Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an enhanced version of Monster Hunter Tri that launched on 3DS and Wii U. It featured local wireless play on 3DS and allowed you to transfer your save data between 3DS and Wii U. New features included the ability to use the gunlance, bow, hunting horn, and dual swords in underwater combat, as well as the introduction of G rank quests, which are higher even than high rank. More evolution than revolution, then - but still a classic.
Monster Hunter Generations is the culmination of every single Monster Hunter we'd seen before Monster Hunter: World arrived a few years later to change it all. It allowed you to finally play as a Felyne in 'Prowler Mode' and introduced Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts, which provided more playing variety than before. There's a reason why it's called Monster Hunter X (Cross) in Japan – it's a crossing of old and new Monster Hunters.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the only version of Monster Hunter 4 that we received in the West, so it's a good thing it's the best version. Monster Hunter 4 focused on fluidity of movement and was, at the time, the best Monster Hunter had played by far. You could climb faster, leap off the environment to mount monsters, and it introduced the Insect Glaive and Charge Blade, two very dynamic weapons.
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3. Monster Hunter: World (PS4/Xbox One/PC, 2018)
Monster Hunter: World offers the biggest shake-up of any Monster Hunter since the very original, introducing completely open environments for the first time in the franchise. This has led to a number of knock-on improvements, like a more living and breathing world in which monsters fight each other and have set routines. There's even a plot to follow that leads you all the way through low rank to high-rank quests, brand new monsters, and vastly improved online options.
This is the format that Monster Hunter will follow for years to come, although it's worth noting that some hardcore fans of the franchise have taken issue with the game and the changes made to the core MonHun experience. Given the stunning commercial success of World, it's hard to see Capcom paying too much attention to these complaints, but it we'll see how the series developers over the next few years.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is the culmination of every single Monster Hunter we've seen up until World, and is best described as a 'Greatest Hits' collection. It features the largest roster of monsters in the franchise to date - including all-new beasts - and introduces two new hunting styles and returns G rank quests. It may not have the open-world nature and dazzling visuals of Monster Hunter: World, but for purists, this is perhaps as good as it gets. Given that World is now Capcom's most successful video game of all time with over 10 million copies sold, this may be the last 'traditional' MonHun experience we're going to get, and it's a real good 'un.
So, is this recency bias rearing its ugly, monstrous head, or is the fact that Monster Hunter Rise sits in the number one spot simply the natural result of video game sequels becoming more refined and satisfying with each iteration? Well, obviously we believe the latter — and it's certainly the closest of calls between the top three games on this list — but Capcom's latest series entry really is something a bit special.
For us, Rise represents a new high-water mark for the franchise. It features a lovely new setting, new mechanics with the Wirebug, Switch Skills, and Palamute, and a bevy of well-designed monsters that shake things up enough to make the game feel fresh for old-hand hunters, while also performing the tricky job of onboarding curious newcomers — provided they've got patience. Throw in an excellent four-player experience, and you're left with not just another stone-cold classic on Switch, but perhaps the greatest Monster Hunter game ever.
Where does you favourite sit in the list? Do you rate Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate over World? You aren't the only one! Either way, let us know how you feel in the comments section below.