Struggle and be Rewarded…or Maybe Not
I personally have a lot of love for Monster Hunter. It was my first time playing the series that I used the name ‘Xaliv’ and started using it almost everywhere online since. My love continues on with this installment that includes all new areas, monsters, and weapons to be played with.
As with most Monster Hunter games, you start out as a new hunter. You are set in Val Habar needing to prove yourself to the Hunter’s Guild and Caravaneer. That is the start of the game’s story. The story aspect of the game is in the background for the most part. The story will be the guiding tool for how to expand the world. Val Habar is not the only village to travel to. As quests and tasks are completed, there will be a total of 7 villages. Each has their own layout and style and gives access to different tools.
Only one more thing to discuss before the actual hunts: the weapons. Hit hard but move slower with a Great Sword, or move fast and hit more with lower attack power with the Dual Swords. Be able to shield with the Lance, or rely on dodging with the Hammer. Battle up-close with the Long Sword, or do range attacks with a Bow. You can choose to wield any and all of the weapons including the two new weapon choices in this game: Charge Blade and Insect Glaive. For this game, my focus weapon was the Charge Blade. It combines the best of the Sword and Shield and the Switch Axe. While using it to attack monsters, phials will be charged and filled. And once they are filled, switching to the axe and attacking will unleash a blast and provide further damage to the monsters. Still, I will wield Dual Swords, Long Swords, Switch Axes and more to choose from depending on the monster I’ll be hunting.
The meat of the game is the quests. The quests are labelled with stars and ranking. Lower star numbers are also low rank, which is where everyone starts. The monsters have lower health and attack stats than the High Rank and G Rank versions. As you move up in rank and star levels, there will be a larger variety of monsters. There are some monsters that will not been seen until you reach into the High and G Rank level quests. The newest mechanic of the hunts is the mounting attacks. The hunting areas now allow for climbing higher rather than staying on mostly flat surfaces. These high planes allow for jumping attacks that, when landed, give the ability to mount the monster. You’ll need to hold on when the monster screams or thrashes around, but when they calm, you can hit him with a knife. There will be a bar that, when filled green, will cause the monster to fall, giving you a chance for more free shots. Other options for this mechanic are being vaulted by another hunter, or the Insect Glaive has a launching move that can be utilized.
With each successful hunt, you are awarded materials gained through carving or rewards. The materials are used with the forging and upgrading of weapons and the forging of armor. This is where people might start to turn away from this game. Odds are just one hunt of a monster is not going to give all the items needed. Sometimes it could take up to 20 hunts or more of the same monster to find the required materials. This sort of repetition can be draining. Online hunting can be helpful in these moments, as with a good group, it could go much faster. Bonuses are rewarded if the hunting group involves people you know because it makes it all the more fun when you can hunt with friends.
If looking for more of a challenge, you can find Arena quests that will give you armor, choice of weapon, and items. Besides not having the freedom to bring your own items and weapons, the arenas are a single fight area. In regular hunts, you can back out into a different area to heal and sharpen your weapon. The only break in the arenas is when you are knocked out and are sent back to the base area before jumping back into the fight. Thankfully, in the more difficult and higher level hunts, the KO limit is raised higher than the usual 3.
Material gathering can come down to a game of chance-especially with more rare items. For example, a 2% probability that the next carve will be the last rare item needed to upgrade the weapon is entirely possible. When the item is needed, that 2% can drop down to 0%. This is a frustrating occurrence that I dubbed the ‘Desire Sensor’. Examples of my experiences with this include: hunting with friends and only one person needs the monster’s gem. By the end of the quest, everyone else has gotten a gem over the person who needs it. That situation has happened multiple times in memory. Then offline on my own, I needed a monster’s tail. It could only be gained through cutting off the tail in the quest and carving it. I accomplish the task and carved only to be rewarded with a Gem – a far rarer item than the one I was even aiming for.
As stated previously, the online hunts are one of the quicker and more enjoyable ways to get through repetitive hunts. It can also help with progression in the game. Solo hunts can be more daunting. Hunting online can help in getting further in the game to acquire better armor and weapons. This way when hunting offline, it makes it a little easier and faster. But even offline you will not be entirely alone. Through exploring areas, you will be able to recruit Palico, catlike creatures, who will fight alongside you. The first that you obtain will be customized by you in the beginning of the game after finishing the hunter customization. The Palicos can be helpful in stunning monsters, healing you, placing traps, and more. They are weaker and prone to faint compared to actual hunters, however.
As someone who has played previous games in this series, I knew what I was getting into in terms of the repetition and struggle of getting the materials you need. Those areas can be a turn off, but there is a certain accomplishment to the game; finishing a quest for the first time, defeating a difficult quest solo, creating a new weapon or armor, unlocking a new quest are all personal accomplishments. My biggest personal problem with this installment was the absence of monsters that I loved in previous games. But with 70 monsters new and old, I was able to find new favorites on top of the old ones.
The highlight of the game for me is playing online with friends and even gaining new friends through the game. The host system for online rooms changed, so when the original maker of the room left, the room would not close. Previously, if the host wanted to leave or disconnected, then everyone in the room would be kicked out. It was a hindrance to have to get back online and make a new room. Sometimes this set back would cause me and friends just to decide to end there. With the new system, the host could leave and one of the remaining people would be made the host. This removed the added steps of rebuilding a party and allowed for the actual play to continue. Unfortunately, as the game gets older, jumping in new can be harder if you do not already know people who play. Those who progressed into the G Rank areas are not always as open to helping out strangers in low rank quests. If you haven’t played any of the series before and are curious, I suggest waiting for a new title to release than jumping into an older one.