I’d like to preface this hands-on preview by saying I have never played a Monster Hunter game up until this point in my life, but after playing Monster Hunter 4 with three other gamers I’m sold on the franchise and can’t wait to take the fourth iteration for an extended spin on February 13, 2015. Due to my inexperience with the franchise you’ll also have to excuse my lack knowledge with its inner-workings, but luckily for other Monster Hunter noobs, MH4 is quite easy to pick up and play, so it’ll be a good place to dive into the franchise if you’re looking for a new 3DS title.
In the demo I played as a dual blade wielding badass who had vibrant purple blades that could lay waste to even the most dangerous of beasts. The controls are very intuitive with standard offensive attacks being tied to the face buttons, as well as the ability to sheath your weapon and dodge roll to escape oncoming attacks. To help stay on the trail of an escaped monster, or to keep up with your party, there’s also a run mechanic, although you must sheath your weapon if you want to go all Usain Bolt.
The game demo we played had us going after a large velociraptor looking monster that led us on a frantic chase through multiple areas. Thanks to the power of the New 3DS XL the loading time between these areas is almost non-existent, and according to the rep that was playing with us the loads will be 3-5 seconds longer on the older 3DS models. It probably took us ten minutes to take down the beast, but during each encounter the monster exhibited the effects of our beatings. For example, towards the end of the fight the monster was limping and much less veracious with his attacks. He also preferred to run versus fight, which was a drastic change from the first time we did battle with him.
Visually the game looks great, especially on the New 3DS XL thanks to the 3D face tracking and overall increased performance. The design of each of the characters is unique and their getups have a very Japanese feel to them, and anime fans will surely appreciate the artistic style too. I didn’t notice any frame rate issues while playing, and the multiplayer experience was seamless, so I didn’t notice any degradations due to playing with three other people.
I have very much to learn about the Monster Hunter franchise in general, but based on my short time with the game at PAX South I’m a new fan of the series. The ability to play with friends is a plus, especially if you’re doing it locally. The gameplay is very easy to grasp even if you’re a Monster Hunter noob like myself, and it looks great running on the 3DS. Long time fans of the franchise will surely like what MH4 has to offer, so make sure to mark February 13, 2015 down on your calendar to prep for its official release.
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