GDC 2009: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite Hands-On

Capcom brings to North America the incredibly popular monster-hunting series on the PlayStation Portable.

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While everyone else was busy getting ready for the Game Developers Choice Awards, Capcom held a Monster Hunter Freedom Unite event in San Francisco so that we could get hands-on time with one of Japan's hottest-selling games. Staying true to the series but adding new features to make it more single-player friendly, Freedom Unite adds a helpful cat as a sidekick so that you don't have to go on your monster-hunting missions alone. Our hands-on session primarily focused on the multiplayer portion, but after tracking down a giant crab and eventually carving out its parts, it's not hard to see why this game is so popular.

Like the previous games, Freedom Unite is like a mini massively multiplayer online game on your PlayStation Portable. By mini, we still refer to an endless number of quests and content available for you in single-player mode and even more in multiplayer. For those who really enjoy working together with friends (or have friends with PSPs since you can only play ad hoc), this game has plenty of multiplayer missions that will yield better items so that you can upgrade weapons and armor for your single-player game.

The series may be light on story, but Freedom Unite is connected and takes place after the previous Monster Hunter Freedom 2, so your character will be recognized as the hero that saved the village in the last game. Once again, you'll be given quests, but there are missions that will require you to fetch items, carry eggs back to town, or capture a monster instead of killing it. In our play session, we were after a monster that was lurking in a colder region, so we had to prepare ourselves by grabbing a hot drink before we wandered off. Our character was named Gin and looked like a warrior princess with her furry outfit, head full of feathers, and dual swords. She was quick with her blades, but her range was pathetic, so we really had to get in under the crab to do any sort of damage. Once her blades lost their edge, it was time to pull out the whetstone to sharpen them, and before we knew it, we were back in full swing. Each member of our party had a different weapon type, which balanced our team and made the challenge easier. Since character stats are completely dependent on armor and weapons, the beefed-up gear probably had something to do with it too.

The multiplayer component is really what stands out in the game. It's infinitely more interesting to be searching for dangerous creatures with your friends in tow than to be wandering the groves alone. Rare item drops are more likely when you select a quest, which are designed for four players, in the gathering hall. However, if you do end up playing solo, Freedom Unite has included a well-fed cat that will fight alongside you, so you won't be all alone. We were told that the learning curve is not as difficult this time around because of the feline addition--which we saw dressed in a samurai outfit amd wielding a giant hammer. Another addition is mid-tiered weapons, so you no longer have to pinch and save for that ultra-powerful weapon without anything to use in the meantime. These transition weapons can't be upgraded, though, but their requirements are much lower than the high-tiered stuff.

Victory is yours, especially with the help of the feline sidekick.

Our time with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was nothing compared to the 800 hours that the Capcom representative had logged. It truly is an MMO game with a never-ending number of things to keep you occupied. In our quick run through, we liked what we saw. There seemed to be a decent variety in the environments, and each of our character outfits was very elaborate and detailed. The monsters we encountered were menacing and intimidating, which made the carving very satisfying once the major battle was won. There's more to be explored for sure, but that's going to have to wait. Trackers be on the lookout, because the hunt begins sometime this summer.

Discussion

72 comments
malloski
malloski

Awesome! Such a BIG improvement over the previous versions. It's not the same... take for example the FELINE COMRADES, BOSSES, MINIONS, Weapons and Armor .... the list goes on and on

lawman80
lawman80

This game is exactly the same as MHF2.... what's the difference?? I'm playing it now and it's exactly the same!!! no difference!!!!

Silver_Soul_U
Silver_Soul_U

I already have the English version, and it rocks. much, much better than MHF2(previous game).

egilskal
egilskal

I played the japanese version and it rocks!!can't wait for this one to come out

666sinboy81
666sinboy81

totaly lame no online??? if u have mh2 why on earth by this????

emoticedmar
emoticedmar

looking forward to this game :D after i played MHF2 i already wished there was MHF3 lol and yet this here is cool! I wish there was a time machine lewl lool lol

Warnerator
Warnerator

wtf? gamespot acting like they like this game...

Genesis_123
Genesis_123

wow, looks like gamespot may actually enjoy this monster hunter... quick, go in to the time machine to release date zhooooooooooooooooooom...........

Shogulix
Shogulix

Looks Awesome cant wait to buy it. I wonder if u can import save files from previous game like u could on the 2nd one for psp

aaaaaa12
aaaaaa12

japan has wi-fi mode thats why dis game is famous dere.... man when will we get the wi-fi mode....

