I may not have mentioned it here, but I played Monster Hunter Tri on Wii off and on for a little over 100 hours. I’d been planning on buying a Wii U eventually in any case, since Monolith announced “X” and Xenoblade was among my favorite console games this generation. When MH3 Ultimate was announced, I knew I was going to buy the console earlier than expected.
MH3 Ultimate is a sort of a reboot / remake of MH Tri. The early-game has been groomed and reworked so that it is much easier to get going, with many redundant or silly quests removed and some starting equipment provided at the start. “High-rank” quests, or quests with variants of monsters and more difficult move-sets, have been added to single-player. Further, there are now two companions that can join you in SP (rather than just one in the original). Some armor stats have been shuffled around to mix things up for veteran Tri players.
The appeal of Monster Hunter is more about the learning process and player execution than about pure action. Mistakes can be made, or random elements can cause substantial pain to a hunter, but at no point is the pure reflex of, say, Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden required. Preparedness is key, and in multiplayer it is essential to cooperate to some degree with your compatriots – while all four hunters could use a hammer, and it might even be appropriate for some battles, it’s much better to have a variety of equipment and to have each hunter focus on something separate, while all keep an eye out for certain situations anyone can handle.
To touch on the depth of the game slightly – the third large monster you fight is called the Quropeco. It’s a giant bird-thing with flints on its wings that it can use to set fire to you. It can heal itself and call other monsters using its horn/beak — including a Rathian, which is a major threat to any hunter at that point in the game. There are several things to keep in mind when fighting a Quropeco:
- When it is about to use its horn, its pouch will fill up and it will dance around. If you hit its pouch or throw a sonic bomb, it will fail and stumble for several seconds.
- Its wings are more durable than other parts of its body. Depending on your weapon, it is most likely best to hit its face or rear.
- If you can hit its wings, you can break the Quropeco’s flints. This yields additional quest rewards.
- With sufficient focus, you can also break its beak.
- When Quropeco gets tired, it will often fly to a nest at the peak of the area and go to sleep. With a charging weapon, it’s easy to give it a rude awakening.
- If Quropeco calls another monster, you can use a dung bomb to convince it to leave. If it calls a brown drake, dung bomb and get out.
- If it changes up the rhythm with which it knocks its flints together, that means it’s about to hit three times instead of two.
- While it’s flying, you can hit it for a bunch of damage or blind it using a flash bomb to bring it back down to the ground.
This might sound intimidating, but there are many patterns between monsters that make things easier, and much of the game early on will be learning small tricks – how to use bombs, how to trap monsters, what moves are most effective when hitting certain body parts, and so on. Once that is learned, you can at least be a productive member of a team online, and the online community for MH3 Ultimate has been pretty good in my brief experience.
Just as important as the learning process is the payoff. The best way I can put it is that playing Monster Hunter online in a well-oiled team is the closest thing to having a great team for a sport or a project at work. MH3 may well be the best multi-player game I’ve played simply because it encourages and rewards the proper kinds of coordination – breaking off parts of a monster, using a flash bomb or a trap at exactly the right moment, dung-bombing a monster that has another player pinned, and so on are reminiscent of games like Left 4 Dead, but don’t feel quite as contrived. At the same time, it feels almost like a personal sort of growth takes place as well. You as a player are consistently improving for at least the first 40+ hours, whether it’s in terms of game mechanics or in terms of game statistics. Much like Dark Souls, half of the ‘leveling’ is done by the player and subsequent play-throughs are much quicker and done with more confidence.
While I can’t recommend this game for some, as they don’t have the kind of time to sink into this game (the first 5+ hours aren’t especially rewarding), if you do have that time I would recommend giving it a try for sure. MH3U is also on 3DS, although on that system it only has local multi-player which makes the experience considerably less engaging.