While in Japan I was lucky enough (read: my wife was kind enough) to get my hands on a copy of Monster Hunter Cross. For fans of the series, this game represents something of a massive refinement of everything that’s come before (as well as a load of new features). For newcomers, it’s another excellent and friendly chance to finally hop in (though why everyone isn’t already playing is something of a mystery to me). Though I have pretty much no Japanese under my belt, this isn’t my first time playing a Monster Hunter game in Japanese, and it’s even better than last time.
If you’ve never played the series before, I don’t have a lot to say here. Basically each weapon plays completely differently, and each monster is like a wholly new boss fight. Add resource management and using drops to build better gear, and you’ve got the basic feeling. If any of that sounds a little interesting, watch some videos and try it out. If you’ve already played before, lets talk about some of the cool new changes.
This entry lacks a new weapon, but makes up for it in two big ways: modes/styles, and cats. The modes (and associated arts) transform the way that the weapons function. Guild mode is essentially vanilla Monster Hunter style, with the option to use two arts (which are charged up for use by striking monsters and taking damage from them). Striker mode gives you a third art at the cost of a chunk of the weapon’s moveset (notably, a lot of the moves that make infinite loops possible seem to be missing, which is pretty brutal). Bushido is where it starts to get interesting. The moveset is modified slightly, and only one art is accessible, in exchange for a massive reward to risky play. Dodge through an attack or block at the instant of impact, and you’re well rewarded with refilling stamina and weapon-based effects. Aerial moves into the realm of bizarre – your dodge now jumps forward, allowing you to launch off of a monster and use a powered up portion of the moveset from the air. It’s fun, but hard to get used to.
Fun fact, you can play as cats (Palicos). If I wasn’t so busy tinkering about with the new weapon modes, I’d have more to say about that.
There are new monsters, a solid mix of classic monsters and areas, and an altered system for upgrading equipment. There’s also a bunch of other things I just plain don’t understand, as I can’t read Japanese. The core game is rock solid, though, and this entry looks to be better than ever (just like most new entries in the series). If you’ve read this much, you already know that you’re getting it, so here’s hoping I’ll see you online. Good hunting!