Hands On With Monster Hunter Generations

While some of you may have been playing the demo announced at the convention, I’ve actually been fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with the actual Monster Hunter Generations E3 demo, kind of for the second time. You see, the demo is based on the one I initially saw at Tokyo Game Show 2015 where I took on but timed-out against one of the new big bads, Glavenus (called “Dinovaldo” in Japan and the original English name used at Tokyo Game Show 2015) before eventually jumping in the test the public demo during my free time.

 

Cat of War

There were a few changes since my demo almost a year ago, the biggest being access to the cat-hunter (or “felyne“) called “Prowler Mode.” In some ways, the Prowler feels like newbie mode. Normally, your whole team can only die three times before your fail a mission. However, a Prowler can faint two times before it counts as a real death, as you have acorns to revive yourself. You can carry two at a time, and they can be refilled at your camp, but if you ignore that, it means you’ll have nine lives. Nice choice, Capcom.

You also can burrow underground to scout out the mission or just run around unmolested, but things like very loud roars will force you up. This lets you watch the action and learn the dodge-dance without risking a death for your team. Learning how to read monsters, avoiding their attacks, and finding an open opportunity to safely strike, is what the series is all about, so having the ability to be in a mission and somehow contribute is a big deal.Again, feels like it was included specifically to help new players keep up with their veteran friends.

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While Prowlers do have melee attacks (which, in both my demo and the publicly available one, feel a bit shorter than average), they also have a chargeable, mid-range boomerang attack to help keep you safe from certain death. Separate items are also included so you don’t have to “waste” your hunter’s hard earned supplies, but you also get special tools for assisting your fellow hunters. By landing attacks, you build an energy meter giving you access to explosives, group healing, and other useful tools. The Prowler also regulates its own body temperature, meaning you won’t need special consumables to deal with extreme environments like hunters do (which also means there are more supplies for your friends). Prowler Mode is a bit weaker than when you select a regular hunter and has a separate inventory, but can still be upgraded, as crafting gear for your hunter will leave you scraps specifically for Prowler mode upgrades.

I’m sure some people will enjoy soloing as the Prowler, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people specialize in it as their main, but by simplifying some of the harsher aspects of the series while toning down the power, our new little cat warrior really feels like a great introduction to the series. I may see about using it specifically to introduce new players to the series.

 

Hunter Styles and Arts

The specific effects of each style on each weapon can be found on Reddit, but the simple explanation is that Guild Style is what we’re used to playing two hunter arts, a kind of ultimate you build up. Striker Style employs three of these, and your meter charges the fastest, but you lose certain moves. I’m not the best MH player, but at least in my demo, I didn’t feel like I had a significant loss, and the special dodge I received might be useful some day (though I didn’t really experience it in my play time). In some ways, I get the feeling the simpler combat options and dodge for Striker is there to help newer players. These are pretty basic, but the two other Styles add a bit of depth to the game.

Aerial Style is limited to a single Art, but you gain the ability to jump at any moment. For those unfamiliar with the series, know that vertical gameplay has been quite limited in the series. However, I know my local MH fans here in Japan still feel this style disrupts their image of the game. For me, though, it was quite enjoyable, especially when using the hammer, a personal favorite of mine as well as series producer, Ryozo Tsujimoto. I note this because as someone who usually tanks in MMOs, I find that while the shield carrying characters look the tank part, hammers in the series also tend to be by the face, but evade while pummeling the monster’s head, slowing it and even stunning it for others who generally don’t want to be near what tends to be the most dangerous part of the monster.

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Finally, there’s Adept Style, formerly Bushido in the Japanese version. Again, you only get one Art, but by doing a last minute dodge, you gain access to an instant counter attack by pressing the right button. Again, I’m not the best at MH, so even testing this was difficult for me. Many of my dodges occurred while being charged, and my counter attacks don’t move me very far, which means they missed. Up close, if you’re a pro at dodging, it’s great I guess. You can see how everyone benefits thanks to long time fan Gaijin Hunter, who especially notes a big change for lance players, one of the main shield users. This isn’t my specialty, though, and the open appearance of the wind-up animation always made me feel exposed, so I didn’t pull off the counter attack even once, only with the more mobile weapons, like the hammer. The style really probably is best for the pros, but at least as a veteran, my picks are Aerial and Guild.

 

Changes in the series, Changes in localization

Another new addition to the series is the deviant monsters. Supposedly, these are monsters that survived previous encounters that mutate or evolve, but as per Gaijin Hunter’s video on the topic, that’s basically just a story explanation for hard mode monsters. They do, however, gain new behaviors and abilities, plus have new parts for more powerful gear.

As the game’s been out in Japan for nearly a year, there’s been plenty of time to consider changes for a western launch, but luckily not much will be changing in localization aside from some bugs, but DLC may change due to licensing issues. However, the west will be getting some exclusives to replace the lost DLC, like Fire Emblem DLC.

For the few of us that have to deal with region locking, the reason there’s a divide between Japan and other versions is because of the head start Japanese players get plus language issues. Bug fixes are supposedly an issue too, but I’d think updates could fix that, and the game has tons of pre-formed chat options which could be used as a simple communication tool as it had in Final Fantasy 11. The DLC issue is what really stands out as a hurdle that may be difficult to clear, but it feels so odd that the birthplace of the series sits so isolated from literally the rest of the world.

That brought me to my question about the two Monster Hunter MMOs. As I’ve mentioned, online gaming in Japan isn’t huge. To have two PC versions of the game in and zero for western players feels odd. Sadly, the PC games aren’t being planned for western release, but I was told that at least the most recent MMO is more aimed at the Chinese market and that’s the reason we’re not seeing it. Still, localization is part of the industry, and it confuses me how there could be a market available that’s not being tapped unless Capcom is scared that somehow they might have similar issues faced by RaderZ.

Until then, we’ll just have to wait for the newest 3DS game releasing July 15, 2016.

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