The Hunt is On

The Monster Hunter series began on the PlayStation 2 and defined its own unique genre of giant creature battling action role-playing game. Its signature gameplay loop of hunting monsters, carving their bodies, and forging new armor has since been replicated in games such as God Eater and Final Fantasy Explorers. Nevertheless, Monster Hunter continues to build off of its own strengths and expand it with each game. After four mainline games and a number of expansions and spinoffs, Monster Hunter Generations for the Nintendo 3DS brings them all together. MHG collects fan-favorite monsters, village hubs, and characters in one adventure while introducing new hunting variations and special moves that completely alter a hunter’s playstyle. With hundreds of quests and a robust online multiplayer mode, MHG is a monstrous force to be reckoned.

Gameplay

If you liked any of the recent Monster Hunter offerings such as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, you will enjoy this game. MHG features the same refined control styles and weapons from MH4U, and it’s easy to switch from one game to the other. The callbacks are welcome fanservice, and the additions allow you to experience MH in a new way. Although this is a novel adventure, a large chunk of the monsters and areas are recycled from previous games. Unless you are completely satisfied with MH4U tiding you over until a new mainline game, this game is highly recommended as a celebration of all things Monster Hunter.

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Use a variety of weapons to take down larger-than-life monsters.

Now, for everyone else who hasn’t experienced Monster Hunter, the core gameplay composes of your customizable hunter taking on quests to battle large creatures. The monsters provide widely different fights and have distinct appearances, such as dragons, wyverns, dinosaurs, snakes, and sea beasts. Upon beginning a quest, you are placed in one of several maps from wintry mountaintops to volcanic cliffs. Each map is partitioned into several sections (usually around 10), and you must search through each area to find the targeted monster. Once you find it, the monster lets out a mighty roar, showing you that it’s ready to fight back.

Battles are real-time action affairs where you must find opportunities to strike while dodging monster attacks. It’s not a strict back-and-forth, however. Your actions are limited by your speed and stamina. Unlike faster action RPGs, every move carries specific weight. Some may see this slower approach to gameplay as a setback, but the controls are deep and sophisticated. Each motion has value to it, and the flow of battle will vary between different weapons and monsters. If you are using a hard-hitting Hammer, you aren’t going to be able to swing it around easily. Each of your actions must be deliberate and strategic, while running on instinct. Lighter weapons like the Dual Blades allow you to attack more swiftly, but you sacrifice power and defense in the process. Since you are up-close to the monster, you need to dodge carefully, which brings stamina into play. Running, dodging, and some other actions use up stamina. If you run out, you slow down and start panting. You can consume items to keep your health and stamina in check, but even the consumption animation takes time.

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Survival requires strategic timing.

Conversely, there are times where the monster may get tired or even topple over. You can take advantage by wailing mercilessly on the monster or by powering up. Each monster has its own vulnerabilities, and targeting those weak spots can result in big gains. Monsters also have their own tells, or animation cues that tell you what they’re about to do. Just like reading an opponent in a fighting game or memorizing patterns in a boss battle, evaluating and reacting appropriately to monsters’ moves separates seasoned and rookie hunters.

The steep difficulty curve is the biggest turnoff from this otherwise exhilarating battle system. This isn’t a hack-and-slash game, and players who attempt to make it one may struggle. Learning the ropes has always been the biggest challenge in MH games. It’s never really explained how you should hunt. While this fosters independence, the lack of feedback can be frustrating. There are no monster health bars or indicators of an attack’s power. If you lose a fight, you may not know how well you were doing or what you’re doing wrong. MH fans have grown accustomed to this and even like it, but new players will likely have trouble. There are optional tutorial quests that teach you basics and weapons’ controls. However, truly learning how to succeed will take a lot of patience, effort, and possible external help from veterans and guides.

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The game is tough to learn, but fun to master.

Once you get past that hurdle, the rest of the game provides an addictive loop of fighting monsters and building stronger weapons and armor from their carcasses. The moment a titanic monster finally goes down after a lengthy battle is comparable to delivering the final blow on a difficult boss. Carving its skin for goodies is the cherry on top. In-between quests, you are free to prepare for your next mission by making and upgrading valuable equipment based on a set number of needed materials. Usually, you’ll need to aim at specific monster parts to gain materials you need. Since the drops are random, you may end up grinding to defeat a single monster several times. It does get exhausting sometimes, especially when playing alone, but it feels great once you finally forge your new creations. Your new equipment actually looks handcrafted from the monster’s remains. The sense of progression feels satisfying as you find yourself defeating more difficult monsters and taking their powerful materials.

