Monster Hunter (モンスターハンター Monsutā Hantā ) is a series of fantasy-themed action role-playing video games developed and published by Capcom. As the title suggests, the player takes on the role of a hunter in a fantasy setting, slaying or trapping large monsters across various landscapes as part of quests given to them by the locals. As part of its core gameplay loop, players use loot gained from slaying monsters, gathering resources, and quest rewards to craft improved weapons, armor, and other items that allows them to face more powerful monsters. While initially single-player games, more recent titles have up to four-player cooperative play, with all hunters working together to take down monsters.
The series, which debuted year 2004 on the PlayStation 2 console, have been released across a variety of platforms, including personal computer, home console, portable consoles, and mobile devices. The Monster Hunter games are immensely popular in Japan and other Asian countries, popularized by the series' use of ad hoc multiplayer features on portable consoles. Monster Hunter has also been critically well received in Western markets but has generally languished in sales, in part due to the game's high difficult learning curve, and had a cult following up until Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate which started to increase its popularity. However, with Monster Hunter: World, Capcom aimed to attract a global audience using the power of advanced home gaming consoles and computers, and released the title simultaneously worldwide; World became the series' best-selling game within three days of its release; within a few months, it also became Capcom's best-selling game with nearly 15.5 million units sold by December 2019, with more than 70% of those sold outside of Japan. As of March 2020, the game series has sold 60 million units worldwide, and is Capcom's second best-selling series following Resident Evil as well as their best selling RPG series.
The success of the games brought forth a large media franchise, which includes anime, manga, card games and a live action movie that was released on December 3, 2020.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 List of games
- 3 Development and history
- 4 Other media
- 5 Reception
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Monster Hunter installments are primarily action role-playing games, set in a fantasy setting. Gameplay is generally divided between time spent in various villages to manage equipment and resources, and going on quests to hunt down giant monsters that prowl in fields near these villages. The player starts as a novice Hunter and is tasked through quests to help protect and support the villages either by hunting or trapping monsters, or by collecting resources that can be obtained in the field.
Atypically to most RPGs, the player's Hunter does not have any intrinsic attributes that change throughout the game, outside of a Hunting rank that determines what quests they can embark on. Instead, the player selects armor, weapons, and other equipment that grant certain bonuses or penalties to the Hunter. There are several different weapon types ranging from swords, hammers, hunting horns, lances, bows, and guns, each of which provide the player with different combat maneuvers in the field, and determine the Hunter's attack strength and potential elemental or status-inducing effects on the creatures they fight. Armor, made up from different pieces, grants defensive value, strengths and weaknesses to certain elemental attacks, and positive and negative points towards specific skills. These skills only activate after the player equips the Hunter with gear that pass a given threshold; for example, by having 10 total points in the Attack skill, the Hunter's attack is boosted, but may also accumulate -10 points in this skill which can weaken the Hunter's attack. Thus, the player can work to coordinate different sets of armor, weapon, and additional equipment including talismans and decorative gems that can be slotted into certain pieces of equipment to customize which skills their Hunter will have or to avoid inducing a negative skill effect.
Basic weapons, armor, and other equipment can be purchased from village shops using the in-game currency Zenny, but most equipment is constructed from collected resources, including the spoils from defeating monsters, represented in game as the various parts of a monster like hides, horns, and tails. The core loop of gameplay in Monster Hunter is to equip the Hunter with gear best suited for defeating a specific type of monster, questing to hunt and collect parts from that monster, and construct the equipment from those parts that is generally better in combat than their current gear, allowing the player to engage in more difficult monsters. The monster parts and other resources are given to the Hunter based on various percentages, with some parts appearing with high rarity. The player may often be required to undertake the same quest several times to defeat the same monster type to get these parts. Once equipment is crafted, it can then be upgraded. Weapons typically can be upgraded along a "weapon tree", where the player may have the option to choose two or more specialized versions of a weapon at a given upgrade point. Armor typically can be improved through armor spheres to increase its defensive value.
