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Time Hunting: 20 hours
Good Will Review
I think it’s safe to say that you need patience to get into Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate. Almost as much patience as you need to read the title.
Therefore I propose a test to you: Every time I mention the title of Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate in the review, I’m going to type it out in full. If you can make it to the end without skimming or pretending I didn’t type the word “Ultimate”, then Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate is a game you can enjoy.
Red October Review
I haven’t played Monster Hunter World, for various reasons. One of them is the screen size. I’ve been playing Monster Hunter games since Monster Hunter Freedom on the PSP, and the idea of hunting monsters on a television wasn’t all that appealing to me. There’s something about the pace of a Monster Hunter game that makes me want to be able to sit, hunched in a corner, by myself, while everything else happens elsewhere.
There are other differences between Monster Hunter World and, literally, every other Monster Hunter game that obliterated a decade of strategy and muscle memory, but I’m not going to get into all of that. [Note from future Greg: Don’t listen to him! He’s lying!] If you got into Monster Hunter World as your first Monster Hunter game, then Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate might not be for you. Because Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate is the Grognard’s Monster Hunter (A Grognard being a monster you encounter at hunter rank 27). It’s a Greatest Hits compilation of Monster Hunter.
It is, for snobs like me, real Monster Hunter.
Take healing, for example: Where’s the strategy in just pressing a button and getting health back? No, you need to stop everything you’re doing and strike a pose so that everyone knows you’ve just eaten something delicious that made you feel strong again. Healing is something you do after you run away, not something you do while you run away. Finding a safe place to recharge is part of the game. A frustrating, critical part of the game!
Or maps: It used to be that maps were broken up into multiple, small zones – each one with its own features and geographical quirks. This was, by and large, a product of memory limitations from when the game was originally released on the PS2, and carried over when the game became a PSP and 3DS franchise. It set boundaries, and it forced a certain situational awareness. Were you near the entrance to the area? You’d better know, because if you get caught by a charging Gypceros and knocked backwards, it could mean the difference between just falling down and watching two loading screens (once when you get knocked out, and again when you run back to where you were.
Of course, I realize that the things I just described are incompatible with so-called “modern” game design. They are frustrating and janky, and maybe Monster Hunter World is the way forward for Capcom.
But here’s the thing: I love the jank. It’s endearing, and it comes with a set of systems so deep that it’s taken me ten years and I still haven’t plumbed all of them. There are hunter skills to try, and hunter arts to master. Also, Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate lets you play as a Palico, which is great if you want to go out and just gather resources, because their pickaxes and bugnets never break.
One of the things I love about Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate is the equipment. Every major monster has its own set of armor that you can craft, and every set of armor has two variants; one for melee-based hunters (called Blademasters, even if you’re hunting with a giant hammer), and one for projectile-based hunters (called Gunners, even if you’re hunting with a bow.) You have to craft each part of the armor (helmet, coat, belt, leggings and gauntlets) separately, so you can mix and match or go all-in on one particular set. Every armor set has buffs and debuffs for the dozens of skills your hunter has, and you can craft decorations that alter those characteristics further. And then you can upgrade your armor and weapons even beyond that.
But armor and weapons will not help you hunt. This isn’t an action game, this is a hunting game, so you need to outfit yourself with hunting gear. You need traps to slow your prey down (especially if you’re trying to keep them from returning to their nests to heal). You need paintballs (to mark your prey so you can find them once they wriggle out of your traps). You need a spit for roasting meat that you can then eat to regain stamina. If you’re using a sword you need whetstones to keep your blade sharp (this is also true of hammers, for some reason). If you’re using a gun, you need to bring ammunition that is effective against your prey (Hunting fire-lizards? Bring ice bullets. Hunting something with a thick shell? Piercing ammo is for you!). And don’t forget to eat a nourishing meal at the diner before you head out, because it will boost skills like your health or ability to get critical hits.
In short, half the game is preparing for the other half of the game. It’s meta as phuk.
I could go on and on, but I’m already approaching a thousand words and I don’t want to tax the editor’s patience. Suffice it to say, if you’ve got the patience to learn all of the systems in Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate, it is quite possibly one of the most rewarding games you’ll ever play.
Will I stalk on?
Well, I’ve been playing the series for a decade, so I don’t see any reason to stop now. Also, my wife has gotten into it in a big way, which means I can finally start doing guild quests. Once we’re good enough together, we’ll start playing with other people.
I know, right? Me? Multiplayer? Blasphemy!
(I already know a few who are probably wondering why we haven’t played with them yet. That’s the answer: We’re getting good as a team so we don’t embarrass ourselves in public.)
But is it the Dark Souls of Hunting Games?
- It’s opaque like nobody’s business.
- You have to carefully watch your opponent for signs of weakness, because they don’t have health bars.
- You have to manage your own animations, or you’ll die a lot.
- A wiki of some sort is almost mandatory.
- You’ll probably die a lot anyway.
So yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate is the Dark Souls of hunting games. I’ll even say it’s the Dark Souls of Monster Hunter games, now that there’s a more accessible version available on PS4 and PC.