Monster Hunter 4 has been out in Japan since 2013 but Capcom finally remembered the rest of the world and have now released to us Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the 3DS and 2DS.
And boy am I glad they did. This action RPG is roughly as it sounds, you venture fourth to take on all manner of monstrosities.
The game has you starting out as a new hunter looking to make a name for yourself. To do so you need to venture to the town of Val Habar to register as an official hunter.
On your trip a huge monster attacks the ship you gained passage on. You then, in defence of the ship and your life, go through a set of introductory and tutorial like sections to assist in taking down of this fiend.
Upon arrival to the new town the captain of the ship, impressed with your skills, invites you to join his caravan. After agreeing to join you start a few more tutorial type missions. There are quite a few of these and I’d say most are necessary as there is a lot to get a handle of.
The numerous aspects to the game are explained as you go, while probably reasonable for this size game, it is all done so via text. There is a lot more reading that should also be done if you really want to get a full grasp on game mechanics.
This of course I didn’t really do as all of the game is already quite wordy with only text boxes to convey any dialogue or information.
The town becomes your home base where you can do several things.
There are shops for selling and purchasing items and equipment, a blacksmith where you create or upgrade armour and weaponry and even a quaint housing arrangement where you can store and organise items and equipment. You can also change how your character looks if you changed you mind after initial creation.
From here you will prepare and set out for various quests. They may be from the local town’s folk or from the Hunters Guild.
You are given a cat like hunting companion, or Palico, that can come along on hunts to help you fight your prey and pick up extra things for you on the way. Your Palico can be given weapons and equipment of its own. They can be leveled up and even given new attacks and weaponry.
Going out on hunts or quests will have your roaming a set of different environments that all come together to create a bigger map. The world is visually astounding. There are plenty of vibrant colours and engaging environments all around. The map allows for various environments to be explored in any one quest.
There are all kinds of materials and ingredients to be collected on your trip. From plants to insects to creatures defecations.
This part is quite important to your adventuring as many items and equipment can be created and forged from these materials. There is a very extensive list of things to be created. So collecting everything you find along the way is to your benefit. Your pouch is limited however so you need to balance between what to bring on the hunt and how much space to leave for materials.
There is a great selection of weapons to choose from, each with a very unique play style.
Some can be slow and powerful others may have better range but can be harder to manipulate after commencing an attack. The one thing I noticed is the complexity of each.
There are many aspects to one weapon type. Hunting bows for instance can be charged up for a more powerful blow, they can also have salves applied to give different effects. You can also, depending on the bow, do a power shot. After pushing one button to draw the bow you use a second button to initiate aiming and then release the draw button to take the shot.
All this while running away and dodging incoming attacks. It does take a while to master any of the weapons as each has such unique abilities and functions.
The combat as mentioned can vary dramatically depending on the weapon chosen but whichever is used the game has done a good job of, while being somewhat complex in nature aswell as being reasonably fluent.
Once a quest has been selected you venture forth into the wilderness and are free to explore, gather materials and hunt as you please. There is a time limit in stilled after commencement. I have yet to exceed it but I did give matters a sense of urgency and it does ensure you don’t dawdle around too much.
There are different quest types available, my favourite being the hunting ones as taking down a big beast, which is quite a fun affair. In between there are few fetch and gather quests which are only slightly less fun.
There are many ways to do something; however they only become available as you find and create new items. There are traps, poisons, salves, potions and many other things, some that can be applied to your weapon to give different effects allowing for a very varied experience depending on how you like to play.
One issue was the inability to save the game mid quest. Once you started a quest you need to complete it if you wished for items and progress to be saved. The quests can also be lengthy so you need to sit down and be able to dedicate the time necessary or your progress won’t be saved.
One other issue is the game plays in third person and you need to use a second analogue stick. I personally don’t have the extra attachment for my 3DS so I was stuck using the on screen directional pad to adjust the camera. This did break up the fluency of the game as I usually ended up just taking on the world from one camera angle.
One big aspect is of course is health and stamina.
You need to balance the use of stamina as running and attacking use it up all the while the overall stamina bar is decreasing. It is important to bring along items to restore it along with health potions.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has both an online and system link co-op option where friends can venture forth and hunt monstrosities together.
Unfortunately due to a lack of Monster Hunter friends I was unable to experience this but it imagine taking on the variety of beasts with a pal would make it more fun and make life just a little easier.
Taking on some very huge prey is very exciting and the chase is just as intense.
The game is quite hard and as your character doesn’t level up you will find yourself grinding a bit to get materials needed for better equipment or else you will find yourself in some very long battles.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate may be hard but is still very enjoyable and has a diverse experience on offer.
There are many things to do and create and plenty of unique creatures to find and then destroy so you can make that next piece of awesome equipment. The whole process is well designed as hunting down and getting the kill on some crazy beast is an exciting process all on its own regardless of reward.
There is plenty to hook you into the gameplay and then keep you playing. You do how ever need to sit down and seriously play this bad boy. I feel it would have benefitted if available for console as well.
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