Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: A Tale Of Two Monster Hunters

By Ishaan . March 25, 2013 . 12:01am

Monster Hunter is often described as a game about hunting big monsters, finding loot, getting stronger, and then hunting down even bigger monsters. However, I’ve always felt that description doesn’t quite do justice to the series. It makes it sound like the games are just about hunting for sport, and while that is one of the many emotions you experience—especially in multiplayer—there’s more to the Monster Hunter games than just killing beasties for fun.


Monster Hunter is more a game about living in a world filled with fantastical creatures, rather than one where you simply do battle with them. The setting is a convincing mix of prehistoric and medieval, where men and a wide assortment of creatures encompassing dinosaurs, sabre-toothed bears, giant rabbits and more live together in an uneasy arrangement governed by the food chain. The creatures aren’t evil. They just want to eat, sleep and mate like all animals. Meanwhile, the humans need to live with the knowledge that their neighbours just so happen to be angry fire-breathing dragons and sea monsters. This is how everyday life is in the world of Monster Hunter.


There’s no animosity here or good-versus-evil story. The creatures in the game aren’t the reincarnated form of some ancient deity out to conquer the world or what-have-you. They’re just hungry and territorial. Meanwhile, living alongside all these monsters has made for a tough human race that still shows that familiar affinity for science and progression and trade. Monster dung makes for good fertilizer. Monster claws and teeth make for sturdy tools. Monster hides make for good clothing. Certain monster parts make for valuable trade items. Living alongside monsters is a way of life. It’s a little bit like Pokémon, but more realistic in that these creatures aren’t nearly as tame as Pokémon tend to be.


Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate does an especially good job of creating a convincing backdrop along those lines. Moga Village, the game’s setting, is a tiny, hardworking village of people that has recently been thrown into panic by recurring tremors in the area. At the root of these tremors appears to be a terrible sea creature known as the Lagiacrus. Determined not to let the Lagiacrus disrupt their way of life, the people of Moga send a request for a hunter—mercenaries for hire that are capable of holding their own out in the wild against the worst of these creatures. Your character—who you can create and extensively customize—answers the call, and before you know it, you’re not just helping protect the village, but also helping it grow by gathering resources, developing a farm, engaging in trade, and taking on assignments for the Hunter’s Guild.


Sure, at the end of the day, most of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate involves running around, plucking mushrooms, mining ore, and using these materials to build weapons to slay monsters with, but the game’s world provides a very comfortable backdrop for you to do this all in. Hunting doesn’t feel overly violent or glorified in any manner. It never feels like you’re doing it for any purpose other than that it’s just how life is in this world. You hunt, you scavenge, you eventually get stronger, and then you hunt some more. This is one of the many reasons that there’s nothing else quite like Monster Hunter out there.


The above is an introduction you may find insightful if you’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before. If you have, though, think of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate as exactly what the title says—the “ultimate” version of the third generation of Monster Hunter games. The Pokémon Crystal or Emerald or Platinum of the Monster Hunter 3 series. There’s a whole lot of content, both completely new and returning from the previous games, a significant visual improvement, and a much needed streamlining of the series’ controls.


Most of this streamlining comes from the availability of a touch screen, which works great for a game like Monster Hunter, where you have to manage a dozen things all at once in the heat of battle. On the Nintendo 3DS, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate makes smart use of the system’s touch screen by allowing you to customize it with the game features you use most. You can now access your entire item pouch from the touch screen, move your map down there to keep it from cluttering up the main screen, view your item combo lists, view the status of your team and more. Having your item pouch on the touch screen is immensely useful, as it effectively allows you to select an item with just a couple of quick taps without having to stand around and scroll through your inventory like in previous games. It also means that you can now have, say, a potion, hot-keyed to your item button (Y), but also have quick access to other frequently used items like bombs or traps via the touch screen.


Another immensely handy feature is that you can now simultaneously move the camera and your character at the same time without having to contort your hand into absurdly painful positions. This may not seem like a big deal to the folks that played Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, but it’s a boon for the folks that tend to prefer their Monster Hunter games on portables. On the 3DS, the camera can be controlled by using a digital D-pad on the right-hand side of the touch screen. It might take an hour or two of playing to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way, especially in conjunction with the new “Target Camera” feature.


