In Monster Hunter 4, You Control Insect Minions

A demo of Capcom's Monster Hunter 4 on the 3DS was up for play at the Tokyo Game Show, and here's how the 15-minute gameplay was. They provided me with 3 different quests with a ranging difficulty of easy, medium and hard, and a premade set of armor for each of the special weapons in-game. I chose the newest weapon that will be available in MH4. The sochukon, which is literally translated the "insect controlling stick." (I'm hoping they'll find a better name for that)

Having picked a weapon I was unfamiliar with, I picked the medium difficulty quest against a giant fourhanded rope-swinging monkey. The core of the game was no different from any of the previous games, but there were some tweaks here and there. Some minor ones are the ability to wall jump, attack while climbing, and some extra large speech bubbles of the Airu cats (those Monster Hunter cats) mid-quest (so that you have less space in your screen to look at the monsters you're fighting).

Some interesting new features to the game were monster riding, and the Dragon virus. When you attack a boss monster while in mid-air, you will be able to ride on him and harass him with your knife until he shakes you off. I was immediately shaken off, so I couldn't confirm whether you could stay on the monster indefinitely. The Dragon Virus will infect you when certain monsters directly strike you. It will inhibit your passive ability to heal, which seems more of a bother than a penalty. Interestingly, you cure yourself of the disease by repeatedly striking the monster which infected you. As an added bonus for getting rid of the virus, you will have a higher chance to deal critical damage.

Now, back to the insect controlling stick. You can wield it like a lance, swinging and thrusting, but with an extra ability of shooting out pheromones to direct the attacks of your tiny minion insect. The pheromones will shoot out of your weapon like a blowgun, albeit with worse aiming (either that or I was constantly too close to the monster). After your insect attacks a monster, it will bring back some "body fluid" for you to drink and buff yourself with. The available upgrades were movement speed, weapon damage, armor bonus, and health regeneration. You will gain a different bonus according to the body part your insect took its "fluid" from.

The game, however, feels a lot more cluttered with your boss monster, two Airu cats and their speech bubbles, multiple small monsters, and your minion insect all clipping through each other. Fortunately, they seem to have tweaked the hit boxes of giant monsters so that players won't feel frustrated in the chaos when they can't even see who's attacking. There is a button on the touch screen dedicated to focusing your camera to the boss monster, but it did not feel exactly useful when the giant ape keeps swinging away from my vision.

As said above, the core mechanics are the same but with certain improvements. Aside from the new weapons, monsters and maps, the loading time between areas are shorter, objects you can interact with are more distinguishable, and the game certainly looks nicer with the 3D on (especially the boss monster cinematics). All in all, it was enough to make me feel that 15 minutes weren't enough.