Hunt, trap and loot huge fantasy creatures in a beautifully enriched environment within Monster Hunter Generations. With the introduction of new hunting styles and arts vis-à-vis the Xenoblade series and the quirky but fun prowler mode, Capcom hits the sweet spot once again.
Known as Monster Hunter X in Japan and developed by Capcom, Monster Hunter Generations is the perfect all-rounder. The action RPG’s predecessors have notoriously been too difficult for beginners with its heavy, text-laden menus and ropey explanations. Yet a turn in the rambunctious tide with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the 3DS gave Western beginners something to grapple on to with stripped down menus and a training arena for ease of access. While 18 months have passed since my last foray into the rich and exuberant landscapes of Monster Hunter, it was like slipping back into old habits; comfortable and homely.
After an exciting opening cutscene, Generations paves the way to your first avatar. Choose from a range of voices, faces, outfits and personalised effects once again before establishing your hunter roots in Bherna, a new starter village for the 3DS title. As part of the Wycademy, a research facility tasked with bringing in new information of known monsters, you’ll be given quests from the Chief Researcher or various villagers to explore, gather and hunt in the dew-sodden and dense tropics of the Jurassic Frontier and the rolling sands of the Dunes. And as series veterans will know, taking on and completing both the main quest and sub-quest will give you more Zenny – the game’s currency – and Wycademy points, both of which can be used to exchange for goods and meals.
For those who need a little refresher, in-game tutorials are present within the Wycademy’s training areas. From gathering quests and cooking steaks in the Jurassic Frontier to hunting a Maccao in the arena for weapon arts training, Generations allows you to access these practice quests at any point within your session. It’s much easier to get to grips with a new weapon here, rather than finding yourself up against a particularly large beast in a quest with nothing but your wits to rely on. Sooner or later, you’ll be taking that embarrassing trip in a wooden wagon. And should you wish to switch to the new Prowler mode in these tutorial sessions, you can learn the basics of the furry Felynes here as well.
Completing the one-star quests will allow hunters to travel to new areas within Generations. The verdant hills of Kokoto, the icy peaks of Pokke and the luscious woodland in Yukumo are all available to explore with monsters ranging from the alpha lizards such as the Velocidrome and Iodrome to the woolly pelts of the Bulldrome. Of course, fan favourite monsters also make a reappearance with Yian-Kut-Ku, Tetsucabra, Seltas, Lagombi and even the Elder Dragons all available to fight in multiplayer hunts and campaign quests for the Wycademy. Generations also pits players against four new signature monsters, including alternate or deviant forms of past monsters. It reignites old thrills with new vigour to keep hunts exciting, relevant and challenging.
While there’s no story mode to fall back on, Generations brings an additional mode to the table. Previously seen as just companions, Palicoes have a much bigger role to play which sees them questing just as hunters would, going off to villages to trade items, and sparring in the dojo at the Palico Ranch. While you can’t play alongside your hunter as a Palico, you can take up to two other hired felyne companions with you, equipping each one with their own chest and head armour, as well as a brutal weapon of your choice.
Working in a similar fashion to your hunter, Prowler mode enables you to mine, gather, catch bugs, and take down huge monsters as a coloured fluff ball. There’s no need to eat or replenish your health with potions, rations or steak either, meaning the fluidity of Prowler mode is the perfect stepping stone for beginners. And with an option to switch to Hunter or Prowler mode at any point within the game, it enables you to have complete freedom over quest choice. Besides, who doesn’t want to scavenge in a big acorn-like suit? It’s fun, quirky and the perfect balance of light humour to accompany the absolutely adorable poogies and moofah pets for your Hunter’s house. Only Capcom could get away with the irony of dressing my pet poogie in a black pudding suit; how delicious!
Generations, like its predecessor, welcomes back with open arms up to 14 weapon types, including the up close and personal Great and Long Swords to the long-reaching Bow and Bowguns. While some weapons are harder to master, it’s fun to engage with different types throughout the game. If using a new Nintendo 3DS, the circular camera nub is fantastic for long-range equipment, giving the accuracy the title so judiciously deserves. The nature of upgrading and forging new armour also solely depends on the types of monsters you encounter; fight more difficult monsters and you’ll gain better equipment that can withstand heavier attacks. The series, perhaps, has always delivered flair when it comes to costumes and Generations embellishes that trademark, with intricate, polished and well-designed costumes for both hunter and Palico.
New to Generations is Hunter Styles and Arts. Similar to the likes of Xenoblade’s battle arts, there are four different hunter styles players can select from – namely Guild, Striker, Aerial and Adept. Each style comes with a different number of allocated art slots, which unlock after a certain amount of quests in single-player mode. Opting for Striker style, much like I did, will enable you to select up to three hunter arts, many of which aid you offensively against monsters, give you a healing ability, or apply buffs when out in the field. Players will have to build up their hunter art gauge by attacking monsters or gathering and can only activate them once the gauge is full.
While hunter styles and arts pop a new spin on the game, they can become largely forgettable during such intense action. On a new 3DS they can be activated with the ZL and ZR shoulder buttons but, as easy as they are to use, their quick depletion and uncontrollable force gives way to unpredictable fights. When accuracy and dodging is needed so heavily during those capture and slaying quests, arts may be in danger of being tossed to the side. That being said though, the Escape Runner art is very handy for transporting account items.
Although a perfect all-rounder, Generations does have its flaws. As has been the case for many of the series titles, camera angles can be fussy, tricky and frustrating to players when on big hunts. It’s particularly damning with flying monsters and those that move quicker than your little legs and stamina can carry you. Using the new Nintendo 3DS circular nub will aid players to some extent, but there’s still a frustrating level of accuracy that just can’t be attained yet.
Aside from camera movements, some quests – particularly if you are a completionist – can be mundane. You’ll often be gathering the same things consistently, slaying the same type of beast time and time again for villager requests, or vying for rare item drops in classic RPG style. While there’s more than enough quests to keep you occupied for 50 plus hours, it’s in multiplayer mode where you’ll find most of your enjoyment.
By creating or joining hubs, players can customise their hunts by HR level, the amount of players needed, and the threat level of monster available. Choose a main quest from the board and team up together to hunt both small and large creatures, take items you’ve combined such as potions and traps to aid your team, and use the online chat box and keyboard to engage with your fellow hunters. Online multiplayer mode not only works seamlessly but is hugely fun to play. There’s a deeper thrill at play here, where you can be bolder in your hunt and lose hours upon hours in the Hunter’s Hub.
With music that defines each area beautifully, Monster Hunter Generations is a richly designed action RPG. Exuding the light humour and creativity we’ve come to expect in a Capcom developed title, it’s still the Monster Hunter we know and love. Extra sharpening may be needed for hunter arts and styles, but prowler mode gives it a new twist. It’s just a few mewls off a perfect meow.