Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Director On Preserving The Cycle Of Monster Hunter

By Ishaan . August 8, 2014 . 5:30pm

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is pushing the series forward in some interesting ways—ways that you may not have seen coming if you’ve been playing any of the Monster Hunter games for an extended period of time. Where combat was once firmly rooted to the ground, it now involves aerial attacks as well. Where weapon types once had very specific uses, there are now types that are able to serve multiple purposes. Where equipment was once rigid in its stats and abilities, it can now have randomized stats and traits, depending on where you find it.

 

These are all elements that the game appears to be borrowing from other, more mainstream genres. The two that come to mind are stylish action games like Devil May Cry and more regular action RPGs such as Diablo. The flashy aerial attacks that you can perform with the Insect Glaive wouldn’t look out of place in a DMC game, while randomized gear is the very core of a loot-based role-playing game like Diablo.

 

When Siliconera recently had a chance to speak with Monster Hunter director Kaname Fujioka, we asked him just how some of the new additions to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate were made, and whether they did indeed come from the developers playing other games and genres. Were weapons like the Insect Glaive (aerial attacks) and the Charge Blade (combo-heavy attacks) a product of games like Devil May Cry? Was the randomized loot something that came from a love for other loot-based RPGs?

 

The Insect Glaive:

 

“One thing that’s important to note is that Monster Hunter has its own flow… its own pace and control feel. It is different at its base from things like Devil May Cry,” Fujioka replied. “However, that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow elements that feel really good. Some things work in just about any game. The important thing for us when we create weapons for Monster Hunter is making sure none of them overlap. That you don’t have two weapons that feel the same. Two weapons that are effective from the exact same distance and in the exact same kind of situations.”

 

“So, for example, with the Insect Glaive [there’s] the idea of keeping your distance, sending the insect out. The idea of doing these flashy, acrobatic jump attacks. That was a piece of the overall weapon puzzle. We thought it would be a cool way to fill that [gap] and bring in a new kind of weapon that really is different to the styles inherent to the other weapons so far.”

 

The Charge Blade:

 

Regarding the Charge Blade, Fujioka said that the weapon being combo-heavy wasn’t really a conscious decision. “The important thing about the Charge Blade and Insect Glaive… you can do some cool combos with them, but you can’t just keep doing them forever,” Fujioka pointed out.

 

“What you’ve got here is very deliberate Monster Hunter-like gameplay cycle. In the case of the Insect Glaive, you send out your insect, bring back some energy and boost yourself to do some really good damage. If you don’t do that first, it’s not going to work very well. So you have the cycle of powering yourself up, then doing some combos.”

 

“With the Charge Blade as well… you start out with the Sword mode, get a few strikes in there to build up your gauge, then you go into Axe mode to do the real damage. Of course, it doesn’t last forever and you have to repeat that cycle as well. So you might see a few more combos than in previous weapons, but the important thing for us was to maintain the cycle of gameplay that is Monster Hunter’s strong suit.”

 

Naturally, the Charge Blade was in part inspired by the Switch Axe, which was introduced in Monster Hunter Tri.

 

“If you think about it, when you look at the other weapons in Monster Hunter, it starts out with one weapon, and then there’s sub-styles associated with it,” Fujioka said. “You have the Great Sword, the Dual Blades… the different kinds of swords. We felt there was room for different kinds of transforming weapons as well, since we only had one at that point. And they do play quite differently. The Switch Axe starts out with the axe, and you switch to the blade to do the big damage.”

 

“This time, we took the opposite approach—use the sword to build up your gauge, and the axe to do a lot of damage. There’s enough differences in the specifics of how they play that it makes sense for them both to exist and have their different roles.”

 

Influence from action RPGs?

 

If you hadn’t heard, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’s Free Hunting takes the form of a randomized forest, where you can take on something called Guild Quests (English name not finalized). Through these quests, you can find equipment with randomized stats. Weapons found this way can have different sharpness or attack or gem slots, while the armour can be variations of other armour in the game.

