REVIEW: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch)

A classic best in its class.

Capcom‘s fastest-selling game of all time belongs to the Monster Hunter franchise and the one in particular titled Monster Hunter World. Not only did it set a new record for the publisher/developer, but the game did another first for the series which is a same-day worldwide launch when it released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 earlier this year. While the Nintendo Switch missed out on the most recent entry, it isn’t without its own Monster Hunter, albeit originally releasing on 3DS titled Monster Hunter X in 2015 for Japan and Monster Hunter Generations in 2016 elsewhere. Known as Monster Hunter XX in Japan — an enhanced and upscaled version — Nintendo Switch owners in the West were wondering when it would be their turn when it released last year. After an unusual wait, the time has finally come in the form of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. The Switch has a strong demographic so for many, this will be their first experience with the series just like Monster Hunter World did for the other platforms. For Monster Hunter World players, this game can be described as the most packed and true to form. With 93 monster bosses (not including standard regional monsters) and 14 different type of weapons having their own style of play, there’s simply no better time to slice your way into the deep action-RPG than now, especially with friends.

Palico Ranch

Sup.

“Hunting monsters”. The simplest way to describe Monster Hunter in a bug shell and two words that still carry a lot of weight of being no easy task. In MHGU, players will need to walk the walk and just the walking part takes its toll on hunters. Initiates to the series might know that MHGU is a third-person action-rpg at its core, but its the wealth of customization and dozens of play styles with their own intricacies readily available that can throw players off their guard. This is apparent considering there are traces of survival elements and MMO gameplay.

Quite frankly, there’s an intimidation factor. It’s up to the individual to make a commitment learning the ins & outs of just what makes Monster Hunter so damn addicting. There’s so much to absorb right off the bat making it easy for newcomers to shy away from the series, but the fact remains that what’s packed in MHGU is meant to tailor many different players. My best advice: although it’s easy to skip over and actually skippable, try everything in the training grounds as it’s the best guide to the quintessential basics and get a feel for what’s best for you.

Wycademy, a.k.a. Hunters Hub! Both an offline & online hub where you’ll be preparing for the next hunt.

Starting anew, players will be able to choose between a male or female, various face presets, various voice samples, and skin tone; all of which are locked in once your character has been created. What can be changed later in-game that’s present in character creation is hairstyle, eye color, and facial paint. Immediately noticeable when players are placed into the game are points of interest in the beginning area, such as shops and the people who occupy them. Icons above the heads of NPC’s indicate they can be spoken to.

No direction and lack of story might have players asking what their own intent should be as once players are geared up it’s off to do an objective. Where am I going and what do I need to know before I get there? The pace eventually picks up and players might naturally become familiar with what’s in store for them as there is a structured progress system set in place. Known as Hunter Rank (HR), players can only do quests their rank and lower; HR1, HR2, etc. This ensures a fair shot at the game by equipping players with both the gear and knowledge before tackling the more meaty stuff. A high rank quest online would be quite daunting for a beginner hunter who joins it, but surely a lesson would be learned!

But you’re a proficient hunter who has done this before, are you? Well good news. Anyone who has played Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS is allowed to transfer their save data to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on Switch via app for 3DS. Being the time sink it can be, Capcom has provided a nice way to let previous players carry over their progress with a smooth transition. Capcom has made mention of future DLC, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild collaboration gear seen previously and more, for free. Fashion is a huge part of Monster Hunter and showing off your latest armor is alright. Flaunt it if you got it. While the visuals of MHGU certainly looks outdated, being a high-definition port of a 3DS game, its identity is definitely serviceable.

Sure there’s a lack of nuance when it comes to environment detail. There’s a lower-end of polygon count on objects and terrain. However, improved visual effects have been added. The reflections on water stand out. Volumetric lighting filters through the the environment such as trees; same is applied to monsters. The colorful art style is nice and bright. The textures look clean and crisp. While playing the Switch docked can show the game’s age, albeit still looking decent, the game is well-suited for handheld play. The vivid crispness truly does the 720p screen justice while retaining the same level of quality when docked, whereas some 3D games drawn down have a loss in picture fidelity or slight blurriness is noticeable. Cloth, banners, grass, flowers, wood and more are good in quality when it comes to textures. Weapons and armor look cool, but unfortunately they’re a bit muddied compared to the rest of the game.

Gathering Spots. Collecting mushrooms and more.

