New Game Review

Review – Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch)

The ULTIMATE endangered animal hunting simulator.

It’s been quite a year for Monster Hunter. After spending more time on handhelds than on the consoles it originally debuted on, the franchise recently made a record-breaking return to consoles. Boasting of a streamlined and simplified design that made for a more newcomer friendly entry for a franchise which has been notable for its entire lack of such, Monster Hunter World broke records everywhere. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch (a port of 2014’s Monster Hunter Generations + a meaty expansion), on the other hand is quite a different beast. Those expecting, maybe even requiring, those changes brought to the series formula, will find this entry quite a shock.

Where World was highlighted by it’s streamlined, pruned, and overall pared back systems, Ultimate takes delight in its complexity at nearly all levels. In item management alone, there is upgrading and forging your equipment, as well as figuring out the whole sockets system, finding where your skill list is and where each stat bonus comes from (along with what they do), plus doing most of the same for your Palicos. None of that even touches on your Hunter Arts and Styles which can drastically change the way you fight to an even greater degree.

Make no mistake, this is not the kind of game where those kinds of things can be ignored or brute forced either. Everything plays an important role, from the way you’ve built your skills, to what each piece of your armor resists and by how much, what kind of potions you have and how many you can carry, what sort of traps and bombs you have, which Hunter Arts you equipped, and of course figuring out if everything works with everything else you’ve carefully collected. All of these can make the difference that saves a hunt.

This is the game’s worst failing: the leap of faith required for newcomers of the franchise. To take on a game for hours and hours of learning that in the end, they might not even like. This is not to say the game drops you in completely uninformed. There is a  Tutorial Quest selection, with a quest for every Weapon/Hunter Style combination, a decent amount of Prowler mode tutorials (a new mode where you get to hunt as one of your Palicos, which are a LOT of fun to play as), and general tutorials for the core mechanics such as mining and crafting. However, while you do get a lot of basics, you get almost nothing in the way of details or advanced mechanics, which will be desperately needed. It’s just not enough.

This asshole
This should be written on the case.

Your options past that point are either suffering through the horrendously bad UI for the in-game manual called the Hunters’ Notes, going online to a Wiki (Monster Hunter has one of the most thorough gaming Wiki’s for a reason, with the community stepping up again), or watching some videos. This is not acceptable for a longstanding franchise that requires such in-depth knowledge of the game to not provide it in any decent capacity and has long been an undeniable mark against the franchise.

There’s a reason however, why this franchise has lasted so long in spite of it. Why the fan base is so passionate about it. Once you begin to know how things work, what goes where and why,  and once it gets it’s teeth in you, you will being to understand.  When you’re not trying to learn how to drink a potion while a dinosaur is tossing you around and are instead experimenting with the numerous tools at your disposal, the game’s breadth and complexity become a boon instead of a curse. The sandbox nature of the game, which was once wild and unknown, becomes your playground to use everything you have to hunt in your own personal way, giving the game a personal touch that comes with a massive dose of satisfaction to see YOUR strategy succeed, knowing it was all you.

Windows
There is much to be thankful for, on the 3DS all this info was across 4 different window sets……

The 14 varieties of weapons are merely the start of your choice in Ultimate as far as combat goes. Adding to them are Hunter Arts and Styles, which are new to the franchise. Hunter Styles change the way your chosen weapon plays, sometimes through new utility abilities such as Arial Style’s allowing you to jump which makes mounting monsters easier, to something like Valor Style (one of the two new GU styles) which builds up combat damage while your weapon is sheathed. There are 6 in total (2 brand new for Ultimate) and they can wildly change the way a weapon plays. Hunter Arts act alongside them, as special abilities that can be unleashed as huge special attacks, healing, an escape boost, and other special abilities. All this comes together to allow you to build a Hunter that plays your way.

2018083116525900-73D31AEE5EAC355B115DF4CF13F8AE03
This is what the game’s all about. You and your best gear against a dragon with jet engine wings.

There has been more then a few complaints (and rightfully so) about this being a AAA priced port of a 3DS game and it not looking like it warrants the price jump. A valid line of reasoning, but in my opinion when considering the sheer volume of content MHGU brings, it is still a steal. Containing a grand total of 129 unique monsters, 27 unique areas, and all of the combined DLC and crossover content of 44U, G, with some new GU stuff (yes Metroid fans, the Event quest that lets you travel to Brinstar to fight Ridley and craft the Varia suit is included, so go nuts) making this the largest Monster Hunter game ever, by a significant degree. Most importantly of all are the brand new G-Rank missions, a whole other rank of Hunts at the very, very top, for those who just hate a fair fight.

Even for those who have fully completed Generations and have data all ready to transfer over, you’ll still have about 20-30 percent more content to play though, not including what’s been added throughout the rest of the game pre G-Rank. Not a bad deal by any means. How about for those who  have never even played 3DS Monster Hunter, or maybe never touched it since Sony had it? We are then talking hundreds of hours of unique content to go through. None of this factors in Capcom’s upcoming monthly DLC releases, which will be bringing a bundle of Quests, Monsters, and other gifts monthly, making it even larger. You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal in gaming.

When talking about the graphics, there’s one important point to make clear. This is not World. World delivered one of the most breathtakingly beautiful games in recent memory. MHGU on the other hand, not so much. It’s a cut above it’s 3DS heritage sure, but doesn’t being to deliver what even the Switch is capable of. It’s not the ugliest game ever made, but it is not winning any awards or players for looks either.

Ugly Hazy Landscape
You don’t want to climb those mountains.

This is a port of a 3DS game, so you should reasonably expect it to be at least solid 60fps right? Capcom disagrees. With the excuse of retaining parity with the 3DS version for multiplayer purposes (a version not released outside Japan) it is locked at 30FPS. Which it solidly keeps to, no drops in site, but that’s hardly consolation from what you SHOULD be getting from it. This remains my largest issue with the game and while it’s not something that will effect play, you still know it would have felt so much better with the smoothness of a higher framerate.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a love letter to the series, containing fan-favorite monsters, areas, and few surprise NPCs from the past games, all combined into one package. Most significantly however, is that it could be the last as well. After World’s success, Capcom might reasonably decide to steer the franchise in it’s new path, leaving behind it’s more in-depth, yet archaic history, for a more flexible and arcade style. So, while Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate functions as a best-of, it is also the last hurrah to a long, sometimes tedious, but always rewarding journey. And withstanding a few hiccups and all, it’s a journey worth taking.

 

Graphics: 5.0

They won’t physically attack you (probably), but you sure won’t pick up the game because of them.

Gameplay: 10.0

This is the end result of over a decade of polishing, refining, and building upon a combat system that already ensnared it’s audience.

Sound: 7.0

The music is exactly what you need to get your blood pumping during a hunt with memorable tracks, even if the rest of the sound design is passable and not of the highest quality.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The joy of combat, progression, and playing through the game with friends are all balanced out by the massive amount of bookkeeping, grinding, and number of hours of playing needed to keep up. Especially for newcomers, the fun takes more than a while to really get started, even if it’s like the finest drug once it starts.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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A proud native Californian, I was introduced to gaming through the many nights long ago I spent playing Diablo and haven't looked back since. These days, when not playing, I enjoy reading a decent book, playing soccer (football to all the non-Americans), and hanging out with the sorry saps that I consider friends. Some of my favorite games are Baldur’s Gate II, Total War Warhammer, Final Fantasy Tactics, and basically anything Chris Avellone has ever touched.

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