A reader explains how he became such a fan of Capcom’s co-op classic, and why he’s looking forward to Monster Hunter: World.
Discovering something brilliant that very few people have played is a strange and very rare experience for gamers. For many years a loyal and very dedicated Monster Hunter fanbase has existed in the West, while the majority of Western gamers completely ignore the series. Those that play Monster Hunter know it’s brilliant and very soon, in late January, hopefully millions more will finally see what they have been missing out on.
It is a real shame that for so many, Monster Hunter was overlooked simply because it was on an underpowered handheld or due to its visuals. Recently finding its home on Nintendo systems, Monster Hunter is beyond huge in Japan. A quick scout for merchandise will show you how passionate its extensive fanbase are about the game. If you think Call Of Duty and FIFA are big over here, they have nothing on Monster Hunter.
For those that haven’t experienced Monster Hunter, it was basically doing Destiny style co-operative strikes years before Destiny made it cool. While it can be played solo the real basis of its gameplay is to team up with three other hunters to take on a large boss type monster. The game has its very own rulesets with a quirky humorous sense of style and humour which has only developed with each new version.
The core gameplay loop involves preparing for the hunt with armour and weapons and food buffs, and then during the hunt learning each monster’s unique attacks and tells. And subsequently winning random loot drops which can go towards better armour and weapons.
Striving to find that elusive ‘carve’ that will let you finalise a new amour set can take hours –a bit like the loop to get Gjallahorn in Destiny. Each repeated battle teaches you something new about the monster, until what once seemed like a tough as nails fight to the death becomes a cakewalk.
A criticism of its gameplay is that Capcom have made the move-sets for the various hunting styles (swords, bows, hammers, and staffs as a general rule) very ‘clunky’. Western players approach the game thinking it will play like a 3D Final Fight and are put off by the slow movement to swing swords or tricky aiming mechanics, and the lengthy recovery times if you ‘whiff’ a move. The genius is that it is all very deliberate.
Hunting styles need to be learnt like you learn a character in Street Fighter. Button mashing will not get you anywhere, and the game will punish you for not respecting its rulesets. Even after hundreds of hours new tricks and tactics can be learnt.
With its strong focus on co-operating to take down monsters the community that has grown around the game has in the main been supportive and helpful to newcomers. My own introduction to the series was with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U. During the dark, barren, desolate months after the launch of the Wii U system, Monster Hunter was a revelation and I put over 150 hours into learning and playing, sharing what I had learnt with new players and seeking advice online to improve. It made the chasm between the next AAA release that much more bearable.
The move to 3DS gave portability to the system, but also found a great number of players cheating using power saves which completely removes any sense of accomplishment or character development for the game. Having one member of your hunting party have top level gear would make each hunt last about two minutes, which stripped the game of any challenge or fun. Fingers crossed the move back to the big screen will remove this toxic element of the community.
I love Monster Hunter so much I downloaded the Japanese version on the Switch. Having a strong familiarity with the menu systems meant I could navigate the Japanese text and it’s keep me playing while Monster Hunter: World waits in the wings.
With Monster Hunter: World Capcom are making a bid to woo the Western player. I really hope that it can find an audience on the bigger systems. The fancy graphics may lure you in but the brilliant gameplay has been refined over years of earlier titles. Now is a great time to have a new obsession.
By reader Bristolpete
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.