Kill a monster. Carve its corpse up for meat and valuable materials. Craft better kit from them. Kill a bigger monster. Repeat. You have now experienced Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in its purest, most simplistic form.
A vague set up establishing your user-created character as a newly arrived hunter in a fishing village, and a vaguer-still end goal of a slaughtering a legendary mega-monster, is all that passes for a plot in this ode to monotony. Although a quest system offers up specific challenges to accomplish, they’re all of the hunt, gather, or capture variety. Monster Hunter games are a virtual slaughterhouse for gamers who would prefer mincing Pokémon to raising them; a product of game design calculated to trigger and exploit that shadowy core of OCD lingering in every gamer’s psyche. The worst part? It triggers that OCD very, very well.
Despite all its very obvious flaws – clunky movement, simplistic combat, small and bland locations, and the near-interminable repetition factor – chances are you’ll find yourself pouring hours into the game. There’s a satisfaction in getting that slightly better armour or finally killing the gargantuan beast you’ve been avoiding for hours, and the constant trickle of completed objectives and newer loot creates a Pavlovian sense of reward. Multiplayer, either local co-op on the 3DS version or online and local through Wii U, livens things considerably, adding a level of competitiveness between friends.
Each format delivers the same game, with save files transferable between the two. However, the core offering on both is only an upgraded version of 2010’s Monster Hunter Tri, with the anaemic additions of some new critters to hunt down and the reintroduction of underwater sections. Even hardened fans of the series may balk at essentially replaying a three-year old game, no matter how pretty the high-definition overhaul for the Wii U is in places – largely the monsters themselves, if not the aforementioned bland areas you’ll be killing them in. Overall, great for those who love grinding aimlessly; a minor curiosity for everyone else.