Don’t let the smooth taste of Monster Hunter: World fool you. Monster Hunter, as a franchise, is a thorny pill. With a friendly smile, Capcom has used MH World to hook the world on their product. But now - with the release of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate - that smile has changed to something slightly more sinister, and they are reaching back into the sack to show the kiddies the hardcore stuff. Capcom is well aware that have sunk their barbs deep into the gaming community’s flesh, so now they can get back to the business that they love, dragging us all along by our dopamine glands. But don’t fear, friends. This addiction is delicious, and the only hangover you get is in the knuckles of your thumbs. Monster Hunter has gone back to the basics, and – surprise! – the basics are complicated (and fun) as hell.
If anything, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (a port and expansion of 2016’s 3DS title Monster Hunter Generations) gives committed players a new appreciation for just how much work was put into smoothing out the core Monster Hunter experience for World. When those quality-of-life improvements that you have become accustomed to are suddenly gone, you sit up and take notice. What do you mean I can’t access the item box in the middle of a battle? What do you mean combining items doesn’t work consistently? What do you mean, I have to take up precious inventory space for whetstones, bug nets, mining picks, and meat spits?
Monster Hunter loyalists - who were with the franchise years before World - are going to be chuckling mirthfully to themselves while hordes of newcomers have one bucket of ice water after another thrown in their faces while they try to come to grips with this more traditional version of Monster Hunter. Yet, in spite of the myriad of “Wait...what??” moments that await fans of World as they set forth into this new/old experience, I predict that far fewer of them will bounce off of Generations Ultimate than would have a year ago. Because one of Monster Hunter World’s many successes was that it taught players the language and cadence of the franchise. Gather materials, make stuff, take the stuff into battle against giant monsters, harvest giant monsters, make more stuff. Just knowing that you have to sharpen your weapons in the middle of a battle gives modern players a leg up over yesteryears’ newcomers.
Because even though all of the systems that were compressed into diamonds in World are now exploded back out to their original sprawl, the hooks of the game are the same. The chewy core is intact. With patience, new converts ought to be able to get on board. And there is a much, much bigger core here to chew on.
Monster Hunter World was a sprawling game, but Generations Ultimate is simply enormous. There are triple the number of monsters (93 vs. 31), an astounding number of maps, exponentially more complicated recipes, the ability to play through the entire game as a palico (!), a separate set of quests for online play, the list goes on and on. If you can only afford one game this year (and you enjoy Monster Hunter), this is the game to get, as it will keep you busy for months. This is the sort of game that fans will be playing for a year or two, grinding for armor and never getting bored.
I admit that I was one of the curious masses that tried Monster Hunter games in the past and found them to be impenetrable. Much like Doctor Who and the Violent Femmes, it helps to have a friend already into Monster Hunter before you get started. Without a friendly face to guide me through the labyrinth of crafting, zillions of weapons, and actual hunting strategies, I bounced off of the PSP version and two different 3DS versions of Monster Hunter. Spending time with World has smoothed the curve for me, acting as that “friend”. I found myself able to navigate O.G. Monster Hunter’s quirks much more nimbly, though some frustrations do creep into the experience.
Newcomers to the franchise may get irritated at Generations Ultimate’s slow start. The game teaches the player the basics of its core loops by having them run through a variety of training and gathering missions. This is actually quite welcome, as it allows players to build up a decent inventory of materials before getting down to business, but the downside was that ten hours into Generations, I was just getting started with actual monster fights (mileage may vary; I am admittedly a pokey gamer). I had spent the opening hours farming bugs, ore, and smaller monsters. By the time I started getting to the meat of the game, I was starting to get a little worn down by quests asking me to go “gather 10 herbs”, or “kill 8 small monsters”. So be ready for the long haul. These opening hours are not boring, per se, but when you know what sort of exciting action is waiting for you on the other side, you start to feel the burn a little bit.
Fighting in zoned maps can lead to some issues as well. With Monster Hunter’s crazy-active fighting system, I usually roll and dodge all over the screen, flipping in to do damage and back out to escape hits (I’m a duel blade man). Unfortunately, this leads to situations where monsters hang out near the zone border, which is not clearly defined. So, I jump in to do damage, and roll away to escape getting hit, rolling right out of the zone and into a loading screen. Over time, I’ve learned to draw monsters away from the borders, but in the heat of battle this still happens sometimes, and it irritates me beyond belief.
