A couple weeks ago, I saw a demo for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in the Wii U eShop. I never played a Monster Hunter game, but I was aware of its popularity. I knew Japan absolutely adores Monster Hunter like nothing I had seen before. The release of a new Monster Hunter game over there is a guaranteed system seller. Because of that, I looked at Monster Hunter as being a Japanese thing, a style of game that I wouldn’t be interested in. However, as a new Wii U owner, I felt compelled to try out any piece of software. I downloaded the demo, tried it and hated it.
“How in the world could people like this?” I thought to myself. The demo just gave me a time limit, a weapon and threw me into the wildnerness. How do I attack? What do these items do? Who are these little guys following me around? Where’s the lock-on button? Why do I keep putting my weapon away when there’s a huge monster running me down? These are the questions I asked myself, and the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate demo did nothing to answer them.
I went online to see if anyone else shared my experience. I read many comments from new players that found the demo to be unapproachable. Veteran players defended the game’s unusual mechanics. Their defense could basically be boiled down to,”That’s how a Monster Hunter game is supposed to be!” I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t fathom the thought of a third-person action game not having something as common as a lock-on button in this day in age. Surely these Monster Hunter fans must have been crazy or in denial. I deleted the demo and went on about my life.
A short while later, my Twitter feed was being lit up with Monster Hunter comments by reviewers. Some of them weren’t a part of the Monster Hunter faithful, but they were saying positive and interesting things about the game. These were people whose opinions I trusted over a random forum user. Was I missing something? What did they know that I didn’t?
Without realizing it at the time, I had already fallen into the Monster Hunter rabbit hole. I had acquired an interest in a game that I initially hated. My constant search to find out what’s so special about Monster Hunter resulted in me buying Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate a day after its launch. That has never happened to me before.
Upon starting the full game, I realized my initial negative reaction was due to a bad demo. It did a really bad job of explaining the world of Monster Hunter to new players. It assumed you were already a fan. The retail release actually does a good job at explaining the basics. It even reiterates certain points many times just to make sure you understand. Sure there are some aspects you have to figure out for yourself, but that’s totally fine.
Things started off easy enough for me. I stuck with the sword e and shield until I felt comfortable to use the fancier weapons such as the Gun Lance. After killing a decent number of regular-sized monsters, I started to get used to moving the camera around manually. I still wish there were a lock-on, but I can do without it. I also learned timing attacks is a very important tactic. In many third-person action games, we spam light and heavy attacks. You can’t do that in Monster Hunter if you want to make your attacks count. You can’t stop an animation once you’ve committed to it. In other words, think before you act. Come into this game as if it were Demon Souls. Trust me, it actually works.
As of today, I am hooked. I’m determined to make a full set of armor made out of materials harvested from the Great Jaggi. Once I do that, I know there will be another weapon or piece of armor I will happily grind to acquire. I haven’t even tried the multiplayer, but I know it’s the most exciting part of the game. I can’t even imagine how amazing that experience will be.
Monster Hunter. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.