Felynes are a Monster Hunter staple. The bipedal cats have been interfering with our hunts since the original game appeared on the PlayStation 2 and aiding our hunters since Monster Hunter Freedom Unite introduced the Felyne Comrade system. Monster Hunter Generations not only brings the cats back, but now gives them even more to do. Not only do your Palico pals have a place in town as the village chef and your personal steward, but they get a chance to be the game’s stars.
Monster Hunter Generations immediately gives people the opportunity to visit the Palico Ranch. There, you get to interact with an array of different kitten citizens. (Kittizens, if you prefer.) The real draw is the Meowstress, a young woman who pairs you up with made-to-order Felynes who can act as your allies. The character creator for these cats is incredibly robust, with an unexpected wealth of options. You can adjust their coat, colors, eyes, ears, tails and voices until your ideal buddy appears. Up to two of these furry friends can then follow you into the field, offering their assistance.
That isn’t what will have Monster Hunter Generations players thinking they must love cats. It’s Prowler Mode. Capcom has let us be Felynes before. There’s a whimsical spin-off series with super-deformed Palicoes called Monster Hunter Diary. This is the first time such a feature has found its way into the main game. We’re getting to play as Felynes on more serious hunts, with their unique abilities offering a new means of enjoying the game.
The Palico Prowler Mode lets you see what it’s like to be a Felyne on a standard quest. There’s no need to use a hunting style or one of the more diverse pieces of equipment. Instead, you work with a staff or wedge. Typical skills are gone, but you have a boomerang, barrels, and horns. They can duck down, hunkering down to protect themselves. They can also fall twice before “failing” and being carted away.
It feels like a support class. When you go into Prowler Mode, you become an optimal gatherer. Felynes gather twice as fast as a hunter does. Combined that with the removal of the stamina gauge, and you can dash through areas grabbing as many materials as possible. You’re zippy and efficient, even though you’re not as strong as a standard hunter.
You also work well as an aid to an actual hunter. Palicoes have the Earplug ability that nullifies a monster’s roar, letting it keep working when a hunter might be susceptible. You have boomerangs that let you hit from a distance, so you stay safe and out of range. There’s even a skill that makes them more effective.
That doesn’t mean you can’t go it alone as a Felyne. Hunts will be much more difficult and it isn’t an advised, default mode, but you could always try to see if a Palico is up to par. After all, they’re animals like the monsters are. They can enter an enraged state, just like they do. You could always go hunting for a challenge, fighting against the odds and hoping for that boost that makes them stronger, faster, adds Earplugs and offers 30% affinity. I mean, they can pull out a trampoline to mount monsters just like regular hunters do. There’s no reason why you can’t send one out for more major missions.
Monster Hunter Generations is giving people an opportunity to be someone else. The series always allows us to enjoy a bit of roleplaying, as we step into the shoes of someone more adept than we could ever be. With this installment, that someone just happens to also be a kind of cat. The transition to Felyne life is surprisingly smooth, with unique elements that show even someone small can have their own strengths.