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This is long as fuck beware!
Woah now hold on before you go to the comments telling me what a fucking dumbass I am for criticising the greatest creation since earth itself let me just say I don't want to take your enjoyment of it away. If you like it, good. But I'm not here to validate you, I'm here to shit on this mediocre ass game that somehow enjoys more critical acclaim than the rest of the series combined.
First of all: what's a Monster Hunter game? My main criticism revolves around 4U sucking at being a MH game and why I think that, so how about I define it first.
I would describe a Monster Hunter game as a combat focused action game with RPG elements in which you kill increasingly difficult bosses to progress and upgrade your gear which makes up your entire stats.
The combat is the most important part and follows a very specific gameplay loop:
- Observe the monster's movements in order to predict what moves it can use.
- Identify the monster's attack and figure out how to avoid it.
- At the same time, become proactive and figure out how to punish the monster for using this attack against you.
- Use the best of your abilities depending on the situation to get the most out of the opening you've created.
- If unsuccessful, repeat a cycle to use another opening to heal.
Every player attack has severe limitations to it, and you have to put a lot of determination in your attacks as they leave you wide open and can be punished by the monster the same way you can punish the monster for using its moves. Learning the advantages and weaknesses of your moves and figuring out how to exploit the monster's attacks is key to success.
This is the combat formula that every single MH game follows and excels at compared to any other game that uses similar combat systems. It's the only series that dedicates itself so hard to that combat system that it is the only noteworthy franchise in its own genre.
The third generation of MH does this the best. It is the best at this formula as it has the largest amount and percentage of monsters that have predictable and punishable moves and your moveset is limited, but powerful to be open to punishment from the monster and a great tool at bringing them down.
Earlier titles are sadly plagued with janky hitboxes, too limited hunter movesets and a lot of unpunishable, unpredictable bullshit moves like digging, insta charges, near instant claw swipes, roar combos, etc.
Third gen is the best because almost every monster is perfectly predictable, punishable and the hunter is limited enough to be punished back but powerful enough to retaliate effectively.
A great example is Zinogre, whose moveset consists ENTIRELY out of perfectly predictable moves that can always be rolled out of or blocked, and punished by every weapon. Every single one of his moves, from his claw stomps to his breakdance spin to his chargeup mechanic, it is perfectly predictable and punishable no matter what it does and no matter what weapon you are using. Both of his weakspots are also perfectly accessible for all weapons after every single attack, making it the imo best designed monster in the whole franchise.
But this is about 4U and why it sucks.
Well, can you tell me how many monsters this applies to? Excluding first, second and third gen monsters, it's 2. Gore Magala and Tetsucabra. Those are the only 2 monster that for the most part have punishable attacks that are reasonably avoidable, with the exception of Gore's spit attack it does after flying up that for some reason always hits you and it can do at any time because it just instantly creates wind pressure that you don't recover from until the frenzy ball hits you and they thankfully removed in Generations.
Most of the new monsters fucking suck. Seltas Queen just spams the charge that you literally can't do anything about other than to wait out.
Najarala is... I don't even know what this fight is supposed to be. It's so fucking janky you're struggling to even see anything at all the entire time only for it to spam the fucking circling thing or the unavoidable attack where it throws popcorn at you and you cover your ears instantly.
Shagaru has barely any punishable attacks and loves to push the fight into walls to spam its explosions which you can't do anything about but to wait them out.
Nerscylla has almost no readable moves and a lot of instant swipes that chip your hp down and for half the fight it just goes up and down the webs where you can't reach it.
Zamtrios is one of the fairer ones but has many attacks you have to wait out and even an AOE attack that covers the whole area, can't be rolled out of and activates faster than you can sheathe.
Steve fucking sucks. He has no counterplay because he flies too fast to flash him and he loves doing attacks relative to your position so you can't wait at the end of it to punish him. You have to wait for him to get close and then hug the legs or spam mount to do any damage at all. He's otherwise untouchable.
All of the Gen 1 monsters they brought back suck with the exception of Gypceros.
The second gen monsters are okayish but suffer from ass hitboxes.
None of the subspecies are good, they all suck ass.
The only good monsters are from 3rd gen and the third gen remakes of the Raths and Diablos.
Now how does the game make up for having a roster almost completely made of bullshit instant attack monsters that fuck off where you can't hit them for most of the time when you aren't getting hit by unavoidable bullshit?
