Review

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review

  • First Released Feb 13, 2015
    released
  • 3DS

Big game hunting.

Rejoice, for Capcom has seen fit to release a new Monster Hunter game in the West. It doesn't always bother, see--that's why we've skipped straight to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate without stopping to try Monster Hunter 4 first. You can hardly blame Capcom, though. Over here, the series has never enjoyed the same popularity as it has closer to home, and even among its fans it has a reputation for being difficult to get into, thanks to its frankly ludicrous array of deep combat and resource management systems.

Sure enough, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate isn't without its challenges, but there's a fantastically compelling game at the heart of it all, if you can see past its steep learning curve. For those who don't know, the Monster Hunter games are action-RPGs, where you do battle against dozens of giant monsters, take their body parts, and use them to fashion new weapons and armour with which to do battle against more giant monsters--except it is much more complicated than it sounds, which is why it’s such a brilliant series is so brilliant, and also why so many people struggle with it.

No Caption Provided

Clearly, this is something Capcom's concerned with, too. Some of the previous games in the series threw you in at the deep end, but gave you separate, optional tutorials to play through, which was a little clumsy. Now the approach is more elegant; tutorials are extended and disguised as part of the main campaign. It's an approach that might irritate veterans (though they are given the option to skip some of the tutorial text early on), but it makes things far easier for newcomers.

That said, you still have to do some research outside of the game if you want to master its intricacies. Short tutorials for each of the game's 14 weapon types are present and correct, but a full tutorial for any one of them could run to the same length as this entire review. Each weapon type not only features its own array of attacks, but also its own unique mechanics, giving you numerous options in how you approach combat. The new Insect Glaive, for example, is a bladed staff paired with a giant insect that lives on your arm. You throw the insect at monsters in order to extract juice from them. The insect then feeds the juice into the staff to improve your abilities in various ways, depending on the type of extract. Then there's the Hunting Horn, a giant musical instrument that requires you to learn specific three-note sequences in order to provide your hunting party with status buffs.

Monsters are far from your typical video-game fodder. Each one is an incredibly intricate set of abilities, behaviours, and quirks that need to be observed and understood before you can reliably take them down.

It's well worth studying up on your weapons, though. Enter a fight unprepared and what could have been an exciting yet efficient hunt quickly turns into a multi-hour showdown, with a very high chance of failure at the end. These monsters are far from your typical video-game fodder. Each one is an incredibly intricate set of abilities, behaviours, and quirks that need to be observed and understood before you can reliably take them down.

With each deftly placed dodge, and with each eager swipe of your sword, you get a little wiser and a little closer to taking down the most imposing of beasts. These battles are Monster Hunter's bread and butter, and they remain as enthralling as ever. Sure, everything the monsters do is predictable once you learn to spot the various hints that give away their next move--and you might well face off against the same monsters dozens of times--but it's a testament to the game's depth that this rarely gets stale. Until you're deftly avoiding every single attack, there's still something to learn.

New players often complain that the combat feels stiff, and it's not hard to see why. Certain attacks lock your character in place while he swishes his sword around in thin-air, making it all too easy for an adversary to come at you from the side and take a third of your health off. It's a perfectly understandable frustration--every Monster Hunter player, from amateur to pro, will have been through the exact same thing at one point--but with some experience you begin to learn that the game simply wants you to take your movement and positioning seriously.

Every single button press has a real weight to it, because if you don’t know how your next attack will make you move, where it will make you stand, and how long it'll be before you can do something else, you're likely to get your face torn off. The moment-to-moment thought processes and constant split-second decisions you’re forced to make will be more familiar to anyone well versed in beat-'em-ups than your typical action-RPG, perhaps--and that's a wonderful thing indeed in a game that demands so much of your time in battle. That said, those who've previously struggled with this aspect of the series will find little to convert them here.

No Caption Provided

In addition to the two new weapon types, there are monsters you can mount in order to deal significant damage, or sometimes to break off rare parts. However, you can't actually jump, but instead must rely on using the terrain to position yourself above the monster and then hop down onto it from above. It's tricky to pull off--and certainly easier in multiplayer, where you can coordinate your aerial attack with your chums--but it’s satisfying as hell when it works. If you're having trouble, there's always the Insect Glaive's ability to pole-vault around at will. Expect to see plenty of people using that online.

No Caption Provided

That said, the mounting is a little disappointing when stacked up against the likes of Capcom stablemate Dragon's Dogma, which allowed you to grab an enemy from any given point and climb around on it, Shadow of the Colossus-style. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, on the other hand, simply triggers a cutscene where you land on the monster's back and then play a short minigame where you alternate between hacking it to death and holding on for dear life. It's fun, but Capcom can clearly do better.

