Confession time: I haven't played a Monster Hunter
game before Generations
. As a result, this review will definitely be from the perspective of a new player who hasn't been watching the series evolve over the years.
Monster Hunter Generations doesn't have much of a story, and what attempt at a story there is seems to only be an excuse to send you out in the wild to kill or trap monsters. I guess that's the life of a professional monster hunter, though. The good news is, you get to keep most of the spoils of your kills. Sure the NPC that has sent you out on the quest might be looking for something in particular, but the rest of the loot is yours.
While these random drops can be a wide variety of things, what you, as a monster hunter, really want are the various materials necessary to upgrade your weapons and armor to make your character stronger. Of course, as a stronger hunter, you gain access to tougher quests, but tougher quests yield more valuable loot to make your equipment even stronger. The game quickly falls into this cycle, and while there are times when it can get a bit repetitive, those wanting to work their way up to the most bad-ass armor will find enough variety in the quests to keep the game from feeling like too much of a grind.
There isn't a lot of story to drive your character from battle to battle, but what it has is an incredible number of quests. Upon unlocking the next tier of missions, the player is practically flooded by NPCs wanting your hero to go out into the world and perform various tasks. Some of these are required in order to get to the next level and harder missions, but those looking to milk every fight out of Monster Hunter Generations will have a lot of missions to work through before considering the game complete.
The Monster Hunter series takes an unusual approach to the action-RPG genre. Specifically, your character never really grows. Instead, it's the weapons, armor and skills that can be associated with the character that makes it a stronger hunter. This feels very odd to me, but there are some advantages to this approach. For instance, since you never apply points to a particular skill or weapon, you don't have to worry about your character getting locked into a specialty. It also means that you can essentially dress for the occasion and use the best weapons and skills for the quest you choose to tackle, but more on that later.
Generations adds several new features to the Monster Hunter series, two of these are Hunting Styles and Hunter Arts. The former changes your hunter's overall attack strategy, while the latter gives you special feats that can really help in a pinch, but have cool down times to help balance out their powerful nature.
There are four Hunting Styles: Guild, Striker, Aerial and Adept. Guild apparently lets the character act similar to how the previous games played. Striker Style lets you assign more Hunter Arts than the others and lets those of us with less experience in the game get away with less technical skills. Aerial Style lets the hunter perform acrobatic feats to deal more damage, while Adept is all about mastering the timing of your moves in order to perform counterattacks. Each Style not only gives the hunter some different abilities, but it also allows for subtle changes in how each weapon is used, which just adds a massive amount of depth to finding the best Style/weapon combination for your quest.
As stated above, Hunter Arts are one-off moves that you use during combat that can either get you out of a tight situation or perform a devastating attack. Interestingly enough, Arts can either be generic enough that you can equip them regardless of the rest of your loadout, or specific to weapons, once again adding a new dimension to your character's fighting style.
Another new feature found in Monster Hunter Generations is that Palicoes aren't just NPCs anymore. There are special quests that let you take control of these catlike creatures. While they don't have quite the robust customization that human characters do, there is still a good bit of depth and variety when it comes to armoring and fighting as one of these creatures.
Generations offers both single player and multiplayer experiences. When you want to team up with other players, you either post a quest that you want others to join, or you join one that someone else has already set up. These quests have a lot of configuration options that range from required skill level to what the players are supposed to do once on the quest. The game also seems to handle what to do when there isn't a full four-person team available to play. If there aren't enough human players, then those participating can call upon their Palico companions to join in the fight. How many Palicoes per player is determined by the number of humans joining the quest.