butler, for picking up after the animals and bugs that eat, crap, and mate in my living space with reckless abandon.
Thank you, Night Fury, for baiting angry dinosaurs ten thousand times your size.
Thank you, canteen Felynes, for your delicious repasts. When I inevitably find a fresh hairball oozing its way from the top of my Hunter's Platter down to the bottom of the meat-stack, I'll take it in stride and won't demand the lot of you get neutered for your transgression. Don't try it twice, though.