#42 - Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - Nintendo 3DS
What puts 4 above the rest for me, is that not only is a great entry that refines what 3 did, or that it has a great cast of new and returning monsters, but that is actually manages to tie it all up with a nice story.
4 adds a lot of weight to your main hunts, besides the usual, have to fight the flagship monster to save the village, my favorite example of this is the mining town, not only you get a new crew member there, but every big monster creates a change in the town, defeating one will cheer them up, and fighting another later on will bring back the heat back to the town, and you do another hunt to get materials to repair your ship and continue on, is adding that extra level of context to the hunts of 4 that gives it that story weight. The flagship is also amazingly handled, Gore Magala is the Vergil of Monster Hunter, your first fight you only manage to barely repel him, second time you are helping fellow hunters get away, and you get more comfortable with his patterns and attacks, then the proper fight comes and he gets a frenzied status that makes him unpredictable yet again, making you adapt to his moveset yet again, and the final battle with him is a completely new form, once again throwing you off, the rivalry is built up across most of the game, and that final cutscene before the final clash perfectly encapsulates that, is just a really good story.
I like all the different hubs, the areas all have a great design to them, the re purposing of the mines from a cave area to the lava area of the game is clever, Heaven's Mount has this super climactic feel to it, is all lovely.
And of course the gameplay loop is as satisfying as ever, slowly building up your items, having that zen progression by doing smaller monsters, some gathering, before the big confrontation, and repeat.
The * here is that Monster Hunter Rise is almost as good as 4, for different reasons, also has the best score in the series, it could probably reach the same level depending on Sunbreak's quality, because the Ultimate story of 4 I don't find as interesting, so if Sunbreak delivers it would match it for sure.