Your hunter doesn’t level up, so your equipment defines your stats. They also affect your skills, in another vaguely explained game mechanic. Unlike what you might expect, the skill-up bonuses from equipment only matter if you’ve gained enough to reach a certain threshold (usually +10). Upon gaining 10 points, you gain the new skill. They include stat bonuses, elemental resistances, weapon perks, dodge abilities, and more. Unfortunately, you often need to wear a complete 5-piece set of armor to gain certain skills. If you’re crafty, you can combine certain sets and forge special decorations to optimize your desired skills.

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The armor and weapons formed from monster materials look great up-close.

Materials can also be used to make powerful weapons. The large variety of weapons is one of the best aspects of this game, giving the game customizability and replayability. With 14 weapons types, you can find at least one that suits your playing style. A standard Sword & Shield allows you to balance attack and defense, the Lance tests your patience as you wait for opportunities to strike, the blunt Hammer charges up for heavy stunning moves, and Bowguns allow you to fire at monsters from afar. There are even status-changing weapons like the insect-powered Insect Glaive and the music-based Hunting Horn. There is a weapon for everybody, and mastering one is inherently satiating, especially in such a heavily skill-based game. Wielding another weapon completely changes how you play, so trying out new weapons can freshen up your hunting experience. The controls are all different but feel great. As a note, the game works best with the New 3DS or Circle Pad Pro. The extra nub/circle pad for camera control helps during hunts and is almost necessary for some weapons like the Bowguns.

MHG also has a brand new 15th weapon, or rather playable character, in Prowler Mode. You can now hunt as a Felyne, a cat that usually assists your character during single-player hunts. Felynes fight similarly to hunters, though are limited to blades, blunt weapons, and boomerangs. Besides being adorable, these cats run without losing stamina. They can also gather materials easily, catching bugs and fish with their own unbreakable nets and rods. You can activate special abilities, like healing or throwing bombs, by filling a meter. Felynes actually level up, offering a more standard progression that players may be more used to. Prowler Mode improves the less-entertaining gathering missions thanks to a Felyne’s abilities, but don’t underestimate leveled up Felynes when taking on monsters.

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The Meownster Hunters

The biggest additions to MHG are the new Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts. Styles represent different schemes to use a weapon. Fans who want to stick with neutral, familiar territory can use the Guild Style, which is essentially the MH4U control scheme. The three new ways to play are the Aerial Style, allowing you to better jump and mount a monster’s back to topple it; Adept Style, rewarding you with power-ups for successfully dodging a monster’s attack; and Striker Style, focusing on activating the new Hunter Arts.

Arts are special moves that come in the form of powerful attacks, effective dodges, and weapon-specific bonuses. For instance, a Great Sword can unleash a ground-splitting slash, a Light Bowgun can reload all ammo at once, and a Hunting Horn can activate all power-up songs at the same time. Each weapon has three exclusive Arts, and there are another half-dozen Arts that any weapon can utilize. Between the four Hunting Styles and multitude of Hunting Arts, the amount of playstyles essentially multiplies tenfold. For seasoned hunters, these are the most enticing incentives to pick this game up.

Apart from these additions and some quality of life improvements, MHG doesn’t add much more new content. There is one new village and one new hunting area. At least the few novel monsters are all high-quality, including a sleep-inducing owl and a new group of monsters dubbed “The Fated Four.” Regardless, anyone new to the franchise can witness all of the best MH monsters in one game.

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One of the new monsters, the owl-like Malfestio

MH titles have never been too dependent on story, and MHG is no different. Instead, you progress on quests with a loose narrative tying them together. Quests range from large monster fights to item gathering. Although the game is mostly about the former, the latter is crucial in building up a stock of items (which can be combined to form better items). They can get boring, but they provide nice breaks in-between heated monster hunts. Likewise, capture quests – in which you must weaken and trap a monster – and one-on-one arena showdowns keep the grind from getting stale. In both offline and online play, there are ranked tiers of quests. Finishing certain quests unlocks an Urgent Quest, which upon completion grants access to the next tier up. However, there is no way to tell which of the dozen quests within in a rank are important aside from checking a guide or simply playing them all. Regardless, the higher-ranked quests produce some of the most exhilarating battles with multiple monster “hunt-a-thons” and epic arena fights with dragons. Returning fans may be disappointed to learn that there is no insane G-Rank difficulty, but jacked-up Deviant Monsters provide a worthy replacement challenge.

