Hunting monsters? Surely it is one of the best things to do on a New Nintendo 3DS?
To coincide with the launch of Nintendo’s New 3DS and the hugely hyped The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo also dropped a little Capcom title into the mix, challenging players to take up their handheld to hunt monsters and craft their own equipment. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the latest entry in the popular Monster Hunter series to arrive here in Europe, and it certainly stands to be the best version of the game yet.
The thing is, the Monster Hunter games have always been quite a difficult mountain to climb, and this is partly why the series has never quite reached the fever pitch levels of popularity that it has over in Japan. Sure, there are other reasons for the games’ lack of popularity over here, but the complexity, dull tutorials and relatively slow action all combine to make the previous Monster Hunter games a bit of a grind, something which turns many players away. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate doesn’t move forward in leaps and bounds, but it does make a little extra effort to make this the most accessible Monster Hunter game thus far.
There is a sense of familiarity for players of the previous games when starting up Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, despite the fact that there are a lot of differences. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate goes so far as to set up a story for the player as a monster hunter who has joined a traveling caravan. As such, players will find themselves visiting various different settlements from which to take on quests and go hunting in different environments. This makes the game seem much more approachable to the novice monster hunter, whilst leaving veteran players with some variety alongside the regular gameplay.
As always, the tutorials tend to drag on a bit and present the most difficult obstacle for the new player to overcome. For the returning player, it is business as usual with quests to be picked up and then heading off into the wilderness to hunt monsters, small and large, or collect items like herbs. Before heading out for the hunt comes the preparation though, and visiting the different armouries or vendors in each of the hub areas is not a bad place to start.
But one of the most appealing aspects of the Monster Hunter games have always been the crafting, and all of the best stuff can only be found through hard work and hunting. Heading out into the field, the player can gather various herbs, mine for ores or, after taking down one of the massive monsters found in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, hack up a carcass for parts, all of which can then be used for crafting everything that a player needs to survive, and succeed, as a monster hunter.
The combat is, again as always, long and considered. As a simple monster hunter, you will be fighting all manner of incredibly detailed beasties, including some new for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and they are pretty much all huge and scary. Taking these monsters down will involve thougthful combat and developing strategies.
There are two new weapons introduced with the latest game, alongside all of the usual weapons that veteran players will have learned to hunt with. The Charge Blade is a sword and shield which transforms into a mighty axe once charged. While interesting, the most exciting new weapon is the Insect Glaive, a device which can launch an insect like creature at the monster and buff the player. However, the Insect Glaive also brings with it a new type of attack that adds some interesting variety to the hunt.
Players are able to pole vault onto the back of the monster with the Insect Glaive, something they can also do from a higher position. This leads to a rodeo type situation with the player alternating between holding on for dear life and frenziedly stabbing the monster. The mechanic works really well and, if used while playing with others, gives a moment of peace for others to recuperate.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a big game, and not just in the amount of time it can last for. The monsters are huge, the environments are varied and the investment from a serious player needs to be epic. And it all looks so good, with incredibly detailed and believable monsters and some really incredible views if you stop for just a minute to enjoy them. All of this is only emphasized by the use of 3D, and it really does look amazing on the new 3DS.
Whilst newcomers to the game will happily join up to hunt with others, veterans of the Monster Hunter games will likely be most happy with the online multiplayer. Working seamlessly, co-op play in a team of four hunters is easily the best way to experience monster hunting. The sense of achievement and camaraderie when taking down the next big monster with a team, and moving onto something even more difficult, really is what co-op gaming is all about.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate only makes a few changes over the previous entry, but those changes are all welcome. Playing solo, the campaign is much more engaging than previously, and playing as part of a team is one of the best experiences on a handheld. The game can still be difficult to get into for those who are new to monster hunting, but if taking down giant-sized monsters is really something you fancy investing many, many hours into, then Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the best place to start.