Monster Hunter has proven to be a popular series with a very devoted fanbase. In the twelve years since the original game was first released, there have been several games released along with several other media in Japan including several anime shorts, a manga, and even a collectible card game. While I would love to see the card game released in the U.S. as I’m a huge fan of CCGs, before now my experience of Monster Hunter is rather limited. I’ve only played the demo of Monster Hunter 3 and had a rather terrible experience with it, but for personal reasons. Monster Hunter Generations is my true introduction to the series so I’m hoping it makes a good first impression.
After creating your hunter, you begin the game in the village of Bherna, the first of four villages that you must defend from a new threat: the Fated Four. If this is your first foray into the world of Monster Hunter and that sounds a bit intimidating, fear not as the game has an extensive tutorial, and for Monster Hunter veterans it’s completely optional. Each village will have a Village Gal that serves as the quest hubs of the game where you’ll obtain most of your quests. At the start you have two options for quests: Training and Level quests. Training quests give you a variety of quests to choose from to help get your feet wet, from weapon training to basic game functions. While there are a lot of quests to choose from, it’s probably recommended for new comers to go through them all, and I’ll explain why in just a bit.
Before you begin a quest there are a few things to do in each town. The first thing to do is to drop by your house and do some item management and/or save your game. During item management you can store or take items from your box which can hold a lot of different items (seriously, it’s like a box of holding or something from an RPG), but you can also change your equipment. You can choose from many different types of weapons depending on your play style. The weapons range from lighter sets such as a sword and shield or dual blades, to heavier weapons such as a hammer or lance, to long ranged weapons if you care to take out monsters from a distance. Each weapon can be upgraded to improve its damage and durability and can also unlock various skills and arts.
After preparing your inventory for a quest it’s time to get something to eat. Afterall, you can’t hunt on an empty stomach…well you can, but sitting down for a bite to eat can give you various status buffs from increasing your stamina meter to making it easier to stagger monsters when attacking them. Early on it’s not too important, especially when you’re just doing some training quests, but once you start to work on later quests, every little buff helps. At this point (or rather any time after managing your inventory), you can go ahead and accept a quest. Just keep in mind that after accepting a quest, you can’t go back into your house until you either complete or abandon the quest. You can also forge new weapons and armor or upgrade what you currently have. Forging new gear is usually the better option, but it requires materials that you find while hunting as well as a bit of zenny.
Anytime you’re on a quest you have several things you can do such as hunting monsters or gathering items such as herbs and minerals. If you’re doing anything aside from hunting monsters though, it’s highly recommended to gather everything you can find, but that requires you to bring along items such as bug nets and pickaxes. It’s also recommended that you either craft or purchase as many as you can as they tend to break at the most inopportune of times, namely when you only need one more item to complete a quest and your last pickaxe or bug net just broke. As you gather more materials you can begin to craft items by either just combining two items or use a recipe from the craft list (which makes me wonder why the former option even exists if you can just use the list, but I digress).
Monster Hunter Generations adds several new mechanics to the series to help you during your hunts, the first of which are Hunting Styles. Not only can you wield fourteen different weapons, but now you can use one of four hunting styles. These include Guild Style, familiar to anyone who’s played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Striker Style for players who wish to utilize more hunter artes, Aerial Style to replace your dodge roll with a small leap for more combat options, and Adept Style which is intended for more advanced players. Each style can equip one to three different artes depending on the style which range from those that can be equipped by any hunting style and weapon to some that are weapon specific. New artes are unlocked as you progress through the game.
