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3DS

Monster Hunter Generations E3 Interview

by Kimberly Keller - June 16, 2016, 1:07 pm PDT
Discuss in talkback!

In which we pick the minds of Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima for the joys, felynes, monsters, and music of the upcoming 3DS game!

NWR Associate Editor Kimberly Keller (along with friend of the site Jason) had a chance to sit down at E3 with Monster Hunter Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima. Their talk ranged from the joys of playing as a Felyne in the upcoming game instead of a human hunter, what went into the design (and even music) of some of the new iconic monsters, and what keeps the Monster Hunter devs excited about making new entries in the hit game series.


Kimberly Keller:
With the new Monster Hunter I know there's a lot that's changed with combat. I just want to know what was the thought process behind that, what you wanted to see different from the previous titles?

Monster Hunter Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto:
So the series has been going for like over ten years now since the first game came out in 2004, and it's not an exact ten year anniversary title, but you know the series has been around for a decade we kind of wanted to celebrate its history, have a look back over the series, and have a kind of special event feeling, kind of festival, to look back at old and new things in monster hunter. And the game play itself you know we've included many old monsters and stages that might be familiar to series veterans, we also included brand new ones. But we also wanted to reflect in the gameplay the fact that we've seen over the years that players all bring their own unique styles in the game, even amongst players who choose the same weapon they might have a different way of going out there and hunting the monster. So with the new hunting styles we wanted to make that concrete in the gameplay and make it so you could be more of a specialist. So you could find your own unique style and reflect that in the gameplay.

Actually The game was known by the codename "Festa" internally which is the Japanese word for festival, and that goes to show how much we were trying to celebrate the series' legacy and bring it forward at the same time.

Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima:
In addition to the hunting styles we wanted to really make the action more involving, more visceral, more exciting. So we added the Monster Arts special moves, took a lot of time creating those for each weapon, and finetuning and balancing them so that they bring a new level of excitement to the gameplay and make you feel even more cool than before.

Keller:
That was actually my next question (laughs).

In generations there's no new weapons, what was the thought behind maybe changing the way you play instead of adding new weapons?

Kojima:
The game's kind of catchphrase in Japan and the west has been "find your own hunting style". There's still the same 14 weapons that there were in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate but by introudcing four styles we really wanted to broaden the gameplay even within the same weapons. There's the Guild Style that's more traditional gameplay, it'll be very familiar and comfortable for new players, or Aerial Style that lets you use a jumping action at anytime with any weapon. Striker Style gives you the maximum of three hunter arts, that is the most of any of the styles, it gives you a huge degree of flexibility in what kind of special moves you'll use. Or finally the Adept Style which is really fine-tuned to people who are able to get exact timing to dodge out of the way and lets you perform powerful counterattacks. This is available for every weapon so you don't have to choose a new weapon in order to get a new gameplay experience. You can stay with your same weapon you've liked before and figure out which of these styles suits you perfectly. The combinations of fourteen weapons times four styles just tells you how much variation there is. You can go around to every combination and find the one that suits you.

So for example Ryozo has been using the Hammer all the way through the Monster Hunter series. Every single game, he always uses the hammer. We literally saw his gameplay record and there's not a single quest [where he uses a different weapon], for hours and hours... for someone like him he's able to now broaden his gmaeplay within the same weapon he loves by choosing his favorite style which is aerial style by the way. Whereas [I am] a bit more eclectic and kind of go around the houses a bit and try every style out and can change it up by quest or by monster. So you've got a chance to either find one style and you stick with it and you love it or you can maybe be a bit more flexible and choose the one you want depending on the situation. Both gameplay styles are possible depending on what suits you personally.

Tsujimoto:
This whole thing was basically our concept for the game. You'd always have a choice when you make a new Monster Hunter game, should we add a new weapon? And of course we added two new weapons with the Monster Hunter 4 series. This time around we thought let's keep the weapon stable the same and broaden each one out into having more options. That was a specific choice we made into how to bring the gameplay to the next level.

Keller:
We noticed there's a mix of the old and new. How many monsters are in this installment?

Tsujimoto:
I can't even think how many there are off the top of my head but it's a lot!

Kojima:
There's plenty!

Jason:
We noticed the four signature monsters, is there anything you wanted to share about them that makes them unique?

Kojima:
So as you know previous games have tended to have one main monster, the package art monster, the one that reflects what's going on in the new game. With so many new features and hunting styles we really wanted to broaden out this time so for the first time we have four main monsters and it's really let us focus on one aspect of the game for each monster where as in the past we've had to design one main monster that covers it all. So we've got Glavenous here, he's the star of the game's package art. He's kind of a dinosaur style monster who's got strength as his motif, so that's why his tail is like a great huge swordblade. He's just very strong and fearsome.

We've also got Gammoth, this king of huge woolly mammoth type creature and it's just massive, you know we've never had a monster that just so huge like this before. There's also Astalos, you wouldn't be monster hunter without a flying wyvern type sort of dragon style monster. Astalos takes some design cues from insects: it's got these brilliant translucent wings with a kind of rainbow ffect on them. Finally we've got Mizutsune, this is kind of a very unique almost japanese-influenced monster, it's got sort of a combination of a fox face with a snake-serpent type body. It has a brand new status effect called "bubbles" and it can create a new status in players. That one's been really popular in Japan, actually I think it's the most popular in Japan of the four main monsters.

Mizutsune is a very technical hunt when you go against him, Glavenous has got this sheer srength, Gammoth has got huge size that it brings to bear against you, so there's really a wide variety of gameplay involved in hunting all four main monsters.

