Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action & Role-Playing
Release Date: August 25, 2017 (JP) / August 28, 2018 (EU & NA)
Recently, Monster Hunter has been high on my radar. It was only last year that I began experiences the series, due to obtaining a free copy of Generations for the 3DS. After logging 50 hours into Generations with no real knowledge obtained and still having no idea how any of the mechanics worked, I quit the series, until Monster Hunter: World came out.
After playing through World, I was hooked instantly, and so, after a recommendation from a friend, I purchased Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the 3DS and ventured through the entire game with him. It was after played ‘4U’, that I finally grasped Monster Hunter’s mechanics, as I felt like I wasn’t so alone and helpless in the massive and confusing game that was ‘old-school’ Monster Hunter.
When I heard that a Monster Hunter game was released onto the Switch in 2017 in the form of Monster Hunter XX in Japan, I eagerly awaited a localisation of the game by finally getting around to finishing Generations on my 3DS. It was recently, that we heard that MHXX was finally getting a western release, in the name of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, and boy, was I excited.
Even though Generations Ultimate is absolutely not (in my opinion) the game in the series that newcomers should start with, MHGU nails the term ‘celebration’ on the head. The game encapsulates everything that makes Monster Hunter a fun, intriguing and difficult series and throws it all into one game.
Going from World to MHGU can be a bit of a daunting experience, especially since a lot of the most basic Quality-of-Life improvements are nowhere to be found, but once you get into the groove and flow of the game, MHGU completely immerses you into the hundreds, and even thousands of hours of content it offers.
The only downside is the fact that you have to be persistent, determined and patient enough to experience this overflow of Monster Hunter goodness. To be completely transparent, this review of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a collection of opinions from somebody who has prior experience with the Monster Hunter franchise, and someone that has completed and transferred data from the 3DS ‘Generations’ title.
Monster Hunter is a game of repetitiveness, through your course of the game, you will fight the same monsters over, and over, and over. While the concept for the game might sound a bit tedious and boring, it’s how you hunt these monsters, which becomes the main focus, and your drive to continue playing is determined by how persistent you are in becoming better, faster and stronger at taking down some of the most intimidating creatures I have ever witnessed on a Nintendo console.
With the help of 15 different weapon types, including the MHGen/GU exclusive ‘Prowler’ (where you can play as a cat!), you can band up with up to three other Hunters across the world to take down more than 90 big-bad Monsters; 8 of which are brand-new and exclusive to MHGU.
Before getting to these brand new monsters and being able to experience the massive amount of content, however, you’ll have to get through the boring and tedious experience that is the first couple of hours of MHGU. Rather than throwing you into the cool stuff, you are tasked with some of the most boring quests I’ve experienced in MHGU, Gathering quests.
When I say there are gathering quests for days, I mean, there are gathering quests… for days. It’s the beginning of the game that I felt actively pushes away players and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Luckily, once you get past the first couple quests in the single player, it only gets better from there.
There is also a lack of tutorials, the first couple of hours may be slow and tedious, but it would make sense if you were being taught how to play, in MHGU’s case, all tutorials and explanations are locked behind it’s sometimes confusing menus, which even an experienced player like me, got lost in at some points.
A lot of times, if I was looking for an explanation of what something is, I would just search it up, which can be easy sometimes, but it would have been much more user-friendly not only to newcomers but MH players in general if they were integrated straight into the game, not locked behind small sub-menus and loading screen hints.
Getting into the gameplay, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate has by far one of the largest skill curves in a Monster Hunter game, if you’ve come from World or haven’t had experience with the game prior, the game will feel like a complete and utter clunky mess if you don’t commit to learning the game’s mechanics. However, if you’ve had experience with Generations, 4 Ultimate or any of the prior MH games, the combat will feel right at home.
Once you start getting your hands around the controls, everything comes natural and the game will feel as smooth as ever. Basic attacks for most weapons include combos of X and A, with R sometimes being useful, depending on the weapon. Each weapon feels marginally different, and throughout my playthrough of GU, I went from Switch Axe to Charge Blade, back to Switch Axe, dabbled in some Long Sword then finally settled on Great Sword for my G-Rank playthrough.
While I don’t advise having a ‘main’ weapon (as you should play flexible depending on the situation), getting to know the insides and outs of one weapon will give you some much needed-knowledge on Monster patterns, dodging and item usage strategically.
