Capcom had an iffy few years but it looks like the company’s getting back on its feet. Even the questionable Street Fighter V has been revived thanks to numerous updates; meanwhile, Monster Hunter is still as strong as ever thanks to the unstoppable force that is Monster Hunter: World. While World represents the future of the franchise, though, it might be nice to take a look at what’s come so far. For that, we’ve got Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, an updated port of the 3DS’ Monster Hunter Generations (technically a port of the unlocalized Monster Hunter XX, actually) on the Switch.
Unlike Monster Hunter: World, this game isn’t so concerned with a plot. You’ve got a weapon, you’ve got some armor, get out there and start hunting. Persist in hunting and upgrading your gear whenever possible and you’ve got an addictive gameplay loop. It’s classic Monster Hunter through and through, and it’s just about the best take on that formula you can get. The fact that you’ve got a pair of analog sticks on the Switch certainly doesn’t hurt either – say goodbye to The Claw!
The monsters, as always, are the star of any Monster Hunter game. In Generations, fan favorites like Rathalos and Nargacuga are joined by newbies including the owl-like Malfestio and the blade-tailed Glavenus. As per usual for Monster Hunter, gameplay is essentially a boss rush against the local fauna; victory allows you to carve parts from your prey which are then used as crafting material for new weapons and armor. Success against later foes, then, requires proving yourself against early opponents in order to obtain improved gear.
Said gear consists of numerous melee and ranged weapon options as well as an accompanying set of armor pieces. If you’d prefer getting up close and personal while hunting, you’ll want to check out one of the many available melee weapons; these range from the humble sword-and-shield combo to massive greatswords to more esoteric options like the form-changing Switch Axe and Charge Blade. Hunter who would rather keep their distance might be more interested in the two varieties of bowgun as well as the traditional bow.
There are even options for players who’d like to try a hybrid style, like the monster-blasting Gunlance and the bizarre Insect Glaive, the latter arming you with a symbiotic Kinsect that functions as a sort of combat drone – that last one is a personal favorite thanks to its unparalleld versatility.
Your choice of weapon is key to your playstyle, since each option has its own foibles to uncover and you can’t change mid-hunt. It also determines which Hunter Arts you’ll have available; these are new to Generations and are essentially slow-charging super abilities unique to each weapon class. These can play a big role in your hunts, allowing you to pull off bombastic attacks like summoning a giant laser sword out of a Charge Blade or calling upon unholy strength with a Great Sword. It can take a while to integrate Hunter Arts into your move set, but it’s certainly worth the time to do so as they can be devastating.
The other key to your playstyle lies in another new feature introduced in Generations: your Hunter Style. This is essentially an additional layer of customization added on top of your weapon. There are six Styles to choose from and each interacts with each weapon differently, though their effects can be summarized. Guild Style, for instance, is the “base” style, offering the most familiar move set for each weapon as well as a balance of offense and defense.
Striker Style is focused on the use of Hunter Arts and raw offense, allowing you to equip multiple Arts but restricting some of your weapon’s more defensive moves. Aerial Style unlocks jumping combat traditionally restricted to Insect Glaive users, allowing you to mount monsters for a good stabbing, while Adept Style is a defensive style that encourages well-timed dodges and guards.
Ultimate adds numerous enhancements and content additions, including a pair of new Hunter Styles. Valor Style is a cousin of Adept Style, allowing you to auto-dodge attacks while sheathing your weapon as well as incorporating a Valor Gauge used to increase your power over the course of a hunt. Alchemy Style, on the other hand, allows you to use many Hunter Arts as well as creating special items via an Alchemy Barrel; it’s somewhat awkward and probably better suited to group play.
On top of that you’ve got numerous new monsters to hunt, with all the new weapon and armor designs that entails, and a whole new tier of difficulty if you’re out for a more serious challenge. Numerous other upgrades, both large and small, make this the definitive old-school Monster Hunter experience.
There’s a solid graphical upgrade as well, making this probably the best-looking old-school Monster Hunter experience on top of all that. The Switch isn’t the most powerful machine, but it’s more than enough to make Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate look and sound fantastic. There’s no serious downgrade when playing in portable mode as well, so feel totally free to carry your Switch with you and play all the time. Play on the bus. Play on the train. Play at work. There’s more than enough to do, you’ll need the extra time.
Monster Hunter: World offers a more accessible and polished experience, but if you can deal with the many quirks of the classic gameplay you’re going to have a good time with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. The portable nature of the Switch is a perfect fit for this sort of game, naturally, and there’s more content in here than you’re likely to get through anytime soon. The sheer amount of things to do, monsters to hunt and gear to craft is enough to make this an easy recommendation.