Monster Hunter reaches new heights with bug-shooting pogo stick

To some, each subsequent version in Capcom's Monster Hunter series only adds a few new beasts, weapons and gear while maintaining one core concept: Slaying large, ferocious creatures in lengthy quests. As series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto told Joystiq at E3 last week, "you have to keep the key elements intact but you also want to innovate, you also want to add some freshness."

"Freshness" means more than just Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's four new monsters and weapons (two apiece), but indicates Capcom's drive to improve the ways players explore and interact with the game's environment. "We tend to, on the design side, just think of things that we as players want to do in these worlds but are unable to do in the current state," Tsujimoto said. Looking back at the last game to launch in the west, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the developer opened up the game to underwater sequences, introducing beasts like Gobul to spotlight submerged battles.
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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (E3 2014)

For Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Capcom looked to change the way the game plays vertically by inserting "jump attacks," primarily performed using the new Insect Glaive weapon. The Insect Glaive was described as a spear that shoots a beetle-like insect at the enemy and allows players to launch themselves into the air as if jumping on a pogo stick. Given that a new leaping move should serve "some kind of purpose," as Tsujimoto put it, players that successfully execute a jump attack on a large monster enough times can climb and mount it to do more damage.

"You start with the kernel of an idea and then they kind of flow from there gradually, layering in more and more," Tusjimoto said of the series' incremental changes. "It always comes back to empowering the player to perform more actions." The level we demoed with the Insect Glaive in tow featured a large spider web-like second "floor" in one area, highlighting upper and lower sections more prominently than past levels did. As Tsujimoto said of the (literal) change in direction, past games included "slight variations in the elevation in some parts of the environments, but they're never really used for much."

One item that was missing in the 3DS version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was stand-alone online multiplayer, which was only accessible for those with an associated app on Wii U. That isn't the case with the upcoming game; the online-enabled Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is in development for 3DS only. "In a manner of speaking, all the things you could do with those two versions (3DS and Wii U) previously, you can now do in this one version," Tsujimoto said, stressing that Capcom "put a lot of time, energy and effort into making the 3DS version" as opposed to developing the game for two platforms.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will reach North America in early 2015.
[Image: Capcom]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.