 

This, Fujioka says, was something of an experiment, and not really inspired by action RPGs, but rather a desire to try something different from Monster Hunter’s usual cycle of gameplay. “I am a Diablo fan, but I don’t think that directly influenced what we were doing with the Guild Quest weapon drops,” Fujioka replied, when we brought up randomized equipment.

 

“As you know, the general gameplay cycle of Monster Hunter is defeating the monsters, getting the different parts, putting the weapons together. What we wanted to do with the Guild Quests is have a different kind of gameplay with these weapons that do have different statistics. Trade them with your friends—find the one that suits you best without having to make it yourself. The joy of discovery and finding something.”

 

The manga influence:

 

Fujioka is also a manga reader, and said to us that some influence from his hobby does make it into the Monster Hunter games, although not directly. “As far as manga I’m into… JoJo is of course a favourite,” he shared with a laugh. “I also read a lot of sports-themed manga. There’s one called Reggie, which is about a major league baseball player. That particular artist’s work is pretty cool and something I really like.”

 

“There’s not a lot of direct influence from manga that ends up in Monster Hunter. What I think you see is a more holistic thing.The ups and downs of dramatic story-telling. Ramping up to something exciting happening, then ramping down until the next big thing. That sort of pacing and the feeling you experience while reading manga. We try to replicate that in the game.”

 

The cycle of Monster Hunter:

 

That having been said, the development of Monster Hunter always comes back to the “gameplay cycle” that Fujioka keeps talking about. The cycle of powering yourself up and then letting it go. The cycle of constant preparation.

 

This applies not just to how weapons control but also the process of crafting your gear and planning for the hunt that lies ahead. So, for example, while there is ready-made equipment to discover during Guild Quests, Fujioka says, don’t expect to find ready-made potions while out exploring in the world in Monster Hunter.

 

“Crafting is such an important part of the cycle of gameplay, that it probably really wouldn’t be appropriate to put pre-made items in the environment. Again, we want to encourage that cycle—that’s what makes people play for so long.”

 

However, the crafting aspect of the game, too, is being rolled out at a more deliberate pace in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. We brought up the ability to make smaller adjustments to your armour, such as changing colour, since that plays a role in crafting and customizing your character as well. Surprisingly, Fujioka says this isn’t something he wants to encourage early in the game.

 

“Earlier in the game, we don’t want people to spend a lot of time changing colours and making minor adjustments to their weapons because it is an action game,” he said to us.

 

“We want them to get accustomed to how to play it. Once they get better with the different weapon types and understand how to play it, then once you’ve played for a while and get to the G-Rank quests, then you actually can do some of these things. You can change the colour of your armour, you can make some minor adjustments. We didn’t want people to have access to that too early in the game because we felt that it would take the focus away from the action.”


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  • Natalie Rath

    Oh my god. I really hope the director makes more and more MonHun games. If he ever leaves. Capcom will screw this up like every other of their games.

    They change stuff so much no one recognizes anything anymore.

    • J_Joestar

      it’ll turn into an endless runner of a guy in rathalos armor swinging a greatsword.

      • Natalie Rath

        Oh god no.

  • Armageddon

    Randomized gear drops huh? I like the crafting system better, thank you. The thing about random gear drop is you seldom get what you want.

    • Ruins72

      well they’re both in, the random gear is a whole other side that’s completely optional

      • zeta

        its the new form of charm hunting in 3rd gen. XD

        • Ruins72

          XD pretty much. I’m farming those Unknown forest quests in 4 now, they’re pretty fun actually. And hunting a monster is infinitely more fun than running around with a pickaxe and mining everywhere lol

          • zeta

            indeed

        • http://www.falgram.com/ Falmung

          Oh god…..I still remember my hunter strapped with explosives blown up from a cliff for a whole day farming charms. The horror!

  • SetzerGabbiani

    I knew I liked the Charge Blade for a reason. Can’t wait to play with the Switch Axe’s sibling. Will take a looong while for me to get all of both sets of weapons

    • Ric Vazquez

      Same here, charge blade new weapon of choice :D

  • Jonattas F.