The hunter lifestyle is largely about management. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that upfront you’re only getting half of the picture. You’re not just a hunter, but instead a hunter/gatherer. When taking up quests, you are sent out into the world to complete a certain objective. Within a Main Quest that you choose, a Sub-Quest may be available. Sub-Quests are optional side objectives, but can add to your payout with additional Zenny (in-game currency), Wycademy Points (more on that later) and materials for crafting. Quests are timed, but never too short in order to get what you need before returning to Wycademy, a monster research organization you chose(?) to work for.

Take what you need for this quest only.

Preparation is key. Regions have sectioned off areas behaving as their own space. So entering an area will have a brief loading screen, but it’s not too bad as it’s up to around 3 seconds. I recommend not fighting bosses near an area’s exit as you’ll sometimes gets knocked back into the other area by accident. However, this can also be to your advantage as you might want to enter the next area away from an enemy in order to heal yourself, etc. The starting area in every region is a safe haven. Beds are available for players to come back to during a quest in order to rest and recover their health & stamina. Two chests are available and one of them is for delivering items back to Wycademy, which may also finish the quest if it’s focused on particular items as opposed to slaying a particular monster. However, before setting out to do either of those, it’s best to check the Supply Chest and take what you need. Good for that quest only, players can take with them what’s in there, such as a map, first-aid, and other invaluable items.

Home Sweet Hunter Home.

Hunters become stronger acquiring new gear. They can be purchased from vendors provided enough money is available, but are still limited in unique stock. The best stuff comes from the player’s own hunt and it’s the accumulated gathering of raw materials during a quest that lets you forge unique weapons & armors you need to be stronger. Players don’t level up by numbers. Their becoming better comes from the work they put into exploration, slaying monsters and collecting as much as that will fill their pouch. All items will be sent to your Item Box, found at home and the other hubs, universally sharing the same storage in order to be accessed more easily instead of just traveling back to your house each time. An Item Box will always be near an exit before starting a quest. It should be noted while beds save your progress, there is no saving during a quest. Players must either complete or forfeit the quest in order to do so. It’s not a detriment to the actual experience. You go out on a specific hunt and it’s quite thrilling to get the best out of the brief adventure.

Exotic regions.

There are multiple layers to mostly everything in MHGU. Crafting new items grants you more materials to be obtained and new materials can be crafted into new items, even improved ones. Gathering Spots are found all over and they come in different types. Players may freely gather various resources from plants, scraps, carcasses and more found on the ground. Other gathering spots require specific items, however. Players may find different quality of shimmering mineral deposits to mine ore and rare items from, but need to use a pickaxe in order to do so.

An ‘Old Pickaxe’ (Rare 1) can be crafted by combining a Mystery Bone with Stone and is the least durable of its kind likely to break in a few uses. However, combining a Mystery Bone with a Malachite Ore will create a ‘Mega Pickaxe’ (Rare 3) which is highly durable granting much more use out of it. The same idea applies to other items, such as Bug Nets to catch insects and types of bait for catching different fish. Crafting can be done with ease in a menu list and new recipes can be unlocked if you have the right materials for it. Consumables, poisons, bombs, bullets and more can all be crafted. All items have a meaningful function designed to be advantageous to any play style depending on them. Of course, harvesting hide, scales, horns, meat and other materials from monsters are valuable; especially from bosses.

The hunter lifestyle is serious.

Exploration — not just through environments — is largely left up to the player to figure out. For instance, players might wonder why their health is constantly draining when navigating through the hot desert or why their stamina constantly lowers when in freezing temperatures without knowing that a Cool Drink and Hot Drink are remedies to endure both respectively. While there is plenty to figure out as players go along, specific information is still available if players are thorough. Hunters Notes makes sure to describe in-depth everything you already know. Training quests provide the fundamentals to survive and be adequate in hunting. General items at the shop, available to purchase, have descriptions of their uses. Researching within the game is a great way to hone your skills for the journeys ahead. Normally I speak about control input and their functions, but they vary so much depending on various factors. On top of it all, players can try out the different control and camera setups to their liking. How MHGU handles all that it does is actually done quite well. It just has a slight learning curve.

4 on 1 is a fair fight!

The challenge in learning all that you need to is part of the fun and it’s thanks to the variety of options that it’d be cumbersome to even explain it all in-depth as much as I want to. For you, the reader, who has made it this far, I’ll spare you and give a couple examples instead. First, let me list the 14 type of weapons players can choose from: Great Sword, Long Sword, Sword & Shield, Dual Blades, Hammer, Hunting Horn, Lance, Gunlance, Switch Axe, Charge Blade, Insect Glaive, Light Bowgun, Heavy Bowgun, and Bow. Interestingly, they all play differently from each other by having their own combos, damage output, range, speed and even support abilities. That’s not all. You may find a certain type of weapon you’ve become fond of, but the 6 different Hunting Styles — Guild, Striker, Aerial, Adept, Valor, and Alchemy —  all change how you maneuver with that weapon.

