GAME NAME: Monster Hunter Generations
GENRE(S): Action Role-Playing
RELEASE DATE(S): July 15, 2016
The Monster Hunter series is not one to be taken lightly. Every new entry in the series’ expansive collection will add hundreds of hours to your gaming time-card, and that’s assuming you don’t aim to see and do absolutely everything there is to be experienced in any one of these titles. Two weeks ago today a new hunt began as a new Monster Hunter for the Nintendo 3DS, Monster Hunter Generations, was released stateside. A title as large as Monster Hunter could make for quite a mouthful, so for the sake of helping the widest audience possible decide if this is a title worth your purchase, this review will begin by introducing the basics to those who have never played a Monster Hunter title before.
What is Monster Hunter?
So, you’ve finally decided to see what all the fuss is about. For those of you who’ve never played, or possibly never even heard of it before, Monster Hunter is a series of games produced by Capcom for a number of different systems across the gaming spectrum. During the age of the Wii, the series made its foray on a Nintendo console with the release of Monster Hunter Tri. This was the third major game in the series, but it was most Nintendo players’ entrance into the series.
Monster Hunter Generations is part of the fourth generation of Monster Hunter titles, running on the same engine as Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay is similar to titles past, forcing you, the customizable main character, into the role of Hunter. As a hunter, you’ll be taking on mission after mission to fight, kill or capture some of the largest, most ferocious s you’ve ever seen. These missions are no simple affair. At a standard pace, battles can take between 20 to 30 minutes of concentrated, focused battling to fell the beast in question. Any one title in the series will be full of missions that continually scale in difficulty and challenge your own skills as a player.
There is no experience point system like in traditional RPGs, so grinding for experience isn’t an option. While your equipment can be upgraded to further improve your attack and defense, much of your progression will come from learning how your opponents fight, and mastering your own style of combat. There are 14 different weapon types available for you to use, from slow, heavy-hitting weapons like the Great Sword and Hammer to lightweight weapons that allow for greater mobility, such as the Light Bow Gun and the Dual Blades. During your experience, you are free to switch between different types of weapons, and are in fact encouraged to do so by the various rewards handed out for completing quests.
What’s new in Generations?
Monster Hunter Generations is, at its core, a love letter to past Monster Hunter games, especially the past handheld titles: featuring villages, weapons, monsters and personalities from throughout the series’ history. Fans of previous games will be able to enjoy some of their favorite old hunting grounds, along with monsters that may have gone missing in more recent iterations. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of new content to keep veteran hunters entertained, however. There are a few new monsters unique to Generations, including the four flagship monsters of the series which each bring unique new abilities to be unlocked by crafting their equipment.
Another key new feature in Generations are Deviant Monsters, new types of monster that are special twists on classic monsters such as the Zinogre and Lagombi. These monsters are much more than the sub species seen in past games; they fight with an entirely new style and are much more aggressive and powerful than their more common incarnations. These monsters are, in part, made to replace G-rank, the top-tier of quests unlocked late-game. While G-rank quests may have gone missing in Generations, there are actually 200 more quests in this version than in Monster Hunter 4U for the 3DS, a grand total of 643. Low rank and High rank quests return as well, and the number of quests per rank appears to have increased as well, meaning that when you hit HR 4 you’ll easily have another 30 missions to complete before you move on to HR 5. Overall, Generations looks to add more content across the board, featuring more weapons, armors and quests than its previous counterpart.
One of the most talked-about new features in Generations is the inclusion of the new Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts. There are four Styles present in this title, which change how your character is controlled and what you can do. Guild Style is the style of play we’ve been enjoying since the first title; it’s meant to be the standard style of play, with no real changes present beyond any changes to individual weapons that might occur in Generations. Striker Style is one of the more popular styles, as it virtually mimics the guild style, but with the added bonus of allowing you to use a third Hunter Art (more on those in a moment), along with the ability to charge those arts faster, thus allowing you to use them more often.
Aerial Style is probably the least conventional of the Hunter Styles, and is a great choice for players who enjoyed the Insect Glaive’s ability to leap in the air and easily mount monsters. Aerial style will turn your dodge into a jumping dodge, and also grant you the ability to leap off of monsters, obstacles and even other players, launching you into the air. It should be noted that aerial style seems to come with the most changes to how you control your hunter. While the changes aren’t glaring, old school hunters may have trouble adjusting to this style. For example, the Great Sword loses its signature ability to charge attacks, instead only being able to do a much less effective mid-air charge.
The final style is the Adept Style, which focuses on dodging attacks and hitting back with counter attacks. This style is referred to in-game as the more advanced option, as it requires split-second timing to pull of counter attacks effectively. Interestingly, this style also allows you to dodge into enemy clouds of poison, sleep and other status inflicters, in addition to monsters roars and attacks from other hunters and Palicoes. The end result of this is that, with enough skill, you essentially become immune to status ailments. The biggest drawback to this style is the single allotted slot for a Hunter Art, forcing you to choose your setup carefully before a hunt. It should also be noted that this style works much better with lightweight weapons that encourage dodging over blocking, as dodging attacks with perfect timing is a must.