A quest will generally designate how much time the player has to complete the quest (generally 50 minutes), the goals of the quest, the location of the quest, and other restrictions. Prior to the quest, the player selects which equipment for the Hunter, as once on their field, this cannot be changed. Each game features several different fields, each made up of several interconnected areas including a base camp where some supplies and a health-restoring tent can be found. Some areas in a field may be very hot or cold, which can affect the Hunter's health and stamina unless they are protected against these effects.
When the Hunter enters the field, they have a health and a stamina meter. The Hunter's health meter drops when damaged by monsters or environmental hazards, and while some health will regenerate slowly over time, the Hunter must use restorative items to bring them back to full health. If the Hunter's health falls to zero, they fall unconscious and put back to the field's base camp, where they can set off again, but will lose some amount of reward Zenny and additional bonuses they had entering the quest. If the Hunter falls three times in this manner, the quest is considered failed. The stamina meter drains when doing any excessive activity like running, or pulling back and holding a bowstring, and if the stamina bar fully drains, the Hunter will pause to recover their stamina, making them prone to attacks. Stamina quickly replenishes if the Hunter does a normal activity like walking. However, over the time of the quest, the stamina meter's maximum will slowly drop, meaning the Hunter will tire out sooner, creating another effective limit on how long the Hunter can be in the field. Various restorative items like potions and rations can be assigned prior to the quest, but only limited numbers of these can be taken. While in the field, the Hunter can gather resources from certain gathering points and if they have the necessary equipment, such as pick-axes for mining spots, or bug-nets for insects. The Hunter only has a limited amount of inventory space while on the field between restorative items and gathered resources and monster spoils.
Monsters will roam between these areas, making them difficult to track. The process of fighting monsters is generally based on watching and learning the various tells that a monster does prior to an attack as either to defend, dodge, or anticipate a counter-attack. As monsters get injured they often will become more aggravated, performing moves faster or engaging in special moves. Various parts of a monster can be targeted for an attack, with different vulnerabilities. The Hunter is awarded additional spoils if they can break hard armor pieces or can cut off a monster's tail. Once the monster is dealt enough damage, it will be slain, at which point the Hunter can carve off random spoils from the carcass. If the Hunter damages a monster enough, it will start limping or some similar sluggish motion, indicating that it can now be trapped rather than slain. Trapping a monster requires the Hunter to place the trap, lure the monster to it, and then tranquilizing it. The Hunter forgoes the carving as with slaying, but may gain different types of rewards for the action. Trapping a monster can be required by a quest, can help to end a prolonged battle earlier, or increase the chance of acquiring rarer materials such as plates or gems.
Outside of quests, the player can use the village functions to craft new gear, buy and sell resources, items, and equipment, interact with farms and fisheries that can help gather resources, and have meals prior to a quest that provide small attribute boosts and skills. Most games also feature a form of "free hunt", where the Hunter can go into a field for an indefinite amount of time to gather resources and hunt any monsters that may appear there for resource points, which are used to improve village facilities or as alternate forms of payment.
All games have a single player component, while the newer games include multiplayer with up to three other Hunters. A new set of quests are generally offered for multiplayer modes, giving more difficult monsters to offset the advantage of having multiple players. Players may also set on multiplayer quests as a single player, where they are then aided by computer-controlled Felynes or Palicos, sentient cat-like creatures that live among the villages. Most of the main games in the series have long story modes that can take up to fifty hours to complete, but additional post-story content can lead to players accumulating over hundreds of hours into game.
Two common species found in every Monster Hunter game to date are Rathalos and Rathian, the male and female versions of a specier of Flying Wyvern. Two friendly creatures the players encounter are Felynes and Poogies. As mentioned before, Felynes are cat-like companions and, along with the Melynxs, a subspecies of the Lynian race and the Poogies are pet pigs that can be dressed in a variety of silly costumes. They all serve as mascots to the Monster Hunter series.
