Anyone who’s ever written a game review for non-gaming print media probably knows what those editors usually ask for – an angle. They always want a frickin’ angle. I just like to discuss the game as a game – not from the point of view of how many big celebs are doing the voices or tying it into a listicle of 2016’s Hottest Gaming Girls or some shit – both of which I’ve had to do in the past.
So it’s strange even to me that I want to come at Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate from an angle – as someone who has been playing Monster Hunter World for months. I think it’s a valid approach, since MHW is the first game in a long time to come out on anything other than the 3DS and may be some people’s first entry into the series. If you liked MHW and are considering this newest release for a portable piece of the action, there are some things you should know.
Fundamentally, the games are the same. You start out as a penniless, aspiring monster hunter with basic equipment and undertake missions to slay bigger and bigger monsters to create better weapons and armour out of their carcasses to take on bigger monsters… and so on. The selection of monsters available to hunt is different, but the skills needed to slay them are the same: learning the monsters’ attack patterns, knowing where to stand, when to dodge, which body parts to strike, which items to use, where to lay traps. The selection of weapons is exactly the same in both games, although the means to upgrade them and create new weapons is slightly different.
Generations Ultimate might be new to the Switch, but it’s an older game than MH World, and as such, you’ll definitely notice the lack of quality-of-life upgrades World gave us. Believe it or not, as fiddly and in-depth as World was, it was actually quite streamlined in comparison to its predecessors. In Generations Ultimate, there is a bestiary of sorts, but it doesn’t give you the detailed info about monster weaknesses you get in World, meaning you’ll probably need to hit up a wiki quite often. You also have to use expendable items to mine ore and catch insects, and the portable meat-cooker actually takes up a space in your inventory.
You also can’t swap your gear and items in the middle of a mission, so you’d better be damn sure you’ve brought the right stuff before you head out. Also, you can’t simply head out into the wilderness whenever you want like you could in World – instead, you have to undertake a mission if you wish to leave the town. The multiplayer is quite different too. Whether you’re playing online or adhoc, you need to create or join a lobby to play with others, rather than MHW’s somewhat integrated approach.
But despite these downgrades, there are actually some cool things Generations Ultimate has that World doesn’t – namely the Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts. In addition to armour and weapons, you can also equip a Hunter Style, such as Guild, Striker and Aerial, which give your hunter different innate abilities. Each Style allows you to equip up to three Hunter Arts, which are spectacular super moves you can charge up and unleash during battles. Since I use the Insect Glaive as my main weapon, I spent most of my time in the Aerial style, which only allows you to equip one Art, but lets your character launch themselves into the air off monsters to deliver aerial attacks. If you land enough aerial attacks, you can “mount” the monster to stab it and knock it down for a short period of free hits.
MHGU allows you to have more than one Palico, the little cat companions you can hire to scavenge items for you and fight alongside you – but in this game, you can actually play as one too. I was not expecting that, but it’s actually quite fun. There are missions marked as “Prowler” missions, which require you to switch over to controlling a Palico before you can accept them. Playing as a Palico is quite relaxing, because you don’t have to worry about stamina and you can gather resources without using expendable items. Palicos come in several types and have access to different special moves and combat abilities.
I’ve never played the 3DS version of Monster Hunters Generations, so I don’t know how much, if anything, has been changed and if there are any significant graphical upgrades. And yes, it’s another port of an old game, typical for the Switch at this point – but it’s a good one with plenty of depth and challenge, if you’re up for it.