    Is it possible to trade weapons with other players in Monster Hunter U4? Like trade a pokemon?

    • Ruins72

      nope

      • Hexodious

        Yes.

    • Jadfish

      hopefully not. If you could trade armor, weapons or materials in MH it would completely ruin the progression curve.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      You can trade maps for the Free Hunt area with other players.

  • Sora Nojiko

    What I see is… Fashion! I can farm for a piece of armor that looks as cute as I can, and still hope for reasonable protection and abilities.

  • Princess_Eevee9

    What if I want to be styling as I’m beating the fuck outta monsters? I want to change my armor’s color and stuff dammit.

  • 9breaker

    I already like him even more the fact he loves JoJo.

  • 60hz

    i always thought they were just reacting to all the monhun games on the market now that are a bit more responsive and dynamic than monster hunter…

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      None of those games existed when Monster Hunter 4 began development (around late 2010). God Eater was the only one at that point, and that’s always been more of a “style-over-substance” type game, like a lot of other Namco titles. People would be very, very annoyed if MH tried to take that approach. It probably wouldn’t sell half as well either.

      This sounds like more of a natural progression thing. As time goes by, people find less and less time to devote to videogames, so you have to streamline things somewhat and provide more of an immediate incentive that allows folks to see the appeal of your game. I’m guessing that’s where the Insect Glaive came from—a weapon that’s as technical as the rest, but more “showy”.

      As for the randomized loot… that was just inevitable, IMO. There’s no reason not to do it. It doesn’t cost a whole lot more to add randomized elements to the game, and it boosts replayability.

      • http://www.falgram.com/ Falmung

        Monster Hunter isn’t a stranger to randomized loot anyway considering Rust shard weapons and charms.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          Don’t Rustshard weapons have fixed stats, though?

          • http://www.falgram.com/ Falmung

            True. They do have fixed stats. But it has a really low chance of getting a rustshard weapon or it turns into a junk weapon. Which makes people end up farming volcanos for days or weeks. And then when you finally get one it isn’t the weapon type you use.

            Charms on the other hand do fill both sides. Rare mats from mining and completely randomized stats and gem slots.

    • HarakiriKami

      People like monsterhunter because the game has a risk vs reward system and a rythym to its gameplay style. Those weighted physics are apart of that :P

    • konsama

      I have played Toukiden and both soul sacrifice and i will always return to Monster Hunter, no other game offers to me that satisfaction of slaying a monster as MH does, and i really dislike the lack of hitboxes in those two games i mentioned, they do have breakable parts but aren’t really related to damage and effectiveness, or even stagger locking/exploiting you can get in MH.

      God Eater 2 isn’t too far from MH, but i find it too easy, and lack as much satisfaction of doing something hard like MH or the souls games can get from me. Obviously in the end that’s just me.

      Tho im with you a bit on the “make faster paced game to attract players” which in turn i liked the approach the took so far, mixing both a more dynamic fighting style while retaining the soul of MH punishing you for getting greedy with hits, dying in a few hits, bouncing on monsters for not attacking correctly/lacking sharpness (which all those other games also lack, you mostly just mash attacks till the monsters dies), etc. In simple terms i prefer the complexity of MH that some people shun and prefer the more simplistic style of those other hunting games, which in no way i am saying are bad, i have enjoyed all of them too.

      • jeof96

        Kon, GL MOARRR!

        Also, when will you buy a 3DS once again?

        • konsama

          lol Sup man.

          I still don’t know, i already sold my vita and spent almost all the money, cuz dem girls, and about to start college.

          I think i will even skip both new pokes and just wait till MH4 is set to go for one. :/

          • jeof96

            Sad to hear that. For the moment just focus on college.

            As for dem girls, I think if you’re spending money to the point of selling your things to woo girls, that’s not how you start a relationship.

