This is a returning veterans take on MH4U for the 3DS. For a more traditional review and a look at the game through new eyes, check out Mario Duchamp’s article here.
The sun hangs low in the sky over a tranquil plain. The buzz of bees and the smell of herbs and flowers permeates the scene. Nearby, a group of Aptonath graze lazily on the local foliage, offering half-hearted honks as they gaze in our direction. Murraykins, my palico companion, caterwauls back at the beasts, and we return our focus to the fishing that has dominated our afternoon.
It is good to be home.
As a long-standing resident of Pokke Village, it has been a delight to return to a setting I am familiar with, even as the landscape has changed. The faces and players might have evolved, but the world still evokes those same familiar feelings of camaraderie, challenge, and accomplishment.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is easily the best entry in the longstanding IP from industry icon Capcom. While the series has experienced great success on its native shores in the Far East, the series has had far more trouble finding footing on Western shores. MH4U thankfully addresses some of the woes that have lead to this situation.
Alright, lets discuss some pressing structural updates. One of the biggest items in MH4U is the addition of easy, approachable online play. I cannot stress how beneficial this change is to the series as it applies to Western adoption and penetration rates for the title. The Monster Hunter series has always been better with friends. In Japan, it is fairly easy to find partners to hunt with, just walking down the streets. Local play is alive and kicking in their gaming society. Stateside, you were often lucky to find other players in your zip code. MH4U eliminates this by allowing easy online play. Setup an online gathering hall, text your mates, and soon enough your hunting party will be ready.
MH4U is also sporting the largest variety of weapons in an American deployed MH title to date. Returning classics like the Sword and Shield and Hammer rub elbows with rotational champions such as the Gunlance and Switchaxe, and the series also welcomes the promising freshman weapon class of Insect Glaives to the mix as well. This almost guarantees that your favorite weapon has returned, and allows for massive variety and strategies.
New monsters have also debuted, including the Seltas, a bug-like class of boss monster, the Lagombi, a lightning-fast Bear/Rabbit chimera, and the Gore Magala, a dark, blight ridden dragon, to name just a few. Compared to previous monster hunter titles, the types and variety of monsters is refreshing. This applies to not only the bosses, but also to the smaller monsters as well. The series also welcomes back staple beasts such as the Velocidrome/Gendrome/Iodrome, the Rathian/Rathalos, and my personal nemesis, the Yian Kutku.
Now then, on to some domestics. Pre-hunt feasts are back, and much improved from the last time I was lucky enough to partake. Street Chef, the plucky palico preparer of fine felyne foodstuffs, will fill your hunter to the brim with good eats before any hunt. Gone are the days when a bad food combination would actually hinder your performance; all combinations of ingredients provide some benefit. Ingredients can be leveled up by accomplishing hunts for villagers in single player, adding another system to grind for. Prepared foods can add a number of bonuses, from straight def/atk bonuses, to adding skills for you or your palico companion.
Speaking of Palicos, the crazy cats return once again in the series, and their role has never been greater! For solo of duo questing, Hunters are now able to bring their feline friends on hunts with them, to taunt away enemies, heal your fallen, and even collect resources, a la MHFU. Players can also dispatch the “Meownster Hunters,” a group of palicos who hunt monsters on their own! They are also able to equip gear (crafted by you) to assist them in their myriad endeavors.
Farming is gone from Monster hunter, substituted instead with a more mercantile pursuit. Replacing our pastoral pastime instead is material multiplication via the Wycoon’s trade network. The Wycoon, an old wyverian merchant, will allow you to multiply certain types of items you already have, allowing your future hunts to focus more on combat that resource gathering. While I do miss my farm, the Wycoon makes things much, much easier and timely.
Right-o, lets talk combat mechanics. Almost done here, hunters, bear with me. Each an every weapon type has multiple items that really help define them. For instance, the heavy bowgun is now able to be “deployed,” allowing for 30 consecutive shots without reloading, but removing the hunters ability to move until you pack up your massive gun. The Insect Glaive, comparatively, allows you to buff yourself by draining a monster with your bug weapon, and also allows you to performing a pole-vaulting maneuver, propelling the hunter skyward for aerial attacks and assisting in mounting monsters.
Yes. You heard that right. Most boss monsters can now be mounted during aerial attacks. Basically, any aerial attack for any weapon class (even ranged weapons!) can generate a mount. Once mounted, the rodeo-ing hunter plays a mini game, alternating between stabbing the monster in question and holding on for dear life. If you do enough damage in this mode, you will knock down your foe, allowing you and your hunting party many free hits before it rights itself.
Hooboy. Did you get all that? I know, its a lot to take in. Here is a well done steak to reward you for you persistence. Enjoy it, you’ll need the stamina for this game. With almost 200 hours in, I feel I have simply scratched the surface here. I invite you to gear up, find friends, and dispatch deadly creatures. I hope to see you in my next gathering hall.
Resources for new hunters
Gaijin Hunter videos – The Gaijin Hunter gives an in depth analysis on each and every weapon class in the game, each with its own video that illustrates every combo and many strategies. I review these almost weekly; they are that good.
Kiranico database – A minimalist Monster Hunter database with information on materials, quests, weapons, and armor. Includes some basic armor speculating that will allow you to decide what your next conquest should be. A good starting point to begin culling hunter data.
r/monsterhunter – The front page of the internet has their own crew of happy helpful hunters. This subreddit contains everything from art to strategy, commiserating about walls to pure fluff (and probably an angry rant or two). Good resource for those already on the reddit bandwagon.
Athena’s ASS – Contrary to how it sounds, Athena’s Armor Set Search is actually a very useful tool for helping design your next gear set. The software allows you search by a multitude of filters and criteria. I’d be fe-lying if I said I didn’t like the cheeky name (ok I’m done, promise).