Exploring extravagant landscapes, encountering large exotic beasts and crafting awesome looking weapons and armor; such is the addictive tradition of the successful Monster Hunter series. Having got a demo code for the next entry, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, we seized the opportunity to check it out and see what new features and content that await us.
When you start the demo you are given the choice to play in two modes, either beginner or Advanced. Beginner is suited for those uninitiated to the series, making your hunter more resilient, recommending what weapons to select for quests, and features in-game markers to help you navigate the in-game worlds easier. Advanced on the other hand obviously takes away a majority of the hand-holding, which more closely resembles the traditional gameplay of the series.
Although even on Beginner, newcomers may find Monster Hunter 4U’s gameplay a lot to take in. The concept of exploring areas and hunting a monster may be simple in theory, but Monster Hunter has a lot of intricacies to its gameplay, which gives it a pretty steep learning curve. There are many dynamics that come into play during a hunt, such as the environment, your stamina bar which is always important to watch as it effects your actions during combat, and the way the how monsters behave, which is necessary to observe as it’s the only sure way to determine their state and condition.
There are a total of 2 hunt quests to choose from in beginner mode, with 1 additional one available for advanced. The first hunt quest is the Great Jaggi, which is a highly familiar raptor-like creature from the series. The second is the Tetsucabra, which appears as a giant lizard-like creature with tusks. Then the last one is the challenging Gore Magala, which initially looks like a black wyvern but hides a more grotesque appearance akin to a bat.
There are two unique areas to explore in the demo, and as expected from the series they boast lush and expansive environments, filled with a variety of exotic fauna and striking vistas. Once again the areas are divided into separate, self-contained sections, but few of them look the same, and rarely will you find one that is flat and plain-looking, especially with the game’s more emphasized use of lighting this time around.
The 3D effects are more impressive than ever too, especially during the cut-scenes when you first encounter the monster in your hunt, with the use of dramatic camera angles and the use of lighting, the visuals really pack a punch. It runs incredibly smooth too, in even in the thick of action.
All the weapons from Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate are available to use on quests, along with 2 new weapons, the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. The Insect Glaive is a particularly interesting weapon, including a helper which you can direct to attack monsters, and can potentially give you buffs when an attack is made successfully, which can give either increased damage, defense or even speed. The other weapon is the Charge Blade, which initially performs as a typical sword and shield weapon, but gains charge with each successful strike, allowing you to then transform it into an axe weapon that can unleash special elemental attacks.
If playing in single-player mode, you are given feline helpers to assist you, which are somewhat handy. They definitely help provide a means of distraction and sometimes perform useful actions such as laying down traps. But it still pales in comparison to playing with other human players, which you can do locally, or through the internet. That’s right, Monster Hunter 4U now supports online multiplayer, a feature that was grossly missing in the last iteration.
There is only one major gripe with the demo, unlike other Demos like Pokémon: Omega Ruby and Sapphire, or Bravely Default, there isn’t any bonuses or rewards you earn that carries over to the full game, even if you complete all of its content. It would have been nice to be rewarded something, especially for a game that is all about earning loot.
Regardless, the demo of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate successfully left us wanting more, giving us a taste of what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated games set to be released this February!