Monster Hunter 4U: A Game for Slight Masochists

2:04 AM

I love Monster Hunter. It's a series that I've sunk well over 900 hours (across several games) of my life into. With the latest installment, MH 4 Ultimate, they've added and combined all the best aspects of the previous games, somehow balanced all of the weapons pretty darn well, and gave us one solid, hell of a game. I'm just going to rant about stuff that's bothered me, gotten me carted ("killed" so to speak"), or is such a salty-rage inducing inclusion or change that it just begs to be yelled at. On the list are things like small monsters that are everywhere (and too much everywhere), system and game mechanics, monster designs, camera controls and maybe things that are part of the series (and have never changed). The list is in no particular order:

1. Konchu
2. Hit Boxes
3. Najarala
4. Camera (Camera Controls)
5. Wind Pressures
6. Guild Box changes
7. Bad Luck

The strongest monster in the game
1. Konchu

These damned little critters. Known as "konchu", or perhaps a more fitting name "rolling invincible hell", these insects inhabit much of the world that MH4U takes place in. You can find them in almost every biome (in forests, snowy mountains, deserts, etc), and they're there to make your game life a living hell. They don't do a lot of damage, but they can detect you from half a map away (a long way), roll up in to a ball, set collision course for your unsuspecting character and bump into you while you're in the middle of doing some serious hunting business. They're shells are harder than anything else in the game. Gravios, a wyvern with a rock hard hide reflects most weapons, but has some weak spots. This god damn bug will tank the first hit of almost anything. It's like it has a buff of negate damage for one hit or something. After that first hit, it's more or less susceptible to damage, until it rolls up again. Seriously, we should be able to make some sort of potion that negates damage for a single hit out of this thing. Makes me wonder how Yian Kut-Ku eat these things, if a White sharpness (second from the maximum sharpness level) blade can't cut through it's rolled up defense.

In the upper ranks, Konchu will hitch rides of larger monsters, lending their ridiculously overpowered defenses to many of the monsters you'll face. It'll cling to the arms of a Congalala, giving it spiffy shoulder pads that could stop a speeding train. Swing your blade at it, and it'll bounce off the shell of the bug, leaving your character teetering backwards for a moment, reeling from impact. In that moment you're open to attacks from the beast who you just took a swing at - and chances are that the beast will swing back pretty hard.

2. Hit Boxes

For those unfamiliar with the term, a hit box is a part of the model that determines what and where the model will interact with the environment and players. Let's say you had an airplane, but it's hit box only surrounded it's fuselage, leaving the wings out. The wings would pass right through you, and your character would be untouched. Now, if the fuselage hit your character, you'd see collide with the plane.

Hit boxes in Monster Hunter have some...notoriety, shall we say. Most of it comes with Plesioth, a fishy wyvern from the earlier games. It's a pretty big fish wyvern, and it's hit box sometimes makes it slightly bigger than it actually it. Based on the visual data, the wyvern's hip check (it's most famous attack) might clearly pass right over your character's head. But that hit box extends old Plessy's reach just a bit, enough to just clip the top of your head, registering the hit. Thankfully, Plesioth's been reduced to a fish - literally, as you only encounter this aquatic nightmare via a fishing machine. The hit box nightmares, unfortunately, don't end with it though...

3. Najarala

Najarala is a long wyvern. Perhaps that's not surprising, as it's classified as a "snake wyvern", falling somewhere in between "lizard" and "snake" in the evolutionary spectrum. It's royal pain to fight. No matter how careful I am, I always take many more hits than I'd like to from this thing. It slithers around, pushing forward with it's legs and does a whole lot of coiling up. Every time it coils up, that hit box will knock you over, dealing a trivial amount of damage, but leaving you prone to attack for a moment - and that moment comes often. It can coil around you while you're knocked down, paralyze you and burrow up from underneath to deal a significant amount of damage. There are a few ways of getting out, and the most popular is diving over it's tail and out of the coil. While it's coiling around you, it can still knock you over while you run around to dive. The dive, itself, is typically pretty safe. You can dive through "laser" beams, tackles and most things. The Najarala's paralyzing bite, however, hits you fast enough to get you right as your feet leave the ground, perhaps just at your last frame of mortality before those lovely invincibility frames kick in for the dive.

Things only get worse once it's subspecies, the Tidal Najarala gets involved. Like the regular Najarala, it'll throw scales off of it's tail to use as weapons. Vanilla Naj will blow the scales up with vibrations it produces, making the scales into bombs. Tidal Naj will use the scales like pin ball bumpers, shooting a frozen spitball at them and sending them on a complex trajectory that often has an unsuspecting and confused you as the terminus.

