Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U)

When the original Monster Hunter Tri was released on the Wii in 2010 it was something of a revelation as it was the first proper game in the series to be released globally on a Nintendo console; it also represented many firsts for the series as, according to my in-depth (and kinda heavy) guidebook underwater battles had not been included until this point. In addition to this, there were new weapon classes added that included the Switch Axe plus the Medium Bowgun, but by far the best element had to be the online mode which brought many hunters from around the world together, which is quite something when you consider what little else was available online for the Wii at the time.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all positive as frustratingly for some there was no headset support, meaning online communication had to be done via a keyboard, and perhaps more crucially, several weapon classes (Bow, Dual Swords, Gunlance, & Hunting Horn) were removed from the game, so even though the title was successful it wasn't really all that it could have been... until now. Fast-forward to 2013 where Capcom has decided to bestow upon us Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which in addition to reinstating all the 'missing' content has added much more to it including many new monsters to hunt with new loactions to hunt them in, a revamped online mode complete with Mic support and much more, all presented in glorious HD, only on Nintendo Wii U... are you ready to sound the hunting horn once more?

For those fledglings who are new to the hunt, you start out in Moga Village, which is a location that thrives thanks to its hunters-turned-fishermen who sustain the place along with help from other members of the small community who specialise in other areas such as farming. As of late however, the village and surrounding area has come under the threat of monsters, but one in particular named Lagiacrus - a fearsome sea-dwelling denizen of the deep - is causing the most trouble as it threatens their very livelihood. This is of course where you come in, as a keen rookie hunter who vows to help out the village it's up to you to take on Lagiacrus and save the day... not right away of course as that would be rather foolhardy as you must learn to walk before you can run or even paddle before you can swim, so naturally you'll be starting out small, learning the basics. Although things may seem to start out at a rather pedestrian pace, you will surely be glad of the skills that you acquire from taking on the smaller tasks first as, though simple in nature, these are the making of a good hunter.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateYou're eased in to the swing of things by being given simple fetching tasks by either the Village Chief or his son just to get you started. When you are accepted by the Hunter's Guild, with a little help from the rather lovely - but a little eccentric - Guild Sweetheart, you will be able to take quests from her so that you can start making a name for yourself while helping out the village. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement which will serve you well in the long-run. As you progress you will acquire many different items, some of which are also worth resource points that are used to rebuild/improve the state of Moga Village. There are many other areas in Moga Village to explore, including a farm run by 'Felynes' - cat sized creatures with human intellect - who can produce more of a particular item for you at the cost of resource points, a Fishmongress who can send fishing ships out on voyages for either fish or valuable treasure, a Forge Master who can make or upgrade weapons/armour providing you have the necessary materials and of course the usual shops where you can buy everyday items - or trade with a Sea Captain - plus a ships cat who is also a cook, who will make you meals that can boost your stats for a single hunt; yes this game really does have all that you could need for your hunts in one place.

Once you get 'settled in' at your hunters lodgings - you can Save, Store and select different things here - you will no doubt want to get out there to do some hunting. The real fun begins as you venture out to slay some Jaggi - small velociraptor-like creatures - which, although small, can be quite quick so you'll need to be on your guard. Fortunately at the start of each quest there's a blue chest that will give you all that you need to succeed. This will typically include Whet-stones for keeping your blade sharp, ammo to keep your bow loaded, rations that elongate your stamina bar for a while and, most importantly, medical supplies for when you get ambushed (which will happen) and you find yourself down to the last tenth of your health bar.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateWhile out on a hunt you'll want to get to grips with the controls, for the most part these are simple, but it will take you a little bit of getting used to. Naturally the sticks control your movement plus the camera - which can be reset by double tapping the left shoulder button - while the Y button will draw/sheathe your weapon, leaving the top-two diagonal buttons (X & A) to deal out damage while the last button (B) lets you evade; this can also be used in conjunction with the right shoulder button that allows you to run - or swim while in water/climb faster up ledges - which you will be using a lot. Quite honestly though, the button setup makes more sense when you actually play the game so don't worry too much as you'll be bagging Jaggi's like it's nothing within a couple of quick play sessions.

