Release Date: 2/13/2015
Available Exclusively On
Monster hunting games have always been a niche genre. Running around linear levels with limited combat gameplay to take down ferocious monsters is just tough. I could almost say it’s as hard as a roguelike game without the rogue. Monster Hunter has been a very difficult game to get into for the common gamer. It’s hard, has a very high learning curve, and takes a lot of grinding to get the better gear to defeat a tough monster. Monster Hunter 4 is the first game in the series where it feels more accessible, fine-tuned, and fun while still keeping what made the series so tough.
I have played previous games in the series, but not for very long as they were cumbersome, somewhat clunky, and not quite enjoyable. Monster Hunter 4 has finally started to get the formula down. Right off the bat the game has a much easier tutorial and feels more cinematic thanks to the added combat elements and new locations. You aren’t just stuck in one area like in MH3, but get to travel to new towns and even fight on ships.
I found the combat to be much better which is what kind of holding the series down for so long. Animations are cleaner, interruptible, more varied, and it’s now easier to dodge and move around. However, without the Circle Pad Pro or New 3DS, you’re still controlling the camera with one button, and that is why the PSP versions put me off. Thankfully I played with a New 3DS XL so I didn’t have that issue. Being able to control the camera is just so amazing and makes the game more enjoyable. Circling monsters and keeping track of the environment has never been easier and I felt like I was better at the game and learned quicker.
The whole point of Monster Hunter is simple: Kill monsters, gather their parts, use those parts to create better armor and weapons. Missions are dealt out in ranks starting with one-star missions. There are also guild missions you can complete with friends or players online. This is the first handheld Monster Hunter that’s truly online and I had a blast. The game uses the StreetPass features by transferring guild cards to one another that have quests and acquiring items. It adds to the longevity of the game including the frequently updated, and free, DLC.
The game’s combat isn’t much different from previous games. You have a light and heavy attack button, but the added aerial combat is great. You can jump from walls or heights to try and take down enemies with heavy attacks. This isn’t just a hack and slashes either as you have to carefully plan your items, how you use them, and taking down main monsters isn’t a breeze. Each level is divided up into sections and each section has items unique to it so there’s a pattern and you can start to remember where certain resources are. The main monster will randomly show up and that’s what your main target is.
There are so many awesome items in Monster Hunter to help you take down this monster, but you have to learn their weaknesses, strengths, attacks, and how much health they have. Items range from various traps such as electrical, fire, bombs, and snares. There are health items and various other drinks for environments that drain your stamina etc. Some monster is small and fast that require a different weapon while some are big and slow and can take massive damage. It’s so satisfying to take down the main monster that you just want to go back and fight it again as you learned new things about it.
The downside to all this is that it requires a lot of time investment as you may have to play the same areas multiple times to gather enough materials to make the next best weapon and armor set. Thankfully there are various buffs you can acquire such as eating from the feline chef that can make you food. This can give you temporary stamina or health increase, attack power, and even defense. There are a lot of strategies involved in the combat so it’s smart to play around and experiment. Sticking to just one method will get you nowhere in this series.
Outside of fighting you can visit a store, blacksmith, customize the felines that fight alongside you, and various other activities. There’s a lot of meat packed into this game for a handheld title so you won’t get bored anytime soon. Thankfully this game is more accessible, and while not easier, it is more manageable and easier to chew. There are still issues with the game that persists over the years and that is the same UI, multi-part levels, weapons, and even some recycled monsters. The core game has actually never changed, but thankfully this version has enough newness and enough polish to not consider it a rehash of previous titles.
The visuals in the game are some of the best you will see on the 3DS despite the muddy textures. However, even as refined as this title is, it is still not for everyone. I only recommend this to hardcore gamers who are into roguelikes or games that you grind in. It can still feel overwhelming and too much for the average gamer today, but if you give it time you will have dozens of hours of amazing gameplay that you can’t get in any other handheld title.