Monster Hunter! One of Capcom’s most popular franchises these days. It’s a fan favorite with a die-hard core group of players. Many gamers who aren’t in this core group can find themselves overwhelmed by the vastness of Monster Hunter. There isn’t much in terms of training and orientation in the main Monster Hunter games, unless you have the patience to sit and read tons of little Hunter’s Notes in the menu. I know I sure don’t.
I started playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate a few years ago. The graphics are cool, I love the monsters and the collection aspects of the game. But the actual gameplay I found to be very difficult. In addition, the monsters have different elemental types, of which I knew nothing b/c I didn’t read the Hunter’s Notes. It’s just not a very approachable game, and since everything is based on missions, you don’t have much freedom or storyline. You can’t even necessarily ask friends for help either, as many quests are based on rank. The hardcore players rank up really fast and only the charitable ones will spend their time helping you get up to speed, and even then the noobs tend to simply rely on the higher ranked players and not really learn the game.
At least, that has been my experience. I’ve been WANTING to like Monster Hunter, but I’m just not there in terms of knowledge about the monsters or having the determination to rank up without an interesting story line to keep me motivated. That is, until I started playing Monster Hunter Stories, which is the latest spin-off from the world of Monster Hunter.
Monster Hunter Stories appears on the outside to be a kids game, with it’s cutesy character art style and dialogue. The demo, which I haven’t played, is apparently just a play through of the first few minutes of the game. I think this was a mistake on Capcom’s part, because you don’t really get a feel for what you can do in this game until you have unlocked some of the cooler features. Many of the die-hard MH community have scoffed at this game due to the demo, which is sad.
One main difference between Monster Hunter Stories and the main Monster Hunter franchise is the storyline. There are Story Quests and Sub-Quests, with markers pointing to where you need to go on the vast world map. Why markers? Because MHS is an open world game. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want (once you have unlocked that area in the storyline). Feel like just slaying a bunch of docile Slagtoth and collecting herbs? You do you, boo!
Another major difference is the complete overhaul of the battle system. First of all, you befriend monsters and they will help you to battle against other monsters. You fight in a turn based system that uses a rock-paper-scissor mechanic for the normal attacks. But there’s more to it than the game of chance. Your character gets special Rider skills and attacks, based on your weapon. You can control your monster’s moves, which include awesome special attacks. As you and your monster battle cooperatively, you raise your “kinship” meter, which unlocks killer attacks when filled!
On top of the new battle mechanics, you can also customize your monsters, just like in Pokemon. By collecting eggs and hatching tons of monsters, you can transfer a move from one monster to another. Suddenly you can have a Lagombi, who is a giant icy rabbit who prefers frozen tundras, that now can shoot fireballs at enemy monsters. I would say that if you like Pokemon but think the battles are little too tame, give Monster Hunter Stories a shot. You can also battle your monsters in a tournament setting in-game, or via local wireless and online battles. With so many modes of battle, you will find yourself making different sets of monster teams with different strengths so you can take on any opponent! (Sounds a lot like Pokemon, right?)
I will add that on a personal level, I think that Monster Hunter Stories is fantastic for gamers like me who aren’t familiar with all of the elemental types, especially when it comes to monsters from older MH games. This game is helping me to learn which monsters are weak to the different elements in a more natural way than constantly checking Hunter’s Notes.
For the Monster Hunter purists, I will add that you still have all of the collection aspects of the main games in MHS. You still need to collect endless monster materials to forge new weapons, armor and upgrades. All of your favorite monster armor is available in this game. And you will still need to find all the hidden Poogies, of course!
One final thing I really like about MHS is the storyline itself. The Hunters (basically the characters from the main game) don’t like or trust the Riders (your character and other people who develop kinship with monsters) and you face discrimination and adversity at the beginning. One of your friends suffers tragedy and you watch as he transforms into a darker version of himself. I think it’s very interesting subject matter for a “kids game.” Just saying. The Felynes get to play a much larger role in the story as well, which is pretty fun!
I definitely recommend this game, especially if you are new to Monster Hunter. It’s much more approachable than the main series. Keep an open mind and give these Riders a chance!