Hunting at its finest.
One of the biggest franchises in Japan and one of Capcom’s most successful series, Monster Hunter has always been a cult favorite here in the US. Due to its somewhat steep learning curve and complex game play mechanics, many people are put off by the series. Now, Monster hunter 4 Ultimate releases, and hopes to bring in some of those people who were wary of the complexity. After many hours with the game, I can safely say this is the most accessible Monster hunter game to date, while still keeping that same classic feel.
As with the other games, players take control of a new hunter trying to make their way into the business. Joining a travelling caravan, the hunter, along with a motley crew of characters, travels from village to village offering their services, one of them being monster hunting and gathering materials in the wilderness. On top of all this, the captain of the caravan has an old relic whose origin he wants to explore, taking him and his companions on even more adventures.
Price I’d pay $39.99
Multiplayer: 4 player co-op
The game revolves around gathering materials for practically everything the player needs. If I wanted a new weapon, I could either buy it, which can become pricey, or go hunting for the materials so I could have it forged by the blacksmith. New armor sets, potions for healing and status effects and everything else in the world can all be crafted using things players find while on the hunt.
While the game has many RPG elements, the focus is all about getting better gear. Equipping a full armor sets can offer up passive stats that can be tremendously helpful in battle. Preparation is just as important as good combat skills. Knowing what to bring on a hunt and buffing the character beforehand by eating a meal is very important.
Of course, I can’t forget about the giant beasts players take on during their hunts. These are the showcases of MH4U. Many of them are chosen quests, but after a while they will begin showing up while on gathering and exploring quests. When this happens, the epic battles will test the player’s skill, as well as their patience. They feel almost like an endurance test to see how well players can capture or kill a giant monster while still having to track them when they run away from the area. It can get very intense and afterwards, if successful, feel so rewarding.
New to MH4U is the online play via the Nintendo network. Multiplayer is where MH4U really shines. Taking on a hunt with three other players feels so right. Coordinating and utilizing everyone’s abilities is all part of the fun. With a diverse group using different weapons, it really is a blast to figure out combos and perfect positioning. Unfortunately, the online has no voice chat. If playing with friends, I suggest using a type of external voice chat for the best results.
Take to the skies, then land on them.
Combat and exploration have a new feel to them as well. MH4U has a much more vertical touch. Climbing is much faster, and taking on enemies that fly in many spots offers up an even bigger challenge. To go along with this, jumping from ledges and using one of the new weapons allows players to take to the air as well, possibly landing on the monster. Doing this will begin a short mini game where the player must attack when the monster is not thrashing, and hold on when the monster is trying to buck the character off. If the player can fill up the meter, the monster will be knocked down and stunned for a period of time, allowing the hunters to do some major damage.
Two new weapon types have been added as well. The insect glaive and the charge blade are both complex in nature, but offer up a ton of strategy when it comes to hunting. The insect glaive is like a bow staff that is fast and devastating at close range, while using a large bug to gather juices from monsters that can buff stats. Using all three juices (which can be gathered by hitting different parts of a monster’s body) will even change up the attack patterns and power of the glaive. Then there’s the pole vault that allows players to jump into the air to either dodge out of the way of an attack or possibly allow the player to grapple the monster.
The charge blade doubles as a giant axe and a sword and shield. Attacking with the sword and shield will gain charges that can then be used to unleash power attacks via the axe mode. They both fit well with the combat and offer up more options.
It’s a big world out there, but we’re here for ya.
One of the biggest issues I’ve always had with the Monster Hunter series was the fact that the game just kind of threw me into the world and said “go.” If I wanted to actually learn the game, I would end up having to go through numerous pages of dialog and tutorials, with no way of practicing them. In MH4U, they have taken that and added a smoother transition. Progression altogether has improved, while missions along with new tutorial stuff popping up every so often really eased me into the game a bit more slowly and at a very good pace.
Progression is divided into exploring new areas and taking on progressively more difficult enemies. Going on new expeditions into uncharted territory will reward the player with new materials to find along with new monsters to take on. I can’t say it enough, but the progression in both the story and the items and upgrades has been greatly improved. There’s always something new to do and it is always working towards another thing that I will use or come across later on in the game.
While there are major improvements to the progression, learning curve, and overall feel of the experience, the 3DS still brings this title down a bit. It all revolves around having a 2nd analog stick. Granted, players with a circle pad pro or the new shiny New 3DS will have an easier time getting around in MH4U, but those without will have to rely on the D-pad for camera usage, and after putting a few hours into the game trying this scheme, it is not ideal at all. I highly suggest playing with a circle pad pro.
In the grand scheme of things, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is still very much a Monster Hunter game. What makes it stand out are the tweaks to progression. It really is the most accessible game in the series. The verticality of the combat and exploration is a fun bonus that adds even more depth to the game, and the new weapons are a blast to play with. And let’s not forget the best part of the game – the online play, where players will have the most fun. Partying up with three friends to take down a massive monster is pure joy, and after fighting that big boss for 30 minutes seeing that “Quest Cleared” pop up is so satisfying. Fans of the series shouldn’t hesitate picking this up, while newcomers will have a much easier time figuring out how to play. Without a doubt, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the best game in the series so far. I highly suggest it to 3DS owners looking for a complex series that can last them well over 100 hours. There’s nothing else like it on the system.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.