Tsujimoto:
One thing to point out for Mizutsune with the japanese theme of its design: it's theme music is really great. We got in touch with some friends of ours who are a japanese music unit and they're playing traditional japanese instruments in it: the shamisen which is kind of a japanese lute and the shakuhachi which is a japanese tradiional flute. These guys play really great japanese style music so listen out for the theme music for Mizutsune, it's really one of the best pieces of music we've done so far in Monster Hunter.

Keller:
I believe this is the first time players are able to play as Felynes, in Prowler Mode. What really pushed that decision? I know it's always been a very popular thing for players to want to do, but what brought it now?

Kojima:
So actually Prowler Mode wasn't really in our plans when we first started developing the game. We thought we had plenty on our plate with four main monsters, four hunting styles, brand new hunter arts, we had a lot to be getting on with! But as the game developement progressed we thought maybe some new players might be overwhelemed by this even greater level of depth that we're adding to the game. So wouldn't it be great if there was an entry point into the gameplay that they might appreciate as being a little more friendly from the get-go and let them get to grips with the game at their own pace? So we added Prowler Mode. Veterans will get a kick out of it as well because as you said there's always been a lot of requests in it. Who doesn't love cute cats? It's really for everyone. Calling it out specifically as one that suits newcomers, it doesn't mean it's a dumbed-down beginner mode, it's just been retuned compared to human hunter gameplay. Prowlers can deal with any temperature environment, they don't need to use hot and cold drinks, they can just run around in the hot and cold stages as is. They don't need items to gather resources, they can just mine and gather bugs with their own paws. Their stamina never runs down so they can run around as much as they want, they don't that stamina gauge like human hunters do, and they also have the ability to burrow underground which lets them avoid a quite lot of attacks. And that gives you a chance if you're maybe new to the series and you know, as we said one of the key features is you got to watch the monster and read its behavior, but if you're not used to it yet it might be a bit hard to stay alive while you're doing that! Prowler Mode really gives new players a chance to maybe hang back a little bit out of the main fight if they're in a group for example and just get a read on the monster before they want to make their attacks. It's a really great way for people to enjoy what makes Monster Hunter special and it's a different approach.

Keller:
I love that it keeps it fun without, like you said, dumbing it down.

Jason:
And they're using their character, it's still familiar.

Translator:
Yes, exactly.

Keller:
These are very extensive answers!

Translator:
Sorry are we eating up all your time? (laughs)

Keller:
I saw how crafting has been expanded as well. Can we talk a little more about that, what it's going to bring to the game?

Tsujimoto:
So as you know when you're combining resources and items in monster hunter you have to get the original resources together and then you craft them together to make new things. As a continuation of what we did with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate we're keeping it so that you've got options available to you, so you can gather the original resource items you need to combine outside of the regular quest gameplay. We've changed up how you do that, so in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for example you could do the Meownster Hunters and sort of set them up to do their own thing while you're out on a quest and you come back and they deliver resources to you. It's a similar system where you're able to set up various things to kind of run in the background for you and you can play the game to see exactly how that works. It's all designed to make it smoother than it has been maybe in the past where you don't have to be personally gathering every single item you need in order to combine and craft items. Also prowlers don't actually need a lot of the items hunters do. They don't need potions because they've got a healing horn they can blow, they don't need stamina items because they haven't got stamina, but that doesn't stop prowlers from gathering these items. That means you can go out as a prowler and gather a bunch of stuff and bring it back to your house, your box, and from there you can use it to create items you're gonna use whenever you're playing as a hunter, so even as a prowler even though you might not need a potion it doesn't stop you from using the time as a prowler to help your future hunter quests. It all ties together.

Keller:
Are we going to see any significant differences between the western and eastern releases?

Tsujimoto:
The fundamental game is the same. Think of Monster Hunter 4G versus Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, we want to bring that full experience to players in the west. One thing that has to change is that for licensing and rights reasons certain collaboration dlc items that we have got in the japanese version we're just unable to bring them over to the west. But of course we wouldn't want to just cut content and leave western players hanging with a less complete game so we've actually taken the time to create some exclusive new collaboration dlc only appearing in the western version of Monster Hunter Generations so even japanese players won't have their hands on this stuff. We've already announced Fire Emblem crossover equipment, we have the Okami wolf costume for the prowlers, for the cats. we also announced ghosts and goblins crossover content and we have even got further unannounced collaboration dlc that we're gonna be announcing in the coming months, so stay tuned for more news on that.

Keller:
That actually ties into my next question, because I know, I think it was Street Fighter and Ghosts and Goblins, these are all referenced in the DLC?

Translator:
Yeah exactly.

Keller:
Last question, what's your favorite part of developing the game, what's the best part for you?

Kojima:
Not just Monster Hunter Generations but any game I develop I love that moment when we've been working on balancing a certain gameplay feature, whatever it is, and we kind of worked on it in the background and we get the game up and running on a testkit and then try out the feature and it feels just right. It's a great moment because we not only achieve what we set out to do but I get a great sense of confidence that "Oh players are gonna love this" and that feels really great to me.

Tsujimoto:
It's not something that happens during the development process, but after the game comes out and I see videos and photos of people playing and enjoying the game that I feel so privileged that I've been able to work hard and create something for the players and it gets out there in their hands and they're loving it. Those moments of watching are, to actually get a chance to make people happy is so great and it gives me the motivation to move onto the next title and so thats what I love about game development.

Kojima:
One other thing I enjoy is that whenever we're making a new monster and we haven't fine-tuned it yet but it's just super strong I love the moment when we try it out and it just kicks all our asses because we've made it and it's the first version, 1.0 version of the monster. And it's a long road ahead to get it to the point where its gonna be a fair fight that you can win but in the moment we all grin at each other and we're like "This guy's a badass."

Jason:
It's an actual monster at that point!

Keller:
Yeah it's great, thank you guys so much!

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