With all this said, the most enjoyable part about the MH series is its multiplayer mode. Up to four people, either local or online, can cooperate on a hunt. A group of hunters, all trained in different weapons, taking down a large beast, is where the true MH experience shines. Your group can participate in a large set of quests geared for multiplayer. One person picks the quest, and the group can decide if they want to go on it. For the most part, any cleared quest will count as completed for each player. The exceptions are the Urgent and Deviant Quests, whose completion only counts for the person who picked it. This unfortunately means that you’ll have to grind these quests multiple times for each player.

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Multiplayer hunting is one of the game’s biggest highlights.

Online play works great, and connection hiccups are rare. Joining or hosting a room for randoms is fast. A lack of voice chat hurts communication, and players are limited to keyboard chat and preset greetings. Voice chat would have been welcome since this game is so dependent on working together and communicating which quests you need completed. Although you can use outside chat proxies, there is little excuse to exclude voice chat, at least with friends.

Playtime/Replayability

With dozens of monsters and hundreds of quests, each taking an average of 20-30 minutes, there is a lot to do in MHG. Finishing the main storyline can take anywhere between 50-100 hours, depending on how many quests you do. Finishing all the quests, earning every achievement, and grinding to forge equipment easily adds several hundred hours to that count. Finally, playing with friends adds replay value on top of that.

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The action looks and sounds exciting!

Graphics and Sound

The graphics look as sophisticated as they’ve ever been, with gorgeously detailed monsters and scenic areas. The animations are spot-on and help you easily notice monster tells. Your customizable hunter fluidly attacks with little to no problem in framerate. There aren’t many cutscenes, but they all look stunning. You will quickly notice the music starts out eerily quiet when you begin a mission. This is purposefully done to offset the moment that the monster notices you, in which an alert jingle plays, leading to orchestral-quality battle music. Some of the new tunes, including “The Fated Four” battle songs, energetic arena music, and the calm Bherna Village theme, are beautiful pieces that are worth listening to on loop. The victorious jingle that plays when you finish off a monster is sure to fill you with a triumphant feeling. Characters only grunt, but you’d be convinced the creatures were real after hearing their roars and battlecries.

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Gotta Hunt ‘Em All!

Conclusion

Monster Hunter Generations is an engaging foray into a world filled with menacing monsters and spirited hunters. Although it’s not a new full-fledged entry in the series, there are enough exciting features and monsters to make this a worthwhile purchase. The Hunter Styles, Hunter Arts, and Prowler Mode, combined with the already impressive 14 weapons, add to the diverse playstyles. A solid multiplayer mode, albeit lacking voice chat, keeps the game a highly entertaining social experience. Even single-player’s addictive gameplay loop of epic monster battles and beefed up equipment is enough to keep any hunter engaged for hundreds of hours. It may have a steep difficulty curve, but mastering its deep strategic gameplay to take down huge monsters is a thrill worth the investment.

Score: 9/10

What are your thoughts on Monster Hunter Generations? Are you a veteran hunter or looking into the series? Do you have any favorite games, weapons, or monsters from the series? What do you think of this game or any other game in the “monster hunting” genre? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments below!

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36 thoughts on “Monster Hunter Generations (3DS) Review

  1. Great review! One thing to note, the cutscenes aren’t really less than normal, just less than 4U (which was filled with them), but otherwise I agree on every point. Definitely a series that requires work to get into but the rewards are worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading JV! Ah, good to know. I have made sure to note that that’s the case. Though really, 4U is like the previous entry, so it really did set a big standard for cutscenes, especially since that’s where a good number of hunters started, including myself. Anyway, yes, it is definitely a series worth getting into, as I’m sure you know and have gotten into as well! We should definitely play some good old online multiplayer again sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Miketendo64! The News, Reviews & Personal Views Website On All Things Nintendo and commented:

