Monster Hunter has always had a committed by relatively small following in the West. Our Japanese friends have adored the series since it began back on the PS2, but Monster Hunter always struggled to make an impression outside of it’s native land.
The series expanded with sequels and re-releases over the years, but while these offered new innovations each time, the format remained the same. The visuals and fundamental style mostly did too. Those who were already into it perhaps didn’t mind this, but we can see why some of those who tried Monster Hunter struggled to understand the appeal and gave up.
Where the series found a new home on the PSP and later the 3DS, it all felt very similar to what had come before. The games that were specially designed for the 3DS we’re in fact fantastic additions, improving on the series and taking full advantage of the consoles portable nature. As it was a 3DS game nobody expected it to compete with the more high-end titles on home consoles, the fact that it was technically still using an engine that originated on the PS2 became more forgivable. The HD version of Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii U looked great but it was obviously just a polished port of a much older game.
Enter Monster Hunter World. This changed the series overnight and was created from the ground up with PS4 and Xbox One in mind. It’s fair to say that with MH:W the series finally broke the West and has created an new legion of fans as well as galvanizing existing ones. Giving them a game many of them have pined for.
Where MH:W may have offered a fresh and up to date take on the Monster Hunting format, it’s not the only series to offer this sort of gameplay. While some purists may consider them ‘pretenders’ or ‘clones’ of Monster Hunting this is a bit unfair. Each one offers their own unique take on the format; some may have actually inspired Capcom to modernise their own series, as they arguably overtook it. If you’re keen to slay more monsters and have enjoyed what MH:W has offered then these may be for you:
This game and its sequel are both available on the PS4. Those of you who enjoy portable Monster Hunting may like to know that they are also available on the PS Vita. Where the console has reached the end of its life, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a great library that is still readily available. Toukiden is distinctly Japanese in style and features some pretty impressive boss fights. The game can also be played online or solo with AI squad mates who are actually rather helpful. The first game also had a fun cross over event with another lesser-known Monster Hunting game Soul Sacrifice.
Soul Sacrifice (Delta)
Another Monster Hunter ‘clone’ that exists only on the PS Vita. If you enjoy Monster Hunter games and own a Vita, or fancy picking one up cheap (they are a steal now) then this is a game I’d recommend. The game doesn’t offer much in terms of exploration but does offer some incredible boss encounters and a rather unique approach to storytelling. Your character is working his way through the memories of a doomed sorcerer, reliving his adventures and mastering his skills along the way. By doing so he/she will be able to escape suffering the same fate at the hands of the game’s villain. Soul Sacrifice also relies on spells and resource management to attack opponents, there is no traditional ‘attack button’, this means it’s not for everyone. But it’s certainly for us!
The God Eater series really is carving out its own territory in the Monster Hunting genre. Since the original was released on the PSP the series has since been released on the PS3, PS4, PS Vita and Nintendo Switch and has garnered quite a following. Unlike Monster Hunter each game doesn’t really offer exploration, each battle/mission takes place in a glorified arena and can be played solo or enjoyed online. The most recent entry God Eater 3 is the most ambitious of all and lends itself very well to the Switch. God Eater 3 also made current gen Monster Hunting possible before Monster Hunter World did. It arguably inspired its inspiration, turning it into more of a rival and helping it modernise at the same time. Nice one God Eater.
Another Vita exclusive here, the Vita really was a great place to hunt beasts! Freedom Wars was made by the same team who make the God Eater games and shares a lot of similarities with that series. Although rather than the lighter tone of God Eater, Freedom Wars is set in an authoritarian underground regime where humans need to fight to earn their freedom. Rather than battling monsters, the game pits players against large mechs and offers some truly breathtaking and fast paced boss battles. If you enjoy God Eater then this will be right up your alley.
Dauntless is a game that perhaps deserves the title as Monster Hunter ‘clone’ more than any other. But that doesn’t stop this RPG being an original and incredibly fun. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and its art style is cartoonish and bright, but don’t let that fool you, Dauntless offers some magnificent battles and truly addictive gameplay. It’s so much more than just a ‘clone’ of Monster Hunter but it wears its heritage very proudly on it’s sleeve. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and Dauntless would probably agree.
Made by the same people who make Monster Hunter, Capcom are still the undisputed ruler of all things beast slaying. Dragons Dogma isn’t traditionally a Monster Hunting game, like The Witcher 3, Horizon and Dark Souks, it’s an open world action RPG with elements of Monster Hunting. But the MH DNA is very much there. Fans of MH:W and earlier games need to check it out if they are in need of a fresh fix. The game just got released on the Switch too!
Final Fantasy XII
What Final Fantasy? Yep, the hunt side quests in FF12 were in fact inspired by the Monster Hunter series and it’s easy to see why. Those who enjoy FF and MH will be delighted by these quests. FF13, 14 and 15 also have their hunting quests, but none did it as faithfully as FF12.