As some of you may know, last week saw the release of the demo for the new Monster Hunter for WiiU (which is going to feature cross-region online multiplayer, yeah!). Having loved Monster Hunter Tri, it should come as no surprise that I immediately jumped at the chance to play it. While the demo doesn’t do a good job of explaining what the game is actually all about, it has still been a long time since I got this much fun out of a single demo. WiiU demos have a limited use of 30 start-ups, and I honestly think I’m going to run out before the game releases.
The demo gives you the option of fighting an easy monster and a hard monster straight off the bat. You get a decent armor, and at the start you’re allowed to choose which weapon you want to try your hand at. Personally, I thought the latter was an amazingly smart choice, because it gives new players the ability to get familiar with all the weapons, without the risk of losing precious resources. You don’t have to craft a Switch Axe using that Jaggi tail you could’ve used to upgrade your Great Sword, only to find out that you hate the Switch Axe. Nope, you select your monster, click “Switch Axe”, and hope to God you can figure out how it works before the giant fish-dragon kills you.
You didn’t think I made “giant fish-dragon” up, did you?
I took this opportunity to try out all the weapons that weren’t available in Tri, or that I never bothered to give a shot for the above reason. In Tri, your choices were: Sword and Shield (very quick, has a guard option, allows you to use items with your weapon out), Great Sword (huge damage, slow as shit), Hammer (can knock out monsters), Lance (has a special type of piercing damage, has a shield, bad movement options), Switch Axe (it’s an axe that is also a sword that is also a cannon), Long Sword (good range, high attack, way overused online) and three different kinds of Bowguns (basically just guns, have range obviously). Out of these, I used the Switch Axe the most, because it was fucking sweet.
The biggest new feature of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate over Tri, and the reason I would almost consider it a full sequel, is that it will add four new weapons to play with. These are: Dual Swords (quick, good dps), Hunting Horn (like a Hammer, but with the ability to buff by playing songs), Gunlance (a cross between the Lance and a Final Fantasy gunblade)
And last but not least….the Bow.
Now let’s talk about bows for a minute.
I fucking love bows.
Oh yeah, stroke that shaft. Stroke it good
I’ve been a big fan of playing as an archer for as long as I can remember. Personally I think the reason for this is simply because of how archers are usually depicted in popular culture. I realize that historically, being an archer meant exactly squat. You stood on top of a castle along with about a hundred others, and when your commander gave the go you rained arrows upon whoever was approaching and hoped that something would be hit. Crossbows were more suitable for a somewhat closer range (but crossbows are lame, real men use a normal bow), but otherwise to the top of the castle you went. Never would you take your trusty bow with you to the battlefield, you’d have your head cut off before you even realized you were being a total idiot for bringing a bow to a fucking swordfight.
Fortunately, that’s not at all how archers are depicted in modern media. There’s often only one archer in the group, a bit of a lone wolf, and chances are he kicks ass. They’re often cool, collected and calculating, not to mention completely badass. They’re quick on their feet, great trackers and in tune with nature (as they’re often Elves). Whereas a swordsman just hacks away at the enemy until it finally dies, a good archer is not like that at all. An archer takes the time to line up the shot, waits for the perfect opening and then places an arrow right between the eyes of a moving target a hundred yards away. They consistently take out enemies before they’ve come even a little close, and there’s something cool about being a one-man death radius. In video games, they often have access to status-inducing attacks, and tend to be the anti-air guys of choice. That brings a little side of tactics into the equation, because they have to know exactly what shot to use against which enemy, and where to place that perfect shot. But like I said, making that perfect shot is incredibly satisfying. Finally, modern archers use their bows all the time, even at close range. There’s no need for a backup sword when you can draw so fast the enemy’s a pincushion before they’ve even unsheathed their blades. That’s when you know you’re really good.
So that, more are less, is why I love being an archer in every game that allows it. And it’s also why I take an immediate interest in any movie that features a lone archer. Literally the only thing I know about The Hunger Games is that all of the promotional art features a girl with a bow, and that’s why I still want to see it. That’s seriously all I need. I have also yet to watch the series Arrow, about the Green one, but I’m going to have to do that soon. Because hell yes.
Long story short; I fucking LOVE bows, and 2012 was my year.
Or my yeaar, I guess
So now that you know about my relationship with bows and archers, imagine how I felt when I first booted up the Monster Hunter demo and saw this:
This….this is the most awesome fucking thing I’ve ever seen.
This is what the Bow in the Monster Hunter universe is like. In these games, you can wield a bow that is literally larger than yourself, and you fire what I can only describe as spears straight into the skull of your prey. You can even use your arrows as short swords if you’re so inclined! I know Monster Hunter weapons tend to be over-the-top and ridiculously huge, but DAMN. For the past week, I’ve been playing the crap out of the new demo, trying to get a feel for the Bow. It’s a bit of a difficult weapon to start with if you’re a little rusty, but I’ll be damned if I let something silly like that stop me from using…THAT.
From what I’ve seen so far, the Bow is an amazingly versatile weapon that requires the archer’s mentality I was talking about before. For Monster Hunter standards, a Bow user is pretty quick. Above all, though, being an archer in this game requires careful knowledge of your prey. More than any other weapon user, you’re able to target weak spots on the monsters. A Sword and Shield user may not be able to reach a larger monster’s head, but archers don’t have that problem at all. All they need to do is aim a little higher, no sweat. The key is, of course, to be able to aim quickly and to aim well; you’re no use to anyone if you can’t hit the broad side of a barn (although to be fair some of the monsters are larger than that, so there’s still hope).
Apart from the Bow’s ability to target weak spots wherever they may be, there are two other things that set the Bow apart from the other weapons. The first is its Arrow Rain move. A Bow user is able to fire an arrow high into the air, where it explodes into lots of smaller arrows. The trick is that this is one of the few moves in the game that can inflict the “Knockout” status on a monster. KO-ing a monster basically gives you a couple of seconds of free hits, and only the Hammer and the Hunting Horn are able to inflict this status reliably. Archers, however, will not only be able to inflict this status too, but they’ll even able to do it from a distance. Finally and most importantly, the Bow has access to a variety of “Coatings”, which can inflict status ailments. There’s Paralysis Coatings and Sleep Coatings which keep the monster from moving for a short time and set it up for huge damage. There’s Poison coatings that do damage over time. There’s the amazingly handy Exhaust Coatings to quickly tire out the monster, which makes it slower and causes it to make more exploitable mistakes in combat. There’s the Power Coating, which increases your arrow’s power by x1.5 and finally there’s the Close Range Coating, or as I like to call it: “Fuck, I’m all out of other Coatings, but I guess it’s better than nothing”.
With a great ability to inflict a multitude of useful statuses, the ability to target the weak point wherever it may be, the ability to KO, all with the added benefit of doing it outside of the monster’s range and without having reload times and the limited ammo like the Bowguns have, it seems that a Bow user will be a worthwhile addition to any team of hunters, and with my love for bows the way it is, I’d definitely like to be that guy.