In games such as this, when you select your character and customize them, name them, make your own, there is always the urge to get more powerful, to make that which is your own stand out among the other players. This is a game that allows you to do that, but unlike most, you will have to strive to achieve true greatness.
In games such as this there is a moment when playing when you can sit back, look at your character and think "Now I'm powerful. Now I can take on anything." and you will feel that often in this.
But then the chances are, that feeling will be kicked out of your mind and trodden into the floor by the next monster you fight, and so you strive again.
But this game is in no way 'brutal.' It will not have you finish a difficult fight and not be rewarded. When you beat that monster, which may have seemed impossible at one point but now lays on the floor, waiting to be carved up by your knife, you have a huge sense of achievement. Augmented by the knowledge that the pieces you carve off of it, combined with the other materials from it's body rewarded to you in the Reward screen, you will be able to craft weapons and armor, then walk back into that same fight and kill it (or capture it) with the knowledge that you are wearing it's very skin, and probably beating it round the head or stabbing it with it's bones and teeth. The game's primary focus is on collecting these materials and crafting gear, getting more powerful as you go, and eventually travelling to new areas to fight newer, tougher monsters, and seeing yourself get better and better at the game as it moves on and on through it's 70-odd hour single player. And once you are done with the single player, or even while you are still playing the single player mode, you are free to jump into the multiplayer aspect with the very same character, gear, and work up through the hunter ranks with your friends. Gaining better gear, playing in Event quests to obtain new, unique gear and fighting in Arenas to, you guessed it, get better gear.
This may sound dull, but it is quite the opposite. Never before has a game made 'grinding' so accessible and fun. You won't tire from fighting the monsters time and time again as the AI often ensures that no two fights will be the same, keeping it fresh. Throw out your thoughts of grinding in the terms of games like World of Warcraft, as this is an entirely different beast. Nothing quite compares to crafting that new, obscenely massive two handed greatsword that will likely be twice the size of you and look like it could cut through the very fabric of time, then going back and killing the boss monsters in half the time you were previously. But that's not to mean it's all down to the gear. Most of your improvement will be in yourself, an aspect that games such as this rarely involve. The first time you fight a Great Jaggi, you might think 'My God, how am I expected to do this?', then later in the game you may choose to go back and fight it, and not even take a scratch, due to your own skill rather than your weapons.
It is a game that words alone cannot do justice. To truly appreciate this game you have to play it yourself. Will you be able to put up with the knowledge that you WILL die, a lot, in this game? Knowing only that as you try again, and again, you will get better and better, tougher and stronger?
Well, if you can, then go out and buy this game.
If you're not so sure, rent it. And at the end of your rental period, I can almost guarantee you will return it, just to buy it outright for yourself to enjoy with no time limit.