I won’t go too in-depth on fights work, however, Monster Hunter games in general, require A LOT more strategy than what it seems on paper. Before each hunt, it’s wise to find out Monster’s weak spots and element weaknesses and changing up your weapons and armour to suit those requirements. You can play the game without in a care in the world for these, but half of the fun of the game is planning the hunts and bringing all the necessary items and tools for the hunt.
You’ll need to experience and possibly die to a monster multiple times before you are confident or skilled enough to defeat it. Learning attack patterns and when a monster leaves an opening is crucial to dealing enough damage to slay or capture it and is repetitive, yet addicting and kept me coming back wanting to see how fast I can kill one of the monsters I used to struggle with earlier in the game.
One of the most important mechanics of Monster Hunter is skill tables. Skill Tables are basically a mathematical table that shows the distribution of skill points that are pulled from your armour, talismans and decorations. Skills can be one of the most daunting things to learn in Monster Hunter, but learning the insides and outs of the system can be worth it in the long run.
Most skills activate when you have 10 or 15 points in their tree, and different armour pieces and talismans give different values, matching these values, as well as using decorations on your armour to add to the skills can result in an armour set made from many different monsters and optimised for your weapon, for example, you won’t need a Normal S. Up skill with your Blademaster set, and you won’t need Crit Draw with a weapon like Dual Blades.
Learning what types of skills suit your playstyle and weapon use in the most effective ways is one of the defining staples of becoming a good hunter in MHGU. Although skill setups and skill trees can get confusing, newer players can easily have access to a pre-set multitude of skills by obtaining a full set of the same monster’s armour. Building sets that aren’t mixed are the staples to finding what skills suit you and can help get your head around the at-times-daunting system.
Generations Ultimate introduces two new styles, as well as a new hunter art for each weapon. These are great fun to try out and adds a new twist to the game. Styles are essentially a ‘playstyle’ you can choose from, there are six altogether in MHGU, Guild, Striker, Aerial, Adept, Valor and Alchemy. Each one is adapted for an individual player’s preferred playstyle.
Guild and Striker are generally great all-around styles, Aerial is for players who love to mount, Adept and Valor are all about well-timed dodges that reward you with powerful attacks and Alchemy is a great support class that can boost you and your teammates using the Alchemy Barrel. Valor and Alchemy are the newest style, and both are fantastic and fresh additions.
Valor is by far the best out of the two, as it will add a whole new button to your move set; Y (which usually sheathes the weapon) will put you into Valor stance, which then allows you to either dodge a Monster’s attack or dish out a powerful attack.
Both dodging and attacking fill up your Valor gauge, and when full, will open up a brand new move set for you to use and will make your attacks stronger. Valor heavily favours players that love to push into monsters and be more aggressive, which personally tailored to my playstyle massively during my playthrough.
Alchemy style, unlike Valor doesn’t feel that much like its own style. Whereas styles like Valor and Adept change the move-set quite noticeably, Alchemy feels like a glorified alternative to Striker. Alchemy is mostly treat like a support style, as it allows the user to give buffs and other useful afflictions on not only themselves but other hunters too.
The first thing that makes Alchemy style unique is the Alchemy Barrel, it’s an item exclusive to the style that you’ll always have on you and, once the Barrel Gauge is filled, can be shaken to obtain different alchemy items. Alchemy style can also have all of their Hunter Arts with the SP status applied. If a Hunter Art with the SP status is used, it has a positive effect on the user and any other hunter in the area.
After shaking the barrel for a certain amount of time, the SP level can be increased up to four times, which will give extremely beneficial buffs to you and your fellow hunters such as stamina regain and health regen.
Hunter Arts are special moves that you can use during a fight after filling a meter, there are a couple of base arts that every weapon can use, most notably Absolute Evasion, which when used causes you to evade a large distance with a long invulnerability time – these arts are usually unlocked by reaching milestones or completing certain quests.
Every weapon has their own set of Hunter Arts that are usually either extremely powerful blows or useful to the gimmicks of that weapon such as refilling a gauge or making certain types of attacks inflict status more often.
While Hunter Arts are a fun addition most of the time, they can become more of a limitation than an addition, as most of the time they strip basic moves from the weapons (as seen in prior games) and turns them into more limited and rarely used arts. MHGU also adds a brand new hunter art for each weapon, some of which are my favourites in the game, such as Chaos Oil for the Sword and Shield.