Another new feature in Generations are Hunter Arts, which serve as special attacks you can perform when you charge up the arts gauge enough by landing blows on monsters. These arts can do anything, from providing you with a massive, hard-hitting attack to giving you a temporary boost to your defenses. Some arts are universal, these usually being the arts that provide some kind of improvement to your stats. Beyond these, there are three unique attack arts for every weapon, along with more powerful variants unlocked later. It should be worth noting that one rather frustrating aspect to arts is that you need to equip them every time you change weapon classes, so players who like to use a variety of different weapons may often find themselves unprepared.
One of the more meowsteresting (sorry, couldn’t help myself) new additions to Generations is the inclusion of a new weapon class, called the Prowler. This isn’t actually a weapon at all, but rather allows you to control any of your Palicoes, the cute little assistants the Monster Hunter series is known for. As you level up your Palicoes on hunts, their abilities will become more pronounced. These skills will be an asset whether you choose to hunt along-side your furry friends or as one of them. Make no mistake: the Prowler is not a joke class. Prowlers make excellent support team members in online hunts, being one of the only classes that can be a dedicated healer, in addition to their collection of unique traps, buffs and a decent attack stat. In fact, hunting solo as a Palico is entirely viable, and there are even specific mission that must be completed while playing the Prowler class. This mode really adds a lot of appeal to all of the different Palico armors and weapons, since now you, the player, will actually be able to use them.
A new generation of Monster Hunter
Generations is definitely one of the more unique additions to the Monster Hunter lineup. Veteran hunters will know something’s not quite right as soon as they start hunting and realize their Great Sword has the same 60 attack power as their buddy’s Sword and Shield. In fact, the entire way weapons and armor are classified has changed. In games past, the number of attack or defense points on equipment could be used to compare strength. The Hammer with an attack of 1200 was far more powerful than the Bow with 250 attack, for example. In this game, however, that hammer and bow might both have an attack of 160, assuming they were made from the same level of monsters. Traditionally powerful weapons do still seem to kill much faster than quick, weaker weapons, which seems to hint that the levels are reflective of a weapon-to-weapon scale. Essentially, this means that comparing two weapons that aren’t the same type becomes much more difficult. It’s hard to understand why the developers would choose to make such a confusing shift of such an important mechanic, but it’s possible that the idea is to make the game easier for new players to understand. While this is certainly an admirable goal in a series as formidable as Monster Hunter, it seems like an odd choice to implement in the game which focuses on nostalgia and attracting returning players.
Certain elements from past titles will be absent in Generations, two of the biggest ones being underwater combat/swimming from Monster Hunter 3 and Frenzy Monsters from Monster Hunter 4. You’ll still encounter monsters like the Lagiacrus and Gore Magala, with the later still being able to inflict frenzy. But that lack of these features makes these experiences feel a little incomplete, especially in the case of the Lagiacrus and similar underwater foes like the Royal Ludroth. Fortunately, the inclusion of Deviant monsters adds a bit of variety and keeps the game feeling fresh in lieu of these old encounters. It should also be noted that Generations, like past titles, will be supported with free dlc which will add new quests and equipment to collect. Some of this dlc is already available, with more on the way.
A big part of Monster Hunter is the online interaction, and this is one area where Generations shines. The game really feels like it was made for the online interaction, providing you with more options than ever before to customize your hunter. Touch-to-chat during hunts returns, with a few new auto-chat options for specific situations. Finding rooms that match your current hunting needs has been streamlined as well and the entire process feels really quick and clean. As expected, the connection is stable and I have experienced no interruptions in all the time I’ve spent playing online.
There’s plenty to experience in Monster Hunter Generations, whether this is your first outing or a return trip. There are aspects of the game that feel somewhat watered-down, such as the new equipment stat system and the lack of G-rank quests. But those issues aside, the game is another amazing entry in an already impressive series of quality titles. The graphics and music are both of the same quality as Monster Hunter 4, if not slightly better, and the gameplay is some of the most solid in the series so far. This is certainly the best Monster Hunter to-date in terms of character customization, both in terms of player appearance and gameplay style. All in all, there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this title. It’s hard to recommend Monster Hunter Generations to someone looking for an entirely new experience. We won’t truly have another epic entry in the series until Monster Hunter 5’s inevitiable release, but Generations does a nice job of filling that gap. While it may be more of an extension of Monster Hunter 4 than its own completely unique experience, it certainly does a good job of outshining its predecessor and carving a spot as another must-have for fans of the series. Generations will be the go-to game for most of the online community for a long while now, and that alone is a justifiable reason to pick it up. Beyond that, it’s just a really enjoyable game, and deserves serious consideration the next time you’re looking for a new 3DS game.