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Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on Switch is the Polar Opposite of Monster Hunter: World

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate finally clicked for me during a Saturday afternoon session in a Berkeley pizzeria. With me was USG alum Bob Mackey, who patiently guided me through a pair of hunts and explained some of the many differences between Generations and the newer Monster Hunter: World ahead of our forthcoming review.

Earlier in the week, I had picked up a code for Generations Ultimate with the hope that I would finally be able to appreciate an old-school Monster Hunter game. Instead, the old frustration began to creep in. Why did the weapons feel so slow? What were all the unfamiliar shops for? How was I supposed to track the individual monsters?

In many respects, Generations Ultimate is the exact opposite of Monster Hunter: World. Where MHW is intended to be an accessible entry for beginners, Generations Ultimate is effectively an expansion pack. One of its key features is the ability to transfer save data from the 3DS version. It's a tribute to old-school Monster Hunter, replete with old favorite monsters and familiar levels.

Like so many other people, I am coming to Generations Ultimate on Switch from World, where I finally came to appreciate the series for the first time. My positive experience with Monster Hunter: World—it's my current Game of the Year—filled me with hope for the Switch version, even knowing that it lacked many of the conveniences found in the newer game. Instead, I found myself lost and confused as I was dumped straight into the main village with no introduction to Generation's myriad differences.

Everything is different in Generations Ultimate. There's no elaborate firefly tracking system like the one in Monster Hunter: World. Instead, you wander until you find your quarry, then tag it with a paintball. Critical resources like whetstones are finite. There's no handler or tent in your camp. Online play doesn't mesh directly with solo missions, nor does it seamlessly scale up when adding in new hunters.

Seeing all the differences made me finally appreciate Bob's awe when playing Monster Hunter: World for the first time. I intellectually understood the excitement over seeing irritating mechanics streamlined away—I am a Pokemon fan, after all—but seeing the difference for myself has really been eye-opening. If anything, it's given me an even greater appreciation for the comprehensive overhaul the series received in its translation to the PS4, Xbox One, and most recently, PC.

All of this has conspired to make it difficult for me to go back to Generations Ultimate, enticing as it is to play on Switch. And I suspect I won't be alone in that sentiment. I'm guessing more than a few Monster Hunter: World converts will pick up Generations Ultimate, struggle with the regressive mechanics and outdated graphics, and drop it just as quickly.

But that doesn't mean Generations Ultimate deserves to be immediately kicked to the curb. There's a reason that this series has enjoyed so much popularity over the years, even without the improvements found in World.

For one, playing locally with a friend really is massive. Monster Hunter famously drove the popularity of the PSP in Japan, and with Generations Ultimate, I can certainly see why. As much as I enjoyed donning my headset to play with friends in World, it can't replace the simple pleasure of real-life company. Once I had Bob to guide me, I found many of my frustrations beginning to melt away (it helped that I dumped the cumbersome Great Sword for my old friend from Monster Hunter: World, the Long Sword).

With my feet planted more firmly on the ground, Generations Ultimate's relative strengths began to show themselves. Being an expansion pack, it boasts a staggering monster list—some 93 in all. That's roughly 60 more than Monster Hunter: World, which has occasionally struggled with repetitive monster encounters.

You can also make the argument that Generations Ultimate is deeper than World thanks to its Hunting Styles—advanced mechanics that let you fine-tune your build and approach to hunting. They allow you to, for example, dodge monster attacks and punish heavily (Adept Style), or use arts to more easily mount beasts (Aerial Style). For veterans, it offers a bit more nuance than the purposely streamline Monster Hunter: World.

Given time, even its weaknesses started to feel less significant. I was initially put off by the graphics, which mostly use existing assets from the 3DS version and look inferior when blown up on an HD television. But once I switched to handheld, I was really impressed by the details found in monsters like the Tetsucabra.

The upshot of all this, I think, is that Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is best enjoyed in handheld mode. In that respect, it's very much a throwback to the days when every third Japanese businessperson was carrying a PSP. It's fine on TV, but the novelty of being able to join a hunt over some beers with friends shouldn't be overestimated.

Playing Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, I get the sense I'm witnessing the end of an era. The overwhelming international success of Monster Hunter: World—it's the best-selling Capcom game ever—simply can't be ignored. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is likely to the last time we see numbered regions or finite whetstones.

