Getting ready to hunt the monst.
E3 2017. Screen fades to black. We see a man with a gigantic sword on his back, walking through a jungle, tracking footprints and hiding in the bushes. In the distance, a dinosaur appears. For most people it was an intriguing vision, perhaps even a new IP. But for the Monster Hunter fandom, it was a dream coming true: a new monhan game in consoles.
Monster Hunter was always a conflictive saga in terms of platforms. It started as a PlayStation 2 game on 2004, with a sequel for the same console that never appeared on the West, then it reached PSP (also ported to PS Vita), Wii, Wii U and 3DS, the latter being the home for three games prior to Monster Hunter World (3 Ultimate, 4 Ultimate, and Generations).
Don’t get me wrong, the portable series on Nintendo’s handheld was the reason why many of us to got into the saga. Even if Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate’s port arrived a bit late, they started on the right foot delivering an amazing experience that was almost unthinkable for 3DS at the time. When Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate came out, everything was even better. Specifically made for 3DS (with a focus and performance improvement on 3D), the game added new weapons, monsters, a ton of content and, in my humble opinion, it remains as one of the best experiences for the whole lineup in the console to this day.
For Generations, even with less content, introducing 4 different hunting styles (each with their respective skills) and 14 weapons types was no minor achievement. Besides, the Ultimate edition releases soon for Switch, with the possibility of save file migration for those who have already spent some time (or a few hundred hours) in the handheld version.
On the other hand, the home console versions and the PSP titles had poor reception on the West since the first game, which caused the saga to have a late start, and upcoming games being delayed because of fear about that reception. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate arriving several years later (2011 – 2013 on 3DS, 2012 – 2013 on Wii U) is just one of many cases.
It’s not that they weren’t good games, but they were hard to beat, the controls and camera were confusing (in PS2 the weapon mechanics were on the right analog stick, and the camera for both PS2 and PSP was on the D-pad), the attack animations were really slow, and monster hitboxes were a little broken. Ok, they were very broken. Frustrating. Infuriatingly broken.
Of course, they started to be a little more consistent and the games more dynamic after the consecutive success on the 3DS versions, but for the hardcore fans the journey had been rough.
So, after the beautiful display of mechanics and graphics on that trailer, the question that remained unanswered was: Is it gonna be well-received? The situation was way different than 2009 (when MH3 was released) or even 2015, when MH4U was released (to this date, the most popular game of the franchise). But let’s face it: only three monsters appeared on that trailer and, other than the good ol’ Rathalos, they didn’t have the flashy and strong-coloured design that the Generations monsters showed in the last installment.
Besides they also showcased a hiding mechanic when approaching to the monster, which is entirely the opposite point of the game, and people started getting a little scared of the possible changes on fighting mechanics and design towards appealing to a wider audience.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the case.
Released on January this year, Monster Hunter World is a convergence point in the saga. Not just for the ridiculous amount of new and entertaining mechanics, or the variety of big, furious monsters, but also the immersion in each hunt, the online experience (for the sake of the truth Xbox One players had it rough at the start), the ever-increasing difficulty on the different superpowered monsters (called Tempered and Arch-Tempered) and most of all, the always-evolving content, which seems to have unlimited potential. With monsters being added over time, and new kinds of missions, collaborations, and events that the game has to offer, World does not only bring new challenges but new weapons to beat them as well, and successfully delivers the ultimate experience on the franchise.
With the PC version released on August 9th and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate coming to Switch on August 28th, it’s exciting to think on the possibilities of the future content that both platforms have to offer. Since the Xbox One and PS4 content differ sometimes in the MH World case (some collabs are from exclusive IPs, like Horizon Zero Dawn‘s), the Steam version has a wide range of possible content and events to bring. As for Generations Ultimate, the Switch game is shaping to be the best portable experience to hunt on the go, setting the ground for a new handheld generation.
Only time will tell, but it will be awesome to find out.