Demo Impressions: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Monster Hunter. We’ve had a strange and winding relationship over the last few years. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read my preview of Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii and the response to that article. I thought the game on Wii demoed very poorly, maybe even terribly. I didn’t think it was very good at all and didn’t get me excited for the game. I found out from a number of Monster Hunter fans that there was WAY more stuff to do in the game than the demo showed off and that if you actually dive into the whole experience it can be rewarding. I didn’t get that sense from the demo, but I decided to try out the full game and I was glad that I did. I was a great experience; something that many games just don’t give you any more. It put you in charge of everything. Didn’t explain every mechanic in minute detail and had a huge of amount of content, quests, loot and monsters to experiment with.
Capcom recently released the demo of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the 3DS and the Wii U. Since I have a 3DS I downloaded the demo and jumped into the experience. Even from the beginning I though this demo could be a problem. It essentially gave you the exact same things to do as with the demo on Wii, and not much else.
You have the option of taking on one of two quests. One against a Lagombi is for beginners. The other, fighting a massive Plesioth is for experienced Monster Hunter players and will require much more combat experience if you want to take it down. You can choose from one of twelve different characters, all wielding one of the game’s many different weapons. I chose a dual wielding character that had two very scary looking saw type weapons. She was dressed in purple so I couldn’t not choose her.
From there you’re dropped into your camp where you have twenty minutes to hunt the creature. Much of the game’s content is locked away and not available during the demo, but you can take a nap on your bed if you want. The map is clearly visible on the bottom screen and you can see exactly where the monster you’re hunting is so you can get right to it.
There are plenty of smaller creatures that you can hunt and loot for resources, but there’s not a lot of reason to. You don’t earn experience or new equipment from them and they don’t actually better your character for the fight against the biggest, baddest monster on the block so you can easily ignore them and head straight for your prize if you choose. If you’re new to the game and just want to some experience learning the controls and how to fight then it’s best to tackle these smaller creatures as they’re easy to defeat and won’t be a drain on the resources you do have.
Some things are better in this demo than the one I played on Wii. First and foremost is the ability to better tell what state the monster you’re hunting is in. It’s now much easier, at least to me, to tell how a monster is doing and how close they are to dying. The first monster I fought began to have very clear signs that things weren’t going so well. I could see its head drooping, saliva pouring out of its mouth. Attacks were noticeably doing more to it, knocking it back and forcing the monster to lose its balance. It was becoming harder and harder for the monster to even stand up after being knocked down. When it did stand up it had a very noticeable limp and could barely move one of its back legs. Those were all tell-tale signs that I was doing some significant damage to the poor brute. I almost felt bad for the thing once; then I stabbed it in the leg that was causing the limp. I could tell that it was getting desperate as its health started to fade.
Visually the game is very impressive and the 3D effect of the 3DS does a great job of bringing the environments of the game to life. The areas are massive and well detailed. The snow that falls actually makes you feel like it’s falling around you. The character animations are as good as they are on the Wii. It just looks impressive running on the 3DS. The depth of field gives you a very good sense of how big the monsters are. There was no difference in the animation or visuals of the monsters that were off in the distance compared to the monsters that are up close to you. I recognized one of the environments where you fight the Plesioth immediately from the Wii version and it looked just as good on the smaller screen as it did on my TV.
The different weapons all feel very differently and you have to use very different tactics depending on which weapon you choose. Some of them, like the Great Sword deal massive amounts of damage with each swing, but the animations, as any Monster Hunter fan knows take a very long time. The smaller weapons are much quicker, allow you to move around the monsters faster, but don’t do as much damage with each hit. Ranged weapons are available for those players that like to stay back and attack from a distance.
I still don’t think Monster Hunter demos very well at all, unless you’re a fan of the series already and know what to expect. You don’t ever get a sense of the scale of the game. Yes, the environments are big and the monsters are about the same size as the moon. You don’t however, in the demo, get the scale of the game. The amount of work that you can do, the different items you can scavenge for. Some of those are there, but they’re mostly meaningless as they would be things you could use to craft items or sell for money. Since you can’t do that in the demo there isn’t much reason to scavenge for them.
The experience is best when with friends. I don’t think the game plays as well if you’re by yourself and that’s part of the problem with the demo. You get a good sense of how some of the weapons work, how the monsters move around and act, but you don’t get a really good sense of just what the game is about.
I’m very excited for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on both Wii U and the 3DS. If you’re a fan of the franchise then you’re going to be able to hop right in and feel right at home. If you’re new to the series understand that the demo only gives you a very tiny taste of just what to expect in the game. Try out some of the different weapons and see which ones feel best to you. Start looking for raiding partners now, because you’re going to want to take on some of these monsters with friends.
If nothing else this demo has made me want to go back and play Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii while I wait for the release of the game on Wii U and 3DS.