What’s the coming over the hill? Oh it’s a herb.
Until Monster Hunter 3U, I’d never played a single Monster Hunter Game. I’d always heard of them and thought it’d be a lot of fun but for some reason never picked one up. Desperate for good games on my Wii U, I picked it up on release day, and then grabbed a copy on the 3DS as well along with a 3DSXL because we had a bunch of credit from trade ins. Starting into the Monster Hunter world, the first thing I realised was that it is a game with a lot of assumed knowledge. The controls are odd, the goals are slightly vague and you get a huge choice of weapons from four kinds of swords right up to bagpipes, and you can choose any of them from the start. Oh and it’s multiplayer and when you hear experts talking about it it sounds like a foreign language. So in this series I’m going to be chronicling my adventures into Monster Hunter from the start. If you have any advice for me let me know in the comments!
Starting up Monster Hunter 3U for the first time, you get treated to a fairly spectacular CGI video. It shows huge monsters and brave warriors fighting in a variety of terrains. When you start the game properly, you watch a load of strange men wearing assless chaps and thongs bartering with pigs in a fishing village. To be honest I’m not sure if this is meant to be funny, so I tried to be stoic throughout, not wanting to mock another culture. But why thongs?
You get told that the village has been under attack by some giant monster, you’re a hunter (I can see where this is going) and you need to get yourself prepared with experience and gear before you do anything about it. Running around the village there’s a bunch of different people to talk to, including a suspicious cat who stands next to your bed and doles out advice, and some crafting/shop NPCs who are asking for things like ‘Monster Bone S’ and various scales and bones. Checking my inventory I find I’ve also got one of each of the starting weapons, being such a budding entrepreneur I of course sell all of the ones I decide I don’t want, being left with just a sword and shield. What could go wrong with a sword to stab things and a shield to block things? I was set to go.
The first objective involved going out and killing some giant dinosaur type things that wander around like cows. They’re easily ten feet tall, so I approached them with some caution. Finally getting close, I launched into an attack… only to stop and sharpen my sword. Apparently the ‘Y’ button (confusingly in place of the X or Square buttons) uses whatever item you’ve got equipped, and apparently sharpening your sword is a good thing. None the less, it didn’t scare away the beasts, so I returned to the hunt.
After messing around with the camera, and realising I can’t lock on to creatures that are ‘big’ creatures, I finally discovered that ‘X’ (in place of Y or triangle) was actually the attack button, leading me to swipe ineffectually at the giant dinosaur cow, only for it to turn and look at me disapprovingly. It didn’t even fight back, it just looked a little let down by my assault, and then turned and started wandering off with its friends. I managed to chase it down a little, but each time I attacked I had to stop walking, and I guess I wasn’t quite facing the right direction, so I missed repeatedly, until they all ran off the edge of the map.
Slightly dejected, I wandered around for a little while gathering herbs and honey from nearby resource points. Even that took me a while as it turns out you can’t pick things up unless you have put your weapon away. you put your weapon away by pressing the use item button, but it doesn’t use an item. then you can press ‘B’ (which is where ‘or the other X’ should be) to pick things up. After a minute or so, the big cattleosaurs came back, and I charged at them, mercilessly hacking one to piece. I guess this was progress. I even had time to loot it, (gathering some raw meat), before I chased the baby one down and slaughtered that too. Gruesome I suppose, but admittedly satisfying. They didn’t fight back so I don’t think I was quite a warrior yet, but at least I had completed some goals. I then had to go find some guy who was hanging out near the sea.
Over the next few hours I learnt how to trade in resources and report kills to get more resources. I learnt that the raptor style dinosaurs can actually hurt you, and I picked up a great sword as my tiny sword and shield did seemingly zero damage, and the shield was pretty tough to block things with. I even ventured underwater to fight some fish (that also refused to fight back) using a harpoon I’d been handily provided with. The final part of my tutorial was to be given access to the quests, ranked by stars, that would seemingly handle the bulk of my progression.
I became quite comfortable with the surroundings, heading out to find upgrade items to use on my weapons and armour, crafting and organising my pitifully small backpack so I didn’t waste anything. When my health was low I could find herbs and mushrooms and mix them to create potions, I was kind of the lands. Then I was sent on a quest to go to a certain part of the sea. Slightly concerned as to what I might find, having only just mastered lining up my terribly slow great sword swings in just the right direction to catch the raptors and thieving cats as they moved, I nevertheless swam out to the sea, enjoying the fact that while swimming the graphics look a tiny bit nicer.
Heading into a new areas I saw a group of the same pleiosaur type monsters I’d been harvesting for animal guts earlier, but then something terrible happened. A giant blue beast swam through, devouring one as he passed. I was scared, but I was ready to fight, this would be where the great tales of Monster Hunter had come from surely, my chance to stand up against this behemoth. Along the bottom of my screen a little dialogue box opened up ‘You can’t win this fight, don’t be a hero, swim away as fast as you can’. I couldn’t believe it, this was just a tease, a chance to show me something frightening. Having learnt a while ago to follow those instructions at the risk of getting lost, I grudgingly agreed and swam back to complete my quest and call it quits for a night. One day I’ll come back and kill that monster, one day.