Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS
The Monster Hunter franchise has a strange and difficult history on the world market. Widely popular in Japan, this deep and challenging series has had a very tough time finding a foothold in the US. After lackluster results trying to bring in the players with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Monster Hunter 4, Capcom has decided to try and cater a bit more to general audiences with the latest addition to the group, Monster Hunter Generations.
At its core, Generations is true to the Monster Hunter series. The game begins with a pretty solid character customization, allowing players to choose from a variety of options to create their perfect hunter. Once that’s out of the way, the game wastes little time with introducing players to the village of Bherna. This quaint town, known mostly for its fur exports, is looking to make a name for itself, and the help of a willing monster hunter is just the ticket.
Unlike some previous entries, Monster Hunter Generations doesn’t force players through lengthy tutorials and text-heavy sections in order to get started. Instead, it offers optional, low-reward tutorial quests that players may opt into if they’re unfamiliar with the franchise, or skip over if they feel like they’ve got a handle. Even seasoned veterans of the series may find some use in a few of these quests, but for the most part, they exist to serve as an introduction. Aside from some stop-and-go as each new concept is explained in-game, these quests are quickly completed.
Whether you opt in for some learning or not, Generations still eases you into the action. Early quests focus on finding common items, taking out simple beasts, and otherwise dipping your toes into the wider pool that is the game’s world. Each quest is a timed affair, but especially early on, players will have no trouble completing the tasks set before them while still having plenty of time to gather materials and get to know the game’s opening areas.
Returning players will find much about Monster Hunter Generations that feels familiar. There’s been little to no change to the intricate item-gathering and combining systems – the core mechanic by which your hunter creates food, healing items, and plenty more. Those unfamiliar with the franchise’s do-it-yourself approach may find this a bit daunting, as it takes trial and error to figure out which ingredients you’ll need, which monsters yield the best materials, and so forth.
As its name implies, most of your time in Monster Hunter is spent, well, hunting monsters. For the most part, this is also how players will collect the required hides, fangs, claws, and other bits needed to craft new equipment. The equipment you craft varies in everything from raw power to helpful skill boosts, upgrade slots, and environmental protection. The crafty hunter will end up with several complete sets of gear suited for a variety of locations and objectives.
Of course, the core mechanics aren’t the only familiar piece of Generations for those returning to the franchise. Of the game’s four in-game villages, which serve as bases of operation from which to embark on quests, only Bherna is new to the series. The other villages, all returning from prior entries, are Yukumo, Pokke, and Kokoto. Each locale has unique visitors to meet and special requests to fulfill, though players may embark on any quest from any village to make things simple when it comes to setting out into the world.
With all of this returning content, what’s new in Monster Hunter Generations? There are some new monsters, of course, with a focus on four extremely powerful beasts that serve as the game’s flagship bosses. Also new are Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts, which offer even more variety in how to approach the hunt. While returning players may worry that these flashy moves could serve to disrupt the game’s careful balance, make no mistake – Hunter Arts may help turn the tide in a tough situation, but they’re still only another tool in the hunter’s repertoire that won’t break the tension of trying to take down your prey.
While playing Generations, I actually felt like choosing a Hunter Style and some supporting Hunter Arts was almost more of a piece of the customization options, similar to the game’s offering of weapons. Each weapon, in fact, offers some unique Arts that can serve to help you really feel like you’re making your own choices and approaching the hunt in the way that works for you. I found that defensive and evasive Arts were the most helpful, but others will certainly find their own fit depending on how they choose to approach play.
Another new element to Generations has to do with the Palicoes. For the uninitiated, Palicoes are a selection of the game’s anthropomorphic cats known as Felyne which can assist the hunter in their quests. In prior titles, players could only bring these helpful creatures along for backup. Generations introduces a “Prowler” mode, allowing players to take control of one of their Palico companions to complete quests without their hunter around. There are also unique Prowler quests, which may only be completed in this way.
All in all, Monster Hunter Generations feels like it pulls off exactly what Capcom was going for. There’s a healthy dose of nostalgia for the existing fans, and new elements that may make it all feel a bit more accessible to those who haven’t tried it in the past. Make no mistake: this is an insanely detailed game, and the battles against large beasts are still just as difficult and memorable as they have been. Your hunter’s got some new tricks up their sleeve, but nothing that tips the scales too far or makes the going simple.
If you’re a fan of the Monster Hunter franchise, it goes without saying that you should be playing Generations. If you’re new to it, this is a great place to start that offers plenty of variety and a ton of in-game help and optional tutorials to help you find the right fit. Are you a brute-force, offense first hunter, or do you prefer a quick flurry of action with a hasty retreat to recoup? Will you pick up the heaviest weapon you can, or stick to taking down your prey at range, utilizing specially-crafted ammunition to wear away the mighty creatures that await? This, and more, is up to you — and I strongly encourage you to find out.
Score: 4.5/5 – Great