There is no replacing the feeling of the first time a Monster Hunter Game clicks. I dabbled slightly in the PSP games and Tri for the Wii, but Monster Hunter didn’t really come together for me until I played Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. That game enthralled me. Then came Monster Hunter 4U, which was objectively better in numerous small ways. I still liked it, but it didn’t quite have that same thrill of discovery that MH3U had. When Monster Hunter Generations came out, I thought up a way to get that feeling back. I played the previous two games using the Hammer as my primary weapon. With MHG, I would make the experience fresh by not using my go to weapon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Though the game is in many ways a backwards facing anniversary title, Capcom actually changed things up more than it initially seems with Generations. There are only a handful of new monsters, I believe there are exactly seven new beasts, and the graphics are all but indistinguishable from MH4U, but the combat has gotten a significant, for this series at least, facelift. The new wrinkles here are Hunter Arts and Styles. It keeps 4’s mounting, the ability to leap onto a monster’s back and inflict significant damage, and one of its four Hunter Styles exists just to facilitate mounting. There is also a style that is mostly the same as the old way of playing, one that gets extra Arts and one that rewards precise evasion. The Arts are mostly flashy new moves to supplement the usual array of combat techniques available to the player. While the game doesn’t really lose the deliberate pace of combat from previous games, the arts make things more flashy and video gamey. That is a terrible description, but I don’t know how else to describe it. For all the ridiculous weaponry of this series, it had an internal realism. You might be able to swing around a sword larger than your character, but you couldn’t shoot into the air like a rocket or perform a shoryuken. The Hunter Arts don’t break things, but they do push the series a little further than it had gone before.
My goal going into Generations was to not use the Hammer. I had stuck primarily to that weapon in the two previous Monster Hunter games and I hoped that changing my weapon would help freshen up the experience. The different weapons in Monster Hunter play differently enough that changing them almost makes it feel like playing a whole new game. Unfortunately for me, I really only like the version of the game that involves bashing dinosaurs in the face with a giant maul. I did try to use other weapons this time, which I think is why this game didn’t initially click for me.
First I tried the lance. I love the lance in theory; it makes me feel like my character is a straight up Medieval Knight. The lance is also slow and cumbersome and defensive. It is basically the opposite of my beloved hammer. A few fights against easy monsters quickly showed me that neither the lance, nor its sibling the gunlance, was the weapon for me. Next was the long sword, which was a suitably aggressive weapon, but it ended up feeling too fiddly. It lacks the straightforward elegance of the hammer. The next pair of weapons I tried were the ones that worked best. The trusty sword and shield, while somewhat boring, are perfectly fine weapons. They were my go to when I absolutely needed to sever a tail in previous games. They are easy to use and are very adaptable, especially with the new oils that can be applied to the sword that gives it special properties. I also got some mileage out of the Charge Blade. Honestly, I think that is the weapon I should have spent more time with, but it takes time to learn a new weapon and I was tired of wasting my time at this point.
In the end, I switched back to the Hammer and everything fell into place. That is the weapon for me. In the future I may dabble with a handful of other weapons. I like to use bowguns in multiplayer, the Hunting Horn is close enough that I really should learn it and sometimes you just need to cut off a tail. However, I don’t think I’ll ever attempt to make anything but the hammer my primary weapon going forward.
Monster Hunter Generations is just more Monster Hunter. The game’s fresher fighting isn’t really much different from what it was before and everything else in this game is intentionally a call back to another game in the series, which is a decade old at this point. If/when Generations U (called Double X in Japan since Generations was X) comes over here I may or may not pick it up, but I will definitely be right there when the inevitable Monster Hunter 5 shows up. This series is one of the few reliable joys in the current gaming landscape that doesn’t come courtesy of Nintendo.