by Jed Pressgrove
Hunting monsters is easy in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. Hunting distinct quests is another matter entirely in this game of cookie-cutter experiences.
When you first start Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, you don’t even necessarily hunt. To unlock more stuff to do, you must complete challenges in which you must gather a certain number of things, such as mushrooms or butterflies, before 50 minutes elapse, though it’s unlikely you’ll need more than a few minutes for any of these fetch quests. The work is tedious all the same, as you must experience a bureaucratic process several times in a row: talk to the village quest-giver, select a mission from a list, run out of the village to start the mission, explore segments of a map while triggering loading screen after loading screen, find the required number of items, go back to your initial starting point to deposit the items in a box, and wait for the game to give you its dramatic “Quest Complete” stamp. A revised title like Monster Hunter and Item Gatherer Generations Ultimate might not roll off the tongue, but developer Capcom should learn how to market its repetitive nonsense a little better.
The game eventually offers more opportunities to hunt. “Hunting” in this context means strolling from one part of the map to the next until you see the monster(s) you’re supposed to kill. Conveniently, your prey is always ready to fight; only a bigger type of monster will try to escape after you’ve flogged it a good bit, but you can usually find it immediately after it skedaddles. A wounded beast often runs to another obvious point on the map, and you simply follow it until a loading screen appears. Amusingly, after the loading screen went away in these situations, I frequently found myself in front of the limping creature, as if I were the one who hurried off the screen first.
There are multiple villages in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate that need your services. Unfortunately, almost all of them require you to extinguish what is best described as idiotic velociraptor wannabes. These reptiles will charge in the wrong direction and generally fail to take advantage of their spatial positioning. Interestingly, you will often wipe out the same number of these poor bastards even when you’re on a supposedly different quest at another village.
The other monsters in the game aren’t that clever, either. Sure, there are exceptions, such as the ones that can hide under sand and pop out when they feel like it. But in general, you’ll use the same combat tactics every time, and provided that you keep upgrading your weapons and armor, eating meals before hunts, and using various stat-boosting consumables, you’ll keep doing fine.
Deceptively complex activity management and a lighthearted tone are why the Monster Hunter series has been a hit. In line with this formula, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (1) gives players enough busywork so that they feel like they’re somewhat experiencing the intricacies of a hunt; (2) censors certain off-putting parts of the process (when you carve up an animal, you see no blood or mutilation); and (3) ignores the high level of care that goes into actual wildlife management (one character in the game flippantly says, “Time to put ’em on the endangered list”). But even if you’re ready to fully buy into the game’s neutered, childish version of hunting, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate takes so long to get going and repeats itself so much that your standards for fun would have to be quite low to keep playing.