Not everyone is a hunter. For some, it’s an endless grind. I can tell you right now that you will either like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate or hate it straight from the start. Some will grow bored of hunting monsters for materials to craft better equipment to hunt harder monsters, but for for some this system of advancement will lead to plenty of memorable moments.
HD or on the go, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is available on both the Nintendo Wii U and on the Nintendo 3DS. Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages. While the Wii U version is considered the “HD” version, it only comes off as a decent upscale on the big screen, with some blurry and blocky textures. With the advantage of having two analogs, playing with the Wii U game pad or the controller pro is a lot more comfortable than playing long hours on the cramped single analog 3DS.
Oddly enough, purchasing the Wii U version does not come with a free copy of the 3DS version. Nintendo seems to be falling behind Sony and their PlayStation 3/Vita crossbuy promotions, especially because the 3DS and Wii U versions are cross compatible.
Nevertheless, both versions does make wonderful use out of the heavily customizable second screen. Playing around with all my information such as my health, stamina and items on the bottom adds an extra layer of customization. With this extra screen, the first screen clears up for all the monster huntin’ action. However, looking away from the screen in the heat of battle can sometimes prove to be detrimental.
For the uninitiated, what makes the Monster Hunter series different from other action RPGs is that there is no such thing as “leveling up your character.” Strength and defense lies in your weapon and armor choices–and there’s hundreds to choose from, ranging from the slow yet powerful great sword to the fast and evasive dual blades. There are 13 weapon types to choose from, and believe me when I say you’re going to have a rough time until you find the weapon type that’s right for you.
As a series staple, the armors come in all kinds of flavors, and most of them are based on the monster you have to kill to forge them. While armors are mainly defined by their physical and elemental defenses, they also come with various skills. These skills can make a weaker armor more valuable than a stronger one. For example, I could make an armor that purely had a strong defense and featured a defense up skill, or I could choose another armor set that has a lower defense, but has the wide-range skill, which makes my potions heal my fellow hunters.
Speaking of hunting with friends, the original Monster Hunter Tri’s multiplayer city Loc Lac has been replaced with port Tanzia. Loc Lac, which was created with online play in mind, was a city that was full of life, complete with various stores that underwent constantly changing stocks, a day and night cycle and fun limited time events, such as a sandstorm that represented the appearance of the gargantuan Jhen Mohran. Port Tanzia on the other hand never changes and offers little in terms of content and collectibles. I found this switch very unfortunate, as I truly enjoyed the variables that Loc Lac had. Even so, the constants of Port Tanzia is more in line with how local play worked in previous Monster Hunter games.
As always, it’s far more fun to hunt together than alone. While the quest progression in single player remains mostly unchanged, with a few quests shifted around to make way for a few new monsters, the multiplayer quest progression has been completely overhauled. Multiplayer quests have been given a turbo boost in progression, where a difficult quest in single player is given to you straight from the beginning in multiplayer. I found this a rather odd thing for Capcom to do, due to the fact that starting newcomers off with something far too challenging may prove to scare them away.
Hunter rank, which represents your multiplayer rank and progression, has returned to a more classic ranking system, which relies on completing specific quests to get a quest to rank up instead of the point collection as seen in Monster Hunter Tri. I did enjoy the points collection as it ended up in more occasional rank ups, and I felt a lot more accomplished.
Except for the odd multiplayer quest progression, I would recommend Ultimate for entry level hunters as it is the most accessible game in the series thus far while still catering to the veteran hunters.
Again, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking to get into Monster Hunter, this iteration is by far the most accessible in terms of difficulty. If you do end up loving the endless grind and adventure, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will offer hundreds of hours of beast-slaying fun.