Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an action adventure game published by Capcom and developed by their in-house Capcom Production Studio 1, with Eighting developing the 3DS version. It is an improvement of the Wii version; Monster Hunter Tri and features additional content with the loss of standard online play. The game earns its title by letting you hunt monsters of all shapes and sizes, pitting you against ever more difficult foes that you may end up wear pieces of.
It’s probably worth noting that the game isn’t something that demos particularly well. There is a two level demo on the e-shop that pits you against two of the larger monsters but because of how the game plays and how the learning curve is quite steep it won’t give the best impressions to many. Playing the demo might leave you with the impression that the larger creatures are nigh on invulnerable but they are far from it once you get the knack for hunting them. If you do play the demo take it with a pinch of salt as it will really only give you a glimpse at how the game operates.
The game sees you taking the role of a hunter that has just arrived by ship at Moga Village, a small built up area with a port, which has taken a bit of a beating in recent times due to an earthquake and various rampaging monsters. Their chief problem is the local sea dwelling Lagiacrus, an aquatic Leviathan that’s disrupting their fishing vessels. After completing a few initial quests that get you started on the basic principles of combat and the game, you’ll find yourself having to go out and take on all sorts of quests, building up your armoury and improving the local facilities.
Your approach to Monster Hunter should vary greatly as to begin with there is no optimum weaponry, all are able to take care of the beginning foes with ease as you are maybe lulled into a slightly false sense of security. Smaller creatures take few hits to kill and you’ll soon be scrounging what you can from their corpses as you work your way through the starter quests. When you hit your first boss it will likely feel almost impossible, the Great Jaggi eclipses previously seen monsters in terms of damage, health and aggressiveness.
Challenging is one way of describing the game, unforgiving is not completely incorrect either. Monster Hunter is definitely a game that prides itself in difficult battles against creatures that would easily be considered bosses in many other games. It does however give the feel of a carefully constructed difficulty curve that pits you against increasingly challenging opponents while giving you ample opportunity to increase your power through experience as well as equipment.
Battles tend to be broken down into three or four phases depending on what you’re up against and how you approach your final goal. The first stage should always be preparation. Firstly you’ll need to choose the weapon you want and any supporting equipment to go with it; buffs, ammo etc. Next you’ll have to grab any recovery items you might need for the enemy or area you’ll be fighting with/in; cool drinks to resist the desert heat, antidotes for poison etc. Finally if you are going for a capture on whatever large beasty you’ll be facing then you’ll have to take appropriate traps and/or bombs to get the capture.
Part two is the initial battle itself, attacking weak spots, maybe using a trap to get some free hits on hard to reach areas like the head. Just whittling its health down and hopefully not getting caught out yourself. Over time they will lose stamina, the same way that you do but to replenish it they have to take more drastic measures such as eating or running away. You can usually tell when this happens though them breathing visibly from their mouths, staggering themselves with their own attacks and eventually running into another area. They might also fly into a fit of rage at some points letting loose heavier and more drastic attacks.
If they have run to another area you will have to give chase (this can be considered part three), and if you’ve properly prepared then you will have painted your target with a bomb, coated arrow or bowgun pellet. On the map you’ll see a pink spot showing where the target has gotten to. Sometimes they’ll have just run to the next area for what seems like a whim, other times they might have been limping out of combat with you as an escape because of the damage they’ve taken. Sometimes they’ll attack with renewed vigour but other times they will limp off to either get further away or eat food to replenish health and stamina.
Part four (or three, depending) is the capture or the kill. Killing involves little difference from before, smack the target enough and it’ll keel over ready for you to harvest. Capturing will require traps, tranquilisers and damage. If you can get a trap laid while the creature is low on health and stamina, throw some tranquilisers its way and beat it down to capture it. It will give you better chances of the rarer resources as well as giving you more in general. If it’s a quest to kill the specific monster you just killed, you’ll soon return to the village, else you’ll have to make your own way back, or kill whatever you have remaining.
Once all has been done on the violent side of things, you can return your spoils back to Moga Village and get to crafting. All your weaponry and armour can be crafted or improved with the various resources you’ve found on the battlefield. It can be a slog, getting all the required components at times and you’ll still need to pay quite a hefty sum of money to forge it at the blacksmith but improving your arsenal is a core aspect of the game.
There is also an underwater component to the game. Traversing in a 3rd dimension is particularly awkward. With the type of foes that inhabit the water having a natural advantage, it can be more than a little cumbersome to flail whatever weapon you’re wielding (all weapons can be used underwater, including ranged ones). Oxygen does play a part in it but you don’t need to watch too closely as between the bubbles that replenish it sonic style, and the ridiculously long time you can hold your breath, you will seldom need to resurface for air or use oxygen items.
