Monster Hunter Generations Review (3DS)

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Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Main Review

Review Context: I have never played a Monster Hunter game before, but I love ARPGs.
Date of Playthrough: September 2016

Monster Hunter Generations is an Action RPG where you hunt monsters of all shapes and sizes in order to craft awesome looking gear from their carcasses. You begin as a fresh faced upstart hunter and rise through the ranks until you’re taking on the biggest and baddest creatures there are or play the all new prowler mode. Monster Hunter Generations introduces four new signature monsters, as well as incorporating signature monsters and elements from previous titles.

Monster Hunter Generations is very different from other RPG titles. While most RPGs offer a linear story that takes them to multiple different locations, Monster Hunter Generations has the player stay at a hub world and then allows them to accept quests which will take them to different hunting grounds. These quests can be to slay/capture a certain monster or to collect enough of a certain item. Sometimes these quests come with sub objectives that, if completed, increase the amount of rewards received.

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You don’t level up in Monster Hunter Generations like you do in other RPGs. Progression is determined by the quest log. You start with a small group of quests to pick from called 1-Star quests. There are certain quests you have to complete in order to unlock the next set of quests. When you complete all the key quests an urgent quest will unlock. These quests are harder quests that usually unlock the next rank of quests upon completion. That’s not all though, as there are two quest books. There is the Village quest list, which are all the quests that are designed to be played alone and then there is the Hunter’s Hub quest list, which has all the quests for online co-op play. They rank up independently from each other, however you can do Hunter’s Hub quests you haven’t unlocked yet by joining the party of someone who has unlocked it.

In order to play online with people you can go to the Hub and search for active lobbies. You can search by quest type or by more specific goals, like fighting certain monsters or gathering certain material. Once in a lobby and at the hub with your online cohorts any person can activate a quest and then anyone can sign onto someone else’s quest, unless they have already activated a quest. The game will only start once one person has selected a quest and everyone else has signed on and set their status to ready. The best part about playing online, apart from just being tons of fun, is that it lets you take on monsters that are too strong to take on yourself. This way you can get rare materials early and hopefully craft some powerful equipment.

The other way you progress is by making better equipment. The name of the game is fight monster to get materials to make better equipment to fight bigger monsters. Rinse and repeat. There are also tons of items like potions, traps, bombs, drugs, and tools that you can craft by combining materials. Thankfully, there is a combo list that has all the items you can possibly make and highlights ones that you have the materials for, even if you’ve never made the combination before. This is wonderful as there are so many materials that mixing and matching them all would be agonizing. The game starts you off with basic equipment and basic versions of all the weapons. It’s this way at the beginning of the game so you can try each of the 14 different weapons to see which one suits you best. Keep in mind that certain weapons don’t work very well when playing solo and certain monsters are hard to kill with certain weapons. You shouldn’t be afraid to try multiple weapons or find a backup one to switch to if a monster is giving you trouble.

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Something new to Monster Hunter is hunter styles and Hunter Arts. Hunter Arts are special moves that can be performed after being charged up by dealing damage. You can unlock new Hunter Arts by completing certain milestones . There are now 4 hunter styles that change up the players over all play styles. They vary the number of Hunter Arts you can equip and also give you special skills like charging Hunter Arts faster, vault off of players and obstacles to mount monsters, or perfectly time dodges to perform devastating counter attacks. Combine that with the 14 different weapons and there is a play style to fit almost any player.

You can also bring two helpers with you called palicoes. Palicoes are small cats that walk on two legs and talk in an endless stream of cat puns. You can scout palicoes by play style or cosmetics and the list renews after every quest. You can enlist as many as you want, but you can only bring two with you into battle. Palicoes come with different skills and abilities that can help you during quests either by helping you gather more stuff, healing you, placing traps, and even attack the monsters directly. You can also send palicoes out on gathering missions to get materials you might need in between quests.

Palicoes level up by going on quests with you and can learn different skills and abilities from other palicoes that already have the desired ability/skill. They get their own adorable armors and weapons by crafting from scraps. Scraps can be acquired by trading in full materials, sending palicoes out on gathering missions, or just by crafting something for yourself. They’re great helpers, but the one negative about them is that they constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY, make random cat noises. It’s literally non-stop to the point where I usually only have the volume on during hunts since there is no way to get rid of just the cat noises, other than to not bring palicoes at all.

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New to Monster Hunter is the ability to hunt as a palicoe in a mode called Prowler Mode. It’s basically a special class that only gets one weapon type and can’t use items, but in return has infinite stamina, can gather without needing gathering tools, and is immune to the hot and cold area weather debuffs. You also don’t get to bring two palicoes with you like as a normal hunter. They are faster and more convenient for gathering, but they can definitely also fight. Instead of items, prowlers get to use the skills they would have as a palicoe companion, so you can find the right palicoe with the abilities you want in order to customize your prowler. You could play the entire game as either a hunter, a prowler, or do a little of both. You can even play prowler mode online with other prowlers.

With Monster Hunter Generations comes not just one flagship monster, but four, as well as four main hubs to choose from. Sadly, the only difference between the hubs is appearance. Different NPCs from different hubs will often give you extra quests, but there is very little reason for there to be multiple hubs other than for fun, as they are throwbacks to previous Monster Hunter titles. The flagship monsters however are awesome. Epic and intimidating, they set a lofty goal for the player to achieve and reaping their spoils is oh so satisfying! The monsters themselves are definitely the main attraction. They are so well animated and designed that they are quite believable and very impressive, with so much variety in monster species that game keeps throwing new things at you all the time. Learning how all these monsters fight is the key to beating them and that’s most of the fun.

