Well, I guess it's been four years since I played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and at that time I'd said, "...despite all the tweaks the game feels essentially very much like its predecessor, and even though I enjoyed both I can't say that I'm that motivated to run out and try Monster Hunter Generations. If I had someone to play with on a semi-regular basis I could see myself spending more time with these games". My recent experience playing Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on Switch basically ends with the same conclusion, but there were still some good times along the way.

MHGU originally came out on New 3DS in the summer of 2016, but I'm glad I waited to dive into it until it came to Switch. The Switch version has the main benefit of being able to play the game on a big screen which is where it belongs, although it's definitely not the prettiest game due to its handheld origins. As usual, I focused on a new to me weapon, specifically the insect glaive. (MHGU also introduced "Prowler mode", which lets you take on the role of the supporting Felyne character, but I didn't bother much with that.) The insect glaive is an odd weapon in that you shoot out a semi-sentient insect that hits a monster and extracts "essence" of different colors depending on the monster and the body part. You can combine the different colors, rather like with the hunting horn, although the combinations are much more limited (there are only a few). To get the most out of the system you have to balance extracting essences and attacking, which makes the glaive a little fiddly. It's a fast weapon and fun to use overall, though, but so far of the weapons I've tried I prefer the hunting horn for its lower stress supporting role.

Unlike the previous game, this one has the barest of stories, but it was fun to see previous villages and characters from the two previous games in the series I've played, and I'm sure it must be even more enjoyable for fans who have been playing since the series' earliest days. The game also introduces "Hunting Styles", which basically add on different styles of play. Practically speaking, for me it just gave me access to some powerful "ultimate attacks", which you can select from and are based on a meter that fills up. On top of having the advantage of this being my third game in the series, these attacks made it even easier for me to zip through most of the low rank quests. Being familiar with the series I was also able to not bother getting too bogged down in the peripheral systems, such as the farm and recruiting Felynes, although I appreciated how many features the game does have.

I enjoyed playing my third Monster Hunter game and there were just enough updates to make it worthwhile, but at its core not a lot has changed. This time around the burrowing and flying monsters were particularly annoying, but on the up-side, there weren't any required capture quests in the parts that I played, so that was a definite plus. As I said about MH4U, although I enjoyed this game overall, I would've played it more if I had someone to play with on a regular basis. As it is this is another game that I'm going to have to set aside indefinitely. It's nice to see that the series has finally established a firm foothold in the West, and Monster Hunter Rise (releasing near the end of this month) looks like a great current gen version. Again, I'm not in a rush to go out and get it right away, but it looks like it has some fun new additions (namely, monster riding, a dog companion, and a grappling hook), and I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually.

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