How-To Get Into Monster Hunter
I can chop a Rathian in half with my bare toes!
With the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the 3DS and Wii U, I figured I'd help out the average Joe who has little idea of what he's getting himself into by buying his first Monster Hunter game. The reason I'm writing this is because there are very large, very vocal sections of people who find the Monster Hunter series completely impenetrable. The character movement is clunky and slow, the enemies are really strong and take a lot of hits to kill, and overall there's a lot going that isn't properly explained. Why do I die so easily? Why doesn't my character get up immediately after getting hit? Why does it take so long to heal? Am I damaging the monsters? All of these are common questions that I'll address today.
Starting with "Why do I die so easily?" Game's hard.
So the first step in this process is learning that the character movement being clunky is intentional, you can't go in expecting to play it like Devil May Cry and just slash every enemy to death in seconds. Monster Hunter requires you to stop for a minute, observe the monster you're hunting and plan your attacks appropriately. The fact that animations have such a large priority is to stop you from just running and gunning through every enemy, but the most important thing you need to remember when playing a Monster Hunter game is that while you have animation priority, so does every enemy in the game. You dodge a monster's attack? Then that monster has frames to recover from just like you do. It's important to think of the Monster Hunter games sort of like a fighting game. A fighting game mixed with an RPG that focuses on uneven odds, because while your enemies will have animations, they'll also take way more hits and are often more agile than you are.
Depending on your platform of choice you might notice that the camera is a little difficult to manage, on the PSP you control the camera with the D-Pad and move with the thumb stick, meaning you'll need to use "The Claw" technique. On the Wii or Wii U you can use your classic controller or Wii U Gamepad which both have two joysticks, making it easier to control. And on the 3DS you'll have your choice between using the Circle Pad Pro (Recommended) or the touch-screen D-Pad (Not recommended.) It can be a little jarring to play with what is by all rights is a "Bad" camera, but you need to keep in mind that the camera being so difficult to manage is intentional, Capcom wants you to carefully manage your resources and make meaningful movement decisions. Monster Hunter is as much a game of Chess as it is a third person action game.
So now that you know that the game is built around animation priority and that the camera is meant to be difficult to manage, you're ready to learn about how you'll be hunting monsters. Your custom made character can equip one of the 12 types of weapons:
- Sword and Shield.
- Dual Sword.
- Great Sword.
- Long Sword.
- Hunting Horn.
- Switch Axe.
- Light Bowgun.
- Heavy Bowgun.
In learning how to properly play Monster Hunter you should play around with each weapon, just to figure out what weapon best fits your play style. But if you're just starting out then the easier weapons to use are the Dual Sword and Long Sword. Though I'm partial to the Great Sword, it might be difficult to use for a first timer.
Now that you know the weapon types you should learn about the types of missions available from the start, while Monster Hunter is largely known for giant monsters that are insanely difficult to beat, there are also "Gathering Quests" and "Slaying Quest" in Gathering Quests you scour environments for materials such as plants, ore and monster hides. In Slaying Quests you're tasked with hunting a set amount of the smaller monsters in each environment. These quests are important early on for getting a handle on the controls and gathering enough materials to upgrade or craft some new equipment. But I'll get to that a little later.
Once you've done a few missions, 3ed some weapons, you're ready to start your first hunt. If you're playing 3 Ultimate then the first hunt available should be against an "Arzuros" which is a big bear. He'll be pretty easy and basic, but seeing as he's your first hunt you might still have some issues. Some people have said they weren't even sure they were damaging the monsters they were hunting, the answer is that pretty much if you're hitting the monster then you're damaging it. Occasionally you'll run into a situation where your weapon will bounce off a monster, but even that does a little damage, though if that's happening you should probably hit it somewhere else or sharpen your weapon.
One of the best parts of Monster Hunter is that the equipment you start with can be used to hunt monsters for a long time. It'll take more hits, but you can hunt successfully with your starting weapons for awhile before absolutely needing to upgrade. So you're fighting an Arzuros, if you can't beat him, try a few other weapons, make sure you have plenty of healing items, and dodge dodge dodge. ABD. Always Be Dodging. One of my favorite aspects of Monster Hunter is that you'll get better as you play, so monsters you have a tough time hunting early on will be child's play once you have better equipment and are more attuned to the controls.
But hey, maybe just dodging isn't enough, well, if you still can't beat him by dodging and hitting, then maybe you should upgrade your equipment. How you do this is by talking to the blacksmith in the village, you can either forge completely new weapons and armor or reinforce your existing ones. To do this you'll need to gather the necessary materials by hunting monsters, mining for ore, catching bugs/fish and picking flowers. One common issue is that the game doesn't s3ctly have a list of materials, what areas they're in, or what monsters have those materials, that's because Monster Hunter rewards experimentation above all else. If something isn't working then you need to rework your strategy and go at it from a different angle. But if you're not interested in writing a journal to keep track of everything you need to know, then there are a ton of great resources for information online. There's of course Gamefaqs, but your primary resource should be the Monster Hunter Wiki There's a ton of information from people who are extremely passionate about the series.
So now you know your gameplay systems, weapon types, quest structure and upgrading. What else is there to know? A lot. A whole lot. Monster Hunter is a very deep and complex series of games, and I'm not going to lie, they're pretty tough to get into, I had some less than favorable feelings towards the series while playing the first PSP game. Back then the series didn't do nearly as much to be accessible as they do now. These games weren't like 3 Ultimate, they didn't roll things out slowly, they didn't take it easy on you, you were just dropped into the world and told to hunt. It was a cold, dark place, but once I persevered and took my lumps, Monster Hunter became one of my favorite franchises. It certainly was an uphill battle, but I'm extremely happy that I did.
I hope this little guide helped you in your quest to become the Ultimate Monster Hunter, and remember, use the wiki, there's no shame in looking for information, Monster Hunter is a desolate world of frustrations and strategy, take any help you can get.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is available now for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Monster Hunter 3 Vanilla is available for the Wii. Monster Hunter: Freedom 1, 2, and Unite are available for the PSP. And the original Monster Hunter is available on the PS2.
I should probably tell you a little about each game, and which ones I recommend. Well, for a beginner Monster Hunter 3 and 3 Ultimate are your best bets. They're much more focused on being accessible to new players. But if you want it, get Ultimate, it has the same content as 3 and a ton more, including new monsters, weapons, quests, areas, just overall more of everything. Of the PSP versions I'd recommend Freedom Unite, since that's the most recent version released in America, it's available on the Playstation Store, and is compatible with the Vita, on which is plays amazingly.