    Hey everyone! Mr. Panda here, with a review of Monster Hunter Generations for the 3DS! The original Monster Hunter inspired a new genre of battling huge monsters in epic boss battles. After four mainline games and a bunch of expansions/spinoffs, the series is celebrating its history with a novel adventure featuring new playstyles, special attacks, and the ability to play as a cat! And of course, brand new monsters! Check out my review to find out how what I thought of the latest hunt!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! You give a nice overview of the game that even players unfamiliar with the series (such as me) can understand. I have watched others play Monster Hunter, though I haven’t played myself. I admit that I’m intimidated by the steep learning curve of the battle system. I’ve been meaning to try out the demo to see what it’s like. I do think the monsters and environments are beautifully designed. I like seeing the different armor and weapons, which are very unique and colorful. But what I like best are the fun Felyne friends that fight alongside you. It’s great that you can actually play as a weapon-wielding biped kitty cat! Now that I know what I’m in for, I might finally give this game a shot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much crystaldragon! It would be awesome for to play Monster Hunter Generations together! I could teach you! It’s definitely a steep learning curve, and it’s not just something that can be learned easily. It’s worth the effort if you’re willing. And hey, playing as a Felyne is fun too! You might get a kick out of that! I think the game looks excellent especially for a 3DS game -the monsters, the scenery, the equipment. It’s great to look at. I sometimes would like for a new entry in the series to be on consoles just so the graphics would look even prettier, but I do like how portable the series currently is. Anyway, thanks so much for reading and commenting! Hopefully we can play together one day!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Heads up, the demos are notoriously bad for new players. They’re a bit overwhelming and without the crafting system, most of the experience is lost. It’s one of those games you simply need to dive in, if you’re interested.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, I don’t know how they’d do this, but it needs to be a more full-fledged demo where you get to start out doing the easy stuff like gathering and fighting small monsters, and then build up to the first monster fight. Maybe an option to start a new game and transfer your save to the real version might be great. Add a couple of harder monsters as optional bonus fights for the demo to entice veterans. People need to be eased into Monster Hunter, not throw into the Royal Ludroth’s den!

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    1. Awesome to hear from another Monster Hunter fan! I enjoyed MH4U a lot, but there’s something about the new styles and arts that makes this game feel very fresh.Depending on what you want from a MH game, you may prefer 4U or MHG. MH4U has G-Rank and a slightly richer single-player mode. MHG has all the new stuff and a collection of over 70 of the best monsters, including ones from both 4U and 3U. Even the underwater ones are present (although no underwater in this game). For me, Generations is definitely the more worthwhile purchase. Since you’ve played 3U and have 4U, I think you’d find it enjoyable too. Let me know what you think if you decide to pick it up! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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  4. Thanks for the review, Mr. Panda! I’ve considered the Monster Hunter series several times, so it really helps to read a good review that really details what the game is about. Unfortunately, I have never been into real-time action types of fighting. I get too panicked and nervous and don’t enjoy it as much, so I mostly stick with turn-based games.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks so much IsaMaLisa! I appreciate your continued support and comments! The Monster Hunter series is great, but like I said, it’s steep difficulty curve will probably deter most players. It’s just also not for everyone. Even I had trouble getting into the series when I first started out. Granted, I didn’t start with Generations, but if I had, I’m sure I would have struggled at the beginning. If the demo were better, I would recommend it, but it kind of assumes you know what you’re doing. At the very least, you can gauge what it’s like, but don’t judge it too harshly based on that alone.

      I actually have a recommendation that you might like better. Knowing that you like turn-based games, I hope you’ve played at least one Final Fantasy game? Regardless, I linked to my review of Final Fantasy Explorers here, so you might want to check out that Monster Hunter-like game. It’s more approachable, easier, and a lot cuter, and if you’re familiar with the worlds of Final Fantasy, you’ll appreciate the callbacks. It’s certainly a decent game that may even ease you in to this genre. Who knows? Explorers might make you crave the thrill of the hunt, haha! Either way, thank you so much for commenting!

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      1. Ooo thanks for the recommendation! I think I did try one Final Fantasy game a very very long time ago on the PS2. I don’t remember which one, but I remember being confused on how to start the gameplay after the opening sequence. This was back when I was just starting to play video games, though, so I may be better at it now. Haha! I’ll definitely read your review on Explorers and check it out!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awesome, thank you! Final Fantasy Explorers is different from a regular Final Fantasy game. The original series has mostly turn-based battle systems, whereas Explorers is a somewhat easier, cutesier version of the Monster Hunter formula. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty decent for a monster hunting game based on a popular franchise. Thanks again!

