Perhaps you’ve seen some people on campus playing on their handheld 3DS-es and what you saw on the screen didn’t look like Pokemon. Chances are, it was Monster Hunter Generations instead.
What is Monster Hunter?
Monster Hunter is a series of video games developed and published by Capcom in Japan. The first in the series came to the Playstation 2 way back in 2004 and has since taken off big time, releasing a string of sequels that have jumped from platform to platform; from the Playstation 2 to the Wii, then to the Playstation Portable, the Playstation 3, PC and most recently, on Nintendo’s handheld, the 3DS. The series has always done well commercially, with the latest game: Monster Hunter Generations (which is a localised port of Monster Hunter X) selling above 3 million copies, that’s a lot of dead monsters!
Okay… so what *is* Monster Hunter?
Well, simply put, it’s a game where you go out and beat up a monster with your over-the-top weapons and cat-like assistants, and then use the parts of the monsters to go beat up the monster’s cousin… or something to that effect. In practice this makes the gameplay loop something like this:
Guide to Monster Hunter Gameplay:
- Choose equipment (weapons, armour, cat friends)
- Pick up a quest from the hub (Kill monster A, Capture Monster B, Gather x materials, etc.)
- Eat some food (Buffs for the mission)
- Choose items (Consumables like bombs, traps, potions)
- Go Hunt that sonofabitch.
- Complete or fail the mission
- Make stuff from resources gained
- Rinse and repeat
Wow, that sounds rather mundane when I spell it out like this doesn’t it, well, luckily for us Monster Hunter players, it’s far more exciting than all that. The game is basically an action-RPG after all, but instead of experience points to level up, you only really level up your equipment, and of course…
Yeah, so the real reason why people love these games so much is mostly attributed to their difficulty. When it comes down to the wire, what separates a dead monster from a dead hunter is the players’ skill at the game. The game’s monsters come in 2 varieties, Small or Large. Small monsters are the pipsqueaks that hang around the environment and aren’t usually your targets, because the game’s usual targets are the Large ones, and each and every one is a boss fight if we compared them to other action games. That’s why player skill is so vital, it extends far beyond just how good you are at pressing the right buttons at the right time, but also to the various mechanics on display within the games. For example, veteran Hunters would be well aware that a Rathalos (the flagship monster of the first game, a big red wyvern thing that shoots fireballs), likes to attack you from the air by flying around, and that you can throw a flash bomb right at its face while its in midair and it’ll tumble down to the ground, incapacitated for a short while for you to wail on the poor, blind thing.
A Lance-Hunter bracing for a Rathalos charge.
But in all seriousness, the game is brutally difficult for newcomers, because of the sheer complexity of the mechanics of these titles, coupled with the nearly universally terrible in-game tutorials, Capcom may make good games, but god help us they can’t teach you how to play them. Fortunately for us, the Internet is here to save the day and they are a plethora a useful resources online for new and old hunters alike to better their game. But for all the complexity of the games, there really is a lot of deep gameplay and decision making to be had, catering to all sorts of different playstyles.
For instance, did you know that in the latest game, Generations, every hunter has the option of using one or more of 14 different weapons, and even play as a cat buddy themselves. With each and every one playing completely differently, with their own movesets and special characteristics.
Let’s take a close look at them shall we?
ArcticLyrae’s Monster Hunter Weapon Guide for the Initiated
Basically…big swords that hit real hard. This weapon is relatively slow relative to the other options, but each and every hit really counts as the weapon’s swings can be charged for more damage. A good GS player relies on clever positioning and timing to topple the largest of monsters.
Basically…mega katanas. With good range and swift strikes, this weapon keeps up the pressure against the monster. The weapon becomes stronger over the fight’s duration as it tastes the blood of the monster you fight and becomes a demonic force to reckon with.
Sword & Shield
Basically… a sword and board. The classic foot-soldier loadout, relying on manoeuvrability and rapid strikes, coupled with the ability to coat the blades with oils that provide special effects, such as paralysing the monster. Simple, but effective.
Basically… 2 Fast 2 Furious: the weapon. Extremely rapid successive strikes is the name of the game. By sacrificing stamina, DB hunters can hit EVEN FASTER and instead of rolling around to dodge, dash everywhere, slowing building up a gauge that allows them to remain doing so without the stamina loss. 1000 deadly strikes to fell the beasts.
