The popularity of Monster Hunter continues to grow. It’s taken a long time for it to catch on in the West, but recent titles on Nintendo hardware have proven that what was once a franchise beloved mainly by Japanese players can finally be considered a global success. Will the release of Monster Hunter Generations continue to bring further glory to the franchise?
As with other titles, the player takes on the role of a new hunter who has come to help out a settlement by dealing with monsters terrorising the locals. In this title there are also other settlements to visit, which is quite interesting since each one has its own unique cultural identity.
For anyone new, the main goal of a Monster Hunter title is to complete a certain number of quests to go up a level and unlock more quests. Each new level brings with it tougher monsters to defeat and more intricate objectives to complete. A couple of quests involve collecting items in an area. However, the rest consist of hunting different monsters.
In fact, even though it’s on a handheld system the monster design is still one of the best of the series. There are creatures of all sizes to fight and even mount for those skilled players out there. What is still fascinating after so many years is observing the changing behaviour of these creatures. When close to death they will try escaping to other areas of the map to rest and try to restore some health. Their behaviour also becomes less predictable near death and it’s easy to tell because they will start to limp.
Each map is split up into different areas like in other titles in the franchise. Fortunately Generations has some of the fastest loading times when changing between areas and this also applies to when first loading the map.
In order to face such powerful monsters, players are given the ability to purchase or forge all kinds of weapons and armour. In this title, it’s even possible to change a fighting/hunting style at any point for those who wish to change their strategy when fighting some of the tougher monsters. Although the items sold are decent, the true essence of being a hunter is to carve the parts needed to forge equipment out of defeated monsters. The tougher monsters will provide parts that will make it possible to build some truly formidable weapons and armour. It’s always been an enjoyable process in Monster Hunter since it makes it more appealing to replay levels and carve enough parts to forge new equipment. In addition, there is the opportunity to upgrade equipment to make it more efficient.
In this installment it’s also possible to use skills called arts. The total number of skills that can be equipped depends on the currently used hunting style. It’s a handy feature since some of the skills are focused on making it easier to heal and evade monster attacks.
Now the life of a hunter is not an easy one and that is perhaps why there are all sorts of items to assist the player. A box found at the starting location of each quest contains essential items that will make it easier to complete it. There is also a characte selling other items that heal the player, make it easier to deal with extreme weather conditions and so on. Given the moderate amount of money earned from quests it’s not that difficult to have a well stocked inventory.
The fighting controls are some of the best in the franchise so far. It’s clear that the introduction of the circle pro pad has helped Capcom. Even more since it’s integrated in the latest hardware revision of the handheld. It makes it a lot easier to evade enemies when making use of it to change the camera view. Each of the buttons on the system is used in such an efficient manner that it makes it practically impossible to blame the controls for dying. Even the touch screen space is used in such a way that every area has a functional purpose. It’s in the touch screen that the skills/arts and a special attack are activated. It also includes other vital information that will help in being successful when out on a quest. In fact, the title is very flexible as it allows players to customise certain aspects of the menus in terms of the information displayed.
The famous felynes known as Palicoes in this title continue to have a useful role. They can not only help during quests, but it is now possible to play as one of them. Players can create or purchase equipment for Palicoes and teach them different skills/support moves by meeting specific conditions. It’s satisfying to take one of these fur balls on quests and see it grow more powerful after leveling up. When playing as a Palico – known as a Prowler – players can benefit from not having to worry about running out of stamina and it’s easier to do attack combos. The only downside being that it doesn’t seem possible for the hunter to assist the player controlled Palico. But it’s still a useful addition to have given that it offers a slightly different and easier way to play quests. Prowlers also have their own quests to complete.
One of the best aspects of Monster Hunter is playing with others and it still applies to Generations. New quests are obtained by going up a rank after completing a specific amount of quests in the current rank. The Hunters Hub makes it extremely simple to create either an online/local lobby or join one that has already been created. All the essential features necessary to prepare for a quest are found within the hub area of the lobby. The use of a simplified chat system makes it possible to plan tactics and other hunter related topics with players from all over the world.
What is truly impressive is that playing online feels just like playing in single player/local play. During the hours spent battling monsters with players from other nations, there was never a moment where any significant network issues were observed. Playing with the right players makes all the difference as it really shows what it’s like to play a cooperative video-game as a team. It’s satisfying to defeat some of the tougher monsters when working together. The fact that quests online are tougher is the perfect incentive for seasoned hunters. On top of this, any items, monster parts and some other content earned whilst playing online is carried over to the single player mode.
Visually it looks really good and it feels like a title that was developed with the Nintendo 3DS handheld in mind. There’s quite a lot of different maps to explore with their own challenges in terms of weather and other factors.
This is easily one of the most accessible Monster Hunter titles to date. Mainly because of how it seems to simplify certain tasks to make it less difficult to get into it. It also feels like it gradually gets tougher and so this makes it less likely for novice players to give up at the beginning. The fact that most quests can be completed in a short amount of time also makes it ideal for playing on the go whilst commuting.
It’s been interesting to see the Monster Hunter franchise flourish on Nintendo systems. The release of Monster Hunter Generations will no doubt continue to strengthen the business bond between Capcom and Nintendo. Not only is it another excellent entry in the franchise, but it has a better chance of appealing to a wider audience, whilst still offering a decent challenge to long time monster hunters.