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An impressive collection of series history that is slightly held back by dated systems.

Monster Hunter Generations arrived in 2016 on Nintendo 3DS, compiling memorable monsters and areas from the series into one, mammoth package. Here’s what we thought at the time:

“Monster Hunter Generations hits the core tenets of what makes this series great. Great gear drives the lust for the hunt even on the small scale, but the big, spectacular fights ultimately matter the most. Generations’ tweaked combat adds just the right tools to make slaying epic boss monsters a fun activity that’s just as fun online or off. Playable companions help shake up the gathering game without taking away resources, and its fun to play as a wackier character. Generations only falters during slower moments spent on fetch quests and in wrangling through menus before the hunt.”

Two years later, the beefed-up Generations Ultimate has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. Capcom has made a habit out of releasing “Ultimate” versions of each Monster Hunter game, and this one certainly lives up to the name in terms of content. Generations Ultimate has a series-most 93 large monsters — 20 more than the original Generations — and a few of those, such as the Elder Dragon Valstrax, are entirely new to the series. And with more monsters comes more quests, including the more difficult G-Rank endgame quests.

The Old World

I’ve mostly enjoyed my 60-hour (and counting) tour through the history of the franchise pre-Monster Hunter: World, just as I did on the 3DS. However, World’s arrival has loomed large this time around, as it refined both the core gameplay and presentation of the series. It’s hard not to think about the streamlined upgrades system in World as I fumble through menu after menu comparing the armor I’m already wearing to new options I could make. It’s difficult to return to the zoned maps separated by loading screens after becoming accustomed to World’s seamless environments. I keep forgetting I won’t see any scout flies to help guide me to my prey, and I sorely miss the days of consuming potions while still moving and not having to remember to pack pickaxes for my hunts.

Generations Ultimate can feel dated after the release of World, but it’s still a pulse-racing experience in the thick of a hunt.

While it may be unfair to knock Generations Ultimate for its now-outdated presentation — after all, it released in Japan as Monster Hunter XX before World — it was impossible for me to play Generations Ultimate and view it as anything other than somewhat of a relic of a franchise that has since evolved to become bolder and better.

Fortunately, when you’re in the thick of a hunt, it’s still a pulse-racing experience of risk and reward, one that truly makes each victory feel like a hard-earned feat. Slashing away at the scale-covered exterior of the fire-breathing Rathalos is as satisfying as ever. Staring up at Gammoth, a woolly mammoth on steroids, is a sight to behold — and toppling its gigantic frame into the snow is an even grander spectacle. Watching in amazement (and fear) as the Valstrax zips into the stratosphere and screeches back to the ground like a rocket ready to explode gives Generations Ultimate a signature moment of is own. All told, it would take more than 100 hours to even see all of the monsters on display here. It’s simply brimming with content.

Although there is a lot to see in Generations Ultimate, the progression system forces you to retread the same areas and fight the same monsters over and over. Like the other entries before World, single player and multiplayer are separated from one another, and you must play solo to unlock new items, movesets, and towns. You wind up replaying hunts multiple times across each mode, which feels less than ideal when there are 93 different monsters waiting to be fought. Adding onto the tedious progression system, advancing through the ranks in each mode requires you to complete a handful of key quests, but there are no hints as to which quests in the multi-page list do the trick. You’re forced to either look up the information or play every single quest, including the boring fetch quests (some of which are required anyway).

Valstrax, who only appears in Generations Ultimate, is easily one of my favorite monsters in the series.

As always, Monster Hunter is better with friends. Reaching the grueling G-Rank, which features most of the new quests not seen in Generations, calls for the help of another hunter or three. I arrived on the airship housing G-Rank quests at around the 55 hour mark, though I mostly only played the key quests to get there. While High Rank monsters often test your skill already, even the early G-Rank versions of monsters significantly up the difficulty. Valstrax, who only appears in G-Rank, is easily one of my favorite monsters in the series. His attacks are absolutely ridiculous. His wings shoot missiles and even turn into jet engines to charge towards you.

Generations Ultimate doesn’t support in-game voice chat and doesn’t use the official Nintendo mobile voice app, so you’re forced to use a third party voice chat app to get the best experience, and that’s only an option when playing with friends you can coordinate with. You can also use a set of modifiable messages to inform your teammates of certain actions, or write custom messages on the fly. So far, I haven’t experienced any connection issues, lag, or any other problems with the multiplayer systems pre-launch, and joining parties with my Switch friends has been easy enough.

Hunting In Style

For those who didn’t play Generations on 3DS, there’s a meaningful and fun mechanical change unique to franchise: Hunter Styles and Arts. You can choose from a number of Styles that modify your attacks and give you new abilities, and picking a Style is about as important as picking a main weapon. For instance, you can go the traditional route and choose Guild Style, become a counter-attack master with Adept Style, or pick the decidedly weird Alchemy Style, which lets you conjure useful items from a barrel. My personal favorite, Aerial Style, turns your dodge into a jump, which then lets you mount monsters no matter the weapon you’re using.

Hunter Arts go hand-in-hand with Styles. They are special attacks that charge throughout a quest, tying into both your weapon and Style and capping off the retooled combat system with an exciting twist. Arts range from defensive maneuvers like an invulnerable dodge to intricate attack strings and temporary buffs, and require you to unleash them at opportune moments. Generations Ultimate adds two new Hunter Styles and new Arts for each weapon to the base game.

Monster Hunter has thrived on 3DS, but the size of its monsters has always made it feel like it belongs on the big stage.

Hunter Styles undercut the rigid play styles of each of the 14 weapons slightly, but that’s actually what I like about them. You don’t need to be a master of the Insect Glaive or a Bow guru to perform mounted attacks regularly; you have the freedom to pick your weapon while not sacrificing the cool aspects that other weapons bring to the table. Speaking of Bows and projectile weapons in general, I still found them to be mostly unplayable here. World nailed the controls of third-person shooting to make the Light Bowgun my favorite weapon, but Generations Ultimate still uses the cumbersome controls — no shooting while moving — seen in earlier games.

Even though Monster Hunter has thrived on 3DS with a handful of titles, the size of the monsters and sheer scope of the concept has always felt like it belonged on a big stage. On Switch, the visuals are crisper, though don’t expect the level of detail seen in World. This is clearly a slightly improved port that also happens to look better simply by running on stronger hardware. It is also limited to 30fps in both docked and handheld mode. Although I greatly preferred playing in docked mode with a Pro controller, it generally runs and looks the same on the go. It’s also much more comfortable to play on Switch since it drops the 3DS’s touchscreen controls and largely mirrors the control style of World.

Longtime fans of the series will be happy to hear that you can transfer your Generations 3DS save file to Generations Ultimate and pick up where you left off. But for those who fell for the franchise with World, it’s hard to say if it will hold your attention for the long haul. There’s definitely a lot to love, but the surrounding systems may deter some from sticking with this epic hunting collection.

The Verdict

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate brings the majority of the series’ monsters into one package for a lengthy and exciting hunting extravaganza. While it feels dated in some ways post-Monster Hunter: World, it’s a great farewell tour for the old style of the franchise. If you can stomach the pacing problems and obtuse menu systems, it’s a worthwhile and challenging trek through the history of Monster Hunter.


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