There's been some noise about Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate being released alongside the New 3DS, because it features sharper textures, faster loading times and, of course, proper camera control with the C-stick on the new handheld. But if you're on a crusty old regular 3DS and don't feel like upgrading, I wouldn't worry--the game looks, runs, and plays well without any of these benefits. Even the camera control is less of an issue than it was in the past, thanks to the complete removal of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate's frustrating underwater combat. The standard lock-on camera is much more sufficient now that you don’t have do any scuba-diving, and the old 'claw hand' technique that many players adopted to play the game on PSP and 3DS mostly isn't necessary here.

An interesting addition is Expedition mode, a superb feature for players who feel a bit directionless and just want to get into a ruck with some prehistoric beasts. Upon starting an expedition, you're left to explore a randomly picked series of pre-built areas, populated with random monsters that you've met elsewhere. You don't have to kill them, but acquiring the proof that you've tussled with one of them (by cutting off its tail, for example) and bringing it to the end of the expedition yields rewards. It's a really neat idea if you just fancy throwing yourself into a fight without the preparation that a typical hunt entails.

The campaign itself is structured slightly differently from previous entries in the series. Rather than being one village's designated hunter, instead you travel around with a caravan, solving the problems of the various towns you find yourself in. This gives the game a very welcome boost in pace compared with previous entries in the series. Another nice touch is that you now get quests by actually having conversations with people, rather than simply by picking them from a list, which gives the game's brilliantly localised and genuinely funny dialogue more chance to shine.

No Caption Provided

Those quests aren't all terrifying battles with giant monsters, either. As a way of maintaining your supply of items, you spend a fair amount of time going on harvest tours--wandering around hunting grounds, picking flowers, or going fishing. Every consumable item, from healing items to poo-bombs that you throw at monsters to make them go away (not a joke), is made from stuff you can find lying around in the world. Sometimes it's really nice to hunt a few defenceless herbivores, take their meaty flanks to the nearest scenic cliff, whip out a barbecue, and cook up a few stamina-replenishing steaks like some kind of genuine sociopath.

No Caption Provided

That said, it's likely you'll spend most of your time playing online, this time without first having to link your 3DS to a Wii U. As great as the single-player experience is, taking your skills and knowledge and using them when you’re part of a team is something else entirely. Progression through the multiplayer missions runs entirely separately from the single-player campaign, despite following a similar tier system where later missions are closed off until a certain number of earlier ones are cleared, and you use the same character throughout. However, the difficulty of multiplayer missions scales considerably to take extra players into account. Just because you've taken down a Great Jaggi in single-player without breaking a sweat doesn't mean you can slack off when hunting one as a team.

Previous entries in the series also did this, but scaled the difficulty up for a full team of four at all times, making it incredibly difficult to hunt with just one or two friends. MH4 Ultimate, on the other hand, seems to scale depending on the number of players in the group. I've spent a good few evenings hunting with just one other player, and the difficulty level was spot-on. Finding your friends is also a breeze, because the game seamlessly hooks into your 3DS friends list and allows you to instantly join any of your contacts who are currently playing online. The drama of a good hunt is definitely best shared with friends, and hearing everyone roar in unison upon taking down a particularly ferocious beast is one of the finest experiences videogames have to offer. Unfortunately, to hear those roars you have to use a third-party service like Skype, due to the curious omission of voice chat.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate manages to expand upon the things that people love about the series, while simultaneously making concessions to those getting involved for the first time. It's an absolutely astonishing time-sink, but it rarely feels like a grind; when the game gets its hooks into you, you can expect to find yourself engrossed for at least 80 hours. Those who become truly invested can expect to find their in-game clock running into the hundreds of hours. Sure, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate isn't without some of the series' time-honoured idiosyncrasies, but it's the most streamlined and accessible game yet, and one that's hard not to truly obsess over.

Back To Top

The Good

  • Tight, idiosyncratic combat remains beyond comparison
  • Hundreds of hours of worthwhile content
  • Riddled with deep systems to wrap your head around
  • 14 different weapon types each represent remarkably different ways to play
  • Expedition mode is great way of testing your skills without the preparation of a hunt
  • Streamlined multiplayer

The Bad

  • No built in voice chat for online play, despite hardware support
  • Despite improved tutorials, there's still a steep learning curve for newcomers

About the Author

Sean Bell has spent in excess of 500 hours playing the Monster Hunter series, and once nearly lost his mind hunting the same monster over 30 times in one afternoon.
324 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ca532262d747
deactivated-5ca532262d747

422

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

doesnt every charector in this game just have a different sword idk how your not bored by the end of this game.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Chrushev
Chrushev

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

If you are looking to get into Monster Hunter I would recommend this video, it will explain all you need to know about the game/franchise - << LINK REMOVED >>

Upvote • 
Avatar image for mephixto666
mephixto666

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I really dislike the fact that Nintendo is pushing aside the Wii u, too many 3ds exclusives and not Wii u/3ds.


