Published on March 27th, 2013 | by Christian4
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – The Deep End
I was going to do a little write up / guide for Genkai Totsuki Monster Monpiece this week, but I got totally derailed by a Wii U game. That’s right, a Wii U game! Who would have thunk it? Seriously, I pretty much bought this entire piece of hardware for 2 games. One of them is Bayonetta 2, which we’ve seen very little of so far and has no release date. The other was the game that took up a not insignificant portion of my free time since its release last week, has cut into my sleep, and has got me scouring the web looking for more info on how to play it properly because that’s the kind of game it is. I’m talking about Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.
I’m currently in sort of the honey moon phase with this title. Everything about it seems new and interesting, it’s quite nice to look at, and I’m spending all my free time with it. If I had to put my finger on the one thing that really draws me into MH3U though, it would be that the game is almost maddeningly dense, and that its density is further compounded by the fact that it gives almost no instruction as to how to play it correctly. This sounds bad, but actually, it’s great.
I love it when a game just dumps me into its world and says, “go explore!” Gamers are for the most part pretty smart, and even the ones that aren’t very bright are at least obsessive about dissecting the mechanical nuance of whatever they’re playing. We want to figure these things out because it’s satisfying. Games should challenge us more. Instead of giving us a hammer and saying, “go hit the nail,” they should just be telling us “here’s a hammer, good luck with that.” On one end of the spectrum there’s Final Fantasy XIII which slow-rolls the player with tutorials for (no joke) the first 20 hours of the game, and on the other end there’s MH3U which at times makes vague allusions as to what the player ought to be doing.
From what I’ve gathered with my week with it, MH3U is basically an animation-priority focused boss-battle game with an insanely elaborate crafting system. Unlike a lot of other action games, your character has a lot of weight and heft. When they commit to an action, they follow through with it, so it’s necessary to be very deliberate when fighting the game’s titular monsters (more on that later). The way the character handles reminds me a bit of Dark Souls, except that in general the game is a lot more forgiving (i.e. I haven’t been one-hit killed by anything yet) and the weapons are a lot more idiosyncratic in the way they handle.
If it were more of an RPG, character classes in MH3U would be dictated by weapon choice. I’ve spent about 13 hours playing just with long swords so far, and it has taken me almost that entire time to get a good feel for the weapon’s move set. There are 8 other melee weapons I haven’t really used and another 3 ranged weapons to still screw around with. From what I’ve heard there’s no best weapon either, so it’s not going to be as simple as just picking the strongest one and sticking with it through the rest of the game. Each weapon has a variety of attributes that make it more or less suitable for taking on certain monsters. In addition, there are dozens of individual weapons in each category, so not while I have a decent early long sword, it may not always be the best long sword or even the best weapon type for a particular monster I’m planning on hunting.
The crafting system in MH3U is absolutely heinous. Players can craft every type of item right out of the gate assuming the materials for it are on hand, and there are literally hundreds of craftable items, armor, and weapons. I’ve spent a lot of time just roaming around the game’s areas collecting varioius plants, bugs, mushrooms, ore and monster parts. It’s kind of a relaxing counterpoint to the game’s main event, the actual monster fights.
So, how’s the actual monster hunting? It’s completely awesome. I’ve fought 5 of the game’s 51 monsters so far, and each one of them has been a completely unique experience. Each monster has its own behaviors, attack patterns, strengths and weaknesses that I’ve had to learn by fighting them. Watching them carefully during the fight has been as important as the fighting itself. Learning the arc that a Barroth’s tail is going to take when trying to capitalize on a missed charge was extremely satisfying. Likewise, when fighting the Great Jaggi, I had to learn to not get over anxious to swing after dodging his first spinning tail swipe, because he follows it up with a quick second one in the revere direction.
This kind of boss design continues the theme of how MH3U communicates to players. There’s no glowing red area on the monster that tells me where to hit it, the same way there’s no indication as to what each item component does when I first pick it up. It’s only through experimentation, just mashing things together, that I’ve begun to learn how to play the game. Even going the other route and searching online for tips has been rewarding in a way. The sense of discovery is still there because often there is no one single correct answer. All I can do is give it my best shot, and if that doesn’t work, try a different weapon, strategy, items, or bringing a few friends along for the fight in multi-player. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of any of those things in MH3U.