Making new equipment is nice but it doesn’t happen all that often. There are a lot of monsters and thus a lot of equipment, but most of it isn’t significantly better than what you already have. The real difference between them is their look and the skills they impart. Once you find and make the equipment that fits your play style you’re unlikely to find something that’s objectively better until you hit one of the quest level thresholds and they start giving you new monsters. Even then, you’re still not guaranteed to find something worth switching to. I used one armor set for almost 60% of my time with the game. Equipping for looks can be fun, but making extra equipment can take a lot of grinding and the payoff will likely only be aesthetic. While it’s not necessarily bad, it just doesn’t give the same kind of satisfaction that traditional RPGs give in terms of getting new equipment. It’s not a ‘lootfest’… it’s a collect-a-thon, but not a lootfest.

Because Monster Hunter Generations doesn’t have a story like most other RPGs, the NPCs and their flavor texts are very unimportant. Yes, random people give you quests, and yes, the flavor text is there to give some extra context to what your doing in the moment, but it’s all so obviously superfluous. You’re just going off the quest list, you don’t really need to be told why your doing it because it’s essentially the same things you did for all the other quests; go out and gather this or slay/capture that. Since there is no story to follow and you always going back to the same hubs and then back out to the same locations it can feel very repetitive.

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While we all know that RPGs are repetitive, it’s usually mitigated by the story. Yes, you’re constantly fighting the same random encounters, but locals, characters, and objectives are always changing and the story helps to drive you through the game. Monster Hunter Generations has none of this and as a result it always sort of feels the same throughout. However, since they saved a bunch of time and space by cutting out the story and condensing the world they had to build, it allowed them to focus on making tons of monsters that look amazing and pouring tons of detail into the over 16 different hunting grounds. The views are breathtaking and the monsters are life-like. The game is also huge in terms of quests, equipment, and monsters.

One thing that Monster Hunter Generations suffers from is information overload at the beginning of the game. The game tries to tell you a lot really quick, and what makes it worse is that the systems aren’t very similar to other RPGs. There are a couple things like teaching palicoes skills that I didn’t really understand until over halfway through my playthrough. Nothing is overly cumbersome or annoying, it just takes a little getting used to. Once you do figure it out the menus and organization systems are quite convenient. Multiple ways to access menus and the ability to save multiple presets of all the different kinds of equippable and carryable items are just a few of the brilliant design choices you’ll find in Monster Hunter Generations’ systems. In the beginning just focus on getting comfortable with a weapon and the controls and everything else will come on its own.

Of course the most important part of any Action RPG is the combat. Combat in Monster Hunter Generations is heavy feeling. Unless you’re using the sword and shield or the dual daggers, attacks are slow and recovery times are rather long, placing a heavy emphasis on timing and patience. Slashing wildly leaves you open to attacks, which will get you knocked on your keister. Not only does this obviously deal damage and can lead to you fainting, but it also means you aren’t on your feet and ready to deal damage when the monster is recovering. Learning when to attack and how to position yourself against each monster is key. Even though monster designs sometimes follow certain archetypes, each one behaves differently.

Like a good Action RPG should be, the focus in Monster Hunter Generations is on skill rather than RPG elements. The RPG elements do matter and are important for progression and customization, but in the end, its just you, your sword, and the monsters. The battles are epic and victory is hard won and satisfying. The game gets really difficult in the later quests when playing solo. It’s very hard, but it feels so good to knock a monster around and watch it tumble. The action is heated and exciting, despite the somewhat slow pace of the attacks. Attacking is a little stiff and slow in order to emphasize timing and accuracy, but all the other controls are quick and responsive.

I actually played the first 10 hours without using the C-stick or LZ/RZ buttons because I didn’t know you had turn on Circle Pad Pro support for it to work. With standard 3DS controls you tap L to face the camera in the direction your character is facing. This is fine unless you’re trying to run away from something and the camera isn’t already looking at them. Thankfully, for large monsters where running away can actually be useful, you can lock on and make tapping L always center the camera on the locked on monster. However, with New 3DS controls, camera management is a breeze. LZ/RZ move the camera left and right respectively and the C-stick moves it in every which other way. This is the first game I’ve played with New 3DS controls support and I can say that it was definitely worth upgrading to the new model.

The one major flaw is that because of the lack of story and the like, Monster Hunter Generations does feel repetitive to a point of fault when played enough in one sitting. However, it is this sacrifice that allows the game to not only look amazing, but have tons of content and depth to it. It makes the experience super enjoyable and really satisfying. It’s a welcome trade-off since you really can’t find action games that play like this on the 3DS. This feels like and looks liks something for the Wii U, but it fits right in your pocket and it’s awesome. By far, the best part though is taking down monsters with your friends. Nothing is like overcoming winged and scaly adversity with a big sword and good friends. It may be a little intimidating at first, but Monster Hunter Generations is worth any Action RPG fan’s time.

Similar Games Liked:
Dark Souls (PC)

Similar Games Disliked:
Lords of the Fallen (PC)

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