Other new content that Generations Ultimate includes, are the new deviants and Elder Dragons. Deviants in Monster Hunter are reskins of the original monster, which have new move-sets and an increased difficulty which in turn allow you to craft some of the most useful armour in the game that allow you to draw the power from a Monster’s soul.
In the previous game, Generations, there was only one deviant version of the Fated Four (the Fated Four being Generations flagship Monsters), the Glavenus, which received it’s menacing Hellblade Deviant. Generations Ultimate adds the rest of the Fated Four’s deviants, the Soulseer Mizutsune, Boltreaver Astalos and Elderfrost Gammoth. As well as these three deviants, there were also new deviants based on existing popular monsters added – the Nightcloak Malfestio, Rustrazor Ceanataur and Bloodbath Diablos.
Although these six deviants do add a lot more difficulty to the already difficult base game, the real great addition to Ultimate is the two new Elder Dragons – Ahtal-Ka and Valstrax. These two monsters are by far the most fun and interesting fights I’ve had in a while, especially Ahtal-Ka, which is one of the most mechanical and fun Elder fights I’ve experienced in a while, and improves upon the more siege-like, slow and drawn out fights such as Lao Shan Lung and Zorah Magdaros from previous games.
As well as the addition of brand new monsters in GU, there are also Monsters that returned from previous entries in the series. Not including the monsters returning from the base Generations game, there are 14 returning monsters, most notably popular monsters such as Diablos, Nerscylla, Barioth and more.
There are also the return of two variant monsters, the Chaotic Gore Magala and Raging Brachydios. Not only do these monsters make their massive debut for their first time in years, but arguably one of the most powerful monsters in the series returns for its debut for the first time in a while – the powerful Fatalis, which, once you reach HR100+, you can attempt to slay it’s Crimson and White versions, too.
One thing Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate adds is the ‘Transmog’ feature. The Transmog feature is built mostly for ‘Fashion Hunters’ – players that care a lot about how they physically look rather than the technicality and skill use of regular mixed armour. Transmog allows you to merge two pieces of armour, which allows you to have the skills from one set, and the physical appearance of another. This allows Hunters to choose their favourite looking set to mix with their favourite technical set.
The one downside about Transmog is the fact you have to go quite far into the single player portion of the game to actually have the option to unlock it. If you don’t mind single player then this won’t be a problem, but it’s a bit of a shame that this feature might be locked for quite a while for those players that much prefer playing exclusively in the multiplayer hub.
MHGU’s graphics take a while to get used to – especially because they are just up-scaled, HD versions of the 3DS models. While the game overall looks a lot less gritty and smooth as Monster Hunter: World, the overall style that the game aims for is a lot more unique, as the weapon, armor and monster designs all have a more over-the-top and vibrant look than most other entries. There tends to be a lot of particle effects due to Hunter Arts, but it isn’t anything too distracting and can be turned off if you wish.
Something newer that was added was HD Rumble, while it isn’t used too much, it is mostly used for when a monster roars and it feels amazing, the screechy, rough roars of monsters are translated really well into HD Rumble and feel as if the ground is shaking realistically – it’s something I noticed a lot and wished was implemented into World and other future Monster Hunter games.
Monster Hunter’s sounds are wonderful and MHGU is no exception. The soundtrack is epic and orchestral, and each battle theme fits the respected fight well. There are tons of memorable songs, each of which brings back waves of memories with each play. Accompanying the music are the sound effects – they’re used effectively in MHGU and there isn’t a sound that I found myself disliking or getting annoyed at.
The only exception to this is your hunter’s voice, as, if you pick an obnoxious or loud voice for your hunter at the beginning of the game, you’ll be forced to hear the grunts and moans of this voice throughout the game and it can be very distracting when you or your teammates are hunting and all you can hear are the high pitched moans of someone on your team.
In conclusion, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is by far the definitive way to experience the series. It may be a bit much for newcomers to handle or get used to, but to anyone who has played Monster Hunter in the past, you’ll feel right at home playing the best celebration of the series yet. With fluent and deep combat and engaging new features such as Hunter Arts, Styles and Deviants, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate will keep you engaged for hundreds of hours and allows you to experience the largest amount of content the Nintendo Switch offers. Just remember, the game never gets easier, you just get better.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
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This post was written by Ruairi O'Brien (Lucariocios)