Bboyjhin
Bboyjhin

this game i recomend to people who believe they are up to the challenge of a hard game i spend more than 300 hours on monster hunter 2 snd it was really fun i still dont have all the stuff but i try and with this one i cant wait i will spend more than 3000 hours+ i love this game capcom you made me happy by releasing this game to the hole america continent i cant wait and prepare everyone for the hunt

unkipower
unkipower

hopefully we get to actually see a real online mode

Gamer_Wolf
Gamer_Wolf

how will this be any different than monster hunter 2? i see no difference at all. and capcom needs to learn to make monster hunter online instead of ad hoc.

shady_825
shady_825

I'm on board! Can't wait. Now if only we could convince Capcom to can the Wii version of Monster Hunter 3 and instead put it on PS3. I also pray they allow people playing Freedom Unite to connect online through their PS3s like I've heard the Japanese can.

Worvess
Worvess

glad i preordered mine at gamestop already...the union will be really happy when this comes out

RandomBeast
RandomBeast

This looks and sounds great. I may just have caught the Monster Hunter bug!

armas87
armas87

well for release date in stores i heard it'd be by late june or sumting hopefully they won't back order it cuz that'd be really annoying

Gioh
Gioh

U can play the games online dude. U just have to have a promiscous wifi (u will be vulnerable to wardrivin though) dongle, xlink or ad-hoc party and read the manual. Dont invent a review, read fora! at least im glad teh reviewer doesnt bomb it like the did on MH. And for any true hunter...the challenge is SOLO everythin! They should make the cat dispendable. And mid tier weapons...woosies!!! Damn, a lot of bad hunters wil be raised! Yeah, best game i agree. Release now please... i feel a urge to killll monsters.

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

Hopefully this game gets better reviews than the last iterations. Reviewers always seems to knock the camera and the lack of lock-on in the games, even though thoses things are both non-issues once you learn how to properly use the controls.

paulo0619
paulo0619

Since that this game has new monsters,this will be more fun than I thought.....

souleater463
souleater463

do you get to change the color of your guys skin when you transfer your character

Cerberuz_27
Cerberuz_27

Best game. I've played the japanese version and its awsome

morayzilla
morayzilla

release date please, the union has been anxious for months in anticipation for this game to come on US shores

killadroid
killadroid

Pinch me you guys...I MUST be dreaming o.o

BeckMall
BeckMall

why does japan everything goood???? they got hot girls there already..and now all hot games will be relesed there too??? LOL

kritikalplayh3r
kritikalplayh3r

THE BEST GAME SERIES IN PSP. Finally the english version is finally here. I thought it'd never come. its about BLOODY time!

Blue_Abyss
Blue_Abyss

I remember Monster Hunter on the Ps2 and it was way to hard but still fun, then when they made a port for the psp i was amazed at how good the graphics were and the gameplay was better in my opinion than the ps2 version. I think the Monster Hunter series needs is a story, online, and ports to the 360 or ps3. The graphics would be simply beautiful if they made for the 360 or ps3 all it would need is online and a good story. Its Capcom they have made many video game hits with great stories such Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Resident Evil, Okami, and even Megaman

kiriyama2
kiriyama2

I really dont have a big group of friends that happen to have PSP's, i would be really nice to have a jump in and play mode, or a search feature like diablo to just jump in and game with others. That would make a game like this even more brilliant

TheTenth10
TheTenth10

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Xeiphyer
Xeiphyer

Ah Such a good game!!! Its called Monster Hunter Freedom 2 G in japan for anyone interested in looking it up.. The reason I say this is because fans were able to translate the entire game to English several months ago, but only 'certain' people will be able to play that on their psps. If you know what I mean. Also for any fans deciding on whether its worth buying or not, you can transfer your MHF2 character, all your Rare 4+ equips get turned to Zeni but your keep your HR. Since all the new content is HR 9 -12 stuff, its awesome. Very worth it!!

cobain112
cobain112

MHF2 was too hard for me it took the fun away, not that i was rubbish at it i got a few decent armour sets reaching the 5 star urgents and HR 5 I just wish its about 25 percent easier.

lew_0911
lew_0911

Hmm... I think I should jump in the bandwagon and get this.

Blazius2
Blazius2

I loved MHF 1 and 2. They were probably the only two games that I loved that gamespot gave horrible reviews for. I hope this one turns out to be just as good.

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

I'm only just starting to play Freedom 2 with my friends XD

grove12345
grove12345

i think to appeal to the other markets outside japan. MH should add some new gameplay features to appeal to a more massive market. Like a storyline, better controls, and easier online play. Thankfully i think MH maybe heading into the right direction with the console version. So i wonder why Capcom makes a half-assed game, or why nobody else realised they could copy MH idea and easily tweak it to be better?

kent6650
kent6650

I don't think there will be new features in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite other than being translated into english. I just think that the western marketing on capcom are just milking it since it's pretty popular in the eastern market. But, if it'll do have some pretty nifty new features (online multiplayer w/out ps3 -in my dreams haha, camera lock, etc.), then that would be freakin' awesome. Anyway, I'm not hoping anything more out of this game other than it should be released soon.