THE FUCKING MOUNT.
FUCK THE MOUNT.
Remember the 5 steps I used to describe the combat system?
The first two are barely functional by virtue of this game's dogshit monster roster leaving many attacks unavoidable or unpunishable but the mount also cuts out 3 and 4 for most of the fight.
At no point do you need to figure out how to use your best moves at anytime when you can use the mount. It's practically riskless because the monsters can't really defend themselves against aerial attacks because their AI doesnt recognise them and the opening you create is always worth it.
It's a low risk high reward mechanic that lets you forego major steps in the game's combat system for usually better or at least safer and more consistent returns.
On top of that, the mount thresholds are laughably low, making it pretty much an optimal tactic even late into the hunt with IG.
Talking about thresholds, how about we also address the stagger limits because I think they are the final nail in this jank ass game's combat system: they are way too fucking low.
Tri and Gen had high stagger limits, meaning the monster would usually dictate the fight and you'd have to make preemptive attacks based on your predictions of the monster's moves. You only punish the monster for the attacks it initiates.
In 4U it's a role reversal because you can walk up to almost every monster's legs, hit them twice and it falls over, leaving you a big fat weak spot to hit whenever you please. It's so cheap that I believe G-rank's HP were balanced around it because god damn do they take forever to kill solo. The whole game is balanced around being completely broken and I fucking hate it.
It means the most viable strategy is to abuse the most broken shit like IG and spam mounts and hug the legs the entire hunt. If you even attempt to play the game like any other functional MH game, you're either gonna triple cart to bullshit or take an unreasonable amount of time to clear any quest. It's like the game doesn't want you to use the combat system, you know the thing this series excels at compared to any other videogame frandchise, and instead spam broken, unfun tactics that work because the monsters don't have any counterplay.
So that's my argument for why it sucks as a MH game. You can now comment and tell me how wrong I am and how much nostalgia you feel for this game and how it's actually really good and how I have no idea what I'm talking about despite playing the series for a decade and having written a huge ass essay with every reasoning laid out in front of you.
Now let's talk about some of its other infuriating or disappointing aspects that don't or barely relate to the combat.
Fuck the maps. All of them. They are the worst in the entire franchise.
Why do you have to climb so much? What purpose does it serve other than making going to different areas tedious and stamina consuming?
Even in combat they suck ass because they are often tilted slightly so level attacks like bow or lbg don't hit without aiming high.
Ledges are super unfun because they just block you off or force you into climbing animations more than they actually help you. Oftentimes you roll into one that's off screen and get stuck in the animation and die. It's ass.
Walls are even worse. Why do you have to press B like 5 times before you transition into the next area? Why do they arbitrarily limit the available space of so many areas? What's even the benefit? They are just inconveniences for no reason.
Why is the layout of half of them so shit? It takes forever to get from camp to 4 or from 4 to 6 in the ancestral steppe. It takes forever to go from 8 to 2 in the sunken and volcanic hollow, so why do so many damn monsters switch between them so often? Why are only like 3 areas of the jungle used for combat and why can't you deliver eggs without eating for felyne lander? Why are the visuals so fucking inconsistent, changing the feel of the map between just one loading screen entirely as if they aren't the same map at all?
The weapon balancing sucks. Good luck playing this game with lance or gunlance. It fucking sucks.
Artificial stretching of content. Take same monsters, add artificially increased stats and drops, call it content.
Apex sucks even harder.
God I fucking hate relics. If they had just been skins it could've been fine but the amount of Rajangs I've killed only to not get any decent relics at all is just sad. The fact that they can outperform any craftable weaoon by like 10-20% is ludicrous and then locking them behind super low drop rates on tedious quests is just insulting. This game doesn't respect your time. It doesn't return the effort that you put into it like any other lategame in the series did before, or after until GU. It just wants you to slave away in the hopes of getting something decent that might never come. This is shit design.
Hall split, no ingame chat, no direct messages, no voice chat, not even a real hub world.
The art direction sucks.
The first two gens are interesting in how they present a realistic environment populated by dinosaur like monsters. They are cool because they are immersive.
Third gen has a very good art direction. The lighting is fresh, the colour palette unmistakable and the textures for the most part really good. The monster designs are all fantastic, having incredibly recognisable shapes and colour schemes and looks and animations that prefectly capture their character. It's a bit more fantasy like but in a good way. It's immersive but also fantastical enough to bring you a wonderful world you've never seen before with bright colours that are tones down just enough to not sting.
