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Published on January 18th, 2014 | by Ricardo

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Sound the Hunting Horn! It’s (finally) time to hunt.

Nobody said it was easy to slay titans.

Through multiple console and handheld generations, through many installments, the Monster Hunter series has been a franchise that we Western gamers have had a hard time wrapping our heads around. After so long, it seems the series will just never truly take off as a mainstream hit.

And yet it seems like it should be! The basic concept of Monster Hunter (a very attractive one, by the way) is explained in its title; you play as a hunter of monsters, taking bounties on beasts and hunting said beasts through multi-staged levels. Upon victory, you’ll harvest the monsters’ parts and use them to create better weapons and armor for your hunter so you can take down even bigger monsters.

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That’s it. Lather, rinse, repeat. No big sweeping story. No hearty motivation. There is only the hunt.

But much like an eager novice hunter going after their first Rathian, most players seem to be enthusiastic enough to take a crack at the series. However, after underestimating the task ahead of them and taking their first flailing swings at the monstrosity (resulting in disaster), most abandon the Monster Hunter life.

In fact, even I previously tried to break into this Capcom stalwart. Back when I still had a PSP, I picked up Monster Hunter Freedom Unite when it was released. After only a few hours of fumbling with concepts like gathering and combining materials to make the most basic items and getting my ass handed to me by rampaging wyverns, I threw in the towel.

Monster Hunter broke me, and it was another four years before I ventured back into the wilds.

That was before Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. That was then and this is now.

Now, there is no need for me, or you, to hunt alone. The path to victory has been paved with the blood and sweat of the hunters before us. Their noble sacrifice is our gain, and Monster Hunter is no longer the insurmountable leviathan it once was. The time for all to join the hunt is nigh.

That doesn’t mean you should go in empty-handed, though and while I won’t make this a traditional review, I’ll say you should definitely play Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate if you’re willing to swallow some pride and do the following.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A guide- most people will probably balk at this first requirement, but having someone (or something) guide you through the preliminary awkward  phase of learning Monster Hunter. Ultimate does a better job than most past installments of teaching you core concepts and putting you in a good position to learn the game, but you’re going to need a lot more help than the game’s willing to give up to actually start off on the right foot. Get a strategy book, find a credible YouTuber or find a friend to get you through your first big hunts and you’ll be a happier hunter for it.

  • Patience- another forgotten piece of gaming behavior, this is tied to the first requirement. Monster Hunter’s mechanics often seek to put you in the role of the titular profession, and this includes all the somewhat menial things as well. Yes you will shove your Great Sword into the faces of 50-foot goliaths, but you’ll also need to empty out that pack after every hunt so you can have room to carry more loot. Yes you will track flying battleships across rivers and mountains while staving off hunger, but you’ll also need to make sure those steaks you packed for the journey are perfectly cooked or watch your stamina plummet. It certainly helps the role-playing elements of the game and the challenge, but dang it if it isn’t infuriating the first time you improperly manage you forge a set of armor you can’t use because of false information or fail to create an item on random chance, it’s a bit infuriating.

  • A sense of wonder- this one’s a bit more abstract than the others, but Monster Hunter really thrives on a childish thirst for adventure. Like other games centered around big boss fights, half the fun is just seeing what you’re going to be fighting next. Here, that giddiness is exponentially increased because you won’t just be FIGHTING these bosses, you’ll be wearing them! That sounds… kinda bad, but trust me that the more you’re willing to give into the ridiculous, the absurd and often just plain silly themes of Monster Hunter, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Through this, I’ve come to the conclusion that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a fantastically underappreciated game and one that seems to be opening many’s eyes (including my own) to what a fun and rewarding series this can be.

I think you will too. Hence, let this be a call to action and a word of warning at the same time. This franchise deserves attention and is finally getting it, but I can’t recommend it with just a number. Those looking to undertake the challenge of Monster Hunter need to realize it is going to be just that; a challenge.

Nobody said it was easy to slay titans, but if you take the necessary precautions, it can be done. More than that, it can be a whole lot of fun.

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About the Author

Ricardo Ricardo likes video games, tweeting and wrestling.



One Response to Sound the Hunting Horn! It’s (finally) time to hunt.

  1. Bryan says:

    My brother owns Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and while he really enjoys it, I can’t get behind it whatsoever. For me, there are two major things that kill the game: lack of depth and clunky movement. Fighting monsters seems to be nothing more than swinging a weapon, rolling out of an attack, and swinging again endlessly until the monster goes down, which can take anywhere from a minute in the case of a Great Jaggy or half an hour in the case of the Ceadeus. While initially, it feels satisfying to take down the Giganox for the first time, after a bit of reflection one realizes that all they were doing was slashing, rolling, slashing, rolling… and it doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment after that. If anything, the greatest feeling of accomplishment to be found after downing a Crimson Qurupeco doesn’t come from killing the monster, but from the fact that one was able to best the game’s clunky movement. While it’s realistic that characters wearing heavy armor or carrying heavy weapons should move slower to compensate, it just doesn’t feel good. The game is certainly beautiful, and the crafting system is pretty cool, but I think Western gamers for the most part just like to see more depth when it comes to combat in hack-and-slashers.

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