New to the Monster Hunter universe, I walked into a meeting with Capcom expecting to sit through long tutorials while getting lost in the deep mechanics of their latest adventure on the 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. What I got was the Insect Glaive.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Choose the Dual Swords, I was told—they ease you into the game’s world. “Nonsense!” I replied, elated that I could use a giant serrated insect leg as a weapon.
My hunt for the Great Jaggi, one of the demo’s three monsters, began in a lush, open field. I noticed that this so called “Great” Jaggi was to the northwest, marked clearly on my map, so I began my quest, kneeling by accident several times and running out of stamina by rolling as though I was playing Ocarina of Time. While taking out some of the minor enemies, I noticed there was an insect that wasn’t attacking me, but one that I also couldn’t seem to hit. The Capcom rep spoke up.
“Oh yeah! Don’t worry about that guy. The insect is essentially a part of the Glaive. It can distract your enemies for a bit while you land hits. You can also do some pretty cool combo stuff we can get into later.”
Continuing our journey, we moved from a great grassy field to an imposing, almost volcanic canyon. And there it was—stark against the rising arches of volcanic rock, surrounded by lesser versions of itself: the Great Jaggi. Thinking only of seeing the Insect Glaive in action, I ran towards the beast and started hitting it with attack combos when, much to my surprise, I found out I could Jump.
“You can actually jump around freely with the Insect Glaive,” the Capcom rep said, “and if you do it right…”
Just then, as if cued, I mounted the back of the Great Jaggi and started stabbing it repeatedly as it tried to buck me off.
“Ah! If you jump onto a monster’s back, you can kind of ride them like a bull. You have to hold ‘R’ when the meter on the screen turns red or orange to hang on—but if you deal enough damage, you can get it into a stun-state so your party can beat up on it.”
When I wasn’t paying attention, the great Jaggi bucked me off—but it was only just after that the Capcom rep beside me, equipped with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’s other new weapon, dubbed the Charge Blade, jumped off a nearby cliff onto the monster’s back. While attacking, I noticed my hunter was getting some mysterious buffs, and of different colors, at that…
“If you manage to land combos on their head, torso, or tail, you’ll get different buffs for speed, defense, and attack power. If you manage to get all three, you get sort of an uber-buff.” The Capcom rep explained how this was related to the Insect Glaive insect’s ability to pick up and gather pheromones from the enemy.
Despite me being completely new to the game, we managed to down the Great Jaggi in just a matter of minutes… or rather, my partner did, as I was busy getting lost in the great caverns and forests of the overworld. The environments here seemed much more dynamic than before—there are platforms, areas are leveled. It didn’t feel like monsters were just thrown into an area after a quest. It felt as though the areas were built for combat, but in such a way that it can also give the monster a distinct advantage.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will hit North America and Europe in early 2015.