Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: August 28th 2018

Price as of Article: $59.99 USD, £49.99 GBP

Introduction

Monster Hunter has been a series that has interested me for quite some time now. The videos of people taking on massive monsters in epic battles definitely intrigued me, but every time I would try and play one of these games it seemed it would do everything in its power to drive me away. The terrible tutorialization leaves you confused, the amount of weapon choice is overwhelming, and the lack of help the game gives you along the way means that it is a struggle to even get started.

With Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, I decided I would give the series a proper go. Committing to a review meant I would have to sink some major hours into the game, learn its systems, and come away with a firm grasp on what these games are. I feel I’ve succeeded in doing just that, but where did my final thoughts on the game land? Did I end up enjoying it? Let’s find out.

This review will be tailored more towards those who have never played a Monster Hunter game just like myself, and for those who want to laugh at the struggles I had penetrating this title’s obtuse systems

Also, I feel I should mention that as I haven’t played the 3DS version of this game, those looking for in-depth comparisons between the two versions or what new has been added to this Ultimate edition, won’t find that here. This review will be tailored more towards those who have never played a Monster Hunter game just like myself, and for those who want to laugh at the struggles I had penetrating this title’s obtuse systems.

 

Story

The story of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is that, well, there isn’t much of one at all to be honest. What story that is here is not worth any investment in, there is no real payoff or anything that drives you forward. To be fair, the story isn’t why you come to the Monster Hunter series. The basic gist of it is that you are hunting monsters to assist in research, some urgent events will happen which generally result in you taking on a strong monster, rinse and repeat.

As far as stories go, the thing that Monster Hunter does best is cultivating an environment that helps to create your own tales. Your playthrough will be littered with moments that you can’t help but talk about, such as how you timed a perfect special that hit a Velocidrome as it launched itself at you, or how your team of hunters took down your first Rathalos. With the game debuting on Switch now, being able to save clips of your epic moments to share with friends, adds so much to this story telling aspect.

Your playthrough will be littered with moments that you can’t help but talk about…

So, although Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate may lack any major story arcs of consequence, that does not mean it is devoid of stories to tell. You will finish your time taking away a great many stories of your hunts and conquests.

Gameplay

Where do I even begin with this series? Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is essentially a 3D action role-playing game, where you battle monsters in a 3D space in real time. Role-playing doesn’t necessarily spell RPG however, as your characters themselves don’t level up per say. Most of the traditional levelling here is relegated to improving your armour and weapons.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to structure this section of the review as I found things out. I feel this may shed some light on how frustrating learning a Monster Hunter game can be.

Character creation

When you start the game, you are greeted with a fairly light customization screen, where you create your character. It is rather bare bones, with you selecting a preset head, hair style, hair and eye colour, and your voice. Seeing that they had the iconic Guts from the anime Berserk as a preset head, as well as his hair style, I got very excited and decided to play this game as him, using the Japanese version of his name, Gutsu.

You then get presented with a bunch of text detailing hunter styles and hunter arts, which to a new player makes absolutely zero sense whatsoever. What is a hunter art? Can I change what style I choose later on? What even is a style? If I choose wrong will I doom my character forever? The answers are pretty much that yes, you can change them later, and no, in the beginning it doesn’t matter all that much. You can work out what works best for you as you go, until you find the one which works with your chosen weapon.

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Weapon paralysis

Selecting a weapon is a very daunting task. Because I chose to play as Guts, selecting the great sword was a no brainer. If I hadn’t made that decision however, I would likely still be trying to find my main weapon. There are 14 weapons to choose from, each with extremely different styles of play. Depending on what weapon you choose, the entire game can change. An example of this is when I went from my slow and heavy great sword, which has limited maneuverability and requires you to get in close, to the insect glaive that allows you to pole vault into the air, has some ranged abilities and also has a much quicker attack speed. It almost felt like I was playing a completely different game!

Each weapon has a rather complex move set, as well as different utility in battle. When I hunted with others, using the great sword had me on the front line distracting the monster as I also tried to get off a powerful charged attack. You also have your support-type weapons, such as the hunter horn, which creates buffs, de-buffs, and also has a hammer-like quality to its attacks. Ranged weaponeers such as those using the three different bow types would pepper the monster from a distance, whittling away at its health. With so much choice, it is enough to paralyse any potential hunter with choice before they even start.

