Monster Hunter’s more popular than ever right now, with Monster Hunter: World setting tills ringing on PS4, Xbox One and now PC. The game has finally broken into the West, and for good reason, with its compelling loop of hunting, foraging and upgrading sucking people in.
But let’s not forget the platform holder that has played home to Monster Hunter over the last decade. Having games predominantly releasing on Nintendo 3DS during that time might be one of the reasons why it only held a cult following in the West during this time. While having a strong base in Japan, the home console is king in the West and people weren’t necessarily looking for Monster Hunter games on handheld.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a localised version of Monster Hunter XX which released in Japan this time last year. The extra X and Ultimate moniker denote that it’s an expanded version of Monster Hunter Generations (or X in Japan), which released on 3DS in 2015/16. Some of the game has been tweaked, some of the things you can do altered, but it’s no surprise that the three monsters available to tackle in the demo are identical to the ones found in the 3DS demo of Generations. If you want to give it a go, that demo is out today, by the way.
The game looks and plays really well on Switch, which you’d expect when this is a much more powerful console than the 3DS. Sure, there’s some quirks to the control scheme, like having the – button be used for something other than a map of the world, but with twin analogue sticks, a wealth of buttons and more ergonomic trigger buttons, this has got the 3DS beat in every way. It’s not even a contest. Playing on Switch, you’ll never want to go back to the spongey analogue disc and tiny C-stick nubbin. Luckily you’ll almost certainly never have to.
However, you are stepping back to another generation – get it? – of Monster Hunter. World kept many of the thematic quirks of the series, but it also smoothed a lot of the rough edges and made the game more palatable to a wider audience. Despite the Switch’s much greater capabilities over the 3DS, you’re still presented with a segmented world that has load screens when you move between different areas. It just feels archaic when the monster can run right to the edge of an area and then you get caught in the loading zone. Lovely.
Generations was already a culmination of all things that the old style of Monster Hunter was. There’s fourteen weapons to choose from, a bunch of Hunting Styles and Hunter Arts, new and classic monsters to battle, and then a smattering of additions in these areas to make this really be, well, Ultimate.
Where Generations Ultimate can really one up World is in featuring a core pillar of communal play wherever you are. With the portability of the Switch, you can take it with you and play with your buddies in situ using ad hoc wireless. That’s been a huge part of the Monster Hunter community from the first time it appeared on PSP and all through its time as a 3DS stalwart, and while World features more robust online systems and voice chat, that face to face experience is something worth preserving.
For Switch owning Monster Hunter fans, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is probably going to be a no-brainer – you can even transfer a save from Generations on 3DS. It promises an expanded version of what was arguably the most approachable Monster Hunter prior to World, while boasting a bigger roster of monsters than its newer sibling. It’s also a great nod to the previous games in the series, and really is a culmination of everything the franchise had done up to that point. Generations Ultimate could be just as important to the series’ future as World is, even if you do have to wait for those damn loading screens.