And 4U just said fuck it, make the whole game red brown and yellow and spray paint it with ugly ass repetitive textures that make you rip your eyes out if you stare at them for too long. You can't go anywhere in this game without seeing a way too saturated low res texture repeating itself 5 times on the same surface somewhere on the screen.
Even the textures of the tri monsters are noticeably more saturated, far lower res and much rougher overall. It looks like a ps1 game at times, which is a shame because the game is probably one of the most technically impressive games on the system after the way better looking Gen and GU.
I'm also really turned off by just how cartoony some things look. I'm not against the game being goofy, in fact I love that about the series. Silly cats and wacky joke weapons are fun, but not when the game looks that stupid across the board and man does this game look stupid at times, having a lot of super impractical designs in a setting priding itself in being immersive. I still have no idea why the caravan has a fucking whale boat that turns into an airship as opposed to any regular vehicle that we have seen throughout the series like a sand ship or a regular airship. No, it's gotta be the James Bond car with McDonalds makeup.
What else? Oh similarly, the soundtrack is a huge downgrade. Tri has the best OST I've ever listened to. Every track is incredibly memorable, distinct and unique, while they all are unmistakably from the same game. I've never heard a soundtrack use this combination of instruments and creating such a massively varied yet cohesive soundtrack with them as this game. My favourite part is just how dominant percussion is in that OST, particularly in the second half of the game. The Ceadeus phase 2 only has very subtle melodic instruments un the background while the vocals only accompany the extremely dominant percussion.
It's not like 4U doesn't use any techniques that tri did, but it was also composed by entirely different people and I think it shows. It's less tense, less memorable, not coherent in any way and the melodies don't build up to any climaxes like tri's OST does. Shagaru for example is just a bunch of generic orchestra music I don't give two shits about and the Volcanic Hollow is barely recognizable at all because you can't make out a melody between the poorly mixed noises of brass instrument seemingly just blowing random sounds. It's awful.
Now credit where credit's due, this doesn't apply to the whole OST, but it is the first OST since the creation of the franchise that I haven't been impressed by. The first game had an impressive OST and with each gen, it progressively got better until it peaked in tri which had the best soundtrack I've ever listened to. And going from that to an okay soundtrack that isn't more memorable than any other generic action game's soundtrack is just disappointing.
Also fuck the story. It sucks. It's a bunch of meaningless backdrop to the combat that doesn't meaningfully accompany the underlying narrative of the gameplay.
Fuck the unskippable cutscenes, fuck the expeditions, fuck all this forced cinematic bullshit that adds nothing to the experience.
Tri's story was good because it was subtle. The plot seems bare bones but it's the underlying emotional journey that mattered. It's about a long standing conflict between humans and nature than only young inexperienced blood could finally resolve and the old generation that passes its knowledge down to you, so you can become the best hunter the village has ever seen.
I love about it that the implications give away the twists and the environment plays a key role in it. The fact that the deserted island rests on ruins and you wonder who these ruins belong to only to find that this civilization was forced to evacuate because of ceadeus, and finally putting an end to this millennia old conflict is extremely gratifying.
The fact that you don't have to kill Ceadeus, but only achieve that it doesn't scrape its horn on the ruin walls is great. A peaceful solution for both the village and moga's oldest inhabitant who doesn't even attack you when you chase it into a corner because it's just a piece of nature that does its thing and doesn't belong destroyed.
4U feels like a twisted interpretation of what this story was and what people wanted more of; it takes the same generic ass MH story but without all the subtle implications, forces it all into a bunch of cinematic cutscenes and shoves it into your throat without actually offering any meaningful substance. The story is lol the caravaneer found a cool scale, some monsterz go crazy, go kill the cause of it, without really benefitting the depth of the cast, the setting or itself. It feels so meaningless in comparison desoite offering a lot more in content. Especially infuriating is the high rank story because it just fucking sucks. It's a kushala out of nowhere and that's it. I don't know how people praise it so much, it's a bunch of disconnected events that form a barely coherent plot that doesn't have anything meaningful to say and interrupts the game for no good reason.
So yeah that's most of the things I thought weren't good about the game. That's the end of the post. I had to get this off my chest sometime and I'm pissed because of the US elections.