Hands On: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Demo
While I’m quite aware of the franchise and the fact that it has a dedicated fanbase that clamors for each new release to make it stateside, I’ve never actually played a Monster Hunter game before. Not because I’m not interested, mind you, as I’ve played titles that are supposedly similar. I just never got around to it, nor did enough research to determine which was the best one to dive into the franchise with. Since the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate demo came out to the Wii U this week, I figured it’d be a good way to get acquainted with what so many fans have been experiencing for awhile.
When you first fire the demo up, you get a choice between two different monsters to hunt. One is described as being for beginners, while the other for veteran Monster Hunter fans. Naturally, I went for the former, though if you were looking for something resembling a tutorial, you won’t find it here. If you’re not familiar with accessing the home menu to view the manual, now would be a good time to start. Even after reading the manual, things didn’t click into place right away.
For starters, you have the option of using either the Wii U gamepad, or some variation of the Classic Controller. I opted for the gamepad just to see what, if any, advantages you gain from doing so. There is no online component in the demo, but you can see how easy it would be able to communicate with other players using the gestures. They are all there on the touchscreen, along with buttons to command your two followers, manage your items, unleash your special attack, and more.
Before you embark on a mission, you are asked to choose a weapon from a list of almost a dozen. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as its own play style that accompanies it. When you begin, you are already allotted an assortment of items to help you on your quest. And boy, will you need them.
A map lays out all of the possible areas you have access to and illustrates the location of the monster you’re looking for. There are other monsters you may encounter on the way, but not all of them are aggressive, so you can ignore them completely if you so choose. Once you find the monster you are looking for, all hell breaks loose.
My battle with the Lagombi was a rough one. He has an attack and turns me into a ball of ice, unable to attack momentarily. It will also take running charges at you that can catch you off guard if you’re not paying attention (my computer-controlled comrades got steamrolled multiple times by this). Many times during the battle, he would run off to the next screen and the fight would continue there. Twenty minutes seems like a long time to bring down one monster, but I nearly ran out of time (and items) trying to bring it down. It was a hard fought battle, but I managed to bring him down which came with a nice sense of accomplishment. Then there was the Plesioth.
The Plesioth battle did not go so well for me. This battle took place near a shore, occasionally allowing me to dive underwater to continue the battle there. Perhaps it was because I chose a new weapon during this second hunt or perhaps because the creature had a nice advantage near the shore. In either case, I met my end and my hunt was over.
Despite the difficulty, it wasn’t enough to sway me from trying out the final game. The controls for each weapon took some getting use to as far as their swing speed and arc. I also noticed the targeting didn’t work at all how I thought it would, as in, it didn’t keep my target front and center like I had hoped (though the manual wasn’t clear how this was supposed to work). I also didn’t get the opportunity to craft weapons or be involved in any level of customization, so I look forward to seeing how that turns out.
The demo seems a little rough around the edges, but I can see how it would be a blast to play with others online. Integration with the 3DS version is also in the works, so there’s some potential to do some neat things with that. Hopefully, the barren release schedule for the Wii U will give this franchise time to shine.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate releases on the Wii U on March 19, 2013.