It's not until you've invested a fair few hours in the game that you'll really start to get an idea of its scope, which is when you'll start to appreciate it more. Quests are in tiers that are designed to really test your skills as you progress; completing enough quests will unlock one that's more 'Urgent' than the rest that you can choose to go straight onto if you wish, as upon completion of it you will then unlock the next 'starred' tier featuring quests that will test your abilities as a hunter even further, though personally I would advise completing them all before moving on as they all offer something useful, not to mention the rewards which aren't too shabby.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateOne thing that is worth noting is that Monster Hunter is a game that puts a greater emphasis on animation. For instance, if you use a Whetstone to sharpen your blade you will see a full sharpening animation before your weapon is restored to its former glory, recovering your health takes a few seconds, even unleashing a weapon combo fully commits you once you press the button so it's important to time your strikes right. The same is true for the monsters though, because as you hunt them they will actually react accordingly to the damage that has been dealt to them, so if you've beaten a Great Jaggi to within an inch of its life you will see it limp off into the distance in an attempt to flee. Beware of status effects though, because if these befall you then the animations that accompany some of them can throw you off, but once you have got used to this aspect of Monster Hunter, you will probably find that it offers a refreshingly realistic experience that makes it feel so much more substantial than many other simplified games of today. I'd even go as far to say that it puts them to shame.

Even though you can only 'Free Hunt' in Moga Woods, you will be taken to many different areas via quests. These include Sandy Plains, where you'll need to keep cool using cold drinks as you explore this dry desert area, Flooded Forest which has many underwater sections containing many vicious monsters that will try sending you to a watery grave and also Tundra, where you'll want to keep warm using hot drinks, though this will be the least of your worries when you see the vicious snow rabbit Lagombi come sliding across the ice at you, which is pretty terrifying considering it's unexpectedly large size. Getting to grips with your environment is also an essential part of hunting as you'll want to know the quickest route to where the monster is, which means exploring every shortcut, venturing into each cave and climbing at any given opportunity. If you're having trouble keeping track of your prey you can throw a paintball at them, which will show their location on the map as you don't want them escaping to a place where they can heal. Once you have them in your sights you can opt to use the newly implemented Target Cam at a press of the right trigger, so if you lose sight of them for a moment you can double tap the left shoulder button to fix your gaze upon them once more.

There is a time limit of fifty minutes per quest. which can put the pressure on in some cases, in particular when you're tasked with trapping a monster, but fortunately you are at least given the minimum amount of items needed to capture them, though at times it can feel quite strict. Once you've succeeded at a capture however it does gradually become second nature as you break it down to a basic routine of weakening the creature with attacks, immobilising it with a trap, then putting it to sleep with a couple of tranqulisers. It's almost expected that you will fall when pitted against many of the massive monsters in the game for the first time, but don't take it to heart as it's all part of the main experience, it only serves as a temporary setback, making it all the more sweet when you finally fell the beast, claiming its skin - and other parts - for your own to wear as armour. Given that there are almost as many types of it as there are monsters, wearing armour becomes part of your identity as a hunter and there's nothing more satisfying than completing a new set and showing it off to your fellow hunters as if to say 'look at the many beasts I have bested'. Perhaps it's a primal thing, but it's still something to take pride in.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateNaturally, being that this is indeed the ultimate version of the game there is plenty of new content that's been added this time around. A total of thirty-eight new monsters to hunt, a brand new A.I companion - you unlock Cha-Cha early on in the game - in the form of Kayamba, a small but mighty Shakalaka warrior who is the rival of Cha-Cha, but they both prove very useful for hunts. There are over two-hundred new quests, - not counting free DLC quests - and over three thousand new pieces of armour and weapons, not to mention some brand new areas that even I'm not going to spoil, but suffice to say this is a Monster Hunter title that is definitely intended for both new hunters and veterans, as there really is just too much content here to just pass up, even if you've already played Tri on the Wii.

Of course that's not all, you will also be able to download new quests over time that Capcom have generously stated that they will be giving away for free. These include regular hunts, ones with specific requirements and Arena battles. If that wasn't enough, there will also be new guild card backgrounds plus additional titles available, meaning you can add that extra special touch to identify yourself online. A rather generous offering all in all, especially when you consider that everything is included in the price of the game.

Perhaps the biggest draw for many though is the ability to play the game online with other fellow hunters as this is truly where Monster Hunter really shines. By taking a ship from Moga Village to the port of Tanzia you will find a place that's perfectly suited to all the needs your hunting party of four could possibly ask for. Connecting to a game or starting your own is simple too, all you do is select 'Network Mode' from the sea-faring felyne who usually takes you to each place by boat, select which 'world' you want - basically servers - then the lobby where you can either join or create a game, you can even set a message saying 'All Welcome' if you'd like random hunters to join you or put a password on your game if you'd like the party to remain private. Once you're in Tanzia you can freely chat in the lobby either, via an on-screen keyboard via the GamePad, or just plug in any USB keyboard if you prefer. For those who like to chat it is possible to use the GamePad mic to talk or by using any headset that can plug into the standard headphone jack. It all seems to work fairly well, so credit to Capcom for putting all of the available communication options in as it really makes the world of difference in a game like this.