Najarala also has one more thing going in it's favour, and that's the game's camera.

4. The Camera

Apparently, it's more pulled in than before. I haven't gone back to compare, but I have noticed that there are a whole lot more "dead angles" than before. Dead angles (my naming) are when the camera is in a position where you can't see what going on. There might be a monster in front of your character, obscuring your view, or maybe the monster is big enough that the important parts of it (like it's tooth face) are just off of screen and you're left guessing where to jump or what's going to happen. You've got control of the camera, using either the touch screen or the nub (on the New 3DS), but sometimes, no amount of adjusting will save you. For monsters that fly a lot, like Kushala Daora or a Rathalos, the camera doesn't swing up nearly enough to make it a comfortable view to fight, adjusting it back when it lands can sometimes go wrong and leave you with a mess of a camera. If there was a way to make the camera movement faster, I would have set it to max, because manually controlling the camera seems to swing it around slower than previously. Hitting L very quickly brings the camera behind your character or target the monster, but sometimes it doesn't work as intended, or brings you to a dead angle.

Pull the camera out a wee bit more, so I have a wee bit wider vision and maybe I can jump out of the incoming fangs of a Najarala.

5. Wind Pressure

This isn't barometric pressure, or the speed of the jet stream or anything like that. Wind Pressure refers to the animation where your character retracts from strong winds. You'll usually encounter it either just as a wyvern lands from flying or just as it takes off. CAPCOM's increased the duration of this animation, but generally it's something that's just an annoyance...until you have to fight a Rathalos or a Kushala Daora. Then it becomes a serious hindrance worthy of vein popping salty rage. When enraged, Rathalos will roar, which leaves your character covering their ears and prone. Then it'll fly up, putting your character from covering their ears to cowering from the winds. While you're still prone, it'll blast you in the face with a fireball, regardless of which side of the wyvern you were on, without fail. It's difficult to dodge this too, because it often happens while you're in the tail end of attack or evading animations.

The wind is even more infuriating with Kushala Daora, as it surrounds itself with a barrier of wind, making it so that even getting close to it will initiate that wind-cowering animation, leaving you open to an icy blast to the face. It's barrier has two states: normal and black. Black is when it's enraged and has the strongest winds. Trying to attack it might catch you mid-swing and leave you on your butt, just waiting for a claw to come and send your flying. I'd say that a good quarter of a Daora fight is trying to get through that damn wind barrier. Poison will "weaken" the barrier, preventing it from going black, but the wind will still get you. For melee hunters, that barrier is probably one of the most infuriating things a monster can have.

6. Guild Boxes

Can I just say that I wish I could at least turn my character when I'm guarding? I understand not being able to move (unless it's a lance), but can I at least pivot in place? Is that too much to ask?!

7. The Red Guild Box

Once you're out and in the field, you have two boxes at the base camp. A blue supply box, in which the guild will provide you with (usually) handy supplies to help you, and a red box, in which you'll turn in certain items in exchange for points and currency. Or at least that's how it used to work. Now you can only turn in items required for the quest. Is your pack full of guild exchangeable items? You're out of luck, because the box is no longer accepting items other than the one two key items. It's a pain when you're out gathering, you fill up your pack with a few exchangeable items but can't get rid of them. If only I could get rid of this coal! Or these special mushrooms! Please! Just take them!

8. Dumb Bad Luck

Sometimes it just feels like everything goes wrong and the game is just out to ruin your day. It especially occurs in the upper ranks (G particularly) with annoying monsters like Najarala and Nerscylla (interestingly are also both new monsters). It's definitely bad luck when you fight multiple monsters and they just keep moving into the same area over and over. I was fighting two Zamtrios today and went through all of my fecal explosives (dung bombs will eventually make a monster move to another area) just driving the second Zamtrios away //constantly//. It would keep showing up 3-4 minutes into the fight with the first. Make it stop!

Also, it's not enough to warrant it's own number, but when cats don't do what you want them to do.
When you're stuck in an reaction animation, a cat (ally) will usually come and thwack you out of it. Occasionally, your cat(s) will run right past you. It's even worse when they panic, because they're actually useless for a good bit. You've faced island sized dragons! Why are you freaking out about a monster balloon shark thing? Snap to it!

Also, just if it wasn't clear, I love this latest game. I've dropped almost 200 hours into so far, and (probably for the first time ever) gotten to G rank completely solo (I'm quite proud of that). The more you like something, and the more time you sink into something, the more you find to complain about it. I'm probably getting a bit burnt out from hunting, running into far too much salt to keep it sustainable and healthy.  

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