Target Camera is a handy feature that lets you decide where you want the camera to focus when you press the L button. Normally, pressing L centres the camera behind your character. However, if there’s a large monster in the area, its icon will appear on the touch screen, and tapping it will turn on Target Camera. From then on, whenever you press L, the camera will turn to face the monster, bringing it back into your sights. If you’re fighting two large monsters at once, both of their icons will appear on the touch screen, allowing you to choose whichever one you want the camera focus on. This is useful if you’re fighting two of the same kind of monster, and want to focus on beating one of them before taking on the other.


Target Camera should be most useful for players that like to use ranged weapons. Prior to Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, I was never fond of using Bowguns, but since I have the Target Camera to help bring a monster back into my sights now, it’s made me switch to using a Light Bowgun as my main weapon. It’s a thoughtful feature that serves as a nice middle ground between the inaccessibility of previous Monster Hunter cameras and the threat of making the game too easy by adding a lock-on function.


For all its advancements and improvements, though, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate probably isn’t going to help make the game more accessible for people that weren’t already invested in the series. There’s still a whole lot to do with little to no explanation of how things work. Even if you’re a seasoned player, you’re still going to have to be resourceful and look things up on the Internet or get help from more knowledgeable friends when it comes to understanding all of the weapons, skills and plethora of other features in the game. For example, I didn’t know that free hunting at night is no longer accessible until much later in the game, which wasn’t the case in Monster Hunter Tri. Nor did I understand the differences between doing Solo quests in Moga Village and Tanjia Port until I Googled the info up. In a nutshell, this is still Monster Hunter.


Spencer’s impressions

I’ve been playing both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. While the Wii U version has enhanced graphics it’s clearly a port of the 3DS game, which was an enhanced port of a Wii game. Perhaps the biggest issue with the graphics is the tiny text boxes that pop up in the bottom right hand corner. If Capcom didn’t want to disrupt the game’s atmosphere they could have put the text boxes on the Wii U GamePad. I suppose that problem will be solved when Capcom releases an update in April that adds off TV play and cross-region online play.


Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate lets 3DS and Wii U players hunt in the same game. Only the Wii U player gets the big screen, but it’s a nice addition for hunting parties. I’ve been playing the game mostly through an ad-hoc Wii U to 3DS connection and sometimes the screens are out of sync, like my hunter clipped through Lagombi once. What’s really nice about the 3DS and Wii U connectivity is the data transfer feature. On Friday, Capcom released a free app that transfers save data between the 3DS and Wii U version. Being able to take your hunter on the go and enjoy Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on a big screen is a great feature since there’s so much to see and do in the game. Of course, you’ll need two copies of the game to make use of portable to big screen hunting. Data transfers are full transfers so if you want to take your hunter on the go you cannot have another character on the 3DS cartridge.


The Wii U controller makes Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate a bit friendlier to newcomers. You can customize panels on the GamePad’s touchscreen to access your item belt, sort through ammo or add a virtual control pad (not really necessary for the Wii U version). Basically, you have shortcuts you didn’t have in Monster Hunter Tri. Starting out with all twelve weapons was another good idea since it gives players a chance to figure out their play style. While there are some resource hunting quests in the beginning that act like a tutorial, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate still has a steep learning curve. I think Miiverse is chipping away at that problem since members thus far have been answering questions and you can browse through answers while you’re playing the game.


Food for thought:

If there’s one thing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is really good at, it’s getting you excited for Monster Hunter 4. My only real complaint about MH3U is that, like in previous games, there’s a lot of fakery going on with the environment. You’ll see lots of areas in the environment—little nooks and crannies and ledges—that you can’t actually reach. Monster Hunter 4, however, looks like it’s going to let you go to just about any place that you can see, which is very exciting. The game’s world, in general, looks far more animated and alive than in MH3U.

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  • Go2hell66

    Lol i definitely know what you mean about the “fakery” going on.

    particularly when your swimming in the ocean in Moga Forest and it looks so big, and it looks like you can just keep on swimming until you reach the next island, then out of nowhere… you hit that infamous invisible wall…

    really annoying but i must say the background imagery is incredible.

    still the game has incredible amount of depth to it, and yes since i started playing this game. me and google have become best friends, i pretty much have to look up where to find almost every item. all in all i think this is the MUST OWN game for 3DS and Wii U

    • XypherCode

      Google is a must for every hunter. XD

    • Wait till you hit the Tower (Night) map for Moon / Lucent Naruga. The night sky there is breathtaking…until you remember you’ve got a very irritating monster to fight below

      • Ferofax

        Hell, Moga Woods night sky was breathtaking for me the first time I got there. Everything just looks so… gorgeous. I’m glad this series hasn’t lost that adventurous spark to it which I definitely felt in the first game (MHF1).

