It should come as no surprise that I am a pretty big Monster Hunter fan. I’ve been with the series since I grabbed the original Monster Hunter from a black market shop in Shenzhen, and I stumbled through some of the intro quests trying to decipher the Japanese characters. Despite playing the series since those early days on the PlayStation 2, it wasn’t until Freedom Unite that I really started considering myself a hunter.  I’ve always been into the series, but I couldn’t really ever get into the series until then. Makes sense?

It wasn’t until two good friends sat down with me in the same room and connected via the game’s ad hoc to show me the ropes. They helped me take down a Rathalos so I could get some advanced low rank armor, all the while I stared in awe as two hunters clad in Rathalos Soul and Akantor armor, wielding a massive hammer and great sword were beating this flying Wyvern into submission with little effort.

thunder puppy

Thunder Puppy returns

And that’s where the problem with Monster Hunter rests: The window for entry seems so overwhelming to new players that they can never really fully embrace the series. It takes other players to motivate and carry them through a few quests for them to see the full potential the game has to offer. They have to get through the monotony of gathering mushrooms and cooking steaks to really understand how all that can lead to the careful preparations you make before taking on one of those massive behemoths.

Which brings us to the first thing that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate did right, it gave new players a glimpse of how epic their battles will eventually become. After traversing through the simple character creation, the game places players on a sand barge on their way to Val Habar, one of the towns featured in the game. Immediately their ride is besieged by a Dah’ren Mohran, an enormous sand shark/alligator looking creature. While at this point players would normally stand no chance against this foe, Capcom does what my 2 friends did for me so long ago and allows the player to feel useful against such a gargantuan creature. MH4U uses this opportunity to showcase the diversity in combat that players will encounter. It’s a simple fight that guides new players through some basic mechanics of attacking while defending their ship until help arrives. It sets the precedent that no fight is impossible, it just needs to be approached correctly.

MH4_Jhen

No weapons. No armor. No problem?

 

From there players enter Val Habar and are given a short intro to the game’s story: You’re traveling along with a caravan who’s looking to find the meaning of a rare shard the caravan leader has found. Your stop at Val Habar is the first of many, in order to recruit companions for the journey. While the story seems simple enough, it also gives new players something that the series has sorely missed: Purpose.

Monster Hunter has never been known for its story. They game usually throws you into a town and your mission is to simply plow through a message board of quests. Sometimes you hunt monsters, sometimes you mine for ore, sometimes you’ll go picking herbs and honey. Whatever the case, your ultimate goal is to kill monsters for parts to get the better gear that’ll help you kill harder monsters. While that may be enough for veteran players, it’s always been a hurdle for new players to cross. Often times a common question that comes across from new players is “So what’s the point?”

Again, this is another hurdle that MH4U helps address. While it won’t be winning any awards for narrative, the addition of simple dialogue from NPC’s to add exposition does wonders for new players, helping them get involved and feeling they’re a part of something bigger. It adds just enough story to encourage players to press on.

But with all the considerations taken for new players, what’s in it for the veterans? MH4U gives returning players the one thing they always crave, a bigger game. To me, Capcom’s previous iteration of the series in MH3U fell short. While the previous game introduced some new locations and monsters, there was a sad lack of content causing hunts to quickly became repetitive.  With MH4U, returning players will find themselves with with plethora of creatures to raise their weapons against. Classic creatures left out from Tri return such as the Tigrex, Velocidrome, and even the edler dragons such as Chameleos, in addition to the new creatures introduced in Tri.  But that’s not all, as MH4U also throws new creatures into the mix. Players will encounter a sabertooth frog, a flying spider, and flying monkey squirrel thing.

2013-08-08-15-52-11

One of the multiple towns featured in game

 

In addition to new monsters the game also introduces two new weapons. The Charge Blade is a collapsible two-handed axe that can alternate between a sword and shield, while the Insect Glaive is a staff style weapon that allows Hunters to send out a Kinsect. Each weapon comes with new move sets, and the IG itself also boasts a unique upgrade mechanic which is sure to intrigue new and old players alike.

The series itself also features several quality of life improvements for players, with better inventory management, higher definition cut scenes, and built in tutorials/help screens for most of the menus.

The game isn’t perfect of course, with some rather odd design choices that feel like they drag on. One instance is the Palicos, which are the cat allies that will MH4-Palico_Armor_Render_001be joining the hunters. Players are given the option to craft their gear in order to increase their efficiency. Doing so requires unique materials, which unfortunately are obtained in a rather roundabout way. In previous iterations, players would craft their own gear and obtain these unique materials as a byproduct. This time around players are required to progress through a chunk of the game’s story, and then complete some side quests in order to unlock the ability to farm for these mats. While I understand their desire to integrate more of the games’ mechanics into an overall narrative, it seems like a weird choice to have the Palico’s growth seemingly stunted for arbitrary reasons. The same can be said of other mechanics such as the decoration system, which were normally all available at the beginning of previous games, they are know locked behind story progression. While new players may not be bothered, it can seem a bit tedious for returning veterans.

Other problems are still present that have been around since the dawn of the series, such as the unforgiving camera. When fights start becoming more chaotic, the camera can be just as big of an enemy as the monsters. Often times a monster will leap towards a player only to jump off camera. Players will often frantically try to adjust the screen only to be hit by attacks they couldn’t see. This is a problem that Capcom has tried to address by including a lock on feature, which allows the camera to quickly snap to the targeted monster. The detrimental effect of the camera is also lessened for players who use the circlepad pro, or were able to acquire the new 3DS system. For everyone else, they’ll just have to endure and make the best of it. At least they won’t be using the claw anymore.

Overall, MH4U strikes a good balance between making itself more attractive to new players and providing enough new content for veterans of the series. Not only is MH4U the most accessible entry in the series, it also does more than enough to easily set itself as one of the best installments to the franchise.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review
MH4U manages to strike a near perfect balance of content for both new and old players alike, making this one of the best installments in the series
The Good
  • Easier for new players to get into
  • More Monsters
  • Better mechanics
The Bad
  • Some tedious design choices
  • Camera
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (15 Votes)
8.7

About The Author

Enrique C
Editor-in-Chief

There's no problem that can't be fixed with fire. Doesn't matter what game. If that doesn't work, use more.