Author: Anthony Fallucco
Monster Hunter has always been one of those that I never
have a hard time pitching to friends based on its core concept of hunting giant
monsters with cool weapons. But once they learn it’s not all smashing face 100%
of the time they lose interest. And that’s a shame because they’re missing out
on some of the most fun you can have playing videogames with your friends.
Monster Hunter 4 takes what it has already perfected; hunting, and tries to
guide new players through some of the more confusing aspects like gathering and
collecting materials. It is by far, not only the best Monster Hunter game to
date, but also the best for people just trying to get into the series.
A misconception people have about Monster Hunter going into
it is that it’s purely an action game, when really the game is best described
as a “hunting” game. Every time you set on an adventure to take out one of
those iconic dragons like Rathian or Tigrex you have to be prepared. Being
prepared means having your potions ready, having the right type of armor, using
a weapon with the right element that the monster you’re facing is weak against.
A lot of these processes can be very daunting when you’re just starting out
with the game, and a lot of information to have to take in all at once. But Monster
Hunter 4 Ultimate has done a great job of explaining these type of nuances for
beginner players, but also has a sense of humour through this for veteran
players shown in the writing. These are done by the beginning tutorial quests
which guide you down everything from combining items to make stronger potions
and quests for every single weapon type in the game. These are a great addition
because in previous games when you wanted to try a weapon you most likely stuck
to that one because you weren’t sure if you’d really like the other types.
Story in Monster Hunter games have usually been pretty lack
luster. You are an up and coming hunter with a lot of promise. Starting out
from humble beginnings, you turn into the towns hero by defeating a prophesized
elder dragon or town ending event. It’s pretty much the same deal in Monster
Hunter 4 Ultimate but the reason it stands out more are because of two things.
First off, this time instead of being a lone badass, you’re traveling with a
caravan full of characters across multiple town maps. Slowly over the course of
the game, these NPCs you’re traveling from town to town with become more like a
family rather than soulless quest givers and armorers. It adds so much to the
story that you’re surrounded by character you actually enjoy that it puts the
previous stories to shame. And this is accomplished by the second reason the
story is so great, the translation job done by 8-4 Play. The reason these
characters have so much life to them is the amazing translation and
localization. You can tell that they were given some sort of creative freedom
when translating or the writing this time around was lighter hearted than the
previous games. Previous entries usually had a more serious, end of the world
type of tone to it. It makes for a more fun experience overall. I felt the
serious tone of the previous games didn’t fit a setting where a human wearing
monster armor could take down a creature which could summon thunder and
lightning at will.
MH4U has become a little faster and has more focus on
verticality of stages with its gameplay. You still have all the staple weapons
like Great Sword, Hammer, Gunlance and the like. But the difference here is
that a lot of these weapons have new attacks or new combos. This is very apparent
in the form of jumping attacks. As mentioned verticality is a big feature in
this game, and it is shown in the stages, and the improvements made to the
climbing and jumping systems. Stages are also littered with little ledges you
are able to catch some “sick air” off of, and bring down death upon your
monster foes. While some of the bigger weapons all have the same kind of
massive single slash kind of falling moves, lighter and faster weapons like the
Dual Blades have follow up combos while in the air giving you more attack
versatility. Aside from the staples, the Switch Axe returns from Tri and there
is an addition of two new weapons, the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. Both
weapons are very unique in style and really are aimed more towards the Monster
Hunter veterans as they are hard to use and master, but offer amazing benefits.
The Insect Glaive is a totally unique weapons that has the ability to jump at
will by using it like a pole vaulting stick, and your little buddy called a
Kinsect that comes with the weapon is able to steal power from monsters and
give it to you. The Charge Blade has a lot more in common with the Switch Axe,
since they are both transforming weapons and use vials to upgrade their power.
But it also has its own slew of advanced techniques like “Guard Point” which
during certain animations in certain attacks, not only are you able to auto
guard a monsters attack but in addition, reflect the damage back at the
monster. Each weapon has such unique ways of playing and a lot of advanced
strategies that facing a monster with different weapons feels like a completely
While one of the best ways to play Monster Hunter is in the
same room with friends using their local multiplayer feature, sometimes that
just isn’t a possibility. Luckily Capcom has added an online multiplayer mode
to this game, a feature that was exclusive for the Wii U version of Monster
Hunter Tri the last time around. And I’m glad to say it works as advertised.
You can make a lobby in the gathering hall and wait for random people or make a
room exclusively for your friends. The gathering hall has its own unique set of
quests so there won’t be much overlap in terms of advanced quests. But also all
the monsters will be beefed up since there are not 4 characters going for the
kill rather than 1. Playing with a good group of friends really brings out the
best of MH4U. Experiencing how different weapons work well together, or don’t.
Or seeing which one of your friends will keep sending you flying into the air
with the Great Swords upswing… then promptly booting him/her until he/she
promises to stop using that move!
I could go on and on about all the great things in Monster
Hunter, but I realize that this isn’t a game for everyone. Not everyone will be
able to pour in the 100+ hours needed to see the final multiplayer boss, or to
get the highest rank of their favourite weapons. But for me, this could be the
only game I play for the rest of my 3DS ownership and I’d probably be happy
with that. Well at least until the next one comes out. So far this is a strong
contender for my game of the year in 2015 and it is easily one of the best 3DS
games you can purchase.