The monster hits of Monster Hunter.
Monster Hunter Generations features locations and monsters from all across the series, as well as some new favorites to boot. On top of that, you've got additional ways to play—different hunter styles, hunter arts, and Prowler mode where you can take control of one of your Palicoes. If it isn't obvious, let me make it clear for you: Generations is the best game so far in the Monster Hunter series and is a great place to start even if you have never played any of the others.
Previously Monster Hunter was known as the grind-filled action RPG where you hunt and kill giant monsters (read: dinosaurs, dragons, and giant ancient beasts) to collect their body parts, which are then used to make better weapons and armor so you can fight even more monsters. While the main core gameplay is the same, I have never felt like Generations is a grind, as Capcom has simplified things a bit for the better.
Now, instead of having to do the same boring missions over and over to get the loot you need, you have tons of options that help expedite the process. Like in previous titles you can have two cat buddies known as Palicoes that fight alongside you; at the end of missions they typically pick up bits and pieces of most any monster you slay, including the main hunt. This means slaying one monster can net you five or more pieces and put you well on your way to getting that stylish piece of armor or deadly new weapon you've got your eyes set on.
But wait, there's more! Meownster Hunter mode returns where you send out a team of hired Palicoes on a hunt in hopes they will bring back drops that you need. In Generations. this plays out via a simple cannon-shooting mini-game that has you firing puck-like pictures of your Palicoes onto a board to try to get them to land on large circles that represent different items or monsters. After a few tries, I perfected this and was able to land exactly where I wanted, thus quickly earning the loot I needed.
These factors combined with the fact that there are tons of missions means there is no need to grind or repeat quests as you'll naturally come across most all the equipment you need as you progress with the game. As someone who heavily dislikes grinding, I can't be happy enough about this. I've played a few games in the series and the grinding has always turned me off in giving them my all and completing them. Thankfully, that is no longer a problem.
Another time-saving addition is the ability to hold A to mine, catch bugs, and gather plants, mushrooms, and berries. No more stopping and pressing A over and over to see a dull animation. While it may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, those animations add up.
Speaking of Palicoes, the new Prowler mode is something I've always wanted: the ability to play as the Felynes. Prowler mode has its own set of moves depending on what weapon you give your cat pal, and also has its own missions, though they are similar to the normal missions. If you're really into cats (like I am), then you can even play as a Palico in the other missions as well as online with up to three other people, meowing the night away!
Just like Palicoes, hunters have tons of weapons and armor to unlock and craft, much of which is hilariously cheesy, such as a grim reaper mask, dinosaur masks, and cute little dresses for the cats. As someone who hates crafting in games, the process is so simplified here it would be hard to hate it. Everything needed for each piece of equipment is listed, as well as the stats it will provide upon completion, which leaves no guesswork for the players. However, for those looking to go far in multiplayer, you're going to want to learn how the stats work.
Armor not only grants defensive stats but also other stats and skills. If your armor set adds up to at least 10 points for a specific stat or skill, it will positively or negatively increase said stat or skill. While there are themed armor sets, sometimes the best option is to mix various pieces to get specific skills and stats, instead of going for fashion. I wish all armor had the highest stats I've achieved so I could be super fashionable, but I suppose that is my personal nitpick with RPGs in general. Overall, the system is simple enough to figure out and has lots of depth for those wanting to get the 'perfect' setup.
Another new addition to the series is hunting styles, which tweaks the way combat works across the four different styles available, including deciding how many of the new hunter arts—special moves—you can have. Guild style gives you two hunter arts, which is essentially what has been in every Monster Hunter game and should be familiar to veteran players. Striker style gives you the maximum three hunter art slots. The Adept style is for advanced players as it comes with only one hunter art but rewards players with counter attacks for dodging attacks at the last second.
My favorite is the Aerial style, which changes your typical dodge roll into somersaults. By somersaulting into an enemy, you'll lunge into the air, allowing you to strike down upon your foe. This is especially useful during hunts of large monsters as you can easily mount them, rodeo them, and temporarily bring them down, allowing you and your friends to wail away on them.
The new hunter arts are built up over time as you land hits on monsters. Once their meters are filled. you can tap on the touchscreen to use them, or if you have the New 3DS or the circle-pad adapter, you can map them to the ZL and ZR buttons (which I highly recommend). Hunter arts can be both offensive and defensive, and there are plenty different unlockable moves throughout the single-player campaign.
While tapping the touchscreen for a move isn't ideal, it is simple enough due to you being able to layout the touchscreen anyway you see fit. Played a ton of Monster Hunter and know the maps by heart? Then remove the map from the screen. You can also move around your hunter arts to be right next to your buttons, making it easy to slide your finger over and tap the screen without having to look down at your hands. Shortcuts for item use can be added, which make things immensely streamlined as you don't have to bumble around a clunky menu. Options and customization are always good things, and Generations is filled to brim with them.
There are four different villages to visit that each come with its own cast of characters. Three of the villages are from previous games in the series, and one constantly has characters visiting from other areas, that I assume are references to earlier titles. You can quickly fast travel between these, but quests can be started in any area regardless of what village it is for. One of the best feature of the villages is that each has a different music track, meaning you won't be driven insane by hearing the same one between missions over and over. That said, you'll be visiting the Palico Ranch between most every mission and sending out cats for the Meownster Hunter missions if you're smart. Thankfully, none of the music is annoying and is rather hummable.
If you've never played a Monster Hunter game and have seen footage of clunky combat, don't fret. There are 14 weapons on offer, all of which play quite differently, meaning if you play video games (which you do if you're reading this I'd bet), then you'll be able to find a weapon you're happy with. I like the speed of the dual blades with the agility granted by aerial style. Maybe you'll want to get a giant hammer and just pound some monsters' heads in? You start with one of each weapon and can do training missions to get a grasp of the game and see which one you like best. While this all may sound daunting, the learning curve isn't nearly as difficult as it may sound.
Online multiplayer is still here as well, allowing you to easily play with up to three friends or join lobbies hosted by strangers without having to fuss with Nintendo’s annoying friend codes. Online missions vary from the order you’ll play them in the single-player campaign and tend to be a bit harder to make up for the amount of players you have playing. If you’ve got friends with 3DS consoles, you’ll be easily sucked into this for hours on end. Sadly, there is no way to communicate during hunts aside from emotes, though at this point I’m sure most of us have some kind of voice program on our computer or cell phones to quickly remedy that problem.
On the downside, Generations isn't all that good-looking as both the engine and the 3DS are quite dated now. Sure, there are some tweaks to gameplay, but graphically it still has jaggy graphics as all get-out. On a New 3DS you'll have slightly better textures as well as load times, though I'm not sure it is worth a new console purchase alone. The load times on the original 3DS line takes around 20 seconds when going into a mission while the NEW 3DS is moderately quicker.
With 21 different locations to hunt, tons of monster both new and old, heap-loads of armor and weapons to unlock, playable cats, and completely new ways to play with your favorite weapons, Monster Hunter Generations is the pinnacle game in the series and a must-buy for anyone looking for a solid multiplayer action RPG on the 3DS, even hunting monsters solo is a blast. Just be sure to pick up a Circle Pad or Circle Pad Pro if you don't have one of the NEW 3DS lines, as controlling the camera with touch isn't great. Trust me, you won't regret it and they run for around $12 on Amazon these days.