Monster Hunter has really taken off in the west during the past two decades. Just two years ago, Monster Hunter Generations hit the 3DS and refined the portable experience for everyone, adding a lot of flare and personality to get new player’s attention. This year, Monster Hunter World changed the landscape entirely, delivering one of the richest entries to date that redefined gameplay for the namesake, in what was a beast of game. Not to leave the Switch out, Capcom have brought users Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, which updates the past experience and pastes it on Nintendo’s popular console. So how does this title still hang? Let’s find out.
There is no real story of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. Like all prior releases, you simply hunt, get stronger, forage for materials, and follow linear paths that lead into larger worlds. Sure, that charm goes a long way to ensure that this journey is imaginative and fun, but those looking for narrative will more than likely want to look elsewhere on the Switch.
It doesn’t take a longtime veteran to step into Generations and realize that this is not the same Monster Hunter that we had on the Playstation Portable. Monster Hunter Generations aims for a more quirky and lovable approach this time around, providing warm and upbeat characters to pull the player in – while the deep combat mechanics keep them grounded. Fans of 3 and 4 Ultimate will feel right at home as at its core, the same stylings of gameplay can be found within this follow-up. You still have to hunt monsters, gather materials, and perform quests to get stronger. That cycle has not aged at all as while the player is still spit into this large world without too much of a tutorial, the main mechanics and layout of the control scheme remain familiar enough to not cause much issue. The change however is found in the more subtle additions that add up just enough to make this title feel distinct.
Imagine taking what we loved about 4 Ultimate and soaking it in fireworks. That is exactly what the new Hunting Arts bring the the party here. Players can charge a gauge while out on a hunt before unleashing a special attack with a bit of theatrics. Despite its already campy design, this does nothing but simply offer a little more pop to the battleground – while delivering just a smidge of assistance compared to the bare-bones combat that we have been accustomed to. Sure, the idea of a special attack is a bit to take in from those hardcore hunters out there, but I don’t feel like it took away from any of the depth that we have received from this stoic series for years.
To sweeten the new offerings, Hunting Styles compliment the arts well – as this other new feature provides a bit of a class system for players that changes the way you attack based on your original selection. Styles come in the form of Guild, Striker, Adept, and Aerial, and are exactly what you would think. Guild is the balanced combat system without a lot of flash. Aerial is over the top and honestly makes combat a breeze as the player can hop into the air to get a bit of an edge over a monster. Adept brings powerful attacks to those who can successfully evade, and Striker allows for more Hunting Arts for those that are all about being a glass cannon.
I remember back when I first played Monster Hunter 3 back on the Nintendo Wii years ago. I was so lost and wanted to quit shortly after starting. Ten to fifteen hours later, it all clicked and I went with it – and have enjoyed the franchise ever since. Generations’ additions don’t require the player to have to swallow that learning curve in order to play, and that is part of what makes it so special. These arts may take a minute to get used to, but unlike other namesakes that added in silliness to become more accessible (looking at you Fable 3), it does nothing more than enhance the already great structure in place. Palicoes are also back as your little semi-customizable sidekicks of sorts, and are better than ever. With new quests that let you take control of these Felynes, the franchise dips its toe into a bit of a humorous field in order to add a light layer of meaning to the already fan-favorite cats.
As far as an overall goal, or “hunt” if you will, we now have four different monsters with four different villages each offering their own unique tasks in order to build up to the big-bad. Is there a difference in these four compared to the flagship beasts of the past? No, not really. But having four mega creatures compared to one definitely is a welcome change of pace that only adds more to the hefty amount of hunts overall.
Visuals and Audio
Visually, this game looks amazing on the Switch. I mean, the 3DS looked decent, but there is so much more polish with this title, eliminating a lot of graphical fuzz and muddy textures that typical handheld titles receive. The animations are also on point, with much more fluid movement from monsters and hunters alike. Is it still a step down from World? Of course. It is however the best looking Monster Hunter title on a Nintendo platform, so until we get a proper port, at least we have the last well-defined title before the big shift looking great of the Switch.
Ready for some nostalgia? Generations gets its name by revisiting old locales, and nothing sets that landscape up more than a stunning soundtrack. With a phenomenal new Pokke village theme, as well as a good amount of other remastered tunes, this is definitely a game that players who have roots with the series will want to play with that volume slider maxed out. Other than the music, we also have the sound in general which is well done – giving these beasts voices and adding more quirk with the meows on the battlefield.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is an old dog performing old tricks on a new platform. That doesn’t mean it is bad, as no, this game may be one of the best in the franchise and still holds up. It does mean that those who just jumped on board the Monster Hunter train are more than likely going to be quite disappointed with the change of pace and accessibility that Generations Ultimate doesn’t quite present. It is great to see Monster Hunter become a cornerstone in the western market, and this port’s existence will surely find a wide audience, even if it may be stuck in an older rhythm.