Traditionally fans have had to wait a long while between Monster Hunter games. Discounting ports, enhanced versions, and lesser spin-offs, we’re talking a good three to four years before the next mainline entry shows up. With new weapons, monsters, locations, and bags of mechanical refinements, it’s often worth the wait. The half-decade transition between Monster Hunter Tri and last year’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate saw plenty of clever add-ons and revisions, propelling the world-beating franchise to new heights.
However, little more than a year since that game’s launch, Capcom seems ready to move on. Developed in tandem with 4, Monster Hunter Generations is fairly light on ground-breaking new features but will please series fans nonetheless. It also serves newcomers as a gentler gateway into what is still a fairly complex and rewarding action RPG.
In some ways Generations could be described as a remix, cherry picking elements from past games and throwing them together. Those familiar with earlier entries – even the original – will notice that certain creatures and locales have come out of retirement. Such recycling of content no doubt helped Capcom to shed the time and cost of development but it’s hard to be cynical. On the one hand, newer players will experience this content as if for the first time while veterans can immerse themselves in a sense of nostalgia, plying old tactics and knowledge.
That said, Generations has a few tricks of its own, nudging the series ever so gently forward. The most notable among these are the Hunter Arts which help form a stronger bond between players and their weapon(s) of choice. On paper they don’t actually sound that adventurous. Choosing one of the game’s four Hunter Styles (we’ll get to those in a bit), you can slot between one and three of these Arts, each one with own guage. These will gradually fill as you attack monsters, unleashing special maneuvers, buffs, and combos. While not as revolutionary as Tri’s water combat or 4’s aerial mounting, they give you more of an excuse to play around with Monster Hunter’s weapons.
The aforementioned Hunter Styles make for an obscure new addition to the franchise, affecting certain, more subtle aspects of gameplay. In theory, they present a hybrid between difficulty settings and the kinds of role you would find in a multiplayer RPG. At one end you have the bog standard Guild Style, which is described as the easiest and most adaptable. For those who fancy themselves as the more skillful hunter, the Adept Style will reward well-timed dodges with devastating counter actions. In truth, some players won’t be able to notice the difference, especially those completely new to the series. However, for the more advanced tribe, they can produce sizeable benefits against tougher creatures.
Alongside Styles and Arts, Monster Hunter Generations also introduces Prowler Mode. Here, players can swap out their human avatar for one of the cat-like Palicoes. With their own unique moveset, they’re meant to stand-in as some kind of easy mode for the game. They feel like more of a diversion, however, as opposed to an extension of the main game. After completing just one of the Prowler specific quests, I was ready to draw a line through that particular feature and move on.
No matter how you adopt these fancy new tools, the series’ core remains completely untouched. Through battling fierce monster, your overarching goal is to carve them up and produce better weapons and armour to go out and hunt even bigger foes. It’s a strong and addicting enough premise that, even after more than a decade, fans will quickly lose hours to as they’re unavoidably sucked in. The continued support of online multiplayer helps too – if there’s one particular way Monster Hunter should be experienced, it’s alongside three companions working in sync.
Of course, this is all backed up by the series’ charming soundtrack and visual design. Although some armour and weapon sets crop up for the umpteenth time, there’s still a nice variety to be had, especially for those who like to mix and match individual pieces of gear. New creatures such as the Gammoth, Maccao, and Malfestio, also help pad out each gameplay tier, giving novice and elite hunters interesting new opponents to fight.
While it’s not as essential as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was, those wanting to keep in the loop should seriously consider picking up a copy. While some of the bonus features do little to spice up the core game, there’s an embarrassment of riches to be found in the sheer volume of content on offer.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS