Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the latest instalment of the Monster Hunter series, however like me, you don’t need to have any previous experience with it to enjoy. A role playing action game, you are a “hunter” ready to set forth into the world, accepting quests and beating up a huge array of monsters.

A couple of weeks ago when I bought my 3DS, my first console in a long time, I picked up two games, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. So far I’ve managed to put in a good 10 hours gaming time on Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and I’m barely past the starting point.

I’ve played action role playing games before, such as Flyff for a short while on PC or Final fantasy with my little sister on the Xbox. I’ve never jumped into gaming properly though, and the fantasy genre is still a brand new box of unopened chocolates.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate seemed intimidating at first, lots of monsters and controls to get used to, and a whole franchise that I had no clue about. I’ve found that despite my lack of experience it was actually very easy to understand and play.

The game opens on a boat in a sea of sand, where you and the captain face a giant monster (who’s name I forget) and you learn to blast the monster with cannon balls. Straight away I learnt that this is a game where there isn’t unlimited ammo that’s already loaded. Instead you have to go to one end of the ship, pick up a cannon ball and waddle back to the cannon, load, aim, fire and repeat.

There are moments when the monster hits the ship and you have to stop what you’re doing and work to stay balanced and not fall off. The monster also has no health gauge and so you have to watch the monster and it’s actions to see if you’re beating it or not.

A dramatic opening that gets you excited to find more monsters. My first quest however taught me that the game doesn’t give it to you easily. The premise of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is that you, the hunter, must complete quests to defeat an array of monsters.

There are also 10 weapon options at the start of the game, everything from short range melee weapons such as a sword or duel blades, to long range weapons such as guns and bows. There are fast weapons, strong but heavy weapons and the insect glaive which is something else entirely. You can go through and try out each weapon and find which one suits your style play the most, although it’s good to keep in mind playing with a few different kinds to tackle different monsters.

You also get a pet cat that comes along with you called a Palico who fights, gathers stuff and even heals you. You can also make armour for your palico and help them gain skills, as well as their own palico (so a pet cat for your pet cat?) The palicos also get some of the best costumes such as mario or megman bonus attire.

To defeat the monster however you have to watch and learn. Each monster has different type of attacks, retaliation time, strengths and weaknesses. You can’t just charge in, and instead have to learn when to attack, when to block and when to run.

The fight is made harder as your weapon loses it’s sharpness with use, making you find shelter and sharpen it. Health potion rations are given to you at the start of level one quests, but if you want more you have to make it yourself by gathering ingredients and combining.

Stamina reduces throughout the quests, and you must eat meat or rations to regain stamina. Meat can be obtained by killing certain monsters and cooking them over a spit. If you ignore your stamina and the gauge empties you faint. Three faints in a quest and your forfeit the quest.

Monsters also flee from one area of the map to another, and you can either guess where they are and go chasing after or you can try to hit them with a paint bomb. When fighting big monsters you’ll find smaller monsters attacking you and you have to defend yourself on several fronts.

I’m constantly attacking, then running away swearing at my almost dead self. If you’ve seen me on cam then you’ll know for a fact I’m a terrible hunter. Despite my slow progress and constant dying, I keep coming back to it though.

There is something uniquely satisfying about going on a quest, learning how to tackle a certain monster and defeating it after a lot of trial and error. With no experience and level up-ing in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, you can’t rely on grinding small prey until you’re character is ridiculously strong. Instead you have to think of tactics and try them out.

There is a way to get stronger though. You can gather materials, mining rocks for Ore, catching bugs for glue, killing monsters and taking their hide, scale, fangs, claws and wings. You take these materials and get the smithy to fashion you armour and weapons upgrades.

I had particular trouble with a flying bug monster called a Seltas, being defeated at least 6 or 7 times before I finally killed it. I then upgraded my duel blades with it’s dead carcass and now use my enemy to take down new enemies. There’s a morbid gleeful joy in my hard won earnings.

That’s how Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will suck you in for hours, or days. Learning the controls for one was hard as hell, I kept trying to run away and instead it the camera angle button, so instead of fleeing for safety I simply watched my demise from different angles. Upgrading your various weapons of choice and simply discovering new and terrifying monsters is also a ton of fun.

Oh and then there’s those quests where you gather eggs and waddle about trying not to break them, or get eaten and so end up doing a strange waddle sprint. At the end of the day Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is immersive, addictive and easy to learn for the newest of newbies.

My final verdict?

It’s frustrating, it’s long and it’s freaking fun. Truly well planned out, amazing graphics, and just so many options for gameplay, I think I’ll be spending a lot of my time on it. I’ve suggested all my friends to get it, and I’m looking forward to going on a hunt with other people (since so far I’ve only done solo quests). I’ll get back to you on that though!

Come watch me on cam sometime though, and you’ll see just how much fun I have spending 30 minutes running around shouting “oh shit oh shit oh shit, it’s eating my face, I’m going to kick it in the aqua sacs!”  If you already have the game we can trade friend codes and go on hunts together as well, so I’ll meet you there Hunter!