There are 14 weapons to choose from, each with extremely different styles of play

Thankfully, the game gives you every weapon from the get go, so you won’t be wasting money on any of them straight away. There is also a set of training missions dedicated to each weapon, but it does little to help you get in touch with how to use the weapons. Essentially the missions present you with a wall of text, detailing things in a way that will leave new players confused more than enlightened.

Missions: I’m doing it all wrong?!

Getting into the main hub of the game for the first time, you begin talking to some of the locals as the game dumps wall after wall of explainer text on you. It is disorienting to say the least, and after one character dumps a text log your way, they send you to another character that will blurt out more text. Such is the way of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate’s storytelling and tutorialization.

In the beginning though, the first character sent me to my house to speak to the Palico in there (a Palico is a little cat-like creature). A few cat puns later and I am sent to a new area to speak to a woman who tells me about quests. She herself is a quest giver, so I accept the first quest and go on my way. It is a quest to harvest, and to complete it you must survive 50 minutes or hand in a Paw Pass. With no idea what a Paw Pass is, I assume I must find it in the environment somewhere and continue on my merry way.

What am I doing wrong? Embarrassingly enough, everything as it turns out

Completely lost, not knowing what I’m doing, harvesting ferns and berries for some reason that I’m not aware of, and not knowing where this Paw Pass is, carried on for about 20 minutes. It was at this stage that I ran into a Great Maccao, basically the first big monster you will face in this game. I figure “defeating this will get me the Paw Pass right?” Wrong. I die three times, and doing so fails the quest. A few attempts later I decide to quit doing harvest missions and get right into the hunts.

My first hunt is against, of course, a Great Maccao. I fail again and again, with my sword doing seemingly little damage and my armour providing what seems to be the protection of a cardboard box. Dead, dead, and dead again, over and over, failure after failure. What am I doing wrong? Embarrassingly enough, everything as it turns out.

What the game failed to explain was that the game is essentially set up into two main areas, a single-player and a multiplayer area. I was taking quests from the quest giver in the multiplayer area, something that really could have been highlighted much more clearly, and by much more clearly, I mean at all. My first 2+ hours have been wasted!

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It wasn’t until I came back to the game after a break that I found the quest giver in the single-player area, which also happens to be the person with all the tutorial missions. Huzzah! It is here that I learn about the item boxes in the starting area of each mission, and how that Paw Pass is just sitting in there waiting to be used. A friend of mine also told me that the harvest quests are there just to gather items, and are not designed to be missions you set out to complete. Again, the game telling you this would have been nice.

These tutorials are… quite bad actually

Plowing through the tutorials, they definitely followed the precedent the rest of the game has set up to this point; everything is a wall of text. Want to learn about item boxes? Here are 7 pages of text. Not only that, the person speaking to you is speaking in character, so his text is full of flavourful language that just confuses a lot of the mechanics he is trying to present you with.

If you think that is the only reason why these tutorials are bad, then brace yourselves. These tutorials don’t even contain all of the information that you need. Each tutorial refers you to read the hunters handbook, which is essentially an in-game help guide. That means that the tutorials can’t even be bothered to teach you everything, and forces you to do more research either during or after each tutorial mission anyway. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

Who are all these people?

In town when you are being sent around to talk to a bunch of people, there are quite a few that seem to get forgotten. There are some big omissions it seems, ones that are quite vital to the game as a whole.

Before you go out on a mission, there is a table where you can eat food. This food gives you buffs to your character’s stats, and choosing different sauces will also grant you additional buffs. Want to take on a Rathalos? Then you better eat up those heat-resistant food buffs. Want more health and defence on a gathering quest? Then eat that delicious food.

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There are a bunch of different vendors that get lost in the shuffle also. I kept trying to buy new weapons from the weapons vendor, though he never seemed to get in anything worthwhile. It turns out that the guy standing next to him that is kind of easy to miss, is the person you want to talk to about that, as he forges new weapons from things you have gathered on your hunts. He also forges new armour, and upgrades all of your equipment. Seems like an important person to just gloss over.

Then there is a vendor that forges gear for your Palico companions. This can help improve the utility of these cute little minions when you are on a hunt.

