It may have taken a little over a decade, but after three 3DS releases on our side of the globe, Monster Hunter is finally a modest hit in America. (Or so these recent sales numbers would have us believe.)
Monster Hunter might not have the clout it possessed around the turn of the last decade, back when it influenced everything from Metal Gear to Dragon Quest, but this beloved series remains an extremely reliable source of income for Capcom. Even if they'll forever be complex, intimidating experiences, each new Monster Hunter game sands down some formerly unaddressed rough corners, ironing out unnecessary annoyances without adulterating the reasons why fans show up in the first place. And even though the newest game in the series, Monster Hunter Generations, makes for the most approachable Monster Hunter to date—as my review indicates—spending the last two months with it has revealed the few major issues Capcom still needs to address.
Ideally, menus in a video game should be absolutely straightforward—not something you have to learn. That's definitely not the case with Monster Hunter Generations, which may be a 2016 game, but has the interface of something right out of 2002. As someone who's devoted roughly 300-plus hours to the series at this point, I'm pretty inured to Monster Hunter's dense menus, but even this late in the game, I'm finding myself occasionally having to stop and think about which page of which menu has the thing I want to do buried within it.
It certainly doesn't help that Monster Hunter's menu functionality is arbitrarily scattered throughout various NPCs and objects in the hub. You want to change your Hunter Arts and fighting Style? Well, you obviously don't talk to the guy in charge of telling you about all of this stuff—you instead have to access the menu associated with your treasure chest back in your home. And some strange and seemingly arbitrary restrictions also do a great job of compounding the menu problem: If you're in a multiplayer hub and want to change your gear (a common act in Monster Hunter), you essentially have to leave your party behind as you enter a separate area on the map just to suit up. From the second I started playing Monster Hunter, I always wondered why you couldn't just access your entire wardrobe just by accessing the start button menu. It may not be entirely realistic, but what in Monster Hunter is?
Single-Player/Multiplayer Quest Overlap
Monster Hunter features two quest-givers in both its single-player and multiplayer hubs, though the dozens upon dozens of missions these folks will send you on aren't completely unique. To make things even more confusing, you can access and complete these multiplayer quests without going online, or joining up with friends—they're completely doable solo. For the sake of removing needless complications from the experience, I'd love to see future games just roll with one hub that features a generous pool of both single and multiplayer quests, rather than including an additional hub with functionality nearly identical to one that already exists. As it stands, the current setup just adds extra confusion for newcomers.
Lack of Border Indicators During Hunts
If you've played Monster Hunter before, this issue probably affects you three to four times per mission (at the very least). Let's say you're out there on a hunt, when a powerful attack from a monster sends you hurtling into the next zone. Or maybe you're just maneuvering around a monster when you accidentally cross that invisible barrier, meaning you'll have to sit through two annoying (albeit incredibly brief) loading screens to get back into the fight again. It's an incredibly grating problem, to say the least, but one that could easily be solved if each zone clearly showed where the "loading threshold"—for lack of a better term—begins. Seeing as the Chinese MMO version of Monster Hunter does exactly this, it's something Capcom clearly has the capability of adding to the main series.
Limited Prowler Mode Gameplay
Admittedly, in preparation for my Generations review, I didn't have enough time to explore Prowler Mode—in which you play a kitty instead of a human—to its full extent. My initial impression was that it was simple "easy mode," but, months later, I now see at as much more than that. Simply put, it's pretty fun to play as a Palico, though fighting as them isn't all that interesting—even if their weapons certainly can be. In the future, I'd love to see Capcom expend on this mode to make it much more than the situationally useful thing it already is. Based on the current state of the Internet, cat popularity has yet to wane, so Monster Hunter would be smart to take advantage of this phenomenon before they're supplanted by capybaras or baby sloths or something.