First Impressions: Monster Hunter 3 U

Kaushik here, back with entirely too much time on a game I recently purchased. This time, it’s Monster Hunter 3 U for the 3DS and Wii U. I’ll be talking about the 3DS version specifically, here. So it’s the ever-popular Monster Hunter series, making a big splash stateside with the simultaneous Wii U and 3DS release of an updated Wii game, Monster Hunter Tri. Now, my level of experience with this series is actually close to 0 prior to this game, so I’ll try to offer a fresh and fair opinion.

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What is Monster Hunter, then? If I told you it was just a series of 20-40 minute boss fights, and that’s it, would you be interested? Of course, that’s a gross oversimplification, but at its core that is what Monster Hunter is! You’re a hunter, and you hunt monsters. There’s very little by way of plot, and the game is sold entirely on its gameplay. Thankfully, of course, the gameplay is beyond addictive. As for how it plays, it’s an action game with a variety of weapons and items to use at your disposal, as you either catch or hunt every monster out there.  There’s a ton of different options and choices to play the game nearly however you want, and it’s a boatload of fun.

But that’s not all, what Monster Hunter really prides itself on is the social aspect of its gameplay. In that respect, this new game only disappoints slightly. A lot of the tougher hunts are much much easier if you fight with other people, and the 3DS version of the game gives you a lot of options for that. Of course, there’s the local play you can do with another friend and their 3DS copy of the game, which I’ve done a lot of. Additionally, there’s a feature called “cross-play” which allows you to seamlessly connect and play with someone that uses the Wii-U version of the game. It’s a great feature and a ton of fun. There is no innate online play on the 3DS version, however using an attachment and a Wii U it was announced there was a way to take Monster Hunter 3DS online. Unfortunately, this sounds so clunky it’s nigh-useless. If you had a Wii U, why would you want to play the 3DS version online when you could just play the Wii U version, which has innate online play?

A look at the standard gameplay screen

A look at the standard gameplay screen

So for the most part, the 3DS version is mostly focused on local hunting parties. Since the game is focused so much on playing with other people, the online hunts are actually quite difficult (but still possible, which is a nice touch) for the solo player. The ability to coordinate and plan with your teammates is a valuable ability and leads to an extraordinarily fun time. Personally, I have a hunting group of 3 other members (the maximum possible), with 3 3DS players and one Wii U player. Because of the level of coordination we can apply, we’re able to tackle really strong hunts even though individually we couldn’t hunt the monsters.

As an action game, Monster Hunter 3 U is a bit of an odd bird. For one, there’s no real lock-on feature, which has been standard in the Monster Hunter series for quite some time. 3U has changed things up somewhat by adding an optional “target lock” feature. This isn’t a true lock-on feature, though, instead if simply centers the camera upon the large monster you’ve selected. However, this only works for large monsters, so you can’t focus on any smalls. That’s not a huge issue since really the only dangerous creatures are the large monsters. Still, it’s a far cry from a true lock-on feature and I hope one will be implemented by the release of Monster Hunter 4.

One of my favorite monsters, the Barioth

One of my favorite monsters, the Barioth

Another major difference Monster Hunter has from most action games is the lack of enemy health bars. Unlike the lack of a lock-on, this isn’t a poor mechanical choice. It’s actually quite an interesting one. It requires the hunter to really examine the monster as you’re damaging it. Since the only way to capture monsters is to reduce them to a low-health “limping” status, it’s important for a capturing hunter to pay close attention to monsters to realize when is the best moment to attempt a capture. Moreover, monsters in Monster Hunter have a variety of weaknesses and resistances and a huge number of body parts that have varying resistances or can be chopped off entirely. While of course it would be nice to have a health bar on screen, there’s honestly so much more at play here than your regular action game it’s just too much to keep on the screen at once.

A large part of what makes Monster Hunter a great game is the variety of interesting and awesome monster designs. While 3 U is a port of Tri, it offers a lot of new content, including several new unique monsters, and quite a few new variations of older monsters. Every monster in Monster Hunter is a tough beast that fights quite different from every other monster. They have incredibly cool and varied designs, and it really makes each new fight a unique and fun experience.

The Duramboros, a crazy kind of bull or ankylosaurus or something.

The Duramboros, a crazy kind of bull or ankylosaurus or something.

As far as the 3DS version of the game is concerned, it loses very little over the Wii U version (I’m not sure if that says something bad about the Wii U or good about the 3DS), probably to keep cross-play as seamless as it is. The touch screen on the 3DS is utilized wonderfully here, though I wish there were a bit more space. Essentially, you can put all the things that are useful to you specifically and arrange them on the bottom screen for quick access. Since I play a gunner character, I have my character’s status, the map, my gunner’s pouch, target lock, and a quick item select on my touch screen. It really streamlines gameplay and allows you to focus on the enemy monster much more easily. You can even register different panel sets, if you change them around depending on what weapon you play (useful since the gunner pouch panel is worthless to a blademaster player). All-in-all, you’re given a high degree of customizability which is really nice.

The Lagiacrus, one of the more iconic monsters. As you can see from the 3 images, monster design in this game is quite unique and varied.

The Lagiacrus, one of the more iconic monsters. As you can see from the 3 images, monster design in this game is quite unique and varied.

I haven’t finished the game (heck, I’ve only gotten to HR 3 in online hunts), but with an adequate party this game is boatloads of fun. I don’t think this is the type of game that would be as fun as a solo player, since a lot of enjoyment comes from having a great hunting party, though the solo play is interesting too sometimes. I’ve sunk over fifty hours into the game since I bought the game five days ago, and I expect many more in the future. As my first taste of the Monster Hunter series, this was great. I’m a big fan now!

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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