Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Preview

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Over the last few months I have got to spend some quality time with the Japanese 3DS version of Monster Hunter 3G (MH3G). This will be coming out in Australia early next year as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I should state that this is actually my first time playing a Monster Hunter game so my general knowledge of the series is low. Thankfully though my time has been spent playing multiplayer with people who are familiar with the series and I’m able to talk a bit about what you can expect on the 3DS version. Because I have been playing the Japanese version and have never played the English version, I might call some things by different names, so please forgive this.

First and foremost, if you have played the Wii version of Monster Hunter Tri then this will be very familiar as it is basically an expanded port. So if you have logged an enormous amount of time into the Wii version, than this and probably the upcoming Wii U HD version are probably best skipped for Monster Hunter 4. But if you just want a portable version or you just can’t get enough and don’t mind starting all-over again, then I can assure you that there is a lot of fun to be had with this title.

You start out the game in Moga village and your immediate tasks involve helping people around the village and receiving instructions from the village head. This acts as the tutorial to the game and introduces you to an almost overwhelming amount of content that very soon becomes routine. This includes, collecting items, exploring the lands around the village and fighting a few weaker monsters. It also introduces you to the games story which at least in my experience, never seemed all that important. This part of the game doesn’t take too long and if you are eager to jump in with friends, you can begin questing with friends locally straight away.

If you haven’t played the series before, it is best to know that monster hunting is far from the only thing you will be doing. There are also plenty of fetch quests, item crafting, cooking and even fishing. This all tied to getting better, armour, weaponry and having plenty of items to use when you fight monsters. Although it has the look of an RPG, MH3G has no leveling system based around experience points. The only things that will help you have a chance against tougher monsters are having good equipment and the skill to use it properly.

After a few hours playing by myself, I soon realized that MH3G is a game best played with others. Apart from some downloadable quests, MH3G doesn’t feature online but it does feature an easily accessible local multiplayer mode. By chatting with a cat in the port area of Moga you can get transported to a hub area. This is where the multiplayer section plays out. The local multiplayer allows a party of four to quest together. It is really easy to set up a game with people in the room from the hub area. A simple search for other friends playing will bring up their game which can be quickly joined. From here one player is able to select a quest, the rest can choose the same quest before meeting at the gate and indicating they are ready to go. If one or more choose to stay behind, they can continue doing their own thing in the hub or even go back to single-player before joining again later. It really is that simple and you won’t have to exit out of the game or even the menus.

Most of my experience with MH3G has been multiplayer and it has been great spending a couple of nights with three other friends. Having the option of online would have been preferable but having your friends around actually helps a lot as they can coach newer players and generally just give advice. In my group, two were experienced players of previous games so they were able to help myself and another friend to get started. It was also critical at times during monster battles as we were able to watch each others stamina and health meters and give advice on when to get in and out of the battle. When monsters ran we could split off and quickly communicate when the beast had been relocated.

What surprised me were just how much fun some of the non-monster hunting quests could be. My favourite by far was a quest where we had to retrieve two eggs from a nest on a mountain. Any hunter holding one of the large eggs could do nothing but run and a wrong step or even one hit from the enemy would result in a broken egg and a trip back to the nest. It doesn’t help that as soon as an egg is picked up, you come under attack by a large and enraged monster, not to mention all the smaller ones standing between our destination. One hunter got through and as I was running the final stretch the mother jumped in between and we were soon heading all the way back to try again. Even a fishing quest became an intense competition to see who could catch the most the quickest.

If you have street-passed any other hunters, you can check their guild cards. Guild cards can be customized with different backgrounds and poses for your character. You can also put in a comment if you want and anyone who you street pass will be able to view it. Additionally, hunters you have met appear in the hub area and you are able to send them on quests.

One thing I have not tried was the Circle Pad Pro which is compatible with the game. The game would certainly benefit from having this option but I don\’t consider it a necessity. Both the d-pad and the lower screen can be used to adjust the camera and as long as you are quick to correct in some intense battles, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The 3D for the game is fairly standard for the most part. The HUD seems to come out further and there is a nice illusion of depth in the playing area. The otherwise simple loading screen also looks much more interesting with the 3D on. As with most games, I had the 3D turned off during game play most of the time as I find it difficult to hold the screen still. Even if you aren’t planning on getting the game though, it is well worth watching the opening movie in 3D as it looks absolutely fantastic.

Although I wasn’t able to play it, I was also able to briefly see the HD Wii U version in action. The higher resolution of course improves the visuals greatly but I was particularly surprised at how much better the colours or brought out on the Wii U version. It made the 3DS version look far blander by comparison. This is not to say the 3DS version doesn’t look good, it just can’t compete with its upscalled cousin nor perhaps, the Wii original.

The Wii U version does allow you to transfer hunters from the 3DS version and back again which on the Japanese version at least, requires you to download an additional program. Once done though it is fairly quick to transfer back and forth. The local play between the Wii U and 3DS also works just as well as I described with four 3DS systems. I am not sure if the Wii U version allows you to combine local and online play such as having two Wii U consoles and two 3DS systems at each end.

So as the Japanese release stands, it is definitely a recommendation to players who like a challenging RPG experience. It is the kind of game that certain gamers will be thoroughly engrossed in and others just turned off. As I wrote above, players of the Wii version need to keep in mind that it is largely the same game with a few enhancements and no online play. If this doesn’t bother you, then I can happily recommend it. Of course, it is best to first wait for the full Western release to be sure, but what I’ve experienced so far is very good.

January, 2017

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