Let's get one thing clear from the off: World's existence and the improvements it made to so many systems don't inherently make going back to the old ways 'bad'. It's just different, although admittedly in a way that will require a lot more patience, homework and practice from newcomers to fully enjoy it. And sure enough, if you only joined the hunting party when World rolled around earlier in the year, a lot of things are going to conspire to cause one hell of a culture shock. Maps are back to being sets of smaller areas separated by loading screens; armour skills require a set amount of points to activate rather than just being baked into gear; there are no magic glowbugs to track monsters for you, so you have to find and tag them for yourselves; solo and multiplayer progress are split across multiple different hubs; the only way to know which quests actually unlock progress is to look it up online or to do everything. Despite how it may sound, none of these are backwards steps, which will be especially obvious to anyone who enjoyed the 3DS or PSP games previously. No, they're sidesteps, only ones that take the game away from the universal appeal that World's quality-of-life improvements cultivated and back towards the more niche hardcore appeal that the series always had before it miraculously hit the big time. Maybe you're ready for that now, maybe you're not. The demo on the store should be able to answer that question for you, although hopefully the fine assortment of words that follows below should also be able to do a decent job.
One of our favourite things about Generations was the quality of its poster monsters. The Fated Four – bubble dragon Mizutsune, tusked fur mountain Gammoth, sparky dragonfly-alike Astalos and self-sharpening blade dino Glavenus – were, and still are, amazing fights, and that trend continues here. Not only do the overlooked three now get vicious new Deviant forms (Glavenus already had its Hellblade version) but the actual newcomers prove to be even better, with rocket-powered griffon Valstrax set to win Best Newcomer and the 'final boss' being beautifully bizarre even by the series' own esoteric standards. There are more options for how you play, too. Generations' main contributions to the series were to simplify things like attack stats down to more manageable figures, then to re-confuse the issue by adding Hunting Styles into the mix – four unique 'classes' that offered slightly different move sets and access to various Hunter Arts (read: special moves). Ultimate adds two more Styles for a total of six, and while the new additions are gimmicky to the extreme, certain weapons certainly benefit from the new options. Valor is a strange and quite complex option that involves sheathing your weapon to improve attacks and avoid damage, while Alchemy is more of a support style where you periodically get to use a tombola for various items and perks.
Business As Usual
And therein lies the primary drawback of traditional Monster Hunter – even getting to the point where you're having to worry about end-game builds requires either learning an awful lot of things that the game will never explicitly tell you, or getting carried in multiplayer. The latter is a poor option, as it stifles your own growth as a player and feeds bad habits, hence why so many blade randoms are happy to spam attacks on a downed monster's head while a hammer/horn user is too busy getting tripped up to knock the bugger out and actually do their job. But the game never tells you that such 'roles' exist – that blunt weapons should get head priority while blades stick to wings and tails for the most part. It's just one of the many learn-through-experience things that are rife in classic MonHun, and another example of why the series took as long as it did to find the success it genuinely deserves. If you were to equate getting into Monster Hunter with learning a foreign language, World offered a phrasebook that gave you everything you needed to get by, to even seem fluent or at very worst competent. GenU, like every other MonHun game before it, gives you two-thirds of a dictionary and a stern look. Getting to the point where you're speaking its language takes more effort, then, but the results are still very much worth it in the end.
- A frankly absurd amount of content
- Upscales really well
- 'Classic' MonHun at its best
- Sorely misses World's quality-of-life changes
- Some redundant style/weapon combos
- Hope you enjoy grinding...
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Review (Switch)
Improvements over the original 3DS game are far from trifling – it looks and performs better, and High Rank village, G-Rank hub missions and half a dozen new Deviants represent close to a 50% content boost, so play time can easily climb into the hundreds of hours if the game manages to sink its hooks in.
Whether it will or not may depend on a number of factors (including, among others, whether or not World has spoiled you with its various quality-of-life improvements), but we'd argue that there's a place in this world for both schools of Monster Hunter to exist. That'll ultimately be for Capcom to decide and this could well be the end of an era if World's success ends up further shaping the series going forward, but GenU's strengths prove that even if it's all change from here on in, the series was always worthy of respect and acclaim even in its unique, strange, raw, obtuse and downright fantastic natural state.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.