For instance, the Hunting Horn can play melodies when attacking and the right notes played as a combo can provide different support buffs such as better defense and more health which is very efficient in multiplayer. Tie that in with a Striker style, which allows for the hunter to enter SP State to charge up Hunter Arts faster and automatically, and you now have a support role who can use more Hunter Arts more frequently. Hunter Arts are special moves that can be used when its gauge fills up done by damaging enemies. Hunter Arts can be powerful attacks, escape maneuvers or just support skills. Dual Blades with an Aerial style is a more agile type of character that allows quick attacks and the ability to jump at any time as well as making it easier to mount monsters. There’s nothing quite like mounting a monster rodeo style bashing its head in while your teammates around you attack it or find time to regain their health, stamina, or sharpen their weapons. Sharpen your weapons at the right times!

 

Go solo or up to 4 players locally. Or enter the online hub and find 3 other players to take on an objective. There’s no voice chat, which is unfortunate. There are preset phrases which can be used relatively fast and easy. There’s also an option to bring up the Switch’s keyboard to type a message as well, though it has a small character limit. A nice touch is that there is an auto-chat feature which displays particular phrases for you depending on the situation such as being attacked which lets players know you are in danger, for example. Multiplayer in MHGU has never made me feel like I was missing out on earning anything. You’re constantly moving and managing that if you’re left out or kind of behind while the other 3 are attacking a boss, that you’ll catch up. You’re all in the same boat because at a point you’ll be the one attacking while the others need to take a moment to collect themselves. Defeating a boss just feels rewarding.

MHGU is highly tactical as it revolves around proper preparation and hunter maintenance. Attacks and dodges need to be properly timed as you read your enemy’s moves. Sprinting consumes stamina, but it automatically refills. Fighting also causes weariness. Hunters will get hungry thus lowering the overall stamina gauge meaning you have less stamina overall. An energy drink or well-done steak will boost you right up, however. Stun monsters with flash bombs and unleash multiple attacks. The new G-Rank missions really put your skills to the test as enemies do more and not hold back. How you want to tackle certain objectives or monsters is entirely your choice. For instance, while killing a tough boss is its own challenge, so is another method to dealing with it. Players can set up traps, put them to sleep, and take them back for bigger rewards instead of killing them. This certainly provides its own challenge and the required items are necessary, but it’s all about style in MHGU.

In fact, the Wycademy Points I mentioned earlier plays a part in different styles. These are used for spending on unique items and outfits, mostly for your sidekick. You can take a Felyne with you on your journey to be a little support buddy. These Palicoes are your pal-ickoes. The Fyline race in Meownster Hunter talk a certain way, but your Palico can attack, find extra treasure, lend a hand in support abilities and more. At first they’re reluctant to listen, but with proper training and adventures, they’ll do more. They, too, have their own obtainable weapons & armors. They also actually level up by number. That’s not all, you can even skip being a hunter and straight up play as your Palico when you enter Prowler mode. Here, stamina is limitless, attacks are varied and simpler, and you can even group up with other Palicoes to do tremendous abilities. It’s a fun addition and something to give a try for anyone finding being a base hunter a little too challenging.

There is one complaint that I need to address. Anything mentioned in text that is of significant important is in red text. It’s very difficult to see in this game where it constantly has me squinting or adjusting my eyes to see what it says.

Summary
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate truly is the ultimate Monster Hunter package. It's missing the quality of life improvements, openness, and spectacular visuals found in Monster Hunter World, but what it's not lacking is content and varied gameplay which can be seen as the best in the series. This action-rpg is no hack & slash. It's depth is engaging. Over 14 weapon types means 14 distinct fighting styles. Tons to craft, collect and sights to see. The 93 bosses are unique in both design and their patterns which provides a fresh experience every time you meet a new one. The game is fine solo, but if you grab a few buddies and get to work, it's one of the best times. Just stay away from fighting on the edges of areas. Happy Hunting!
Good
  • Plenty to hunt, plenty to craft, plenty of fun to be had.
  • Many styles tailoring to specific players.
  • Multiplayer is a great time.
  • Outdated, but visual design is strong.
Bad
  • No voice chat.
  • Icon prompts and specific functions can be obtuse.
8.7
Pretty Good
Gameplay - 8.75
Visual - 8
Audio - 8.5
Value - 9.5

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