            Lel, sorry for barging in your private matters.
            Anyway, I haven’t found time for gaming since this week is tough. I’m having midterms in college.
            As for love lyf, lel, it’s been pretty sweet for me, since we both like each other.

            I’m still a beta tho.

            Good luck to you.
            :)

          • konsama

            Nah i’m not the spending kind or the buy love type, just the normal spendings. :P

            I barely have time to play either, and i just got notice yesterday my house in the city got robbed and no has PS3 either now. Should have brought it here. :/

  • Somerandomperson

    If only they would “improve” their “cycle”.
    I have not seen a major graphical improvement and it seems that the character motions have been recycled from previous installments. MH4 character motion seems to be the same as the previous game. (I have played MH3 and MH4 and seen MHF)

    • HarakiriKami

      They’re all using PS2 assets.

      Why do you care about graphics so much? The meat of monhun is the monsters. The monsters all look fantastic and they have some of the best adaptive AI in video games to be perfectly honest,

      Graphics are the last thing I’d want improved. Imo MonHun’s next step is to go to a more open format from the arena zone style we have now.We’re supposed to trap the monsters in these area’s less they run. This is to improve the thrill of the hunt to the overall game.Make the element of tracking and hunting down the monsters waaay more fun than it currently is. Like hunting a gryphon in the Witcher. That’s always fun :3

      • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

        Portable 3rd and 3 Ultimate use Wii assets from Tri for the most part. A lot of second-generation monsters are missing from Gen-3, and just about everything created for the third generation was created from scratch, so most of the assets are new. The only PS2 assets (presumably) being used are for Gen-2 monsters in 4 and those look to have been updated.

        • triablos

          I’ve been playing unite a lot recently and from what I see, they either did an amazing job updating the old models or they started from scratch.

        • HarakiriKami

          The felyne’s still have low poly hands lol

      • An Tran

        Seems like there are more ignorant people than I thought.
        I guess “assets” will be the next extremely misused terminology after “next-gen” and “hard-core”. And “literally”.

    • Attribule

      Pretty sure graphics have nothing to do with the “cycle” in any way. The “cycle” refers to the gameplay philosophy, which graphics don’t affect whatsoever.

      If you actually have played MH4 you would have seen and felt the vast amount of changes they’ve made to the aesthetic of the game compared to past installments – as well as the far more fluid character movements and overall gameplay. I honestly believe you haven’t even so much as tasted MH4, and if you have I think you’re just trying to hold onto your complaints to try and justify them for yourself.

    • Kadabori

      They probably recycled them, but making the game play different. In mhtri was a lot like mh3u. Same recovery time on weapons , dodging , but mhf is based of Mh1 so the game physics are much more different I think they changed it in mh4u. So it would be close to mh4

    • konsama

      And why exactly do you NEED graphical improvement or new character motions? Or to call them improving of the cycle.

      If you actually played past MH’s, you would have noticed the hunter DID improve the movements and stuff, while doing the same, the character moves more fluid and smoothly and if you DID play MH4, you would have noticed they went even farther improving those two things i said. Just the running animation of the hunter looks more vivid and realistic than that of the older games, coupled with the flaw of the jumping movements and stuff.

      Or maybe you just didn’t delve enough in the games to notice all those small but totally noticeable changes… hell my brother haven’t played MH in years and noticed all that by just watching a vid around on YT of MH4. >_>

      • Somerandomperson

        I did notice fluid movements, but at the same time I also notice roughly made environments. I just can’t stand the rough edges at times. I’m sure MSAA is possible on the 3ds hardware unless it is too weak.

        And yes, the only thing I liked about MH4 are the frame rate, physics and the blood spilling. Everything else is just slow, the controls are pretty chunky for me without an external anolog stick, and lastly the graphics. I wouldn’t say this if I haven’t played the game. (haven’t played MH1 or 2)

        In my opinion…they need to make new assets that are at a different level of quality compared to the previous installments. MH3 went multiplat on psp ps3 wiiU etc and they all look pretty much the same. And while there are improvements in MH4, it still just looks like MH3 wiiU but with more rough pixels visible.