I wasn't around for that period, so it's hard for me to mourn it too much. I'm mostly hoping that Generations Ultimate paves the way for a follow-up that is optimized for Switch. But I've played enough to be able to appreciate what it has to offer for the old guard.

It feels like a coda to the days when Monster Hunter was a hardcore cult favorite in the U.S.—the days when entries like Monster Hunter 3 passed largely unnoticed. From now on, the series will be geared toward mainstream fans weaned on Monster Hunter: World. But as one final compilation of all the franchise's greatest hits, it's hard not to have some love for the old-school vibes of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, even for relative newcomers like myself. In that sense, it's a solid follow-up in what is rapidily becoming a transformative year for ther series.

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Comments 23

  • Avatar for jihon83 #1 jihon83 A month ago
    Monster Hunter: World is best enjoyed on a handheld? It sounds like someone's heart is straying from Generations Ultimate, mid article. Poor MHUG, er, MHGU... ;_;
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #2 Kat.Bailey A month ago
  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #3 Kat.Bailey A month ago
    Deleted last month by Kat.Bailey
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  • Avatar for acrowatz #4 acrowatz A month ago
    I really hope they do a Mix of the streamlined World (no more maps separated by loading screens) and maintain the depth (annoyances) of the handheld games in the subsequent Switch releases. In the mean time I shall enjoy Generations Ultimate at a bar with friends like the lord intended.
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #5 jihon83 A month ago
    @Kat.Bailey You're welcome, though I just took it as a sign of where your Monster Hunting loyalties lay.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #6 Kat.Bailey A month ago
    @acrowatz Finite whetstones isn't depth =)
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  • Avatar for charlesbradley81 #7 charlesbradley81 A month ago
    From the point of view of a long time MH fan I have no interest in MHW. I never asked for these so called quality of life improvements and personally consider it a spin off not a main line MH game. Like a training wheels version meant to be a gateway drug into "real MH" games. To be fair if you're using all the whet stones you're given for free in MHGU you're doing something very wrong lol. They are not really finite as you can easily buy more than could ever use and even if you forget them you can find them in the mission. It is interesting to see your point of view coming from MHW first thanks for writing this!
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  • Avatar for pwnywilliamlasalle92 #8 pwnywilliamlasalle92 A month ago
    See I am a veteran and absolutly loved monster hunter tri which was my first mh game. After that I played mh3rd on both psp and the hd remaster on ps3 and then monster hunter 3 ultimate came out and I loved that game alot ! Mh4U was very nice but id did bring alot of changes like mounting monsters , insect glaive , charge blade no more flat terrain maps. And id go back to the old school one after trying world. World is indeed amazing but the pc port is seriously badly optimized at the moment. And there is a big lack of monsters. What world did was add alot of quality of life component to the game which was absolutly awsome. Scoutflies , fast travel , eat at camps. But there a few features they should add for the pc players like a hotbar for keyboard and mouse users such as myself. Fix the focus camera. A way to see who are the players in the session like other monster hunters. Fix their game so it doesnt use so much CPU usage. When fighting kashala doara I was having 10 fps in the final area because of his tornados and ive got a pretty powerful pc. I do think that mhw is the easiest monster hunter to date. And the one people will love the most. But they should add atleast another 30 monsters to keep the game alive. Maybe add g-rank ? And where is Alatreon ? e.e I miss the old school monster hunter because mainly of the zones. That allowed for a smooth gameplay experience compared to mhw where its all laggy af.
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  • Avatar for soy_ #9 soy_ A month ago
    Deleted last month by soy_
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  • Avatar for soy_ #10 soy_ A month ago
    @charlesbradley81 i played more than enough monster hunter to know the second most popular mantra after "don't get hit & hit it till it dies", which is "with every new iterations of monster hunter, there will be dissatisfied veterans".

    And i'm not even accusing these guys of anything. Most of the times, they are comrades. Good people who i spend thousands of hours hunting stuff together. Good hunters who do amazing stuff, showed amazing skills and knowledge. But i guess, monster hunter just run out on them...

    How many good hunters retired when Tri came out? That game has the god awful underwater hunts, the least monster rosters ever, not to mention the jump from sony platform to nintendo's.
    MH4 retired good amount of hunters, too. It was the first time a monster hunter main title released exclusively on a handheld. A lot of console-exclusive hunters simply chose to not accept it and peacefully hang their weapons.