  • SilentMC

    Hey the claw wasn’t that bad, I didn’t have an issue with it at least. I personally don’t like the Target Cam or touchscreen camera, they really just got in the way for me. I guess that’s what the Circle Pad Pro is for

    • Ferofax

      How many hours before you start “not having an issue” with the claw?

      Imagine how many hours you’ll need to quickly adapt to the new camera options.

      • SilentMC

        I only needed a day or 2 back with MHFU to adjust to the claw. From the little bit of time I spent with Target cam, I had a far easier time with regular L turning to control the camera.

        As for the touchscreen Dpad, I have never been able to get used to a Dpad that I can’t feel, whenever I use it I’ve always needed to look down at the bottom screen midbattle to properly control the camera, and in a game like MonHun, you really don’t want to direct attemtion away from anything that’s happening on-screen.

        I have been playing the game since it’s japanese release, so I know what works and what doesn’t for me

        • Ferofax

          Ah, then preference kicks in. I suppose that’s reasonable enough.

          I myself don’t use the virtual dpad, but I did find that if I can move left/right AND pan the camera left/right at the same time with only the left thumb, by pressing on them using the length of my thumb. It’s easy enough for horizontal panning, even hitting UP if I need to. Underwater is a different ballgame though. It’s really either Target Lock there or CPP.

  • gamerdude

    They have improved so many little things they never mention on reviews.
    Gathering spots have gone through a complete overhaul and it has a big impact on gameplay.

    I especially love the fact that spider webs are no longer extremely rare.

    Online and offline are more merged than ever before making the jump almost seamless.

    This might sound small but now you can save after each quest which makes especially the online mode a much more fluid experience with 100% less waiting around.

    You can also eat after signing up for a quest which results in a lot less cancelled and re-applied grouping process.

    Have I mentioned that the new online lobby looks gorgeous?

    There is no way I’ll put this game down this year there are enough things to keep you playing for few years!

    • Go2hell66

      i don’t really like the new gathering spots they look really ugly, i preferred it when you could mine ores from huge crevices in the mountains instead some little random generated round thing that looks like a piece of fruit.

      and where the heck are you getting your spider webs because i can’t find any o_o

      • gamerdude

        Gathering points look exactly as they did in Tri but the contents are shuffled.

        In Tri you could only get webs from few places like the sunken forest but in Ultimate you can get them even from deserted island.

        You can get them by gathering or by just catching butterflies in several locations making them easier to find than ever before.

        May I also suggest to new players to start using the fishing ships and the farm as early as possible.

        It might seem like it’s not doing that much at the beginning but as you level them up you’ll appreciate how good resources they pull in in the long run. Fishing especially has random chance of finding rare items and you want to have as many of those chances as possible by the time you start needing those items.

        • Ferofax

          Random, respawning gathering points certainly made it easier for the player to gather stuff, and you are not limited (in a way) because even if you exhaust a gathering point, another one just pops up somewhere else.

          • Yes, there are certain items from the Fishing Ships that you’ll definitely need later in the game, including materials for the Altea armor, Golden Eggs to make +Luck jewels, and the imcomplete crowns for your combination list. You can even get Power Juice from them

      • Exkaiser

        Deserted Island area 3. It’s the bugcatching spot in the center of the map, and that one always shows up.

        One thing that bothers me is that they do sometimes stick the mining spots inside the crevices, but it’s not in every area.

      • Rei

        Spider webs are soo easy to get in the new MH. Just go catch some bugs.

      • Agree, I can’t find spider webs to save my life. It was way easier in previous games cause I knew the spots.

  • Draparde

    yeah, this really does make me want to play MH4, but it should be a good tide-over until i can start whacking monsters with my Insect staff.

    also i miss Hypnoc, i wish they’d never take monsters out of the games lol.

  • XypherCode

    I’m really enjoying MH3U right now with all the added content.

    Can’t wait for MH4! Combat is cool and graphics are great if not stretched.

    Not great to look at on trailers because it’s stretched though but still looks good.

    • You can now rejoice as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is coming!

      • XypherCode

        Yeah I know but I’m surprised you could still comment on this old article. xD

        • It is my favorite article, I would hope I still can for a long while. xP

  • Rei

    I’m enjoying MH3U on the 3DS and since online multiplayer isn’t available on it, I just got myself a Wii U today just for MH! MH is that much fun.

