A Beginners Review for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
If you are reading this review, odds are you know quite a bit more about video games than most people. Actively seeking out information about a specific video game shows you have knowledge on the subject. By calling this a beginners review, I mean it's for a beginner to Monster Hunter itself. Monster Hunter is one of the largest series in Japan but sells relatively few copies in America for several reasons and among those are how unfriendly the game is to beginners of the series. There are many concepts that are rarely used in other more popular games that are not properly articulated through the game that might cause the user will typically become frustrated and decide to stop playing altogether. This review is to shed light on those issues and help you make a decision if you want to devote the hours necessary to get to the heart of what turns out to be a really great game. I just started playing with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate but from what I have been told, this can can be applied to all Monster Hunter games.
Arguably the largest issue is how the combat plays out. Mechanically Monster Hunter is akin to Demon Souls and Dark Souls where completing the players attack animation takes priority over linking to another move. In other actions games like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, and God of War, you can hit your assigned dodge button and break out of your current attack animation at almost any point in time. This allows for a fast and furious gameplay that will teach the player to be aggressive against enemies but to look for shorter and less obvious telegraphed enemy attacks to twitch dodge. In Monster Hunter you do not get that liberal dodge move, which in turn slows down the gameplay. It turns the more common whirlwind of blades and murder into a more calm and calculated approach. The last thing you want to do is to blindly run in and attack the monsters, because that’s what the monsters are doing, and they are quite a bit bigger than you.
Now just because the combat is slowed down does not mean that the game play is less challenging or engaging. Instead you must observe the Monsters patterns and plan your attacks accordingly. The enemies you are fighting are very large and rarely flinch at any attacks you throw at them. If you rush in and flail your weapon around without knowing how long it will take for you to recover from your swing or if you fail to realise that the monster is about to do an area of effect attack that you couldn’t get away from in time, you will end up getting knocked around and dying before you do next to any significant damage to the monster. But just being new you are still going to get knocked around quite a bit and will need to heal during the middle of battle. The game provides plenty of items to help you in your fight, but how you obtain and prepare before the fight needs a little explanation.
This is a loot game through and through and scavenging for materials plays a large role. Gathering materials to forge new weapons and armor is not something most players will be foreign to. Here the game does gain a mmo grind feel when you need to kill a monster repeatedly to farm enough mats to make that new weapon, but in the early levels it’s light enough to keep the game from feeling like a grind until it sinks its teeth in you. That being said, you have to farm for all of your items as well. You can’t buy super potions, you must create them by using the games combining system, from materials scavenged or literally farmed. To overcome the boredom of constantly regathering materials you need for every hunt, you get a farm to grow the main materials you need. Over time your farm will improve which in turn shortens the amount of downtime necessary between monster sessions. It is necessary to get the ball rolling on creating Herbs and Blue Mushrooms early to help the transition to mid-game play. This leads us to another problem which isn’t spelled out to the beginner but is essential to the game.
Preparation makes or breaks a hunt. It doesn't say it but you should have full stacks of Max Potion before you go into a fight. Then you should also have full stacks of Potions and Honey which you combine to make more Max Potions. In addition to that you need to have Whetstones for sharpening your weapon back up and Well Done Steaks to increase your stamina. That’s just the bare minimum you need to bring into every encounter. There are also several items you can use in battle like the Paintball. Throwing a Paintball at an enemy will mark them so that when they run away, you and your teammates can see where they head. All of these items are made by combining materials together, but luckily Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has one of the best combination systems around. At any point in time you can create items and the game provides you with a convenient quick combine system. Once you have found a recipe, you can then order it however you want on through the menu system which when you use it, shortens the time and attention necessary to make another item you need to use. So now you are prepared for the fight. All stocked up and you decided to try one of the smaller and faster weapons to start out with, something you can be more aggressive with and dodge out faster. You are still going to get killed. You are still going to mess up. You are still going to lose.
But here is where the game starts to show itself. Around 4-6 hours you will start to feel good about the game. You will feel like you are able to grasp at enough of the game mechanics to get something done. That’s not to say that you will constantly be crushed under enemies for that amount of time. It’s just that is will not have that special feeling for you yet, but it’s going to come and it’s best shared with friends.
Multiplayer is where the game shines. You and up to 3 friends or strangers online will all hunt the same monster. At first you split up trying to find your target. Shortly you will see a ping on your map indicating that the monster was found, followed shortly by a mark after the monster was paintballed. Rushing in, everyone converges on the monster and starts attacking. Gunners from afar shooting, war hammers attacking from the front, bladed warriors attacking the rear trying to cut off his tail. The battle will be long and difficult. You will drain through your healing potions, someone might faint, you might even lose the monster if the paintball wears off and he runs away after you do enough damage to him, but then it happens. You kill it.
This is the reason why people play the game. This is why you spent all that time gathering materials, and managing your farm, and found these people. This is why you spent 8 hours playing what up to before this point would feel like a mediocre japanese game. The feeling of accomplishment for finally taking down what you feel should never be possible. Whenever you take down a really challenging monster is when you feel the game at it’s best. Now after your first big kill you feel like you know the game. You will be able to take down your next one a little bit easier or feel comfortable to try a more advance weapon. Here the game becomes more consistently entertaining. After the 8 hour mark for me is where I felt it. I was able to play the game and knew enough about it to enjoy it to it’s full potential. From there it only gets harder and it is not your character that levels up, but you the player feel like you now possess the tools and abilities to take whatever the game presents to you. Having that feeling is the power trip you want to feel playing an action game and if you are willing to put in the time and effort, Monster Hunter has it in spades.
If you are to purchase the game the Wii U version is the way to go. The 3DS version only has Wi-fi enabled play so unless 3 other friends are willing to take the dive with you, it is highly recommended to get the console edition.