Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: getting acquainted

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the 3DS isn’t the first time I’ve played a Monster Hunter game. I tried Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the 3DS, but couldn’t get into it. I also tried Monster Hunter Freedom Unite when it was free via PlayStation Plus. In both cases I found the game obtuse, difficult, and not at all deserving of the attention that this series garners. Normally if a game series doesn’t entice me with two releases I’m happy to write it off but between a New 3DS XL with a c-stick for camera control and this MonHun being billed as the most accessible MonHun yet, I figure it’s time to see if I can get as obsessed with killing dinosaurs as the rest of the world.

After the break, all aboard the MonHun train…

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is easier to get onboard in the same way that a train moving at 30 miles an hour is easier to board than one going 60 miles an hour. Yeah you can do it but it’s still going to hurt. This is a series that either many years and releases ago told players how all of the systems work together and is expecting players to pass these rules down via oral tradition until they achieve fairy tale status or the game has never cared and therefore has never made an effort. I’m not sure which but the end result is that there is a lot going on in this game that the game doesn’t feel is necessary to share with you other than pointing you towards the digital manual.

That being said, at least this version makes an attempt to tell you how some of the important things work which is more than I ever remember from previous games. After fighting a giant, armored sand fish while riding upon Jabba the Hutt’s sand barge I arrive at the dusty caravan town I call home in between shlepping eggs across hostile, beast laden fields. The game doles out various tips in the form of easy, one star quests and before long I feel like I have somewhat of an idea as to what’s expected of me.

Monster Hunter quests, be they big or small all follow a basic framework. The quest is timed, early on the time limit is 50 minutes. Some quests have sub-quests associated with them which means that I can get extra money or, if I manage to finish the subquest before the main quest is over, I can choose to end the quest right there and get some reward at the expense of the shame of being a semi-quitter. Quests also provide some starting materials so that I don’t get completely overwhelmed out in the field. It’s nothing major and I have learned that relying solely on the meager allotment of potions and rations that the game doles out is not a very good idea but the supply list is at least a good indicator of what I’ll be doing in the quest. Seeing how I’m only given one and two star quests I have no idea how much the time limit and supply list changes as things get more difficult but I wouldn’t be surprised if ten hours from now I’ll be given ten minutes and a wad of chewed bubblegum to take down the Monster from Planet X.

After a few introductory quests I’m feeling pretty good about myself and think that maybe I’ve gotten this monter hunting thing down pat. Sure, the lack of a lock on is annoying although the c-stick makes playing the game so much better than having to rely on the d-pad, or God help me, the touchscreen to move the camera around. Yeah, having to run away from combat and sheath my longsword to tend to my wounds or my rapidly dulling blade is annoying but I can always switch to sword and shield if I need to be able to use items in battle, but mostly I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on things. Surely I have turned the MonHun corner and glory awaits!

Tomorrow: well that didn’t last long