Gameplay is engaging and at time challenging.
All weapons feel different from eachother.
Art style of weapons and armors are unique.
Atmosphere is very engaging, makes you feel like you are hunting monsters.
Multiplayer makes hunting more enjoyable, gives you the sense of other hunters in the world.
Storyline is forgettable.
NPCs are mostly forgettable too.
VERY grind heavy.
I will start this off with saying this was almost my first Monster Hunter game. And I say that in the sense that I actually owned Monster Hunter Freedom Unite however I just could not get myself that into it. Hours later I can tell you that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a breath of fresh air in an genre that tastes stale.
Possibly the most shining feature of this game is its gameplay. With the traditional RPG you have a party of characters that you will be leveling to make them strong enough to carry themselves through the next 60 hours of story to the final boss. In Monster Hunter there is only a “main character”, and there is no supporting party for them. You play as a hunter among other hunters in the world. And possibly the biggest and best part, there are no levels, instead as a player you adapt and get better at using your weapon and the environment to hunt down the numerous monsters you will come across.
A green hunter will find themselves swinging and shooting their weapons haphazardly, maybe only hitting the monster once or twice in a combo. Then as you continue to play you will find yourself mastering the tool you choose to use to hunt down the vicious monsters you will encounter. A basic version of each weapon is supplied to you at the start of the game and it encourages you to test out the different weapons with tutorials on each of them. Each weapon has a distinct feel, all with different combos and different unique abilities attached to them. I found myself using the Charge Blade, a weapon that starts as a sword and shield, you attack your enemies to fill up 5 phials with which you charge your blade with. Then you turn your sword and shield into a Two-Handed Axe and unleash the elemental powers of the phials onto the monster.
There are over 90 different monsters that you will hunt, most of which are large vicious monsters that will kill you if you are unprepared. These vary from dinosaurs to massive wyverns that can give even the most seasoned hunter a hard time. With each of these monsters you will carve them, removing parts of them to be used to make more powerful weapons and armor with the end result, hunting more powerful monsters. All of the monsters feel menacing when you fight them, each of them are unique as well. They have different attacks and ways of taking you out, making it feel like you are really hunting the monster, studying its body movements for its attacks and the habitats it stays in. You will chase them down as they grow weaker, changing the environment and sometimes changing the way you fight them entirely.
The most tedious part of the game. In order to take on stronger monsters you will need to make sure you are properly prepared for the hunt. You wander about the world collecting herbs, ore, and numerous other different monster parts to craft items. This however is where the game slows down. You will find yourself killing the same large monsters over and over to grind out the parts required to make that one last piece of armor for your set. This is something that will follow you throughout the game. While there is a sense of accomplishment when you finally upgrade your weapon or armor it will only be replaced with the grind for the next best thing.
As to be expected in this day and age, the cutscenes are gorgeous even for handheld standards. In-game the graphics are alright. Not the best hand held graphics by any means, you can tell that there is a sever lack of Anti-Aliasing as jagged edges follow you where ever you go. That being said the environments are colorful and feature very good looking sky boxes and it still does a great job of providing a great atmosphere for the game. The monsters you fight also share this grandeur, being very colorful and properly proportional to the world around them. The character models look good, and the armor and weapons you will create are very diverse having distinct styles and looks based from the monsters required to create them, even differentiating between male and female characters. Animations are very solid aside from mounting. Mounting looks funky no matter what it seems, this is mostly because you will knock down the creature hit the ground, then a short cutscene follows and then you find yourself atop the monster right side up. I think most of the limitations on how the game looks is due to it’s platform. I’m sure if this were on PC (Cough, Monster Hunter Frontier, Cough) or console, it could look much better.
Sound and Music
Admittedly I mostly play with the sound off, just a habit I have always had with handheld consoles. Most of the time it’s just you, the monsters you hunt, and the ambient noise around you. All sounds feel appropriate most of the time, however the sounds it makes when you hit different enemies can sound odd at times. The music however fits right in. When you are fighting the large monsters, walking around town, and exploring different songs play. Some monsters share themes however this is not very common. It may be nothing compelling, but some of the themes are very cool and if you are like me, may make you turn the sound on every now and then during a fight with a large monster just to add to the thrill of the hunt.
Songs and themes can be listened to here
Oh boy, here we go, so the story in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is honestly completely forgettable. You will find yourself enjoying the multiplayer and forgetting to do it entirely sometimes. In fact the only reason I find myself playing alone is to ensure I can create better armor as it is unlocked as you fight monsters in the single player. Otherwise I feel this game is a lot like Minecraft in the sense, it really doesn’t need to have a story. I would be and am completely content with just running around hunting large monsters and enjoying the environments you play in. The thick of this game is the gameplay, not the story. So if you were hoping for something compelling or thought provoking, it wont be here.
All images used in this article I obtained through the Monster Hunter Wikia and are screenshots of ingame or specific character models found in the following articles; Main MH4U, MH4U Monster Renders, MH4U Armor Set Renders, And in in-game screenshot from user Dracosaurian.
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