My First Monster: Diving Into Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
As a PC-first enthusiast that finds himself spending a lot of time on my 3DS as of late with titles like Etrian Odyssey 4, Persona Q, and Shin Megami Tensei IV because I love dungeon crawlers, my curiosity was piqued to try out the Monster Hunter series for the first time with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I’m quite glad I did, as I’m incredibly impressed with the game and have barely been able to put it down.
The combat was a little overwhelming at first, with so many different weapons to try out as I attempted to get used to hunting down the Great Jaggi and moving through the single-player story content with my incredibly annoying, ever-mewling Palico. Eventually after trying to learn the ins-and-outs of the new Insect Glaive and some of the heavier melee weapons, I opted to go with the Heavy Longbow, which I’m still using today at Hunter Rank 3. The weapons all have their own nuances and special abilities to learn, along with ways skilled players can take advantage of them, a system further customized by stat allocation in weapons and armor sets.
While I found the early game to be kind of monotonous and lackluster as I hunted down defenseless critters for hides and meat and scraped through piles after pile of mushrooms and bones to make a few potions, the rhythm of the game really set in in a good way after the first few boss encounters. I wanted to check out the online features since taking on these bosses with some other players seemed like a fun way to go about it, and was immediately entranced with the awesome multiplayer components. I haven’t gone back to single-player since.
Above: Watch us play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in a Test Chamber episode.
Joining up in the guild hall to take on bosses with other players has quickly become my favorite activity, thanks to the combination of using the new “monster rodeos” to break off critical monster pieces and set up big windows of opportunity for team attacks. While there are definitely repetitive elements to taking on certain bosses over and over to try and get pieces to complete sets, the boss-loot-craft-repeat cycle works amazingly well, and it’s especially interesting to see how different weapon types take on various encounters in markedly disparate ways. Player skill also factors heavily in things, as I’ve seen much lesser-equipped hunters display amazing skills as they vault and leap around the battlefield while better geared hunters face-tank incoming lightning shocks and ground blitzes.
The quick drop in and battle online works great, something I didn’t really expect from my little handheld plugged into the wall as I ignored my gaming rig. It feels like something akin to Diablo 3’s pop in and fight gameplay, and I love the implementation – it even allows players to exchange guild cards and then send each other out on resource missions, similar to follower/minion missions that are becoming popular on the MMO scene. I have little interest in continuing on in the single-player campaign now that I’ve discovered 3-4 player hunts, but I’ll eventually go back and clean out many of the monsters I’ve bested online.
As someone that’s never played the series before, I’m really excited to be part of the Monster Hunter’s guild this time around. The gameplay does have repetitive, grindy elements to it, but the fights are often frantic, engaging, and have enough cool set-piece mechanics that keep things fresh even when you’re farming for that one breakable monster piece that just won’t drop. As I often like to say, it’s only a grind if it feels like one – and for now, many many hours in, I’m having a monster-mashing blast. It seems like Tim Turi feels the same way, you can check out his review here!