As somebody who’s never played a Monster Hunter game, I was stuck with simply understanding the appeal. The series is long and illustrious, but it had never fallen into my sweaty manchild hands. That is, until recently. Monster Hunter: Generations is the latest in the 12-year-old series, and is part of the fourth ‘Generation’ of games meaning that it’s a derivative of Monster Hunter 4. So, taking Generations as an introduction to a classic series…does it hold up?
Monster Hunter, as you may have guessed, is a game about hunting monsters. You’ll roam landscapes covered in all kinds of dirt, from cold dirt to grassy dirt to desert dirt, discover gigantic behemoths and take them down. When they fall to whatever dirt you’re in, you’ll obtain some very JRPG loot as either supplies or upgrades to your gear. There’s more to it, but that’s the general way this cookie crumbles.
Generations boasts 14 main weapons, each having their own distinct playstyle and upgrade tree. The differences between them aren’t simply down to one being faster than another however, and each weapon requires a distinct sense of timing and will force you to adapt to it rather than the other way around. If you’ve played a game like Dark Souls, this may sound familiar. Each weapon’s skill ceiling is immense, and it’ll take you forever to learn all the different ways you can swing it (or thrust it, if you’re not a scrub). Some of these weapons are apparently familiar faces, but I found myself using a sword-shield combo that could be combined to form an axe. Yep. A big ol’ axe. Generations gives you ample opportunity to git gud with these playstyles, as the difficulty curve is simply sublime. Sometimes, the game will recycle monsters you’ve fought before but they’ll have new attack patterns and such. Battles never feel like they’ve been dumbed down for you in the early game, either.
One of the major points wanting to be addressed by the developers of Generations was character customisation, and they sure haven’t mucked around. Not only is avatar variety robust, but weapon add-ons (called ‘Decorations’) can provide your trusty weapon with more than a cutting edge. Why, you could even have a cutting edge…that’s lined with poison! Go on, you can cackle. I’ll wait. Other items, like ear plugs to resist the effects of a monster’s roars, can be equipped to your character as well. And what better use of a character that just screams “you” (but hopefully not literally) than hunting monsters with pals? Multiplayer has been a staple of Monster Hunter for a long time, and Generations doesn’t mess with a good thing. Sometimes you’ll need more chums to take the larger buggers down, and doing so is a gay old time. My best moments in the game were with other people, but they’re not the only companions you’ll have.
I wish the cat got their tongues.
Crikey, that’s one nasty croc!
Everybody’s in on the snake tits craze!
No. I’m not making a fish pun. I hate puns.
Monster Hunter also features cats! Cats that do your bidding! Cats that go on quests for you and bring back stuff! Cats that fight alongside you! Cats that aren’t called cats! They’re called ‘Palicoes’, which apparently means ‘stick’ in Slovenian. I guess they really are sticking around! Palicoes will go on fetch quests, attack monsters, heal you in-battle, or you can just give them weapons and armour to go get those big scaley mice with. These assistants are also heavily customisable and can turn out to be some very adorable squires indeed. You can even control one, which is a new feature of Generations. Now, some people may find this fun (I’m distinctly looking at the furries here), however I wasn’t all too endeared with it for too long. I mean, sure, it’s cute and all, and it does offer something new for seasoned hunters to do, but it feels like a feature that was added for the distinct purpose of having more new content, which is a surprise considering just how much content there already is in Generations. The endgame in particular is refreshingly meaty. There’s loads to do, which is refreshing for a modern RPG. You won’t be running out of things to do for a very long time, unless you’re the kind of person who quit their job to be a Pokémon Go trainer. But I’m sure nobody like that exists. That’d be stupid.
Finally, let’s talk big boy things: Performance! Generations ran on my new 3DS just fine, but it did have some trouble on my older model. Nothing game-breaking, but users of the original model may experience framerate drops from time to time. Didn’t stop it looking great, though. Generations looks and sounds amazing, and the monster designs are on point. On fleek, if you will.
Monster Hunter: Generations is a damn fine game on its own, and a worthy addition to a classic series. If you’re clambering for some handheld Dark Souls-like action and really like JRPGs with teeth, this is the game for you.
Reviewed on New 3DS and original model.