Games of The Year: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
With 2015 coming to a close, it feels like a good time to reflect. It’s been a mixed year of sleeper hits and bitter disappointments. Micro-transactions became a hot topic, as did the continued growth of season passes. We’ve seen big name franchise depart from their creators and promising games cancelled. When all is said and done, looking back at the good games is what this is all about.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is not featured at any point, purely because it’s came out at the worst possible time…for me. It’s impossible to fit in such a large game, and playing it like it deserves, while I have so much ‘on’ at the moment.
Games of 2015 featured so far*
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate -
The only thing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was guilty of, is that it came out too early. Launching in early 2015, Capcom’s Japanese favourite finally ‘cracked’ the Western market. It’s cult classic status, paired with marketing and a new 3DS release, helped Monster Hunter 4 U reach healthy Western sales figures. The success wad justified, Monster Hunter 4 U is easily one of the greatest hand held titles ever released.
Monster Hunter is a simple concept finely tuned with every release. Start, learn, hunt, gather, craft, learn and hunt form the spine of each title. Every aspect of the game is the perfect mix between accessibility and depth. Every time you think you’ve got things figured, a new challenge and mechanic arises. It’s the fire that fuels the primal enjoyment of Monster Hunter, the genuine sense of progress that awaits each successful hunt.
Every moment spent playing Monster Hunter 4 U feels like time well spent. There’s no busy work, no filler, progress is based purely on the player’s input. Appreciating, and learning, the mechanics and rituals of the hunt is where the game blossoms. It’s not a simple case of picking a weapon and going out to kill a beast, far from it. Each weapon has it’s own style and attacks, with their own pros and cons.
The depth in the weapon selection opens up a whole world of options. Large weapons hit heavy but move slow. Daggers, short swords and fist weapons posses high speed and accuracy, but require a keen hand. Every choice is legitimate, nothing is over or underpowered. Each and every play style is catered to, the sense of scope is outstanding.
Crafting forms a large part of the experience. Gathering materials from natural resources and monsters is the first step towards creating your gear. Planning each gathering run becomes a ritual,crafting potions, armour and weapons evolves into habit. Monster Hunter rewards it’s players for learning the game, a rare occurrence in the modern industry.
Harnessing the power of the 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 U creates genuine spectacles. Hunts grow in size and scope, with the targets becoming large and more imposing. They test the player’s skill through fire and teeth. Unrelenting, harsh, sometimes heart breaking, but always immensely fun. Victory rarely feels this satisfactory in modern video games.
One of Monster Hunter 4 U’s best features is it’s online community. Warm and welcoming, willing to teach new players and accept errors. They know the value of team work, and it’s reflected in their behaviour. The four player co-op gives Monster Hunter almost infinite replay value. Completing various quests, earning loot and taking down monsters together is thrilling. Team work naturally forms, it’s rarely forced. Witnessing players thread their weapon skills in unison, while assaulting a monster, is a wonderful sight.
Be it alone or with three others, Monster Hunter 4 U is a utter joy to play. It rewards players for learning the mechanics, but that doesn’t mean casual players miss out. Fantastic visuals, masterful gameplay, and some of the best multiplayer action around, it’s hard to deny Monster Hunter 4 U’s quality. It’s not just one of the best games of 2015, or on the 3DS for that matter, it’s one of the best games ever made. Veteran or new newcomer, it’s an essential video game experience.
Side note- Capcom are not exactly known for being all that ethical with their DLC. Their support of Monster Hunter 4, in conjunction with Nintendo, has been outstanding. Armour sets based of classic Capcom and Nintendo characters is a wonderful touch.