Basically… brain-surgery warhammer. Relying on high impact blows, Hammer hunters can charge their swings while moving to get into position to let loose a massive strike. Blows to the head can stack up and eventually KO a monster outright, incapacitating them for a time. If you thought Mario had permanent head injury, wait till you see the monsters who fought a Hammer user.
Basically… listen to the song of my people. Massive flutes that resemble warhammers that can both be used as blunt weapons as well as instruments that can play songs to buff the user and teammates. The most creative weapons in the game, oversized guitars, keyboards, flutes, bells, and other kinds of instruments. Generally HH Hunters play support, but hold their own regardless. Behold the power of music.
Basically… stabby-stabby. Poke, poke then poke some more with a mighty lance. Wielding the sturdiest shield of any weapon, this is the defensive class of Monster Hunter. While most hunters flee from the massive attacks of the monsters, the Lance user stands his/her ground.
Basically… a lance, with a cannon at the end. Take stabby-stabby to the next level with explosions, the Gunlance hunter can use a close-range cannon to add insult to injury after each strike. Gunlances are also capable of a long-cooldown Wyvern-Fire cannonblast that will demolish any monster that it hits. Let’s show those fire-breathers how it’s done.
Basically… a sword that can transform into an axe. This versatile weapon can morph to suit the situation, and the best SA hunters do it in the midst of battle. Choosing between the axe or the sword form of the weapon allows hunters to best any challenge they face. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers indeed.
Basically… a pointy-pole and a bug. The IG hunters can call upon their Kinsect buddy to fight on their behalf, collecting extracts from the monsters they fight to buff their masters. With extremely swift movements and strikes, and the ability to vault-jump, the IG is the king of the skies. Take back the skies from the monsters!
Basically… a sword & shield that can combine into a greataxe. Yeah it may sound similar to the Switch Axe, but trust me, it’s not. CB Hunters charge up phials of blood from monsters as they fight and they can release those though their morphing weapon to create mighty explosions. The king of counters, counterattacking monsters with a parry of their shield.
Basically… a sub-machine gun. Yeah Monster Hunter has ranged weapons too, LBG Hunters move rapidly and take pot-shots at monsters from middle to long range, utilising various different types of ammo in their arsenal for different scenarios. What better way to beat monsters than by filling them with holes.
- Heavy Bowgun
Basically… a walking flak-cannon. The big brother to the Light Bowgun, these weapons are much heavier and encumber their users, but every shot counts. When in the clear, HBG Hunters can temporarily encamp and let loose a barrage of shots. Gunning down monsters never felt so rewarding.
Basically… Robin Hood the anime. Charging their arrow shots to fire off different shot patterns, from volleys of arrows to piercing ones, Bow Hunters coat their arrows to gain special effects and keep up the aggression against the foes they face by playing elusively. Our arrows will blot out the sun.
The Monsters of Monster Hunter
Finally, if all of this hasn’t sold you on the idea of Monster Hunter, let’s not forget the stars of the show here: The monsters themselves! At this point in time, there are easily over a 100 Large Monsters (a.k.a. the boss monsters, the goal of most missions), with every new game they come and go, mostly for variety’s sake, but Monster Hunter Generations is a celebration of the best of Monster Hunter as a series, and brings together the largest repertoire of monsters of any Monster Hunter game, with favourites from all the previous titles and some additional ones to boot. They even introduced special variants of some Large Monsters which are extremely dangerous and serve as the endgame challenges for players.
A selection of various monsters from the Monster Hunter games.
Oh, and don’t worry, the monster variety is immense, for every dragon-like monster out there, you have a bear, a giant bunny, a mammoth, a bat-panther, an excavator in monster form, a raptor, a chameleon, a sand shark, an owl, a chimpanzee-aardvark and sooo many more!
So the next time you see someone playing Monster Hunter, do me favour and ask what weapons they play and how the hunt for Narga ‘Orbs’ and Rathalos ‘Rubies’ is going,. Godspeed and bless those poor bastards.
Next week on “The HotSeat”: “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask… or Why I’m scared of looking at the sky.”
“ArcticLyrae is a 3rd-year Monash University Malaysia undergraduate with great enthusiasm for all things related to gaming and its many forms. He is the Game Master of Monash Gaming Society and writes articles for Radio Monash Malaysia covering various gaming-related discussions in his weekly section, The HotSeat.”