Crafting armor and weapons in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is exponentially more complicated than in World, so keep Google handy to look up where you might be able to obtain some of the more obscure ingredients. Armor sets unlock at a furious rate, but don’t expect to just fight the relevant monster a couple of times to get the mats. Even early armor sets will have you popping between environments to farm monster parts, bones and other materials (often stuff that you haven’t encountered yet, which can send you down quite the rabbit hole). Additionally, each armor set has two different versions that can be constructed from the same materials, one for combatants that use blades and such, and one for more ranged characters. Make absolutely sure you are crafting the version you want (they look identical) because once those materials are gone, its back to the tundra to get more.
So how is the port from 3DS to Switch? Pretty awesome, actually. I loved my 3DS, but that little nub they called a “second analog stick” was some nonsense. Being able to play this game with a real control scheme is delightful. I had a grand time playing with the joy-cons in handheld, but being able to unleash the Pro Controller made things even better.
The visuals are dramatically improved over the original 3DS graphics, but let’s face it; the look that one gets when upgrading a 3DS title to run on the Switch are nowhere near as lush as what one gets when designing a premier game for more powerful consoles. In handheld mode, this is not such a big deal, as the smaller size tends to hide Generations Ultimate’s graphical sins. But when you toss this game up on a modern TV, the shortcomings become more apparent. While the monster design and animations are still stellar, the backgrounds and village settings take a major hit. While wandering around hub areas, take a peek at the fruit in vendor’s baskets, and you will see what I mean. But despite the game’s handheld roots, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate makes up for the more basic visuals with color, charm, and silky animation.
So now you are thinking “Okay, dude, it’s not Monster Hunter World. We get it. Get to the point. Is Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate fun? Should I buy it?”
Oh God, yes. This game is a blast.
All of the frustrations I listed above go right out the window when you are fighting a monster for 45 minutes, and the clock is ticking down. This game delivers intense long-form battles like no other. The quality and variety present in the monster design is astounding, and learning the different monsters’ tells is amazingly rewarding. The push and pull of a battle as it moves around the map is fantastic, and the limited inventory you can carry of battle-enhancing supplies just adds another layer of tension. The charm and humor of the series ultimately carries it past any shortcomings that players might perceive, and the sheer avalanche of content makes this a title well worth owning. Frankly, for Switch owners, this is a “desert island” title, right up there with Zelda in terms of longevity and entertainment.
Monster Hunter Generations was already a giant game, but somehow Capcom managed to wedge even more features into this release. In addition to the giant roster of monsters, there are new “hunting styles” which are basically ways to assign new super moves to your character. I ignored this feature for far too long (just because there was just so much other stuff going on). But once I realized that I could charge a super-evade move, it became my new best friend for getting out of tight spots.
My experience with the multi-player aspects of Generations Ultimate were sadly a little limited. I was able to get into sessions with three other players easily, but once in, it was difficult to engage anyone to join me on a hunt. People were just bobbling around the hub area, bouncing in and out of the instance. But by now, we all know that multiplayer Monster Hunter is the bomb, so I expect that once the game goes into general release, these issues will even out. Anyhow, people not wanting to join a hunt is more of a problem of the players than a problem with the game.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a fantastic game, so long as you go into it with your eyes open to the fact that this game is not what happens after World, but rather what led to the need to smooth things out to make Monster Hunter accessible to the masses. Luckily, that smoothing effect works both ways, so World players ought to be able to adapt to this game’s more complex systems and slower rhythms with a bit of patience. Long time Monster Hunter fans will get a “hardcore” MH game they can play on a TV, and new fans will get the chance to play a core title with a much greater chance of latching on and understanding what all the fuss is about. It’s a win/win, and that’s just the way the pushers at Capcom like it.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a 45-year-old dad with four kids, ranging in age from 1 through 17. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on PS4, PSVR, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U and a janky PC. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect.View Profile