List of games
- Monster Hunter - (2004)
- Monster Hunter 2 - (2006)
- Monster Hunter Tri - (2009)
- Monster Hunter 4 - (2013)
- Monster Hunter World - (2018)
- Monster Hunter Rise - (2021)
- Monster Hunter Freedom - (2005)
- Monster Hunter Freedom 2 - (2007)
- Monster Hunter Freedom Unite - (2008)
- Monster Hunter Portable 3rd - (2010 - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter i - (2006 - Japan only) - mobile phone game.
- Monster Hunter Frontier Online - (2007 - Xbox 360 - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airou Village - (2010 - PSP - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting - (2011)
- Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Felyne Village G - (2011 - PSP - Japan only)
- Felyne Puzzle - (2012 - PSP - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter: Frontier G - (2013 - Xbox 360 - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter Online - (2013 - PC - China only)
- Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Felyne Village DX - (2015 - 3DS - Japan only)
- Monster Hunter Explore - (2015)
- Monster Hunter Generations - (2015)
- Monster Hunter Stories - (2016)
- Monster Hunter Riders - (2020)
Development and history
The first Monster Hunter game was one of three titles Capcom had developed to take advantage of the processing power and online capabilities of the PlayStation 2, which according to Ryozo Tsujimoto, who has been the series' producer since Monster Hunter Freedom 2, had begun to match arcade games in capabilities; the other two such titles were Auto Modellista and Resident Evil Outbreak. Tsujimoto considered Monster Hunter to be the culmination of the work of these other two titles once it was released. He also felt that the game was intended for such co-operative play so that players of any skill level, working with others, could feel accomplished in taking down giant creatures. Monster Hunter proved a success, selling over 1 million copies, principally in Japan.
The series took off explosively in Japan with Monster Hunter Freedom on the PlayStation Portable, and even more so once its sequel Monster Hunter Freedom 2 was released which supported up to four players via the unit's ad-hoc networking. Handheld systems are generally more popular in Japan, and due to the country's high population density, it was easy to find players to hunt cooperatively with, making it a phenomenon there. James Miekle, writing for PC Gamer, had worked for Q Entertainment and lived in Japan during the release of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, which was the best selling PlayStation Portable game of all time, and described how even during work, impromptu Monster Hunter sessions would break out between employees, and there was extensive marketing of Monster Hunter branded consumer goods.
While Monster Hunter had been successful in Japan, it's popularity in Western markets (primarily North America and Europe) languished. In contrast to the Japanese culture, Western markets favored home consoles and computers during the mid-2000s, and because of a thinner population density, most players relied on Internet-based gaming rather than local ad hoc networking. The series also struggled with a difficult learning curve that had made the games off-putting in Western markets.
The series had little popularity in the West until the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Nintendo 3DS, a console that had gained a sizable foothold in Western markets. While Monster Hunter's popularity in the West was still to a niche group, Capcom saw the potential for more growth there and took steps to better localize the next few titles to make the series more attractive; Monster Hunter 4 was the first game in the series to break one million sales in Western markets. Capcom recognized there was still room for further growth of the series there; in an October 2016 interview, Capcom chairman Kenzo Tsujimoto said they are looking towards increasing the popularity of the games in the Western markets, recognizing that gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have dominance in these regions over handhelds. Monster Hunter: World, the series's first major entry targeting home consoles and computers, was developed to be more alluring for Western markets without trying to make the game simpler. On March 11th, 2019, Capcom released a memorial video in commemoration of the series’ 15th anniversary, and also launched the 15th anniversary website.
A series of anime shorts titled MonHun Nikki Girigiri Airū-mura Airū Kiki Ippatsu (モンハン日記 ぎりぎりアイルー村) was broadcast beginning August 10, 2010. A sequel, MonHun Nikki Girigiri Airū-mura G, was produced.
A manga titled Monster Hunter Orage was published jointly by Kodansha and Capcom in April 2008. The author of the manga is Hiro Mashima. There are four volumes total with the last volume published on May 4, 2009. An English release of Monster Hunter Orage first took place on June 28, 2011.
A trading card game titled Monster Hunter Hunting Card was released in October 2008 with periodic updates planned.
