Welcome to The Final Countdown, GameZone's newest series where we get hyped about games that are just around the corner! As the hours pass, we are counting down the reasons you should be excited (or worried) about upcoming major releases.
The Monster Hunter franchise is quite a behemoth. Maybe not so much in the states, but over in Japan, those games are practically system sellers — just ask the PSP. Outside of a few handheld titles for the PSP and the stellar Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii, that made it over to the US, the HD consoles never really got a good helping of some Dinosaur-slaying action.
While Japan's sales boast over 21 million units sold as of last year, the US has more of a cult following. Regardless, it's undeniable that the Monster Hunter phenomenon has made its way to the West and charmed players with its unique and difficult gameplay.
Outside of the unforgivable difficulty, much of the appeal lies in the massive amount of content available to players. There are hundreds of quests to take part in, testing your skills by tasking you with taking down increasingly hard monsters; the in-depth crafting system which allows players to create a myriad of different weapons and armor; and even the ability to roast yourself some meat. Just don't over-cook it. The games strike a delicate balance between a single-player console game and a MMO. Did I mention it's better with friends?
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate marks the first, true HD release of the franchise in the US. With it comes a companion handheld version, identical to its console counterpart. You read that right; the same experience we're getting on the Wii U will be playable on the 3DS, as well. So what should fans get excited for?
It's Monster Hunter in HD
Sure, graphics aren't everything. Just ask Minecraft. However, there is something totally appealing about finally getting to play Monster Hunter in HD. While it's not a huge graphical leap — a quick boot up of Monster Hunter Tri and then Ultimate — you'll see the improvement in graphics.
Monsters and quests and content, oh my!
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one part expansion, and one part remake of Tri. The basic concept — and even the story — is identical to the earlier Wii version. With Ultimate, you're getting a lot more bang for your buck.
With over 200 missions to tackle and a massive roster of monsters — ranging from easy to kill small ones, to towering behemoths waiting to strike you down in a few blows — you can rest easy knowing that Ultimate will take you a long time to beat. However, since Ultimate is essentially an update to Tri, you can expect a lot of new and extra content not available in the previous version, like new monsters, areas and equipment. This will be quite a monster of a game, for sure.
The game will also support post-launch content that will be going on for several months. Additional quests will be downloadable completely free of charge, expanding the already massive game even more.
Slay monsters with friends online, for free
Ultimate will support up to four players taking on quests together, either online with other Wii U players, or locally via Nintendo 3DS. Not only does playing with friends open up a whole new world of extra quests, the game is just more fun.
However, slaying beasts isn't easier just because you have more people on your team. Hunting requires tactics and coordination. Your weapons dictate your class. Those who wield massive swords or long lances, which are slow, will have to be careful to dodge incoming attacks. Likewise, players with ranged weapons can stay back and hit from afar, while getting in some close melee hits when the enemy is open. Strategy people!
Cross platform play
The PlayStation 3 already revolutionized this with the PS Vita, allowing players to resume their games on-the-go, provided the game was available on both the PS3 and Vita. Naturally, it was time for Nintendo to step in and offer something similar. Since Ultimate is basically identical on both the 3DS and the Wii U, you'll be able to transfer your save files from your Wii U and continue the game on your 3DS if you own both version of the game.
For a game like Ultimate, that's an incredibly handy feature. Remember, the game capitalized on being a portable title in the past with Monster Hunter Freedom and Unite. The fact that I can now transfer that portable experience to my HDTV and vice versa will make the experience far more enjoyable for those that are die-hard Monster Hunter fans.
The cross platform play extends to multiplayer, as well, since players with a 3DS will be able to locally join another player on the Wii U. With each person having their own screen to play on, this will almost redefine couch co-op, since absolutely no real estate on the TV has to be shared with other players.
Day 1 update to add further functionality
Ok, this is probably the last thing anyone would be excited for; however, it shows the dedication to the franchise. The first update that will hit the game will allow multiple features previously inaccessible.
For starters, the update will allow for cross regional play, which means players from all over the world will be able to team up together and take down some big, bad beasties. Secondly, the update will allow for players on the Wii U to play the game entirely from their GamePad. It's not anything that revolutionary given the platform it's on, but the fact that Capcom is working to ensure that these things are implemented into the final game is commendable.
With less than a week to go, will you be ready to answer the call and become a Monster Hunter?