Monster Hunter Generations Review (Nintendo 3DS)
Monster Hunter Generations was formed from a simple idea: take a few elements from each of the previous Monster Hunter games, slap in a few new tweaks for good measure, and out comes a brand new game. Generations does make some interesting changes to its combat system, and including four distinct villages that need defending makes this the largest game with the Monster Hunter name on it ever made. However, a lot of what turns the more casual crowd off from the time-consuming franchise still exists, making this feel like more of the same old Monster Hunter than a fresh new game.
First let's talk about the new stuff, specifically Hunting Arts and Styles. Hunter Arts are flashy super moves that can be performed after a meter fills up during a mission through combat or other means. They can be spinning attacks that deal massive damage, heal the hero and his allies, or buffs the character's stats quickly. You only get one use from these attacks per meter, so you'd better make them count or else you'll lose them until the meter gets filled again. It's no different than a Super Meter in a fighting game like Street Fighter, but it makes a lot of sense in the monster hunting realm too. Bringing down a giant monster with one of these flashy moves is really neat, an experience many players are likely to enjoy.
The other big change is Hunting Styles, or four distinct forms that each weapon set now utilizes. The four "styles" each have their own perks. The Guild style most resembles the format of older MH games; The Aerial style allows for quick air attacks and using enemies as vaults to traverse the environments; Adepts prize precision timing above all else; and the Striker style simplifies things and focuses on brute strength with multiple Hunter Arts attacks. We chose a Striker style early on, so we didn't get to experiment with other setups, but we definitely made the right choice since the Striker gels perfectly for our "charge in, smash monsters, charge out" approach to the game.
The same 14 weapons from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate are available here with only one addition: the ability to play as a Felyne Prowler hunter instead of a human hunter. This class focuses on watching monsters' behaviors, looking for the exact moment of weakness in its movement, and striking. This is a neat way to play, and it forces brand new players to learn an important part of the game instead of blindly taking on massive enemies. However, for it to be the only new addition is a bit of a letdown. MH4U's Insect Glaive and Charge Blade were brand new and fun weapons that made that game more enjoyable and experimental, but this time there just isn't as much variation.
That's actually one of our major issues with Monster Hunter Generations: we could look at a screenshot with no prior knowledge of the source and not know what game it's from. Generations looks, feels, and sounds exactly like its most recent predecessor MH4U, with this new game's major additions locations and enemies from Monster Hunters past. While we liked MH4U before this, the entry point was simply brutal for a player's first time in as a hunter, with the game taking virtually no steps to introduce players to its world. We had hoped Generations would take a little more care to be nicer to the new crowd, but unfortunately that just isn't the case.
This idea is no more apparent than in hunting the monsters themselves, which is still a time-consuming, grinding trial. The very first mission we took up, a tutorial mission that tasked us with gathering herbs, was given a 50 minute time limit. Fifty minutes to gather some plants off of the ground, and we needed 35 of those minutes to complete the mission. The core gameplay is still fun, hunting monsters is still a thrill, and crafting new and stronger equipment is still very interesting, but there's no real difference between this game and MH4U on a surface level. It looks and feels exactly the same, and that's not all what you want from a sequel.
Monster Hunter Generations is still an exciting and fun game for the longtime hunters out there. However, the changes made to the format aren't significant enough to impress us all that much. The Hunting Arts are flashy and fun to watch, the ability to choose different styles makes the game cater to personal styles a little bit more than before, and playing as a Felyne is as cute and fun as we had hoped. But in the end we feel the same way about Generations as we did about Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate last year: it's a fun game that requires far too much grinding. We only wish there were more new things to talk about instead of just the same old hunter's song and dance.
This review was completed using a digital copy of Monster Hunter Generations provided by the publisher for the Nintendo 3DS.