Reviews: Monster Hunter

A Guide to Making Boss Battles Boring

The Damage-Sponge Boss is one of my most hated tropes, simply for how it's generally used: To pad. There are exceptions, of course, but in my experience most damage sponges... shouldn't be. They tend to have a small pool of attacks, but even when they don't, their sheer length makes them feel incredibly repetitive anyway. In general, I find they simply fail to stay engaging.

So I guess Capcom decided that a series based on the most common method of stretching out a boss fight - a ton of health - was a great idea. And apparently they were right, judging by how successful the series is.

I just can't see the appeal.

I have a few issues with the combat itself (primarily how long it takes to put a weapon away, the lack of invincibility frames in the dodge roll, and the lack of a universal backwards dodge), but I've yet to encounter what I'd call a perfect combat system, so I can let that slide.

What I can't let slide is how unbelievably BORING I find these fights to be. A fight with a gigantic crawling wyvern that charges you like a bull should not be boring, but Monster Hunter does the impossible.

The fights often go on for 20 minutes or more, and almost without exception, the boss fights would lose nothing if they could be reliably beaten in 10. It's not like these fights have multiple phases or forms the bosses go through (with a tiny number of exceptions). It just uses the same attacks over and over and over, runs away after a bit, repeat.

Cutting off monster parts is virtually pointless unless you want extra drops. Breaking parts otherwise rarely offers any tactical advantage; cutting off a Rathian's tail doesn't keep it from poisoning you, breaking a Brachydios' arms doesn't affect their ability to use slime in any way, you get the idea. Even cutting off tails to reduce their attacking range doesn't do much, since the section removed is usually so tiny that it makes virtually no difference.

And then when you finally do kill the monster, you carve it up, look through the rewards screen and realize that you didn't get that one rare drop you need to make that weapon or armor piece you wanted. So it's back to the grindstone to replay the overly-long boss fight desperately hoping that plate/feeler/whatever drops this time.

You win/lose Monster Hunter when you realize that the only thing you gain from all this is the right to make more weapons to go fight even beefier monsters.

There's no epic story to be told, no characters to care about, no world to explore, nothing. Just repetitive, grindy-as-hell boss fights and crafting. Evidently that's enough for many, but it ain't enough for me.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: This Game is Awesome!

While the game can start off a bit slow and unintuitive to new players, which may turn some people off, if they can get past the tutorial and get used to the controls they’ll find hours upon hours of entertaining gameplay. The monsters are varied and interesting, with great designs all around. The weapons are cool and fun to use, with enough variety in their role and use that there’s at least one for every kind of player. It’s great to play with a group of friends, and even if you can’t, it’s still a ton of fun to play solo. The difficulty ramps up nicely as well, starting fairly easy but still challenging in Low Rank, becoming harder with subspecies and new monsters and new moves for old monsters in High Rank, then pulling out all the stops and really making the player buckle down and play at their best in every single hunt in G Rank. To some, that may sound bad, but the high difficulty just makes things more fun. The previous Monster Hunter games were notorious for their bad camera controls, but this game makes those a moot point. The addition of the touch screen camera and monster cam really help as well, allowing you to make slight camera adjustments easily while still moving and dodging, or just completely ignore the actual camera altogether by just using L to look at the monster when need be. The only real shortcomings it has are in the underwater controls, which can often leave you wondering which way is up, or just obscure your view (and fighting in the Flooded Forest with its underwater plants sticking up in front of the camera doesn’t help either). Other than that, though, there are no big flaws. Nitpicks can be made here and there depending on the player (“I can’t play online because of where I live”, etc.), but the game as a whole is incredibly solid and fun, and will definitely keep players coming back for more later. I would definitely recommend anyone who has never heard of the series to check it out right away.