    Most of the times, these guys will vent out on mh forums, explaining why "the new mh" is bad. And i don't think they're wrong, either. Yes, underwater battle is pretty awful, yes simplifying mechanics isn't fair for veterans, etc. But i's just a matter of willingness to walk on that new path... If you don't want to do it, then don't.

    I always imagine these hunters hung up their pro controllers or circle pad pros, then live peacefully in a hut deep inside some woods. Leaving epic stories about how he and his team took down kushala daora, or when he solo adrenaline a deviljho in the arena.
    I believe that every hunter have rights to retire in peace. Let his stories be told to the younger hunters who he taught when they were rookies. Monster hunter will always get easier, more mainstream, have less monsters, less weapon, too many monsters, too many weapons, have a shitty uw battles, or got sold 7 million copies to goddamn kids who doesn't know what terror that's called rajang is.

    Did monster hunter has run out on you, my friend...? If so, i will see you one day in that cottage deep inside the woods, with all of the other old hunters who retired in various points of monhun's journey through the years. But i think i still have a fight in me to continue hunting for a little bit more. You go on ahead, my friend :) Edited last month by soy_
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  • Avatar for oboagboghidi81 #11 oboagboghidi81 A month ago
    @Kat.Bailey whetstones can be used as a part of your strategy. Monsters in the same zone can hear a whestone anination and that can trigger them to charge.

    Case in point, in the MHGU demo I snuck up behind a barioth, laid down a pitfall trap while he was eating some manmoth and used the sound of my whetstone animation to get his attention. He turned around and ran in to my trap, leaving himself completely open to heavy swing.
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  • Avatar for Rastos #12 Rastos A month ago
    I was excited for it but unfortunately the demo(only tried one monster so far) has convinced me to wait on a buy if I buy it at all.

    I've always wanted to get into the series but the small world, with smaller areas cut up by load screens was a real turn off..
    I was hoping after learning what the series was about with MH:W and loving it I would be able to get into this port.. unfortunately the world felt barren and in my first fight I dodged my way into the next screen and had to deal with two loading screens to get back to it.

    It's a silly thing to hold against a game with so much content that I'm sure I'll overall enjoy but there's just so much to play right now, and as someone with every system there's lots coming out soon.

    Part of me wants to buy it so it shows Capcom there's a market for a new MH game for switch, but I'm sure the hardcore fans will do that without my purchase :p
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #13 Kat.Bailey A month ago
    @oboagboghidi81 Sounds very cool. I don't think making the whetstones finite particularly affects that.
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  • Avatar for héctorlópez95 #14 héctorlópez95 A month ago
    Let me counter/agree with a few of your points.

    -search for monster: yes you have to look for it, there are ways around it tho (an item that show it on the map)

    -finite whetstones: believe me, they will never run out.

    Meshing of online and solo play: they are totally separate and this is a good thing imo. When I go online I just straight go look for a hub with rotating monsters or the monster I want and the process is seamless, while local play was the stuff back in the psp days, even today mh4u has an active online community.

    End of an era: hell no, the second team can work on classic mh while the main team works on world ultimate. The classic fits perfectly on Nintendo (don't expect world on the switch) while the new experience is better for PS4/pc.

    I played and love world but I still prefer my kinda clulnky , eccentric but very loving classic mh. The colors and huge variety of the weapons and armors, the variety of monsters, fashion hunting in mhgu is gonna be HUGE.
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  • Avatar for Kirby-Queen #15 Kirby-Queen A month ago
    I've only ever played classic MH. I started at MH Unite on PSP. I played a bit of World and thought it was fine but I kind of missed doing my own management and crafting. I also didn't care much for wondering around and doing tracking and sneaking in an open world map. I did prefer just walking on over to w/e area of the map and finding the monster, getting straight to the fight. I'm super excited for g-rank missions, WAY more customization options, and a new TRANMOG FEATURE. YA FASHION HUNTING HERE I COME. I'm super hyped for MHGU. It's more my style in terms of difficulty, what I'm used to, and options. MHWorld is great for people getting into the series though. Just haven't really gotten into it as I thought I would.
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  • Avatar for entrancedtub #16 entrancedtub A month ago
    Surprised someone that has started with monster hunter world can dertermine what a good monster hunter game is and decide what they think depth is. US gamer definitely loses credibility when they make articles like this. Worlds was a great game sure, but you barely have the knowledge or experience in monster hunter games to determine what an end of an era is or will be.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #17 Number1Laing A month ago
    @héctorlópez95 Considering World is literally Capcom's best selling game ever, I really think any future MH game is going to be more like World than this. That was Kat's point and it's a good one.