Also, for the first time in the series you can now play as a prowler. While Felynes have played some important roles throughout the series, this is the first game in which you can actually play as one. While slightly more fragile and unable to use consumable items, they have unique skills, unlimited stamina, and nine lives because, you know, they’re cats. Furthermore there are quests, weapons, and armor unique to prowlers
While most quests will come from the quest hubs in each village, various people can also give you key quests now and then. As you complete enough key quests under a certain star ranking, an urgent quest will become available. Urgent quests are more difficult quests than what you’ve been doing up to that point and will help you rank up. While most of my experience with Monster Hunter Generations has been rather pleasant (save for when I forget to buy more bug nets or pickaxes before a quest), my first urgent quest began to bring out the frustrations. Before I continue with this, I do know full well that most of my complaints are probably elements in previous games and that this is my first Monster Hunter game, so my skill level is rather low. That being said, I did have a couple of issues with the game and they can all be summed up here.
In the lower-left corner of the touch screen is a small button that most of the time will say “Unseen”. If you end up encountering a specific monster, this will change to an icon of that monster. Tapping the icon will turn on the targeting system which is less a targeting system and more of a way to quickly direct the camera to look at the monster. Unfortunately there is no actual lock-on mode for fighting monsters which can be a bit of a hassle with certain weapons. When you attack with your weapon and start a combo, your character moves in a straight line for the duration of the combo. In other words, as the monsters move around you, you can’t change direction in the middle of an attack, nor can you lock onto a monster. This is especially annoying with various flying bugs that constantly move in and out of your attack range as it can be hard to hit them to begin with, plus you have to count on them to cooperate and stay in place while you attack them.
With that in mind, the stronger monster encounters can be annoying if you’re new to the series. It’s recommended that you throw a paintball at the monster in case it runs off, but that I have no issues with other than I can’t aim my throws for beans. If you’re new to the series you’re probably going to be surprised at just how strong these monsters are. As they flail around and attack you, you don’t have a lot of time to get in any hits, so don’t expect these fights to end in a couple of minutes. On top of that, the combination of not being able to completely lock on to the monster, plus not being able to change directions in the middle of a combo, mixed in with the possibility of the fight being riddled with additional minor monsters can make for a very frustrating time, especially for new hunters. Remember when I said I’d get back to why you’d want to tackle all of the training quests if you’re new to the series? This is why, to make sure you know everything you need to know to tackle these kinds of situations.
Monster Hunter Generations also offers local and online multiplayer. The multiplayer hub offers quests of various ranks, most of them recommended to be tackled with multiple players. As you challenge and complete these quests, your hunter rank will increase and you can tackle more difficult quests. Keep in mind though that leveling up your hunter rank in multiplayer is different than your hunter rank in the main game. That being said, it’s rather easy to team up with other players. All you have to do is go to any village, tap the Hub icon on the map, and select multiplayer. After that, just complete the quests and reap the rewards.
While I did have some frustrations with the game, there is a lot to like as well. The game looks and sounds great and controls rather well. While you can tap the L button to swing the camera to behind your hunter, the game can also make use of the New Nintendo 3DS and the 3DS Circle Pad Pro. As noted earlier, the plentiful amount of training quests makes it easy to get into the game if you’re a new hunter. The missions go over everything from basic gathering to taking down larger monsters. Speaking to everyone in town will help you learn where everything is such as the Smithy or Village Gal. This is why most of my frustrations come down to my own skills, or lack thereof; the game gives you everything you need to know, it’s all in how you implement it.
That being said, Monster Hunter Generations is an excellent game, though the difficulty can ramp up rather quickly. Veteran hunters should enjoy this entry in the series, though newer players might get hung up on the larger “boss” monsters. The lack of being able to lock on and strafe the monsters doesn’t help matters much, and not being able to alter the trajectory of your combos can get annoying, especially for monsters that move rather quickly. Beyond that though I did enjoy most of my time with the game, though I’m slowly realizing that this may not be my cup of tea. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good game though and enjoyable for fans of the series.
Monster Hunter Generations is a great game, though newer players might get hung up early on once the training wheels come off and the bigger monsters come out to play. Veterans of the series should be able to dive right in after learning about the new mechanics and should find a rather enjoyable game that requires a lot of skill to master.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.