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    1. It really is something else! Monster Hunter Generations is a great first game for someone who’s never played the series before. The tutorials do help with the basics, and playing as a Felyne helps ease getting used to the early gathering quests. If the first large monster gets you down, don’t be discouraged either. I had a rough start at first (with the first MH game I played). I ended up having to switch weapons until I found one that worked for me, and then I just had to keep practicing until I got it. Once I was mastering my weapon of choice, the rest of the game became manageable. Either way, let me know if you do end up getting it! Thanks again for reading and commenting Rachel!

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      1. There is a bit of a grind to get better equipment, but it’s very possible to defeat monsters with “lower-ranked” equipment. It’s admittedly a little tough, but it’s worth a try if it’s something you’ve ever wanted to get into. There’s actually a demo on the eShop. It’s not the best demo since it puts you into the fray without giving you practice, but it gives you an idea for how the game feels, haha.

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      2. Nah, I’ll probably just buy it. It looks interesting enough. I think I’ll enjoy it, it’s just not something I’m typically into. So it’ll be interesting to see how well I do, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s awesome! I applaud your mindset going into it! I think you’ll do fine, and it’ll be great to hear about your monster hunting experience when you do play it!

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  5. I haven’t played any of the Monster Hunter games yet, but I’ve been getting pretty persuaded by all of the DLC of alternate costumes and stuff that resemble Nintendo and other 3rd party characters. Haha. Some of them are so cool! Great post, and thanks for the review!

    I’m actually the Community Content Manager for NowLoading.co, and I would be thrilled if you considered posting on our platform (while still posting on your personal channels). If you don’t know much about us- we’re the same team behind Movie Pilot, and push to give awesome writers (like yourself) some exposure. Feel free to email me! My email and more info is on my about page. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much! The camaraderie from going on co-op hunts is one of the best aspects of Monster Hunter. I would very much enjoy playing this game with you! We should try it together sometime. Maybe we can try out the demo together one day!

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  6. I’ve been looking at the series for a while and it looks pretty interesting. My issues are that I’m not sure how much I’ll really get into it as a rather poorly skilled player in general on top of the price point. I’ve got the constant struggle of wondering which is the best to start on, and everyone keeps saying the newest one is the best whenever a new one comes out, yet I don’t want to spend 30-60 bucks to dip my toes in the water, and I don’t think the demos are giving me enough time to feel it out either. So I’m wondering… have you played any on the Wii? I think I saw one in the store hanging out for like… I think it was under ten bucks. So that sound like an acceptable risk, but I just wonder if it’s going to represent the series well enough if I try that one. Also, did you 100% the entire game or just go through the main story stuff and then experiment a bit elsewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you wanted to start with an older one, I would highly recommend Monster Hunter Ultimate 4 for 3DS. It’s very similar to MHG, just without the newest bells and whistles. I haven’t played any Wii version (only 3DS ones) so I can’t say that they represent what MH is like now. I can only say that it’s fundamentally similar since the formula more or less is constant throughout the series. A huge part of the game is playing online, and you won’t get that from the Wii version which no longer goes online. Your best bet is either MHG or MHU4 since both games still have an online fanbase (likely more so with the former). As for 100% the game, there are very few people who have 100% this game since it takes hundreds of hours to even get close, assuming you play with a good group of skilled hunters. That said, I beat the story in about 50 hours, then did most other quests after that for another 100 hours. I’m still not close to 100%, but I enjoyed my time. If you’re looking to complete a game like this, prepare for the long haul. Honestly, just playing through as much as you can is fun already.

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      1. The best I could find for MHU4 was 20 bucks, but at the time of the sale I found out I only have the standard (small) SD card that comes with the 3DS in and couldn’t even fit it if I wiped it. Ridiculous. It was only a digital offer. So again, I’d rather not pay 30-40 bucks for a complete gamble. As far as online play, I’m not too interested. I only know one person that plays so I’d be doing most of it lone wolf anyways. But thanks for trying. I was just curious how much you put into it for the review since it seems like it’s still a bit early for reviews when there’s so much to it. But I suppose that’s more than plenty of time to know. At least you liked it. Finishing a long game you don’t like is a pain in the a**.

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