Monster Mashing on Switch with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

Monster Hunter Generations
Ultimate
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Reviewed On
Nintendo Switch
Available For
Difficulty
Intermediate
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Developer(s)
ESRB
ESRB
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Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is the almost-latest entry into the Monster Hunter franchise. Possibly spurred on by the gangbuster success of Monster Hunter World earlier this year, Capcom made the decision to finally localize Generations Ultimate, also known as Monster Hunter XX (Double Cross) in Japan, which was released in 2017 as a follow-up/expansion to 2015’s Monster Hunter Generations. Boasting a humongous list of monsters, tons of equipment, and tons of gameplay variations in hunter styles and arts, Generations Ultimate is bursting at the seams with content. So is Generations Ultimate the one to rule them all, or should you skip over it and just play more Monster Hunter World, instead? Let’s find out.

As aforementioned, even though Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate released in the West a whole eight months after World, MHGU was actually released at the beginning of 2017 in Japan. So, what does this mean? This means that a lot of the advancements that World made are not present in MHGU. Those who have played World can drink healing items while moving, gather items while running, and don’t need to carry paintballs to track monsters all around the map if you’ve hunted the monster enough beforehand to level up your tracking skills accordingly, among other things.

The map is also segmented and not one large zone, either, there is no auto-crafting while in hunts, and the in-game monster information is quite thin- old school Monster Hunter games required players go to places like Kiranico in order to find out information on monster damage zones, odds for carving specific materials, etc.. It’s probably important to get these distinctions out of the way before moving on, because several of these things players may take for granted if they have only played World.

So did World advance the series so far that Generations Ultimate isn’t even worth touching? Not in the slightest. World was one of my favorite games of the beginning of 2018 (I wrote the review for the game for this site, in fact), and Generations Ultimate is easily going to match that, if not surpass it. MHGU has an astonishingly high amount of content for a game that was originally released on the 3DS, boasting 93 large monsters to hunt, almost three times that of World, and hunting large monsters is what players will spend most of their time doing. Generations Ultimate is essentially an expansion on Generations from the 3DS in 2015- all of Generations’ Low and High Rank quests are available in Generations Ultimate, except that you now get almost twice the number of quests as the base game of Generations in the even more difficult G Rank, which added a huge number of quests in the higher difficulty setting. There’s new monsters, tons of new loot, and so much new gear to craft that it’ll make your head spin.

So, as you could tell from the title, in Monster Hunter, the largest thing players will do is hunt monsters. It’s an incredibly satisfying gameplay loop of get pants and weapon → find monster → fight monster by learning its attack patterns and hitting it whenever opportunity strikes → make new pants and weapon out of the monster. If you don’t get enough of the necessary items to craft new weapons or pants out of the monster, repeat the first few steps, sharpening your skills along the way. Killing or capturing a monster will yield materials you can use to make new weapons, armor, and items that will make your next hunt easier, such as making gear with fire resistance in order to take on the powerful Fatalis, a large black dragon that has explosive fire attacks that could end you in a single hit if you have no fire resist.

Each monster has its own unique attack patterns, as well as their own unique weaknesses and breakable parts. Monsters that inflict poison on your hunter, for example, may not be able to be poisoned, but you can still inflict paralysis or put them to sleep using special arrow coatings or status ailments on your weapon. Monsters, similarly, can inflict a variety of status ailments and blights on a player that can range from poisoning, to stunning you with electric attacks, or draining your stamina. You can equip certain skills that might prevent these things from happening, but a lot of times you’d be better off equipping gear that boosts your offense like using Attack Up M instead of reducing stun duration. Monster gear will have a variety of skill points on them, which further lets you customize your character as you can go from a semi-ineffectual gunner to a killing machine by throwing on four or five really strong skills like Piercing Damage Up, Critical Damage Boost, and some skills that increase your  chance to critical hit.

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The monster’s attack patterns are only part of the equation, of course: There’s also your weapon, as well as your preparations! There are 15 unique weapons in Generations Ultimate, and each of those weapons has six different styles in which they can be used. There are 12 Blademaster weapons, which encompasses things from the longsword which lets closet Bleach fans act out their Bankai fantasies, to the switchiest of axes, the switch axe, which changes from an axe to an extremely powerful sword that can’t be deflected by monster hides. There are 3 Gunner weapons, the bow, light bowgun, and heavy bowgun, which let you attack from a slight distance at the expense of having a substantially less defense than Blademasters. The final weapon, the Prowler, lets you play as the Palico companion cats that have accompanied hunters, and it plays unlike anything else in the game.

The Hunter Styles transform how players can use each weapon by a large margin- Guild style users will find their weapons largely unchanged from previous iterations of Monster Hunter and have access to two Hunter Arts, while Striker style hunters will lose some of their attacks in exchange for carrying three of the powerful Hunter Arts. Aerial style weapons use only one Hunter Art, but gain a unique evade roll that allows them to spring up into the air for impressive airborne followup attacks that can more easily mount foes, and Adept style rewards players who dodge with proper timing by allowing them powerful counterattacks. Valor style is new to Generations Ultimate, and allows only 1 Art and severely limits your weapon’s capabilities until you fill your Valor meter, but once its filled and you enter Valor mode, you can do powerful actions in combat that can let you output high amounts of damage quickly (rule of thumb is that you have 50% of your weapon outside of Valor mode, but 200% during. In the case of Valor heavy bowgun, that number is more like 300%, but I digress). Alchemy style is another new one, and it lets you use 3 Hunter Arts as well as the Alchemy Barrel, which can give loads of beneficial features to the user and hunting party such as regenerating health over time.