Doolum
Doolum

bring it over baby,that is all i want.

Yieringra
Yieringra

Capcom r u there? Can u hear us? We want online!

Rasengan_X
Rasengan_X

Yeah, you got me with adding it's succes in US. Indeed, a sad thing. For your idea about a camera lock on, it's actually a pretty good idea. A change in camera angles when slammed into a corner by a wyvern would also be nice. I think anyone here knows what it is to be trapped in a corner and the camera angles mess up. Back on the camera lock on there still is one little detail that's concerning me, wouldn't it be dangerous to lock on a Blango while a Kirin in rage mode in High Rank Gathering hall is charging you from behind? One the one hand I can see it has it's use, one the other hand... with a boss monster involved and you're focused on a minion and can't see the boss, it might cause a few inconveniences. Still, 1v1 it would be a great addition.

Templar_Bladema
Templar_Bladema

@Rasengan X: You are right about one thing, it is their best seller... In Japan. In the US it peters out, which is a sad thing, because if it didn't, we'd see more US MHs. On the lock-on thing, I think they should just do a camera lock-on instead of a targeting lock-on. Having to control the camera and the movement at the same time on PSP gets thumb numbing and hand crampingly annoying. The idea of a camera lock-on would definitly reduce the difficulty of some big boss fights.

Templar_Bladema
Templar_Bladema

W00T, my favorite series makes a great return. I love this game and have logged in over hundreds of hours and plenty of wyverns under my belt. I just hope they fix the gawd awful camera that requires me to keep a hand on the joystick AND the directional buttons at the same time in a heated battle.

Rasengan_X
Rasengan_X

@EcksBocks360: So nobody liked the previous MH games huh? Then please tell me, how can it be that the MH series is one of Capcom's best sellers? Well? >_> @Mist00: A lock on system huh? And you think that would make the game better? In fact it would makes it near unplayable as monsters take a different amount of damage depending on where you hit them. If you have a lock on that means you'll be attacking only 1 place and that way you can't do the usual body breaking anymore and focus on a point of the body you want to keep hitting. Sorry but a Lock on system would ruin the game. For minions it wouldn't matter much but for boss monsters it would have a huge negative impact. A lock on would likely aim for the centre of the monster's body, with other words, the stomach. Which is rarely a good spot to hit except with Piscine wyverns and a Kut ku.

grove12345
grove12345

summer? what happened to april release. Why the wait. Its just an english port of a japanese game that came out like a year ago. Heck you can even play the japanese game, in english thanks to a few translators.

lilmp89
lilmp89

I really like the game, but I'm pretty bad at it lately, ha. I wish it had infrastructure mode though, my friends aren't into this kind of game, not to mention not many have a psp either. Still looking forward to it though.

WorldWideGod69
WorldWideGod69

wow ive never heard of this series but this game looks really sick and worth looking in to

Mist00
Mist00

if they had added a lock on mechanism id be more interested

princeweasel1
princeweasel1

I have ALWAYS loved this series and every addition to the franchise has, thus far, improved upon the formula. MHF2G has sol 3 million copies in Japan. That's right. It went TRIPLE platinum. The game has historically not done well in The States, but that's due to several reasons revolving around marketing and the fact that it's not "typical" Western gaming. I LOVE this series and I have several friends that STILL hunt (on both MHF and MHF2). The BEST part of this particular addition to the series (and it wasn't mentioned in the article here) is that they're supposed to be adding "tunnelling" to the connective functionality between the PSP and the PS3. They added it to MHF2G in Japan (which is what they're basing Unite on) and, thanks to the reliability of the PSN structure, it's been a wide success. So, if they bring that functionality State side, you'll no longer need Xlink kai or WiFi Max. CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ONE TO HIT THE SHELVES!! However, I still do pine for a PS3 exclusive Monster Hunter to be developed and released. Imagine the glory of the Rathalos on Blu-ray in full 1080p!! How could Monster Hunter NOT be a good idea? Thanks to MGS4, PS3 sales soared in Japan (where MH is most popular) and if they just add an English track to it, I'll IMPORT IT!! I honestly think that Capcom will eventually come around and program MH for PS3. It won't be as good if they program it for both Xbox360 and PS3, but I'll take that over nothing for the PS3. When I get my copy of MHFU and they add tunnelling to PS3/PSP connectivity, you will ALL be seeing me smashing in some Wyvern skull online.