Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Preview

By Jared Scott on April 29, 2014, 3:52PM EDT

It seems just like only yesterday that Capcom brought Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate to the rest of the world on the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS. Yet barely a year has gone by and Capcom has already confirmed that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will make its way outside of Japan in 2015.

Unlike last time, very few gamers have actually had a chance to play Monster Hunter 4 outside of Japan. With the decision to skip a release of the original game, we take a look at not only what was introduced and refined in Monster Hunter 4, but also what gamers can expect to see in its Ultimate counterpart when it releases towards the start of 2015.

Perhaps the two greatest additions brought to Monster Hunter 4 were the introduction of new weapons and online multiplayer.

Let's talk about the weapons first, starting off with the Charge Axe. This basically acts as the Sword and Shield, but it can combine into a Switch Axe like weapon. Attacking in sword mode builds up vials that can be used in axe mode to inflict statuses such as exhaust and stun.

The Bug Staff is certainly the most unique of the two. Using a pole-arm and large beetle on your wrist, players can fight by swinging the staff around them and pole jump into the air. With the bug, players can shoot pheromones onto the enemy where the bug will land and return a "color." After collecting a certain amount, the player will receive status boosts. Getting different colors results in different buffs and leaves energy swirling around the player. Both the Charge Axe and Bug Staff have wild attack patterns that are both chaotic and appealing to the eyes.

Online play has been around since the series' PS2 debut, but on the PSP and 3DS it has often been finicky. Both systems required their older, console brothers to actually play online with friends and it made the whole experience frustrating. This time, however, MH4 will allow online play without using a crutch. According to importers, online play works wonderfully even when playing with others across the globe.

The Feline partners return in place of little Cha-Cha and Kayamba to assist in battle. Just like in MH3U you will have two of them fighting at your side. Though they do not wear masks, players can give them armor and weapons.Maps appear to have been taken to a whole new level. Each section of a map is very unique and doesn't feel like a copy paste job compared to previous games.

Speaking of maps, the terrain is much more interactive. To engage monsters, players will constantly climb and jump platforms to take advantage of their surroundings. A player can even jump off of ledges to attack and mount on a monster to enter a mini game scenario that can leave the monster disoriented. As with any new entry to the series, Monster Hunter 4 has new monsters and that means new armor and weapons. Newly introduced is excavation armor. While more powerful than typically crafted armor, the stats for excavation armor are random.

While many new monsters are in Monster Hunter 4, such as a fanged, rock-toad and armored spider, there are many returning monsters such as the Yian Kut-Ku, Gypceros, and Khezu which makes the roster of opponents very large.

A first for the series, players will travel to multiple villages and help them with their troubles. Travel is done with a whale shaped caravan and t brings along your companions such as the chef and smiths along with you. Monster Hunter 4 also introduces the virus status. When the player is infected a bar appears and once it fills, health regain is cancelled and your defense drops. If the player damages the monster that caused the infection enough, the bar disappears and players gain an affinity boost for critical hits.

The only notable complaints from importers of Monster Hunter 4 are the occasional muddy floors and a limited amount of craft-able Charge Axes and Bug Staffs.

Thanks to Capcom in the past localizing the "G" editions of several Monster Hunter games, we can make a fairly accurate guess as to what will be in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

The first is, of course, even more new monsters. Every G edition of Monster Hunter includes several new monsters which again leads to new armor and new weapons. While Capcom did not actually show any new creatures during their announcement video, you can bet your best Bowgun that there will be some insane species introduced in MH4U.

Speaking of weapons, MH4U will probably address the complaint of the number of new weapon types. This can be assumed from the changes from Monster Hunter Tri to Monster Hunter 3 U. Tri was the first game to introduce the Switch Axe, but there were few to choose from. Thankfully MH3U fixed this, and seeing as how most MH4 owners love the two new weapons, it only makes sense that Capcom would respond in kind.

The G editions often add new maps to fight monsters but it is also possible that Capcom will add more villages to travel to. Since one of the new touted features of MH4 were visiting villages outside of the main one, an extra village or two would certainly be a plus.

Lastly, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will certainly have G Rank quests. The origin of the "G" label, G Rank quests are the most challenging battles in the game. As many fans of the series will point out, G Rank is when armor's defense is almost insignificant. The strength of a monster can take out a hunter in a few blows. And while hunting G Rank monsters and visiting G Ranked locations provide new, powerful materials for weapons and armor, it will never substitute the necessity of recognizing monsters' behavioral and attack pattern which will probably change in G Rank.

While the exact content of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will not be known until around 2015, there are certainly many things to expect. From new monsters and weapons to new maps and villages, MH4U will certainly be a meaty experience for fans of this ever growing franchise.

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