  • Spirit Macardi

    I’ve been playing the Wii U version, and this honestly feels like the most balanced MH title yet. With the new monsters mixed in and the new craftable equipment, it never feels like I need to excessively grind for resources to get the next level of armor/weapons/etc. As a result I’ve been doing FAR better in this game than in previous ones, and have actually been taking down big monsters on my first try rather than after getting KO’d by them twice (if that).

  • TiredOfMyOldUsername

    Personally i really hate the farm in that game…
    Not only you can farm really few items, it also cost you resource point which are easy to get, but take a quite a bit of times to get.
    It’s already long enough to hunt for monsters material, they should at least make it easier to farm mineral and insects items.
    Doing a gathering mission 6 times only to get 1 carpenter bug isn’t fun at all…
    I really hope the farm will come back to how it was in all portable MH until now

    • Spirit Macardi

      There’s actually a ton of free points you can get through the online downloads. More than enough to last you until big monsters start showing up in gathering missions.

      • TiredOfMyOldUsername

        Well maybe big monsters later will be worth it , but for now i only have Great Jaggi and Qurupeco and both of them are dissapointing in the number of points they give.
        Usually in around 20-30 minutes i get around 1K point and that’s only good enough to last around 5-6 days( 5-6 missions) in game.

        • Yup it’s not worth it to spend too much resource points this early in the game. Remember that capturing Moga Forest monsters gives some extra coins. If you’re really desperate for coins go to the 1 person Arena or Challenge quests, get a Rank S for the 3~4 coins and turn them into resource points

    • gamerdude

      You don’t really need the farm all that much so it is possible to ignore it completely if you prefer gathering.

      I think it’s good when you check it every now and then especially now that they made it accessible from online hub too.

      Besides you get a lot more farm lots as you level it up so it produces more crops that you can consume.

  • Adrián Alucard

    it is really hard to get the Wii U pack, I haven’t find any one…

  • Exkaiser

    Target Cam is pretty legit. It’s what I use the most.

    • J_Joestar

      Ironically i find that i’m shifting more towards the digital D-pad while i almost exclusively used the target cam in the demo. being able to read just the DDP to fit my hand better has finally gotten me to notice the minute delay the target cam has.

  • AaqibRawat

    loving the monsters in HD.

  • Zefiro Torna

    I’ll admit, I was disappointed at first realizing that I could not use the circle pad pro to attack like I’ve been doing ever since the first PS2 MH game. “Waste of money! Why did I buy this thing and the 3DS version!” Soon though, I reached the underwater quests and came to accepting the CPP as a godsend. This is my first time playing MH on a handheld, and I’ve already put way too much time in to it as well as neglected Etrian Odyssey IV.

    A fantastically written introduction in this article by the way. Like an explorer/researcher reporting on a civilization he discovered and spent several years living with. Takes me back to these blasts from the past…

    • Oh my god. I can’t believe someone remembers those. Thanks for the kind words. :)

      Heh. I can’t believe the turnaround on Monster Hunter. Back in 2010, I really wasn’t all that keen on it. It was the demo for Tri that really did the trick.

  • gamerdude

    What I don’t get is why people compare this game to Pokemon?
    I mean seriously do this games have anything at all in common?

    I just finished Pokemon HeartGold right before starting Mh3U and I think pretty much any other game has more in common with this game than Pokemon. Every fantasy game ever made has monsters if that’s what the connection is about.

    Both are amazing games in their own right, just different mechanics and genres.

    • puchinri

      I usually people wanting a crossover of the two rather than actually comparing them. Which, would be pretty fantastic and is legit (given the size and entries for many Pokemon). There’s also a lot of really great fanart that just makes the idea more tantalizing.

      • gamerdude

        I know that one and frankly every time I want to rip the skin of Pikachu to make a new helmet is mostly never.

        Pokemon helping me to kill and rip apart a MH monster is also against the general animal loving attitude of Pokemon series and leaving monster materials unused would be just cruel and irresponsible behavior in MH.

        I know we live in an era of mashing things together but I hope this crossover just doesn’t happen.

        • puchinri

          Well, Pikachu would be more like Cha Cha, right?

          I think some of the more eldritch abomination Pokemon and ones that are murderous would be the ones you’d be killing. Like a Tentacruel or something. I think some of the fanart does a good job of portraying how it can be done effectively without (entirely) losing the essence of either. I definitely see some indulgence every once in a while though.

  • I basically bought MH3U for two reasons. 1: I never played the series before and this one caught my interest. 2: I had to support it on 3ds once I saw the trailer for Monster Hunter 4. It was with hope that in the long run it would help with incentive to localize it for the states. haha And for the record, I’m thus far loving this game.

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