Monster Hunter Generations appeals to players of all skill levels

We've played the Japanese version of the game, Monster Hunter X, which adds a cat-warrior form called a 'Nyanta' that should make the game more accessible to new players.

Ever since Monster Hunter X was first announced for Japan, series fans have been eagerly looking forward to a localization announcement. With yesterday’s Nintendo Directs, the wait is now over. Less than one year after the original Japanese release, Monster Hunter X will launch in North America and Europe for the 3DS this summer as Monster Hunter Generations.

The localized title sums up exactly what you need to know about this latest entry in the series. In Monster Hunter Generations, fans will be able to enjoy favorite locations and characters from past entries in addition to the requisite new areas and monsters. It’s very clearly a love letter to fans who continue to come back for each and every release, and regular hunters will immediately feel right at home. But is Monster Hunter Generations a good place to jump in for those new to the series?

As the predecessor to Generations, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the first entry in the series to surpass 1 million sales in North America and Europe. This was largely due to changes that made the game more accessible to newcomers, including a required tutorial during the introductory cut scene and a greater emphasis on story progression than previous titles in the series. While Monster Hunter has always had a bit of a reputation outside of Japan due to its steep learning curve, 4 Ultimate took a big step towards greater accessibility, and its subsequent success likely helped ensure a speedy localization for Generations.

With its emphasis on long-time Monster Hunter fans, however, Generations suffers from many of the issues that make the series so impenetrable for new players. Though the game features more quests, monsters, and armor than ever before, the sheer volume of systems and optional tutorials will likely overwhelm anyone who picks up the game for the first time without a seasoned veteran to guide them. Not only that, but each weapon now has four different styles to choose from that can be changed at any time, meaning there is both more room for experimentation and more room for confusion. What’s a prospective hunter to do?!

Why, you play as a cat, of course! The newest “weapon” for Monster Hunter Generations is a fully customizable Felyne warrior known as a Nyanta [note: we are using the Japanese name because an English name has not been announced]. Taking the Palico AI companions from 4 Ultimate a step further, players are now able to switch from a human hunter to a Felyne at any time outside of a quest. Just like any other weapon, the Nyanta fighter has its own set of abilities, but it is notable for having a number of features that make it perfect for newcomers.

Most importantly, playing as a Nyanta eliminates a number of systems that have potential to cause confusion to new players. As a hunter, if your stamina gauge ever depletes completely, you will be forced to stop to catch your breath for a few moments, leaving you completely vulnerable to attack. Nyanta, however, can run to their heart’s content and never get tired, making stamina one less thing to worry about.

Nyanta also can’t use regular items. While this may seem like a major detriment at first, the Nyanta’s inability to access the normal item pouch means that you never need to worry about purchasing items at the shop, dealing with combining to create new items, or making sure you have the items you need before embarking on a quest. Instead, each Nyanta has an increasing number of different abilities that unlock the more you play, taking the place of everything from potions to bombs.

Due to the fact that Nyanta can’t carry the whetstones required to sharpen weapons, their weapon sharpness simply doesn’t degrade over the course of a quest. A human hunter’s  weapon sharpness and damage output gradually decreases every time it comes in contact with a monster. The only way to solve this is by sharpening using a whetstone, which, much like stamina recovery, leaves a hunter open to attack. Nyanta are also invulnerable to hot and cold status effects, and have the ability to see where a monster is on the map at all times, giving new players much fewer things to worry about when trying to complete quests.

From an equipment standpoint, Nyanta are also more limited, as they don’t have access to the same armor and weapon upgrade trees as human hunters. Instead, different Nyanta have different abilities that can be equipped and even taught to one another to create the perfect combination to suit an individual’s play style. Some Nyanta are more predisposed to healing, while others specialize in bombs, allowing for variation even between Nyanta players.

Attacking with the Nyanta is also very straightforward. Compared to other “weapons,” they do not have as many attack options, but their increased range of movement and ability to defend even with their weapon out makes them especially well-equipped for evading attacks.

Oh, and one more thing: Nyanta, like any cats, have nine lives. Unlike human hunters, who only have three strikes before they fail a quest, a Nyanta’s health gauge can be replenished twice by using acorns they carry with them at all times.  This effectively gives them nine, or three times as many lives as a human hunter! While the acorn doesn’t completely replenish the health gauge, it’s invaluable for players who find themselves always getting KO’d repeatedly.

While the Nyanta may seem limiting at first for veterans of the series, these limited features make it perfect for entry-level players. But speaking as a series veteran, I’ve put over 70 hours into the Japanese version of the game, and over half of that was as a Nyanta! Just like any of the other weapons, the Nyanta has a ton of potential if you put the time into learning all of its various quirks.

Monster Hunter Generations brings back everything fans of the series have come to know and love, including some of its less-desirable kinks. The addition of the Nyanta as a way to simplify some of the game’s mechanics, however, will hopefully help usher in an all-new generations of hunters. We’ll have to wait and see when the game releases later this year.