In 2012, it was reported that film director Paul W. S. Anderson might direct a film adaptation of Monster Hunter. During the September 2016 Tokyo Game Show Capcom producer Ryozo Tsujimoto stated that a live-action Monster Hunter film is currently in development within Hollywood. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, who both helped to bring Capcom's Resident Evil property to a series of live-action films, have obtained the rights from Capcom to adapt Monster Hunter after about five years of discussion. They foresee a series of Monster Hunter films. Anderson said he was drawn to the Monster Hunter property not only because of the series' popularity but also for the "incredibly beautiful, immersive world they've created". Anderson has already written a script, which would involve an American being dragged into the parallel universe that the Monster Hunter series is set in, learning how to fight monsters, and then having to deal with the situation when monsters cross back into the real world and start attacking, such as a final climactic battle at Los Angeles International Airport. Constantin Film has confirmed they will be producing the film, with the aim of going into production in late 2017 or early 2018. Monster Hunter was formally announced by Capcom in October 2018, with production starting that month with Impact Pictures and Constantin Film. It was originally scheduled for release on September 4th, 2020, and then on 23rd April, 2021. It was released on December 3rd, 2020.
The film is based on a United Nations task force falling into an alternate dimension where Hunters fight off monsters, and the force join the Hunters to prevent monsters from returning through the portal to Earth. The film stars Milla Jovovich (known for her major role in the live-action Resident Evil films), Ron Perlman, T.I. Harris, Diego Boneta, and Tony Jaa.
Capcom and Pure Imagination Studios announced that they were working on a 3D animated film, Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild. The special was written by Joshua Fine, and feature a fledgling hunter taking down an Elder Dragon. Originally slated for a 2019 release, the film was released on August 12th, 2021 on Netflix.
Sales and popularity
Monster Hunter has generally been more popular in Japan than Western markets like North America and Europe. While the first game on the PlayStation 2 was successful, the series took off explosively in Japan with Monster Hunter Freedom on the PlayStation Portable. Handheld systems are generally more popular in Japan, and due to the country's high population density, it was easy to find players to hunt cooperatively with, making it a phenomena there. In contrast, Western markets favored home consoles and computers during the mid-2000s. The series also struggled with a difficult learning curve that had made the games off-putting in Western markets.
The series had little popularity in the West until the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Nintendo 3DS, a console that had gained a sizable foothold in Western markets. While Monster Hunter's popularity in the West was still to a niche group, Capcom saw the potential for more growth there and took steps to better localize the next few titles to make the series more attractive; Monster Hunter 4 was the first game in the series to break one million sales in Western markets. Capcom recognized there was still room for further growth of the series there; in an October 2016 interview, Capcom chairman Kenzo Tsujimoto said they are looking towards increasing the popularity of the games in the Western markets, recognizing that gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have dominance in these regions over handhelds. Monster Hunter: World, the series's first major entry targeting home consoles and computers, was developed to be more alluring for Western markets without trying to make the game simpler.
Since the series debuted, Monster Hunter has sold more than 63 million units across all titles by March 2020. The series became Capcom's second highest-selling series, following Resident Evil, by December 2018.
In the three days after release, Monster Hunter: World shipped over five million units (including digital sales), according to Capcom, and bringing the total series' sales to over 45 million by the end of January 2018. By early March 2018, World had reached a combined retail and digital 7.5 million units shipped, making it Capcom's best-selling game in its history. By mid-August 2018, following World's release to personal computers, the title had shipped more than 10 million units, and bringing total sales in the series to over 50 million units. More than 70% of World's sales were outside of Japan, a major milestone for Capcom and helping to lead its profitability during the 2018 fiscal year. The release of World's major expansion Iceborne had more than five million sales by March 2020, alongside total World sales to 15.5 million.
The success of Monster Hunter has served as a point of influence or inspiration for other game companies who have created similar games, these include God Eater, Freedom Wars, Soul Sacrifice, Toukiden and Dauntless.
- Paul W. S. Anderson to direct Capcom's 'Monster Hunter'?