Are you ready to take down massive monsters on the go? That’s right, folks, Monster Hunter is back with the newest installment, Monster Hunter Generations. This time around, Capcom is hoping to celebrate 12 years of success, while still bringing an accessible adventure to newcomers. Before jumping in, I thought this was simply going to be a greatest hits of sorts—a package with the most iconic monsters and best mechanics pulled from all the previous games. While it does do some of that, Generations avoids the safe route by adding new gameplay mechanics that completely change the way you go about hunting. But is that a good thing?
For those that have somehow avoided Capcom’s booming franchise for the last 12 years, like the title suggests, you’ll be hunting down colossal, man-shredding monsters. And while these games aren’t known for their sharp narrative, Generations takes the cake on this one. There’s basically no story here—not even an attempt, like in previous installments. But it doesn’t really matter because the carrot at the end of the stick (hunting down scary creatures for better armor) is as addictive as ever.
Right after you create your character, you’re thrown into town where you’ll quickly learn more about the different quests you’ll be embarking on. Unfortunately, the first few missions are simply gathering quests, which is a complete slog. If you’ve played these games before, you know how slow and anticlimactic searching for different ores and herbs can be. And while you’d think these first few grueling quests would be a great time to teach you all the intricacies of the gameplay, the title completely ignores that opportunity. Instead, newcomers must fend for themselves, and learn the simple things like sheathing/unsheathing weapons, sharpening dull swords, managing items, and even how to use different combos to best even the largest beasts. Some appreciate that, but it’s a real shame because so many have been turned off to this series because of the lack of explanation for anything. Trust me, though, the learning curve and first few slow hours are worth enduring.
As you begin your quests to conquer the monstrous creatures, you’ll have access to four different towns, where only one, Bherna, is new to the franchise. As per usual, each town provides different goods that’ll become essential to your survival when you’re facing some of the spookier beasts. Those who have stuck with the series for the past decade will be happy that some familiar faces make an appearance. Even the new characters are memorable thanks to their witty commentary. I mean, none of these characters really tell you anything important, because of the lack of connected narrative, but some of these conversations had me grinning ear-to-ear like a doofus.
The usual 14 weapon types make a return, with enough choices for any type of player. And while vets of the series already know about this versatility, Generations gives the player even more gameplay customization thanks to the new “Style” system and special attack abilities called “Hunter Arts.” Styles are exactly what they sounds like: you have a choice between four options that’ll change your gameplay style. Hunter Arts on the other hand are like special abilities that you can gain and equip throughout your venture to best suit the obstacles in front of you.
The four styles include: Guild, Striker, Aerial, and Adept. You’ll choose one of these four for your character (you can switch during your adventure), with each one giving you special attributes and hunter arts slots. The Aerial Style switches out your standard roll with a jump, which makes mounting wounded beasts a breeze, and will even allow you to pull off some dazzling aerial combos. The Guild Style provides more of the standard MH experience, but also allows you to use two arts. While the Striker Style, on the other hand, lets players equip three arts, making it incredibly useful for the more aggressive hunter. And finally, the Adept Style is for the more skilled beast-tamers. You’ll only have one art slot, but pulling off last-minute dodges and guards will be rewarded with epic counter attacks.
Hunter Arts are also incredibly versatile, as they give you the chance to change up your attacks to best suit a certain monster you’re currently trying to hunt down. There are even weapon-specific arts, for those that are dedicated to mastering one tool. The ability to change arts and styles between quests makes for some fun experimentation that could yield some epic combinations. In short, this is the most customizable Monster Hunter game to date. You can become whatever type of hunter you’d like, and it’s glorious. This is the real draw for players who’ve stuck with the series.
But what’s a Monster Hunter game without glorious, screen-filling, sharp-toothed beasts to conquer? Well, I’m happy to say that the new monsters introduced in this title are epic, and not just visually. My favorite of the new bunch is the snow-breathing woolly mammoth-esque Gammoth. This creature could very well be the largest to date, and his snow attacks will put you on ice. Gammoth is only one of four of the main beasts you must take down. Each town is tormented by one specific creature, and these battles will test your skills, endurance, and each fight will push you to the limit. There’s nothing more memorable than the rush you get from taking down these massive creatures.
There are also deviant monsters, which are actually end-game beasts that have survived previous hunters. So, they’re basically variants of standard creatures with more strength and new attacks. These will yield rare loot, incentivizing you to challenge yourself past the main campaign.
There’s more: You can also play as the cute little feline helpers known as Palicoes. There are new missions specifically made for this new prowler mode that are tailor made for a smaller body. Technically you can go chasing the big monsters around as a Palico, but it won’t go well. It’s actually a nice change of pace when playing as a feline, and the missions made specifically for this new mode are a nice distraction. Plus, who doesn’t like kitties?
Along with all of this new content is of course the robust multiplayer mode that lets you go on quests with friends. As always, hunting down massive beasts with companions is a great way to grind for gear, and hang.
Whether you’ve played every Monster Hunter game that came before Generations, or you’ve been scared off by the daunting scale of the adventures, this package has something for everyone. The team didn’t just settle with adding the best part of previous iterations (which would have still been fantastic), but instead added new combat mechanics that completely changed important facets of the gameplay. Generations really is the culmination of all that is good with Monster Hunter. At the end of the day, Monster Hunter Generations is more Monster Hunter, and that’s A-OK with us. Go play it!
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 MONSTER-SIZED BURRITOS
- A perfect blend of new and old Monster Hunter make this the most complete MH package yet!
- Styles and Hunter Arts completely change the game. There’s more versatility to the combat, and experimenting with different combinations of styles and arts is incredibly satisfying.
- Hunting giant beasts is still a total rush. Whether you’re playing solo or with a couple of friends, you just can’t rival the gratification you feel when you when you either capture or take down a monster.
- The beginning of the adventure is still a grueling slog. Don’t let the first few hours of gameplay scare you away, the rest of the game is exponentially better.
- There’s basically no narrative. Yeah, the series never focuses on storytelling, but it would go a long way in making it a more engrossing experience.
- It still isn’t very noob-friendly. Like previous titles in the monster-slaying series, there are very few tutorials, which makes it incredibly difficult for newcomers.
This review was completed using a Nintendo 3DS copy of Monster Hunter Generations provided by Capcom. The game will hit shelves on July 15, 2016.