It may not be World, but Generations feels like a fitting substitute for the Switch in absence of the franchise's most recent smash hit. It compiles some of the Monster Hunter's most iconic beasts and provides an extensive look into the series' history ahead of its most recent evolution. Ultimate is a remastered version of the Japan-only Generations XX and features 20 exclusive new monsters, two new hunting styles, and all-new G-rank quests. It finally fills the void for a Monster Hunter entry on the Switch and its one we were excited to jump into in both docked and handheld mode.
If you have only played World prior to Ultimate then you are in for quite a shock. There's no seamless open world here or helpful tools such as scout flies and damage counters to make hunts that more accessible. Things are a lot more cryptic too and you'll likely find yourself combing the internet for a guide just to find out what key quests you need to undertake. There's certainly a greater challenge present and whether this is a positive is purely subjective but it shouldn't deter those making the crossover. We view Generations as a bookmark to the end of an era for the series before major change was ushered in with World and if you view things through the same lense then we are sure you'll have a great time with Generations.
Besides the obvious omissions made from the most recent outing, Generations is very much your standard Monster Hunter affair. You'll undertake quests to slay may distinctive saw-toothed beasts, experiment with a plethora of different weapons and hunting styles and grind relentlessly for incremental upgrades. Its a loop that's addictive despite its drawn-out nature and we loved detaching the parts of our prey to shape the tools to become a more adept hunter. Outside of this constant loop there's also gathering and capture quests, close-quarter arena duels and special outings where you'll play as your feline Palico companion. All in all, there's around 100 hours of content which will give you plenty to whittle away at until the next major Monster Hunter release.
Feeling like a jumbo-sized school reunion of sorts, Generations features 93 behemoths many of which have made an appearance in prior entries. Popular beasties like Ratholos and Gypceros are in attendance as well as well as some brand new faces that work to pack out the already stellar roster. We have to give a shout out to the skeleton armourer elder dragon Nakarkos (great name) and Malfestion a butterfly and owl hybrid that emits sleep-inducing beams from its wings. The line-up of monsters here is the most extensive (62 more than World to put that in perspective) which gives you more customising capabilities from their drops and makes grinding much less of a chore.
Those who have bought the 3DS version previously may be wondering what the difference is here and the answer is well, a lot. Ultimate features 20 additional monsters, two new hunter styles (Valor and Alchemy) and a new Palico class known as Beast. The flagship feature here though is the inclusion of G-rank quests, which are tough as nails post-game quests that pit players against some of the series' most formidable beasts (it's not like this game isn't difficult already). What's here can be compared to an over-sized expansion or a 'Game of the Year' edition and while its all great stuff, we can appreciate why some may be hesitant to purchase the same game twice.
Players who have already sunk countless hours into the original version can transfer their save data to be used within the updated package. This is relatively painless (providing you have a stable internet connection) and is done via an exclusive app found on the 3DS eShop. Seasoned hunters won't be penalised this way by jumping in early and it means they can enjoy the upgraded visuals and wealth of new content without having to make compromise on their progress. Ultimate also supports cross-play between the 3DS and Switch, so those still playing the original handheld version will be blessed with the benefit of having a much broader pool of players to hunt with.
Embracing the more highly powered machine that is the Switch, Generations has seen noticeable improvements although some of its blemishes still stay present. Gone are the blocky and rough textures of the 3DS and there have been noticeable improvements to its draw distance and character models. It's clearly not a title that has been built from the ground up for the Switch, but the difference here really is night and day. Performance issues are still prevalent though, and we found the framerate would stutter frequently when a giant monster was throwing a tantrum before us. We felt disappointed that Capcom didn't address these issues as they were something that we observed within our initial review of Generations back in 2015.
Besides the visual facelift and bulked up content there were a few other improvements across the board that helped cement the Switch remaster as the definitive version. Instead of being restricted to the one thumbstick on 3DS players can now use both joy-cons (or a pro controller) to angle the camera and navigate around with their hunters. As precise swings and dodges are demanded from the player we also appreciated the fluidity a controller gave us compared to the relatively cramped control scheme of the 3DS. The spiderweb of menus now feels much easier to navigate when it's not split between the two smaller screens and with so much core information hidden away within there it was a little touch that was appreciated.
The Switch may have lost out on World when it launched earlier this year, but Generations Ultimate arrives still a solid addition to the console's third-party lineup. It's easily the largest Monster Hunter title to date and the Switch version delivers many notable improvements making for a definitive version of what has served to be a 'greatest hits' of the series thus far. It may feel a little rough around the edges if you have come to it off the back of World and if you have already played the 3DS original you may be pushed for much of a reason to upgrade but if you can look past its shortcomings Generations will likely be one that you won't be putting down anytime soon.