Where is my Palico?!

Speaking of Palico, they can join you on your hunt. I knew this was something you could do, and was able to recruit Palico, but had no real help in knowing how to add them to my team to help me on my hunts. It turns out that little tidbit is buried in the menus.

It was about 4 hours into my journey that I was able to find out which menus I needed to navigate, to equip my Palico companions. This was frustrating, and just another little thing the game does a poor job of explaining to you.

Who is the start of this game for?

I found myself a little confused as to who the start of this game is designed for. The beginning is extremely slow, which makes you think that it would help teach you the basics. As I’ve said so far, that is definitely not the case. The game is almost impenetrable to newcomers, so much so that it almost seems the game is actively trying to drive you away.

If you are expecting to get to hunting the series’ best monsters, then you will be grinding out a bunch of key quests for hours upon hours before you finally get there

But this is Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, it is designed as a celebration of the series to this point, and as such is for the veteran hunters. Well, I would agree if the game got you to the action quickly. For veterans of the series, the start will be painfully slow, taking you hours to get your hunter level up high enough to take on the higher level missions and harder monsters. If you are expecting to get to hunting the series’ best monsters, then you will be grinding out a bunch of key quests for hours upon hours before you finally get there.

Key quests?

Now that I’ve mentioned key quests, I should probably talk about what they are. Not all quests are created equal, with only some quests allowing you to progress. The powerful monsters are locked behind different star-ranked tiers, and each star rank is tied to your hunter rank. If you are at hunter rank one, then you can take on one star quests. Got to hunter rank three? Then you can now take on three star quests.

So, why would you waste your time with the other quests? Can’t you just do the key quests and progress? Well, it turns out that it isn’t easy to tell which ones are the key quests, as the game doesn’t tell you. There is a guy you can talk to who will give you hints, but he is a jerk and really doesn’t help at all. Thankfully, a friend of mine sent me a link to a list of all the key quests. Thank you internet.

Sounds like you hate it

The beginning of this game is something else. I haven’t had a game feel like it doesn’t want me to play it as viciously as this game did. It clearly gave zero cares in the world if I would get into it or not, and refused to even do the bare minimum to show me the ropes. Its systems are extremely obtuse, nothing seems to make sense at face value, and the game is absolute hell to try to learn with no prior knowledge of the series.

That said, once you learn these systems and get over the extremely steep learning curve, the game really shows why it is so beloved by its fans. Learning the ins and outs of your chosen weapon, seeing a new monster for the first time and learning its tells and movements, and exploring the environments is all extremely fun. I like all this so much, that I will find myself playing Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate until the series gets another sequel, edging out Skyrim and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 as my consistent in-between reviews game.

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Hanging out in a discord chat with friends, going on hunts together and using teamwork to take down a particularly tough monster is one of the most satisfying multiplayer experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Even the single player busy work I found enjoyable, where I would hunt down specific beasts to get the monster parts needed to forge that next set of armour.

And that loop is so satisfying. Hunting monsters and forging new weapons and armour. You will find yourself hunting down the same creature a few times to get all the parts necessary to complete that armour set you have been eyeing off. Completing that set and moving on, you will find that the next creature you kill opens up a new set of armour, rinse and repeat. This may sound like busy work, but with how much fun it is to take on these monsters it really isn’t. There are some exceptions to this, but generally each monster is a pure rush to take on, and I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I smashed my great sword down on a freshly stunned monster, be it for the first time or the fiftieth time.

There is still busywork though?

Even when you get to this point in the game, there is a fair amount of busy work for you to do. You always need to remember after taking a mission to eat a meal. Then you need to make sure your items pouch is emptied of useless items you may have picked up on your last hunt. You also need to pick up items from your storage box, such as whetstones, potions and cooked meats.

If you go out on a mission and forget your whetstones, you will find that you won’t be able to sharpen your weapon once it dulls. When your weapon dulls, it does less damage, and eventually it won’t be able to even hurt the bigger creatures, with attacks just bouncing off their hides. Whetstones are a consumable item too, so don’t think that having one will be enough, you can go through multiple in a single fight before the creature is bested.

Where is the included DLC?

As this is an Ultimate version, the event missions and DLC bundles are all available from the get-go. Unfortunately the game doesn’t tell you about that though, and I once again had a friend give me a heads up about it. It is quite a mission to get these items to say the least.

