A local fishing village is under attack by a monster. Getting the go-ahead from your Hunter Guild, you take down the beast, reap the XP, and head off into the wild for your next takedown. That's the cycle. Rinse, repeat.
It's a game built more for teams of adventurers than the lone wolf, as not only does the rock, scissors, paper dynamic between monster and hunter weapon types enforce the need for variety to quicken the downing of foes, but it also forestalls the grind in tackling the boss fights that are otherwise the highlight of the game. It's not uncommon to be hacking at the shins of some vast behemoth for over twenty minutes on your lonesome. Time then to invest in some friendly comrades-in-arms; the game supports online and local multiplayer for both the Wii U and 3DS versions (though you'll obviously need a few 3DS units to get a local party going).
Exploration reveals just how big the game's locations are; each area is divided into sub-sections, and that some monsters wander freely amongst them means there's a dynamic feel to tracking down your chosen target. It isn't a beautiful world; that this is a HD conversion of a Wii title shows in the visuals, but there's a great degree of detail in the environments to at least translate a rich atmosphere to wherever you travel. The rendering of ice caves, deserts, mountain passes is done well enough to make you want to keep exploring, to see what's round the next corner or section.
Sadly the game also feels dated in its mission structure. Only being able to have one mission active at a time is an oversight when stacking quests is considered the norm for adventures and RPGs. It doesn't help that the quests are fairly similar, so you find you're trekking through the same areas multiple times to perform roughly the same task.
At least there are numerous mini-quests to chip away at the grind. Fishing, business sim, crafting...the last is a particuarly important and deep part of the game, and scavenging the lands for components to craft new items becomes a major diversion.
If you want to break from adventuring and focus on fighting, there's an additional Arena mode letting you pick a pre-made character to square off against foes one on one. It's a good spot to perfect dodging and parry techniques that are essential for long-term survival on the battlefields.
There's a few other niggles as well. The camera can be temperamental and the menu system can be a confusing affair at times. It's an outdated game. But... but it's got an undenialable charm that for some is enough to transcend these issues. Charm that'll be enough for some to stick with it.