Equipment is also made in a similar way but is all self-sufficient in the fact that you need only have the components with you in order to create them. Most of which can be found in the field at various gathering points in the areas you go to whilst questing but you can also cultivate your own resources, fish for them and trade for them in the Village. The farm will let you grow herbs, honey, insects and mushrooms provided you have one to start your crop from. The Fishing boats can travel to various locations collecting fish and various other treasures. Finally a trader will eventually come to town after visiting various far off lands, allowing you to trade commodities for other trade goods, including rare things unobtainable by any other means.
Both the farm and fishing boats use resource points to use, as well as various requests from the Chiefs son (“Junior”), who needs them in order to help you make improvements. Resource points are gain through converting gathered resources into points as well as through early quest rewards and by hunting out in Moga Woods. Once you’ve fought out in the woods for a while, return to the village and hand in your hunt report to “Junior” who will show you a tally of what you killed, exchange them for resource points and reward you with items based on what you’ve killed.
Unfortunately while hunting in Moga Woods is relatively fun, not much will change until you’ve progressed much farther into the game and unlocked more large monsters for it. This leaves you unable to visit the more interesting areas outside of quests, giving you restrictive ways of farming materials or fighting more varied creatures in different environments. It’s not a huge issue but it would be more fun to roam the Tundra or Desert on occasion rather than fighting the standard Jaggi for the majority of the early game.
While there is multiplayer it is sadly restricted to one of two routes. The first is local multiplayer over Wi-Fi, this obviously requires you to be within the vicinity of people who own a 3DS and a copy of the game. It’s always fun to play with others in games like this and unfortunately if you don’t have friends near you (like me) then you’ll have to stick to solo. If you happen to also have a Wii U with a copy of the game or at least access to one then via the 3DS e-shop you can download an app that allows you to connect the 3DS to the Wii U version and play online through the system.
For those that have neither of these options at your disposal, your pain can be alleviated somewhat by the fact that you will be joined by a small creature named Cha-Cha quite early on in the game, mind you this would still probably be about 4-10 hours into the game before you find him. He can accompany you on your quests and can act as a diversion, support and fellow hunter. It helps relieve you of taking the brunt of all the aggression, giving you time to recuperate or get some sneak attacks in from another direction.
Over the course of the game you can create various masks, each providing different bonuses and tactics for Cha-Cha to use. Some will make him more aggressive, others more passive and they all benefit in different ways. He can also adjust his attacks according to elements or ailments that he’s learnt out in the field with you. He also has a choice of dances that he can combine to give you various buffs, recoveries and boosts to himself.
As a 3DS game and therefore lacking in a second circle pad it works reasonably well for camera controls. On the touchscreen you can modify various panels to allow for all sorts of customisation, including a virtual d-pad to control the camera. This virtual d-pad can be set up anywhere on the touchscreen and then moved around within the panel to allow for even more exact placement. There is no denying that the lack of standard camera controls is an issue but fear not as the circle pad pro can be used with the game. I unfortunately do not own one and cannot attest to how well it works in conjunction with the standard controls but I have heard good things.
That’s not all that the touch screen offers though, you can put everything from your inventory to your map down there, as well as a special target tracking button that lets you lock your camera into facing the targeted large creature each time you press the L button. You can still keep your map and health up on the top screen if you wish, and you can access your inventory up there too. What it does allow for is some extreme information customisation and for me keeping the top screen clutter free made it feel much more immersive.
Presentation and Audio
Quite an achievement is made in the fact that the game lends itself quite well to the 3DS and looks sharper than the Wii (not Wii U) version, Monster Hunter Tri. The 3D effects are among the better of the 3rd party titles and while it doesn’t add much to the experience it can be quite pretty to use considering the lovely landscape that you’ll be slaughtering in. The music fits in nicely and adds to the atmosphere, while the sounds of the monsters themselves are quite impressive as well, screeches and roars add to the threat the creatures impose.
Plenty of variety in the weaponry allows even ranged weapons to feel significantly different in power and playstyle. Farming the lower level monsters and areas for materials doesn’t last long though, once larger monsters start to be unlocked the challenge ramps up significantly. Tackling these foes requires preparation as much as skill and that will be what separates the good hunters from the bad. Outside of combat there is plenty to get involved in and it feeds directly into the combat so unless you are grinding for particular items it won’t become a chore.
I can easily recommend the game to anyone looking for a game full to the brim with content, though the difficulty may put some people off if they don’t have the skill/patience to fully immerse themselves in the game. The game works incredibly well as a handheld experience, as the almost bite sized nature of the quests can be played over a brief 10-30 minutes easily. There are hours of content to the game and if you can find friends or link it with the Wii U you’ll find yourself able to add many more to the already substantial hours of content available to solo players.
I’m close to 30 hours in and I’m still learning and still not even close to half way through the Moga Village quests. It is one of those games that once you’ve got the hang of the basics you can always be tempted to do “just one more quest” as you strive to collect those rare resources you need to finish an ever more powerful weapon or high-end piece of armour. Collecting full sets of armour and dabbling with the different weapon types begins to become more important as certain tactics become more viable than others. It really keeps the game fresh as you find something that didn’t quite click with you when you first tried it, can suddenly become the best thing ever.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.