China's Monster Hunter styled MMO, Hunter Blade, looks, plays and feels exactly like Monster Hunter. Despite adding some much needed gameplay elements to MH, Hunter Blade is a flawed monster hack and slash.
Developed by Joy China, Hunter Blade, takes all the elements of MH and turns it into an MMO. Joy China didn't have to do very much. MH from the get-go was a very social game; however, the vastly popular PSP versions were only social via an ad-hoc wireless connection, meaning you had to leave the house. With the exception of mods, Monster Hunter Tri, and the Japan only Frontier there hasn't been a real MMO MH.
At first glance, you might say, "Hey Eric, Hunter Blade looks awesome, there's finally an online MH!" and I'd have to agree with you. The MH universe has monsters that are nigh impossible to beat solo, and much of the game rewards multiplayer experiences, so having a free to play MMO where you can play with strangers is a good thing.
However upon further inspection you will start to notice that Hunter Blade isn't all that it seems.
The Hunter Blade universe takes place in a world very similar to that of the MHgames. The opening village looks oddly familiar to Monster Hunter Tri's Moga village. Like the villages in the MH universe, the village in Hunter Blade is just a hub where players can trade, pick up quests, and loaf around.
Once a quest has been taken or a party has been made, players can instance a hunt. Now this is where Hunter Blade starts to deviate from the MH model. Instead of long hunts and searches that involve tagging and trailing the monsters, Hunter Blade pretty much just throws you directly into the thick of it.
Also unlike MH, once the beasts are subdued, they are subdued. There is no carving of carcasses for parts. Hunter Blade rewards players at the end of a hunt through a lottery system, it also provides quests just for gathering ingredients but the joy of carving up dead creatures is gone.
A few welcome additions to the MH formula added by Hunter Blade are the use of skills and weapon specialisations. Players are able to level up and learn skills that can be applicable in battle. This kind of fixes the monotony of battle by allowing more variations to battle.
One system that Hunter Blade heavily advertises is the Family/Clan system. The system is basically a clan system where a clan/family can operate and run their own cities. Unfortunately I did not get that far into the game to join a clan.
In addition to a PVP arena Hunter Blade also incorporated mounts and pets. Of course the said pets aren't anything like the great Felynes of MH.
Another staple of the MMO available inHunter Blade is the PVP arena. Here players are able to duke it out against each other and show off their wares.
Over all my biggest gripe with Hunter Blade is that like every free to play Chinese MMO, is that the in game purchasing system is flawed. Players can buy the strongest armours and weapons from the get go, they can also purchase quick level items.
Although cheaply executed, without the release of a real online MH game Hunter Blade suffices as a good online monster hack and slash. It isn't perfect, and it looks and feels exactly like a cheap MH game, but it'll do…for now especially now that there's an English version available.