        Am I too misleading?

        • konsama

          Ok you get a point with the rough environments and i can agree to an extent there, since it’s the first time they go that way from flat areas and underwater to multidimensional fights. But it’s going too far look down on the many improvements on the gameplay value and advance based on something so superficial as graphics are, especially on a time where good “bad” looking indie games and portable games exists and people like.

          That could even be used as a point, we’re talking about a 3DS game here, MH4 looks ridiculously good for a portable game and the system it’s in, which again it’s a great feat for all the game content and stuff you can do. MT framework mobile is one of the best portable engines existing even comparing it to some vita games that natively look better just for the system itself.

          As for the controls, i can see it, but that’s more of a subjective point, i see many people whine and complain about 3U being “impossible to play” without a CPP due to underwater and yadayada, but t same time i’ve seen and i count myself between this group of people that have played it from start to end and have zero trouble or anything at playing it without a CPP. Hell, i can go further and say i can play without a CPP better than many of those guys that livestreamed on twitch 3U with “superior controllers”.

          I’m always up to seeing MH go up, and if they finally resort to improve it visually i will be up to it, but for that they better have a really good improvement in game play and stuff beforehand, i don’t want to play a pretty MH that won’t feel like a MH or some shallow thing like CoD. And obviously would require to move to a different system. And i hope it’s not the “Playstation 4 accessory portable system”, because i already sold mine. :/

          • HarakiriKami

            There are many games on the 3DS that look far better than MH4 to be perfectly honest.

            Nintendo’s games, Beyond the Labyrinth, Soni Pro, ect

            Pretty much all of Capcom’s games too(ex troopers,Resident Evil, Ace Attorney ect). Besides Gaist Crusher.

          • J_Joestar

            I think you have to look beyond just sheer graphical ability and how that is divided with how much of the system’s capabilities are used for other aspects of the game such as varying environment sizes/details or consistent framerate.

          • HarakiriKami

            Most people forget to do this.

            I just think alot of the environments have low geometry which ainrt as pretty to look at due to the graphical style of the games and the design really.

            Pokemon comes to mind in that case.Monhun has nice backgrounds but texture quality is usually blurry and low poly in these games. They spend more time on the combat, monster textures and AI in these games.

            EX troopers and the like are far prettier games that show off the systems real capabilities better

        • An Tran

          Graphics-wise the quality level of MH4 isn’t really high, true, but there is still a big difference in graphics quality between 3 and 4 (and the games that came before). And contrary to popular belief, I’m pretty sure they make new assets with each generation.

          But anyway, if you want to continue obsessing and complaining about graphics in MH, look up Tencent’s Monster Hunter Online. It’s running on CryEngine 3.

          • Somerandomperson

            At least the pc version might have better controls…

            PC aside…I think they should have graphical improvement in the sequel. This is not impossible if it is capcom.

            Also, recycling is common in game companies. The difference in the amount of assets being recycled.

            I think I’ll back off now…I’ll stop…

          • HarakiriKami

            What pc version?

    • An Tran

      How did you not notice the change in the running animation between 3 and 4?

  • Helios373

    With the randomized equipments, the farm will be a lot higher to get good mix armor skills, oh the possibilities, I cant wait to make it *-*

  • YO NI

    Will fatalis make an appereance in MH4 ultimate??

    • konsama

      Black and red fatalises were already confirmed and shown in MH4, the only missing one was White fata, which is still unknown if it will be added to 4G/U.

      • J_Joestar

        Miralis would also be nice, but the lack of underwater will make a lot of his breaks more difficult to achieve for your typical hunter.

  • Namuro

    That’s right. You’ve gotta EARN the right to get stylin’, baby!

  • J_Joestar

    to those who had 4, how random is the random stats?
    are there any guaranteed stuff like a basic defense amount? or could you find a G-rank tier armor with low rank defense? is there anything like an expected number of skills based on the rarity value? and can you get into situations where a blademaster gear has gunner only skills or the other way around?

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