Preview: Monster Hunter Generations’ styles deserve a standing ovation

Think about everything you know when it comes to hunting the various creatures in the wilds of Monster Hunter games. Forget them. Monster Hunter Generations offers something new. It offers us a sense of style. It introduces us to the arts. For the first time, people have found a new way to fight their way through the game that takes into account the way you prefer to handle every fight.

These are introduced to us with Hunting Styles. When a player begins either the Monster Hunter Generations demo, which was shown at E3 2016 and will be available to everyone via the eShop on June 30, 2016, or full game, they’re able to choose what is essentially their avatar’s moveset. Each of the four styles has its own unique features that influence the way you play and determine how many Hunter Arts you can assign to your character.

I’m not the best hunter. Perhaps it’s due to my pacifist nature. Maybe it’s because I’m better with more thoughtful, turn-based games. Whatever the case, I decided to go with the Striker Style when tackling a Hunt a Great Maccao. It lets a player have three Hunter Arts equipped at the same time. To make it easier to use said arts, the Arts Gauge fills faster as you land hits on an opponent.

MHG_screenshot_GreatMaccao_bmp_jpgcopyIt was extraordinarily helpful. The Great Maccao was the sort of beast that liked to run when the going got tough. It’d escape to different areas on the map. It also had a habit of going back on its tail as part of its assault. Escape Runner would allow me to run away, while not losing any stamina. It was a guaranteed getaway.

As handy as Escape Runner is, my favorite Hunter Art so far is Blast Dash I. It’s an ability tied to the Gunlance, a Monster Hunter Generations weapon that’s essentially a lance with a gun inside of it. The Blast Dash not only inflicts damage when it connects with an enemy, it sends a hunter flying forward. It combos well into other attacks or gives you a chance to dart away from an enemy. It’s practical. So practical, in fact, that it’s possible to get two higher tier versions of this same attack as you proceed through the game.

I know, I’ve made this Striker Hunting Style sound pretty great; it is. It’s inviting, especially to someone who’s always worried about whether she’s coordinated or competent enough to contribute to hunts with other players. It gets even better. Monster Hunter Generations allows you to customize the buttons that appear on the touch screen. It’s possible to decide which panels appear in this lower menu. One of the options lets you see buttons for Hunter Arts at all times. When the Arts Gauge was full, I could tap a button to pull off a move. I didn’t have to worry about remembering the right inputs. All three special moves were right in front of me.

Solo_Maccao_SwitchAxe_bmp_jpgcopyI also sampled the Aerial Style. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate introduced a mounting mechanic, where a hunter could leap onto a monster’s back and deal a substantial amount of damage, perhaps even staggering the creature. With this moveset, it’s possible to work with other players and even inanimate objects in your surroundings to leap into the air. The goal is to get on the enemy’s back, at the expense of only equipping one Hunter Art at a time. I wish I could say more, but honestly? This moveset didn’t work for me. I could see it working for people who’ve been playing Monster Hunter games longer or possess greater dexterity, but I needed the assurance and comfort that came from a more rapidly filling Arts Gauge and wider selection of special moves. Still, I was glad that the option is there.

Because really, all of these Hunting Styles are quite inviting. I’d often said to friends that I felt Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was one of the most user-friendly installments. It was accommodating, with a learning curve that didn’t dissuade or punish newcomers who weren’t up on the lifestyle. It feels like Monster Hunter Generations takes things a step further. We’re given opportunities to sample movesets that may or may not work for us, choosing Hunter Arts that will best serve us in battles once we’ve inflicted enough damage on a foe. It’s letting us customize our experience, and that can only lead to good things.

Monster Hunter Generations will come to the Nintendo 3DS on July 15, 2016.

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