First, you need to go into your house, and speak to the Palico inside. You then navigate to the DLC menu, open that up, and you are presented with a few more options. Going into each of those brings up a list, you then need to check box each item individually, then hit the download button. You need to do that in each of the menus, and each has multiple pages that require you to check each item off individually.

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Once they are all downloaded you are done, and all the items are in your storage box right? Wrong! You then need to navigate the menus again and claim your items. Once they are claimed you are all good though yeah? Nope. You then need to navigate to the DLC menu and claim those items as well. This process is unnecessarily obtuse, but worth doing as you will end up with more items and money than you will know what to do with.

To sum up

I will reiterate that the start of this game is an absolute chore, but once you break through the game is definitely worth the effort you put in. If you have a friend who loves the series, pick their brain from the start, and get them to walk you through everything. Trust me, you will need the help, but you will be rewarded with an extremely deep game that is excellent in both short bursts and multi-hour stints.

Audio

The music of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is quite varied, ranging from subdued in-town tracks that give off a relaxing and safe vibe, to downright epic heart-pounding numbers that add tension and a sense of danger. When and where these tracks are used is masterfully done, and none of the tracks here seem to wear thin. That is quite a feat considering you will be spending possibly hundreds of hours with this game. None of the tracks stayed with me necessarily, but they succeeded in creating and complimenting the perfect feeling for each moment. Well, I lie, one track will stay with me; the adorable music that plays anytime you cook a meal. It is so good!

As for the sound, it is also of a high standard. Monster growls, howls and shrieks are massive and terrifying, creating a sense of dread when you face off in an epic battle with a mammoth-sized predator. Smaller creatures that litter the environments also have their own unique calls and sounds, which helps to build the lively world that you are hunting in. Palicos will make their cat noises which, admittedly, can get quite grating at times. Also be sure to pick a voice for your character that is either deep or generic; you don’t want to be that person in a party annoying everyone with high-pitched grunts and screams as you use your weapons and dodge attacks.

 

Visuals & Performance

This is a remastered 3DS game, and it certainly looks it. It will be hard to be blown away by what you see with this game, as textures lack any real definition and character models are jagged and a bit blocky. This is far from the best looking game on the Switch, but to expect much more considering the game’s origin on the 3DS would be setting yourself up for disappointment. A lot of these visuals are easy to overlook when in handheld mode, but put this game on the big screen and every wart the game has is exposed.

What the game lacks visually, it makes up for in style and art direction. The monsters have obviously been shown a lot of love in their designs, as does each map area and town space. Armour and weapon designs are incredible, so much so that you will find yourself hunting the same monsters over and over just to get that awesome looking helmet. There are rather vibrant colours used, which is very pleasing to look upon, and helps make the game pop off the screen.

The game overall performs extremely well. In handheld mode I couldn’t tell you a moment where I noticed any slowdown. When docked though you can experience a few frame drops here and there, but it gets nowhere near an unplayable level, and seems to only be in spurts. You won’t get a sub 30 frame rate that holds for longer than a few seconds, and the dip isn’t dramatic.

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Value

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a full priced game, and for that it can be hard to swallow considering that the 3DS version of the game released back in 2016. Essentially you are asked to pay full price for a two year old remastered handheld game with a few DLC perks. Yes it seems steep, and even crazy as I write this section, but I do find it hard to argue that the game isn’t worthy of the price point. This is a game that you can easily sink hundreds of hours into, and I myself will be dipping back into the game every chance I get.

Now that I have contradicted myself, is the game worth your hard earned cash? Well, that still depends on a few factors. If you are impatient and don’t know anyone else who will be getting the game, then it is hard to recommend as a solo experience. The steep learning curve will likely cause you to bounce off of the game and essentially waste your time. However, if you do have a few friends who are picking this one up, then this is a game I will happily recommend, especially if you know someone who is a veteran Monster Hunter player and can show you the ropes.

 

Pros

P

Tight combat

P

Battles are epic

P

Audibly pleasing

P

Massive replayability

P

Some of the best co-op multiplayer around

Cons

P

Visually lacking

P

Steep learning curve

P

The game gives you little to no help understanding it