A long time staple of the series, siege hunts see one or more hunters take on mammoth opponents, often ludicrous in size and shape, whilst occupying massive, multi-tiered arenas. These have seemingly been usurped in Monster Hunter Rise, where they have instead opted for Rampages, and whilst these function in a somewhat similar fashion, they lack the sense of scale associated with these gargantuan tasks. With the advent of Sunbreak then, the question arises: Should siege hunts return? And more to the point, were they actually fun?
Rampage Or Not?
Firstly, we really must consider whether their replacement can serve the same purpose. Rampages are designed to feel like you’re being attacked by waves of monsters and, with a barrage of equipment and static weapons available, defeat or repel them. At first these do tend to feel quite fun, thanks mainly to the short learning curve around dealing big damage with certain weapons and activating ever stronger effects. However, this does tend to wear off rather quickly, and regardless of the target involved, they’re never really all that difficult. But then, wasn’t this also true of siege hunts?
The truth is that, in some cases at least, this is all very true. Siege hunts could often get somewhat boring, especially when certain phases take far too long. In this regard they are very similar to Rampages, but a key difference is that such things can be explained away from a thematic point of view. Rampages inexplicably see monsters downed in record time whilst others take barely a whisper to fall over. We are of course aware that some are considered stronger than others on the basis of their icon, but it does tend to make the whole experience rather messy. Monster Hunter is at its best when you’re tackling one major target at a time, and whilst it can be fun to watch turf wars occur in a full hunt, having tens of them thrown in at once is not, in our opinion, the best idea.
When initially considering the implementation of siege hunts, we were concerned about the performance levels of the Nintendo Switch, after all how could a tablet of such dimensions manage to cope with these epic-level events? Remarkably, the wizards over at Capcom have managed to make the unassuming little slab push out some incredible graphics, whilst simultaneously keeping the frame rate relatively high. They do have a great deal of experience in doing so, after all this is the team that managed to squeeze the frankly epic MH4U into the 3DS, but it’s still amazing. With graphics crossed off the list then, what could be the problem?
Unfortunately, the issue comes from another of the human senses: Hearing. Indeed, the issue that arises is that you cannot, natively in the Switch at least, hear from your teammates. Some of the most epic moments in gaming can be found in the combination of voice communication and a great game on the sofa, of which Monster Hunter is certainly one. Granted, on older consoles players had to come up with their own solution, but World tackled this just fine, and it made for some fantastic experiences, taking down Kulve Taroth and the like whilst chatting away to your mates. Sadly, this is a limitation of the Switch itself rather than the developers, so whilst it’s hard to count this against them specifically, and players can look to their own solutions on the PC, it does take something away from the magic of recently encountered siege hunts.
Are Sieges Fun?
Whilst the majority of community sentiment is settled on the above two points, which are that Rampages aren’t fantastic and the Switch should have voice comms for sofa laughs, this point in particular is the subject of great debate. Some players believe that taking down a monstrous behemoth of a thing whilst using every single tool available is great fun. Yet others find them to be tedious, cursing their own luck when they random their way into yet another siege, fit to suck away 30 minutes of their time that they would rather spend farming melding pot RNG fodder. Both are fairly valid arguments in truth, and whilst there are merits on either side, the solution tends to fall somewhere in between.
Essentially it comes down to some siege hunts being fun whilst others are not, and after a great deal of deliberation we think that we’ve reached a conclusion as to why: Knowledge.
You see, Monster Hunter is a game that has always rewarded those that take the extra time to understand the very best way to take down a target. Knocking a monster down continuously because you’ve discovered that their front legs are weak, for example, or figuring out the best place to stand when Glavenous does its spin-to-win attack. Yet by taking these away, either by making a siege too focused on attrition, or indeed signposting the weak spots with glowing rocks at every turn, the fun of discovery is taken away. You attack the glowing rock, the monster throws you off, rinse and repeat. This isn’t fun gameplay and it makes for tedious hunts. Properly designed siege hunts are great fun, and when they contain opportunities for improvements in method or skill, they’re actually quite enjoyable.
We are truly rather torn on this subject. We’d hate to have any more slow, lumbering block monsters teetering their way towards a failure screen, but would love to have the spectacle of a Dalamadur-esque hunt, in which reaching weak spots and timing things is a matter of skill. Similarly, we want to bait monsters into going for attacks that expose them to arena tools and weapons, not simply wait for them to reach the designated stabby area.
The developers of Monster Hunter titles have often proved themselves to be a receptive lot, but by that same token, they aren’t immune to occasionally going a little off-piste. Should they decide that reintroducing full siege hunts is a great idea, we pray that they take these things into consideration, particularly the knowledge piece. Don’t make the best bit about your siege encounter the fact that the true final boss turns up on its back towards the end of the battle. In fact, nothing like Zorah Magdaros period, OK?