After you've had a few arm-wrestles, performed a few emotes, geared up and gobbled down a stat-boosting meal it's time to go on a hunt. Once the host has picked a quest it is simply a case of accepting it at the notice board then readying up at the gate. When the hunting horn sounds the quest will begin, so you're basically away from that point! Then of course it is a mad dash to the blue chest to make sure that you get your fair share of items to aid you in the quest, but hopefully if you are playing with a considerate group of players you will end up with all that you need. Everything really comes to life when playing with your fellow hunters, naturally the monsters you face will have a greater amount of HP but if there is four of you going up against it, you should soon see how the wonderful cooperative nature of Monster Hunter properly comes into play. Believe me, it is a wonderful thing to be a part of speaking as someone who missed out greatly on the online experience the first time with Tri, you can bet that I won't be sitting on the sidelines this time and neither should anyone else who has been on the fence about the series so far for that matter; I urge you to join in as you really don't know what you're missing until you get properly involved with the fantastic multiplayer aspect that this game has to offer.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateIf you prefer to play locally however you can choose to do this, indeed if you find that many of your friends have the 3DS version of the game, either in addition to their Wii U version or just on it's own, they will be able to play with you locally without any problems, so if you can get together locally on a regular basis then you will still experience the wonderful spirit of the game, just in the comfort of being in the same room instead. It is perhaps worth noting that although you can play locally on the 3DS, you can't play online unless you purchase a Wii U wired lan adapter so that you can use your Wii U console as the 'go between' so you can play online but that begs the question... if you already have a Wii U then why wouldn't you just buy the Wii U version? It's perhaps a small oversight on Capcom's part, but you have to remember that both versions offer different strengths. You can expect to read about the portable version of the game in a separate review coming soon. But as it stands, the Wii U version is very capable indeed, it's especially impressive to think that such a great home console version of the game has been built up by porting across the framework of the 3DS version. If you didn't know that you could have sworn that it was made just for the Wii U, but as it has been developed in this way at least it allows for seamless play between the two which will come as a relief to those wishing to buy both versions so they can hunt monsters wherever they are either at home or away. It is truly a revolution.

Visually, you can expect to be pretty impressed by the majority of this title as a fantastic job has been done on bumping up all the textures to 1080p. All you need to do is check out a video of the Tri on the Wii, then take a look at any MH3U video to see what I mean as the difference is like that of night to day, everything feels a lot more polished with a level of detail that it definitely befitting of the series. Just wait until you see the scales on the Lagiacrus! This may seem like a small thing, but you can actually count them this time! Of course, though the environments look lovely on the whole, because all of this is merely up-scaled from the 3DS version you will notice the odd texture that's a bit lacking in detail, but even those still look crisper than anything found on the Wii version so this is still a graphical triumph proving that when they put 'HD' on the box it's actually warranted.

On the subject of the sound however, if you love the look of the game then just wait until you hear the accompanying music. Honestly, it's so good that I've been listening to the music while writing this very review. Every track just feels 'right' and is the perfect accompaniment for each area, spurring you on during your hunts and of course the game has several rather meaty sound effects. so you are definitely going to really hear the clash of steel upon scale or the sound of arrows tearing through wings. Oh, and of course the words 'So Tasty!' upon cooking a well-done steak, it's all here to hear in high fidelity.

Of course I could go on about how brilliant this game is for far too long. Whether it's the trademark humour from the NPC's, the completely customisable interface which allows you to put everything on the GamePad so you have all the beautiful HUD-less action on your TV screen, or just one of the many brilliant moments that you'll encounter, such as going off to hunt a Quropeco online, almost beating it only for a Rathian to swoop in on you in the last few moments of the quest... but quite honestly it's far better for you to experience all these things for yourself. I've barely even touched on some of the finer points of the game, just the sheer amount of different weaponry that you can use is mind-boggling as the full range includes Great & Long Swords, Swords & Shields, Hammers, Lances, Switch Axes, Heavy & Light Bowguns in addition to the aforementioned new weapon classes. Obviously I didn't get to try out all of them out, but rest assured that you're sure to be able to find a favourite. I can say though that this game has had a huge impact on me personally as I have spent quite a hefty amount of time playing this fantastic title and I know that I shall be committing many, many more hours to it. In fact, I'm going back on it right now to hunt down the Lagiacrus once and for all but as for you all, what are you waiting for? Get out there and break a leg... preferably a monsters.

Be sure to check out our review of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Nintendo 3DS as well.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Wii U owners, would be Monster Hunters and veterans alike, the time has come to heed the call of the hunting horn as this is definitely the game you've been waiting for. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the best game in the series to date which definitely deserves to be enjoyed by many, the hunt is on and long may it continue!

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



A wealth of things to do
Gorgeous visuals
Robust online mode
Very addictive gameplay


Quite a steep learning curve
Some players will have seen most of the game before

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