Each of these styles have advantages and disadvantages, and each weapon is typically great with more than one style- Valor Bow might be the optimal way to output damage during a speedrun, but Adept Bow is far more useful online when a monster may be moving erratically due to additional player influences, since Valor tends to require bow to sit still to attack for seconds at a time and predict a monster’s movements, while Adept lets players be a lot more reactive, which is more useful when a Deviljho may decide to chase after a guy on the other side of the area. Tons of options are viable and the flexibility afforded to players to find their niche is pretty unprecedented for the series, and this is just talking about the styles, not even the Hunter Arts, themselves.

New Arts have been added to Generations Ultimate, with all of the ones from Generations making a return as well. These can be everything from powerful attacks, like turning your Charge Blade into a buzzsaw and jabbing the monster with it, to temporary buffs such as letting you move and charge faster with a bow or switch axe, or even let you place a healing device on the ground that recovers health to teammates (an item like this was carried into World as a gadget, but in MHGU, it’s a Hunter Art). Proper mastery of your weapon and knowing which Hunter Arts to use, and when, is what separates a bad or mediocre hunter from a good one, and with each weapon having several options for play style as well as dozens of Hunter Arts, there’s tons of customization that players can exhibit as you climb the ranks and slay oversized spiders and gigantic Elder Dragons, alike.

The number of quests in Generations Ultimate is actually somewhat ridiculous with over 1,100 quests:  382 of them are offline-only village quests, with 569 online Hunter’s Hub/Pub quests, and 228 special permit quests for the Deviant monsters, more on those later, and this isn’t including arena or the 100~ quests that will release over time from DLC. To put this into perspective, Monster Hunter Generations had 643 quests, so GU added a very sizable number on top of that! So for the completionists out there, Generations Ultimate will keep you busy for an absolutely absurd amount of time.

Hyper monsters from Generations return, which are similar to Tempered monsters from World except the monsters obtain special auras around certain parts of their bodies that ramp up their damage, and hitting those auras increases the recharge on your Hunter Arts. Deviant monsters also return with several new ones like Elderfrost Gammoth, which all of these monsters are quite strong and most have unique mechanics about them, such as Dreadqueen Rathian’s extremely toxic poison blight that reduces health at a far faster rate, which you can even be inflicted with by touching toxic clouds that she leaves in her wake. Each Deviant gets several ‘levels’ to its hunts, so if you’re wanting to fully upgrade a Deviant armor set, you had best be prepared to take on some of the hardest monsters in the franchise multiple times.

Playing online is quite simple in Generations Ultimate, though it is not drop in/drop out like Monster Hunter World. Players meet up in the Hunter’s Hub and can text chat and prepare for the next quest, and once a quest is done, players will return to the hub. This is a stark contrast from World, where players would often fire SOS Flares after joining a quest, and the Gathering Hub wasn’t exactly the most filled spot in any online session (mostly because NPCs players would wish to visit regularly were, for some reason, absent from the Hub, so players would often disband). If someone drops out of a quest in GU, however, no one can join to fill up that slot: You’re down a hunter, and that’s that.

As far as graphics go: Generations Ultimate was ported to Switch from the 3DS, and it shows. The game is nowhere a beautiful as World with its incredible particle effects and higher resolution textures, but in MHGU, tons of NPCs have their non-index fingers stuck together like back in the early PS2 days. The character models are sharp and crisp, but there are muddy textures on a lot of in-game objects that wouldn’t have looked quite so bad on a 240p screen. MHGU is abound with colorful setpieces, equipment, and environments, and while players shouldn’t have trouble telling what anything is, this is not graphical fidelity befitting a Switch title. Thankfully, though, the game at least runs at a consistent frame rate. The music is incredible and on-point, with most monsters having their specific themes intact and orchestrated, a complaint mentioned during the Monster Hunter World review. Popular themes like Proof of a Hero get one of the best iterations in the whole franchise as well as Zinogre’s theme are in MHGU alongside pumping tracks like Glavenus or the Japanese-themed Mizutsune, all of which sound great.

Overall: Generations Ultimate is one heck of an expansion to Generations. It’s a step back in quality of life improvements, requiring players to use Psychoserums in order to find where a monster is at the start of a hunt rather than letting Scoutflies guide you collecting enough of the monster’s tracks, among other things. In exchange for a few quality of life improvements and some muddy textures, you get one of the most packed entries in Monster Hunter to date. There’s loads to craft, items to farm, and monsters to hunt, and being able to completely reinvent how you play with a weapon going from one style to another gives a tremendous amount of customization while working toward your ideal armor sets for the weapon and style combinations you play most with perfect skills and Arts. If a less than pretty picture is something you can overlook, Generations Ultimate has more than enough content to entertain both new players to the series and franchise veterans, alike.

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