Months ago, I was keen to play Monster Hunter on my Switch. With such a huge push of the series with Monster Hunter World, I thought that the Switch game in Japan, then called XX, would be making its way here too. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but almost a year after it’s release in Japan, XX has made its way over to the Switch as Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. Yeah, it’s a bit late, but it still represents one of the best Monster Hunter experiences you’ll get, even if it’s a very different beast to Monster Hunter World.
The crux of the experience is essentially the same as World. You’ll head out on various quests of varying difficulties to gather resources and battle a variety of creatures both big and small. While it sounds simple, every creature you take on might require a different approach to take it down. Some are geared more so towards a group of people, but most can be conquered solo. Whether it be setting up traps to debilitate them before taking them down or mounting them to attack a key weak spot, there’s a variety of ways to take on the games hundred or so monsters.After each hunt, you’ll be rewarded with components that can be used to craft even better equipment. As you’d expect, equipment is king in Monster Hunter – the better your equipment, the better quests you can embark on and the bigger hunts you can take on. There is a little bit of repetition, and as a gameplay loop it seems rather simple, but there’s always been something oddly addictive about the Monster Hunter cycle.
When Generations hit the 3DS three years ago, it played out a little bit like a “greatest hits” of the Monster Hunt franchise up until that point. While it’s missing some key features like underwater battling and the whole concept of frenzied monsters, it was an ambitious game filled with quality experiences. Generations Ultimate builds upon that already ambitious sentiment. Adding to the hundred or so monsters found in Generations, Ultimate introduces a brand new “flagship” monster to hunt as well as five or so deviants of the flagship monsters from the previous game.While some of these monsters build on the design of creatures that have already appeared, their behaviour and move sets have changed up enough that they feel fresh to track and take down regardless. Similarly, Generations Ultimate introduces G-Rank hunts back into the mix. These quests appear in almost every Monster Hunter expansion and are some of the most difficult you’ll ever encounter, almost always requiring a squad to finish. Despite this, the rewards are great too.
The other major addition is the addition of two new hunting styles. Hunting Styles were introduced in Generations previously and serve as “loadouts” for your hunter, influencing which abilities can be used during battle. It is a simpler skill system than previous games but feels much more approachable. New to Generations Ultimate are the Alchemist and Valor styles, which join the already available four styles found in the original Generations game.Both are slightly more technical than the other styles with a bit more of a learning curve. With Valor you’ll build up a meter by sheathing your weapon before using that meter to access a more aggressive and powerful set of moves, creating a kind of risk reward pay-off. Alchemist is a little bit different, with this style you’ll act as a pseudo-support unit who can create random items by shaking a magic barrel. Both are great additions, though have a much higher learning curve than the four included in Generations which might put some more novice fans off using them initially.
Also returning from Generations but absolutely worth mentioning is the Prowler Mode, which lets you play as a Felyne (think a small, anthropomorphic cat) who can take on quests just like hunters can in order to earn unique items and supplies. With their own set of unique abilities and weapons, the Felyne hunters are fun to play around with as a diversion to the main quests.As with other Monster Hunter games, players can embark on their quests either solo or with friends, though Monster Hunter is truly at it’s best when played with friends. You can play the game either locally through the Switch’s wireless or online through the Nintendo Network as with previous games. While it’s nothing new for the franchise (barring Monster Hunter World), there is unfortunately no voice chat capabilities in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. You’ll be able to send out some ad-hoc messages and there’s a in-game keyboard to type too but it’s hardly practical in the heat of battle.
There’s even less of a story in Generations Ultimate as there was in Generations, but most players can expect to get around 50 or so hours out of the main quest lines. Beyond that and as expected in an expansion of this caliber, there’s a heap of content to jump into once you’re done with the main quest too, including the aforementioned G-Rank quests. The amount of content on offer here means you’ll get roughly the same amount of time out of Generations Ultimate as you would with any of the first four games in the franchise, easily eclipsing Monster Hunter World with hundreds of hours of hunts to undertake. The local price for the game might seem like a bit on the steep side, but the sheer amount of content to plow through easily justifies it.To address the obvious, it’s quite clear that Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was originally a 3DS game that’s been cleaned up to run on the Switch. Effectively running on an an iteration of an engine that’s eight years old, the game is clearly not the greatest visuals the Switch can offer. Depiste this, Generations Ultimate offers some incredibly bright and colourful locales for you to trudge through on your hunts. Similarly, the monsters themselves look great – sporting some truly beautiful and elegant designs that’ll make you almost dread having to destroy them. The game looks good both docked and in handheld, though the lower resolution textures are especially obvious on some higher end televisions.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate builds upon the already comprehensive celebration of the Monster Hunter franchise that was established in the original Generations. There is heaps to do here regardless of whether you’ve played before, and the sheer volume of content on offer here is staggering. Yes, it’s slightly less easy to pick up and play than Monster Hunter World, but what Generations Ultimate lacks in polish and pizazz it makes up for with unbridled depth and longevity.