    Even a future MH5 on Switch can do things like seamless maps, infinite whetstones, scoutflies, etc. We're not talking about PSPs with 32 megs of RAM anymore.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #18 Kat.Bailey A month ago
    @entrancedtub I don't need to have played a decade of Monster Hunter to know what good depth looks like.
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  • Avatar for moochan #19 moochan A month ago
    Generations wasn't really a game I personally liked for some reason (think I was just getting tired of playing Monster Hunter on 3DS after 3U and 4U) but I agree it was them almost celebrating an end of an era for Monster Hunter. Since Generations is pretty much "Monster Hunter Greatest Hits" with a lot of the fun monsters you fought in the different games. While there's not a lot I would ask to come back (eating at camp after forgetting to eat at home is a godsend) it was a nice time playing them back on 3DS with my friend and random people online.
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  • Avatar for andrewwilliams93 #20 andrewwilliams93 A month ago
    Good article overall, especially considering you're fairly new to the MH series(as stated). I'm not trying to argue with you per say, I just want to present an alternative view to some of the things you mentioned.

    I would say that what you seem to consider gameplay cons, most vets would just consider the trials of learning Monster Hunter. Trials that prove you put in the time, work, and general effort. That make you a Monster Hunter.

    For instance, monsters always spawn in the same spot on each individual mission. You don't need to wander to find a monster once you learn where this happens. This is one small example of many things you learn as you get deeper into the games. Alternatively, there are skills available that allow you to see where a monster is or even what state it is in right from the start of a hunt. You just have to work to get them. (A whole different kind of trial)

    At some point everyone has made the mistake of forgetting to refill a key item (ex:whetstones, or usually in my case Cool Drinks) before starting a hunt - you then have a choice - do I gut it out and challenge myself? Or simply abandon and restart the mission after refilling the item? This barely affects anything unless you're quite stubborn like me. :)

    The beauty of MH games is that they are extremely complex, and while there is skill involved, game knowledge also makes you a very effective hunter. In fact, I think most vets would agree it's actually much more important.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is - the "old" style of MH shapes and molds you into the Hunter by teaching you through your mistakes, while MH:Worlds basically does the hunting for you leaving you to worry only about the combat. I think that's what a lot of fans appreciate about the original style. And why its probably not truly going anywhere.

    MH has a very strong history of releasing games in series that alternate between newbie friendly and hardcore vet pleasers. MH:Worlds was definitely the former. They also have a history of making games for portables, even while developing for systems at the same time.
    It would not be shocking to me if the next "Worlds" was more difficult and complex.

    Hopefully that all made sense...

    Have a good day and I hope you continue to play MHGU!

    There are many wonderful resources to help guide your way including the MH wiki, Athenas Armor Set Search (assuming it's still being developed), and Kiranico.com, and of course friendly online hunters willing to show you the ropes like your friend Bob.

    "Oh man! I forgot to bring my weapon!" - me. XD
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  • Avatar for jeffpackmann71 #21 jeffpackmann71 A month ago
    @acrowatz nope, its MHXX, already came out in japan. Its a traditional monster hunter game, if you played MHG on 3ds its very similar, only thing is this will have better graphics cause its on switch.
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  • Avatar for terryestep72 #22 terryestep72 A month ago
    One tip to make finding the monster easier: If you see a balloon platform in the sky, wave to the spotters and they'll flash the location of the monster on the map.
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  • Avatar for acrowatz #23 acrowatz A month ago
    @jeffpackmann71 that is why I said "Subsequent Switch releases". I played the demo when it came out a year ago.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #24 donkeyintheforest A month ago
    I would've thought the polar opposite of MHW would be Monster Preservation Advocacy, establishing monster sanctuaries, and the development of vegetarian alternatives, but this will do haha.
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  • Avatar for Kamiyouni #25 Kamiyouni A month ago
    The finite whetstones ordeal is a matter of opportunity cost. In World, you never have to worry about inventory. The sense of having to manage inventory promotes item management skills. Having a good item set and knowing when to us an item when can very satisfiying when peoperly executed. Albeit, most hunters use less than 5whets a hunt, it still stands that it takes a piece of your inventory.
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