For me I'll never use/buy a handheld. There are so many great exclusives on the 3ds only. So many games I would play. It's the same for all my friends as well.


I guess there is still MH3U to play at the moment.

2 • 
Avatar image for InYourMouf
InYourMouf

691

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@mephixto666: If there are so many great exclusives on the 3DS, as you say, why would you never use/buy one?

3 • 
Avatar image for InYourMouf
InYourMouf

691

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

I hate how my eyes always go to the negative aspects first. I wanna change. I CAN BE A BETTER MAN.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

I wish this was on other systems ...even wii u...cant really purchase a 3ds just for this....

Guess I'll just play Dragon's Dogma for now....that game is monster hunter's slutty sister.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for britdevil
britdevil

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It truly is an awesome game, but please capcom please,don't pull the Japan exclusive anime weapons crap like you did in mh3...

Upvote • 
Avatar image for StHapns247
StHapns247

750

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I tried to get into the series, but found it way to obtuse for my liking. I'm glad they're staying true to the series though and satisfying their fan base.

2 • 
Avatar image for javiertardi
javiertardi

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

will this work on the 2DS?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for unfreak-believ
unfreak-believ

176

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@javiertardi: I'm sure it will, but note that because the touch pad isn't sitting right beside the ABXY buttons, it will make it more difficult as you can't simply press the touch pad with your thumb. The touch pad isn't necessary, but it sure is helpful, especially since you can map a virtual right d-pad for easier camera control. You can tap the left trigger to refocus on the monster, but being able to freely control the camera is much more helpful. Regardless, there's a demo up on the store, so check it out and see if it's suitable.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for jaroondee
jaroondee

211

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 0

@javiertardi: It should. I know the Majora's Mask remake is playable on the 2DS.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for glong_22
Glong_22

42

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

This is the first I ever bought of this series... After doing a few real hunts, I see why it's so popular.

7 • 
Avatar image for jaroondee
jaroondee

211

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 0

This is probably the smoothest online game I've played in some time. The load times are practically non-existent (I'm on the old 3DS) and online is a breeze. My bro and I played for hours with an open Gathering Hall and had about 6-8 random players seamlessly join as we did quests. Definitely a good time to be a 3DS owner, whether old or new.

4 • 
Avatar image for cutoffslim
cutoffslim

26

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Yo! Anybody who wants to grind through this masterpiece, add me.

Nintendo Friend Code: 3797-8374-0141

Upvote • 
Avatar image for glong_22
Glong_22

42

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

I'm going to take you up on that offer

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Bigboi500
Bigboi500

35550

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 10

User Lists: 0

I'm surprised there isn't more Sony Ponies in here complaining.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Mraou
Mraou

1176

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@Bigboi500: They've finally seen sense and thrown their Vita's in to the trash can where they've always belonged.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for RCT4ShouldExist
RCT4ShouldExist

184

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I would really like to try this. Oh well its exclusive to 3DS... thanks Japan.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for plug313
PLUG313

76

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

honestly I very much recommend getting a 3DS, it has such amazing games that just everyone should play and it's a great handheld console. you wouldn't regret it.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

2577

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

@plug313: You just can't beat Nintendo's handhelds, they soar in that dept.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for evagelios
evagelios

75

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@RCT4ShouldExist: I would really like you to try this. Oh well its exclusive to 3DS... Thanks blatant lack of free will.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

2261

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

so basically is a fantasy poaching simulator

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Tremblay343
Tremblay343

1658

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@PETERAKO: Well if you follow the actual definition of poaching then no

Upvote • 
Avatar image for ryogapower
ryogapower

334

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

you cant even communicate with your team mates online and it still gets a 9? is gamespot contract bound to award nintendo titles 9s and 10s now? not at all fishy

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Roger01
Roger01

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@ryogapower: It gets a 9 because it's a good game. It got great scores all around everywhere, everyone is saying it's a great game, it's not gamespot. Why can't a website like a game you don't like without it immediatly being "corrupt"? Have it crossed your mind that maybe these games get good scores because they are good? They may not be for your tastes but that doesnt make them bad, since the world doesnt turn around you.


