As anyone who’s familiar with Monster Hunter might already know, the weapon you pick can dramatically affect your hunting experience. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate introduces two brand new weapons to the already vast arsenal—the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. To figure out how they work, I’ve focused my play time exclusively on them in order to provide some of the details.
First up, the Glaive. The Insect Glaive might just be my new favorite weapon in all of Monster Hunter. It may look big, but the weapon feels surprisingly fast and versatile. On an aesthetic level, movements your character does with it are ridiculously impractical and exaggerated, giving it a very stylish feel, despite the weapon essentially being a giant stick.
There are two key aspects to the Insect Glaive that make it stand out. The first one involves the Glaive’s method of powering up, which requires firing off a bug—called a Kinsect—so it can sap juice from a monster and bring it back to you. Hitting different parts of the monsters will give you different perks like increased attack or movement speed, which are also color -coded to make keeping track of them easier.
Getting the hang of aiming your bug can take a while, especially at the start of the game. A lot of the time it feels like the Kinsect won’t end up where you thought it would, either due to the uneven elevations of the terrain or simply firing at weird angles. This frustration can be amplified by the leisurely pace the bug moves at, which isn’t the most convenient thing in the world when you’ve got an angry Gore Magala ready to charge you down. It seems like the best strategy to solve the aim and speed problems is to just fire the bug from extremely close range, although this honestly seems antithetical to the whole premise of a ranged tool. Alternatively, instead of firing your Kinsect, you can choose to fire a marker at the monster first, and “mark” which part of its body you want the bug to home in. Once you’ve marked a spot on the monster’s body, you can let the Kinsect out and it will attempt to steal juice from that spot, and you can focus on attacking or evading instead.
Despite taking some getting used to, the pay-off for collecting juice from monsters is well worth the effort. There are four kinds of juices you can collect—Red (increased attack), White (increased speed), Yellow (increased defense) and Green (healing). What’s more, the White (speed) juice can be stacked on top of the Red and Yellow ones, increasing the effectiveness of both, as well as how long they last. Normally, it’s a good idea to have Red in effect all the time, although ideally you want all three, which makes your hunter glow golden, like he’s going Super Saiyan. Since each power up endows you with a useful advantage, and I often had a “naked” feeling whenever I was in battle with no juice harvested.
The other big component to the Insect Glaive comes from its ability to launch you into the air. Glaive-using hunters seem to be well-versed in the art of pole-vaulting, and are able to launch themselves into the air at any time. This move gives you both offensive and defensive advantages, allowing you to get at airbone enemies without breaking a sweat and also getting you out of dangerous spots where you might be surrounded. Naturally, it also makes it easier to mount and wrestle a monster—a feature available to all weapons, but easiest to perform with the Glaive, since you don’t need to be leaping onto a monster from higher terrain to do it.
Now, at first, the Insect Glaive’s ability to take you airborne will definitely feel like it makes the weapon a little too good. Before long, though, you’ll see that every monster in the game—including returning ones from previous Monster Hunters—are all incredibly well-equipped to shut your mobility down. Even smaller monsters like the Velocidrome and Seltas can meet you mid-air and send you crashing to the ground, and you’d better get used to the idea of both Rathian and Rathalos frequently knocking you out of the air with fire balls or charges, especially later in the game. Every monster in the game has been tuned and updated in general, but they’ve also been tuned specifically to counter the Glaive’s agility and speed.
The good news is, you have a bit of maneuverability in the air, too. If you fire your marker (not the Kinsect, but the marker used to mark a spot on the monster) in mid-air, it pushes your hunter back slightly. In time, you’ll learn to use this move as a mid-air dodge of sorts, or even learn to use it to mark monsters while on the move. Overall, I think the Insect Glaive is a great beginner’s weapon, not just for people new to the series, but just the world of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in general. The weapon handles fairly easily without having to commit too much into your attacks, which is great for learning how the new monsters work. Additionally, being able to vault whenever you want gives you easy access to traverse the vertical-focused terrain as well as initiate monster mounts much more frequently than other weapons might allow.
Compared to the Insect Glaive, the Charge Blade should be a little more familiar to Monster Hunter vets. Like other hybrid weapons, the Charge Blade combines two familiar weapons into one convenient package. In this case, it’s a sword and shield, and an axe. Unlike the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade’s default form is the sword and shield, and the form that you change into to do major damage is the axe. Both modes of the weapon handle similarly to their original counterparts.
I used to use Sword and Shield when I was starting out in earlier games, and using the Charge Blade version felt almost identical, give or take some potential differences between the reach of attacks. Personally, I couldn’t see myself going back to just a normal Sword and Shield after playing the Charge Blade, as it’s a similar idea but with a fun twist that isn’t too complicated.
The main factor to consider when using the Charge Blade is when you should be switching weapon modes. The timing heavily depends on filling up vials of energy displayed at the top of the screen. In sword mode your attacks fill the vials, and in axe mode you can unleash their power to do a whole lot of explosive damage. Balancing when you want to use each mode becomes an interesting meta game, as you want to look out for situations where you can do the maximum amount of damage. You can’t sit back in the relatively free-moving sword mode too long, or else your attacks stop doing damage altogether. At the same time, it can be difficult to find good openings to switch to axe mode for due to the slow and weighty nature of the weapon. It’s worth noting that like the normal axe, your attacks are slow and weighty, meaning you have to commit to them pretty hard.
In short, the Charge Blade is all about momentum. Getting in a series of well-timed (or perhaps lucky) hits ending with the fully powered blow can cause devastating damage, not to mention a huge sense of satisfaction. Until you can get that perfect series of hits consistently though, the Charge Blade will take some getting used to, especially if you go change to it coming off a more forgiving weapon like the Insect Glaive.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’s new weapons cater to both newcomers and veterans alike. Starting with the Insect Glaive felt like a great introductory weapon to the changes in 4 Ultimate, while moving to the Charge Blade felt more like a new twist on something I was already quite familiar with. They both appear to be well thought and interesting additions to the series, and I’m certainly happy with them both so far. Of course, if I had to pick favorites, I think the Insect Glaive is something that every hunter should check out at least once.