one game a week 2015 : week 9 – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Some words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us.

What do I know about Monster Hunter? Not a fucking lot. Am I enjoying myself through? Yes, absolutely. Did I make some glaring mistakes to do with armour combinations in the first few hours? Of course. Did I care? Not particularly. Should I stop asking questions now? Yes.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has got its claws (wahey!) in badly. And not just in me, but in my son too. Technically speaking, he’s my stepson, but we don’t tend to bother too much with that distinction because it’s a bit reductive as far as we’re concerned and oh god what am I talking about this is supposed to be about videogames.

So, anyway, basically : rave reviews, bought a copy, started hunting. My experience with this series so far has been pretty limited; I’ve got a copy of MH3U for my Wii U but I still haven’t made much of a dent in it due to other gaming distractions so although semi-prepared for what this game would have to offer I felt like I was coming to this reasonably fresh, albeit fairly clued up from reading a ton of stuff online about whetstones, paintballs and the pleasure of killing a Jaggi or two. Being aware of Monster Hunter’s notorious levels of depth, endless stat tables, impenetrable menus and reams of help text (which often does more harm than good) stood me in good stead, as I settled down with this game on day one eager and hungry to learn, like a 1920’s schoolchild. What? I’m not sure either.

Even with only the first few hours of MH3U under my proverbial gaming belt, I could tell that 4U’s opening, initial quests and overall story were far stronger; with the game now more than content to throw you in and let you start slaying beasts as soon as possible. It’s this obvious accessibility (relative to this series, at least; it’s still obscure as hell at times) that led me to urge my lad to download the demo on his 3DS, to see how he would respond to a glimpse into that world. To my surprise, he flippin’ loved it (the demo wisely eschews any preamble and just drops you into a fight) and once I explained how, with two copies of the game, we could batter fuck out of stuff together (not in those exact words), he was all in. And so, one trip to Game to exchange some of his older games later, we were off.

Now, I’ll just say, I was a little worried before I dropped the cash on my copy of MH4U that I wouldn’t be getting the best out of the game if I didn’t take it online. Those fears were soon put to rest upon seeing how strong the single player content was (and if you’re in the same boat, wondering if you’ll have fun without co-op : trust me, you will have plenty) but boy oh motherfuckin’ boy; hunting with another real life person is so good. And the fact that me and the boy are sitting on the same couch as each other while we yell and scream and howl with laughter while we try to kill a raging Kecha Wacha as our cat companions fling themselves across the arena, wildly swinging gigantic hammers, makes it all the better. It’s a great game when playing on your own, but playing with other people makes it fantastic.

There’s so much to say, so many little incidental details which deserve mentioning, that to provide context and talk about each one would take approximately one million words, and braver men than I (here and here in particular) have done a damn fine job of dissecting this game properly. But I can’t finish up without mentioning the Insect Glaive, an enormous staff/pet insect combo. The staff is dual purpose; it’s a melee weapon that you can use to smash monster faces in, sure, but it also doubles up as a summoning rod, allowing you to control the insect that lives on your arm and send it off to sap nutrients from your enemy which in turn will grant you temporary buffs to your stats once the insect flies back to you. Yeah? Yeah. It is the most bonkers / incredible weapon I’ve fucked with in a videogame for a long time, and this thing alone puts MH4U in the running for being one of the games of the year. No doubt.


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