I am glad it doesnt have voice chat, this way I dont get to hear dumb comments.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for boringdork
boringdork

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@ryogapower: There is online communication, just not via voice.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for theblackfrog
theblackfrog

39

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

@boringdork@ryogapower: without voice chat in a game like that.....not sure if thats good.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Shadowmax889
Shadowmax889

147

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@theblackfrog@boringdork@ryogapower: why do you want voice chat in a handheld game. It's supid. Voice chat only has sence on a home console game

Upvote • 
Avatar image for unfreak-believ
unfreak-believ

176

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@theblackfrog@boringdork@ryogapower: It does stink, but you can partially remedy this with customizable chat phrases for in-game. You have 20 or so chat slots you can save whatever phrases (any combination of words, save for potential censorship) you'd like into.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for wizdom
wizdom

10111

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

@ryogapower: They are not the only website to give the game a 9 or higher. The game they score a 9 or higher usually deserves it in my opinion. I can understand if they gave it a 9 and everyone else scored it like a 8 or lower, but your arguement is incredibly flawed.

2 • 
Avatar image for phlail_uk
Phlail_UK

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@ryogapower: It's Capcom, not Nintendo. It just happens to be on Nintendo. Or is that what you mean?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Jaxith
Jaxith

591

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

So excited... but I can't get it for a few days yet; next time I'm in town really. At the very least, it's fun playing around with the demo until then, sampling all the weapons. So many fun options.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for N4o7A
N4o7A

153

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I'm so happy for my favorite franchise to get an extremely high score (metacritic is currently sitting at 87 for critic reviews). Of course, this game isn't for everyone but its really cool how far the ratings have gone since the original game rating. As a big fan of the franchise, I highly recommend it. Also glad that they got a MH fan to review it (however b/c of that I'm pretty sure there's bias in that game score). Sean Bell, my man!

7 • 
Avatar image for teoteskator
TeoTeskator

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@N4o7A: well put.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Delston
Delston

558

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 0

@N4o7A: first time for me, i tried the MH3U demo but wasn't a fan due to the controls...but with the new 3DS xl's camera nub, I'm excited to give MH4U a go.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Runeweaver
Runeweaver

502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@Delston@N4o7A: The Demo of MH3U was horrible, they put two of the most annoying monsters to fight, once you get good with a weapon they were fine, but for anyone new they just wouldnt give you a chance to fight without knocking you all over the place, they really should have stuck with a great Jaggi for a demo fight, nice and simple and easy to learn its attacks.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for N4o7A
N4o7A

153

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@Delston@N4o7A: I really hope you'll give it a try, just try to sink in a good amount of hours in before you come to a verdict. I just read thru the lowest scores given on metacritic and they were all newcomers who put in very little hours in.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

361

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 23

User Lists: 0

I don't get it. Why does the 3ds get better games than the WiiU itself?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Chico86_basic
Chico86_basic

122

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@gamefreak215jd: The 3DS has been around for longer. That's how it works. WiiU will have just as a good library when it comes to what we used to call AAA games in a couple of years considering Splatoon, Xenoblade X, Starfox (?) and Zelda will be released this year. I didn't get MH3U because I played it before on Wii and was actually waiting for MH4. Heck, I even got my 3DS way before they announced it just holding my hopes up! Too many good games to pass on the handheld at this point.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

9561

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 87

User Lists: 1

@gamefreak215jd: Bayonetta 2 is on 3DS?


If so, why did I buy a WiiU again xD

Upvote • 
Avatar image for normanislost
normanislost

1748

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

3DS = 50 million units sold

WiiU = 9 million

That's why

12 • 
Avatar image for Tremblay343
Tremblay343

1658

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@normanislost: This game has been out for a long time in Japan. This series gained immense popularity because people would play it on their psp's on the train and is the sole reason the PSP sold any units at all. So nintendo put it out on the platform that everyone wanted it on. The portable one. They tried monster hunter 3 on wii and wii u but both version sold like crap so they just made the only one that sold this time around.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Delston
Delston

558

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 0

@normanislost: There yah go...insertin logic into things...

Upvote • 
Avatar image for regix416_basic
regix416_basic

580

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@gamefreak215jd: From how I was told, the MH games sold better on the portables than on the consoles. 3 Ulimate for the Wii U sold pretty badly over in Japan so they're trying it the other way.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for theblackfrog
theblackfrog

39

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

@regix416_basic@gamefreak215jd: monster hunter 3 was old on Wii U, even with the "ultimate" in it. MH3 on Wii sold good afaik.

And the Wii U doesnt sell good in japan....not like wii.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Evamorgana
Evamorgana

41

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@regix416_basic@gamefreak215jd:

Hmmmmm. But surely they'll be gobbling down WiiUs soon with the new Zelda on the way. Maybe we'll get the Wii U port round that time.

Upvote • 

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

First Released Feb 13, 2015
released
  • 3DS

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the updated release of Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS.

9
Superb

Average Rating

59 Rating(s)

9

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
Blood, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence