The Monster Hunter (モンスターハンター, Monsutā Hantā) franchise is a series of fantasy-themed action role-playing video games that started with the game Monster Hunter for PlayStation 2, released in 2004. Titles have been released across a variety of platforms, including personal computer, home console, portable consoles, and mobile devices. The series is developed and published by Capcom.
Logo for Monster Hunter
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Creator(s) Kaname Fujioka
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
First release Monster Hunter
March 11, 2004
Latest release Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
September 6, 2019
The games are primarily action role-playing games. The player takes the role of a Hunter, slaying or trapping large monsters across various landscapes as part of quests given to them by the local, with some quests involving the gathering of a certain item, which may put the Hunter at risk of facing a certain monster. 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. All main series games feature multiplayer (usually up to four player cooperative), but can also be played single player.
As of September 2020, the game series has sold 65 million units worldwide, and is Capcom's second best-selling series following Resident Evil. The early games in the series principally sold well in Japan and other Asian countries, popularized by the series' use of ad hoc multiplayer features on portable consoles. Monster Hunter has been critically well received in Western markets, but had generally languished in sales, in part due to the game's high learning curve. However, with Monster Hunter: World (2018), 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 best-selling Monster Hunter game within three days of its release, and became Capcom's best-selling game with 16.6 million sales by September 2020, including more than 70% outside of Japan.
In addition to games, the franchise has an anime based on the spin-off game Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airou Village, Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On based on Monster Hunter Stories, a manga Monster Hunter Orage, and a book Monster Hunter Episode. A feature film was released on December 3, 2020.
Monster Hunter games are action role-playing games that takes place in a shared low fantasy setting, where the human-like species have a pre-industrial level of technology such as steam power, but continue to study the ruins of a long-past advanced civilization. In the setting's less populated regions, monsters roam the landscape and threaten small villages or research bases that have been established to study the ruins and these monsters. Players take the role of a Hunter that serves to help protect the villages and bases from these monsters, typically aiding in researching these. This is generally presented through a series of quests to slay or trap a monster, but can include numerous optional challenges.
The core feature of Monster Hunter is its compulsion loop. Unlike traditional computer role-playing games, a player's Hunter does not grow and has no intrinsic attributes whatsoever. Rather, the Hunter's abilities are instead defined by the specific weapons and armour they select prior to leaving on a mission. The games have more than ten weapon archetypes, such as a sword, axe, lance, hammer, and bow, each with distinct advantages and downsides, and a vast array of specific weapons that provide attack power and the ability to inflict elemental or status effects on a monster. Multiple pieces of armor can be worn, providing defensive value and also resistances to certain types of attacks or status effects, and additional skills that boost the Hunter's attributes while in the field, although there are also downsides to certain combinations of armor. In later games, additional equipment atop armor can be worn to further boost those skills, such as adding gems to maximise the effect of positive skills and render null those of negative skills. While the Hunter starts the game with basic equipment and can buy some more equipment, most of the gear must be made by collecting resources from the field, including parts that are carved from downed monsters or given as rewards from completing quests successfully. The gameplay loop becomes one of selecting the best equipment to defeat a specific monster, and using the parts from that opponent to make better gear as to face even tougher adversaries. However, given that the parts obtained are distributed based on certain rarity factors, a player may need to grind, hunting the same monster repeatedly to get the right parts. Rarer items are only available on harder difficulty settings, so the player may need to fight earlier monsters again in more difficult battles.
Once a quest is selected and the player equips their Hunter, they enter one of several environments and must track down the monster, as well as collect other resources used in crafting weapons, armor, and restorative items. Alternatively, players are tasked with gathering a certain item, which carries obvious risks, for example, the possibility of a large monster being present. While in the field, the player must watch their Hunter's health and stamina. The Hunter will faint if they lose all their health and be returned to the field's base camp where they can continue the mission, but fainting three times will fail the mission. Stamina is consumed by most attacks and actions, but can be regained quickly by standing still. However, should the Hunter use all their stamina, they will be unable to react until they fully recover, leaving them vulnerable to any attack. Stamina also decreases gradually from its maximum amount to a minimum point, and can only be replenished by eating cooked meat or other items that increase stamina. There are also armor combinations that allow players to maintain the same amount of stamina by cancelling hunger, reducing it or even increasing it. The games offer a number of tools and other equipment that can be used to help defeat a monster and recover health and stamina while in the field. Combat is centered around watching for a monster's tells prior to an attack to be able to dodge it and/or make a counter-attack, and looking for openings to unleash strings of attack combos, depending on the Hunter's current weapon. In most cases, once the player has initiated an action, such as a combat maneuver or taking a recovery item, they cannot cancel that move until its animation cycle is complete (a method called "animation priority"), which also may leave them vulnerable to a monster's attack in mid-maneuver. In addition to monster parts for completing a quest, the Hunter is rewarded with Zenny, the in-game currency.
Nearly all Monster Hunter games have a single-player mode; in these, the Hunter is often accompanied by a Felyne or Palico, a sentient cat-like creature that provides support and limited offensive abilities in combat. Most Monster Hunter games support or originally supported four player cooperative online modes, allowing the group to hunt down stronger versions of monsters. The games typically have a main quest line, frequently called "Low Rank" or "Village Quests", which can take up to fifty hours to complete. Once completed, the game opens up with new "High Rank" or "Gathering Hall" quests, featuring stronger versions of monsters they have previously faced, as well as new monsters yet seen and unique variants of these foes, all of which provide better components for more powerful weapons and armor sets, providing hundreds of hours of potential gameplay following the main quest. More recent titles add a third rank of difficulty, called "G Rank" or "Master Rank", adding further variant monsters with new attacks and attack patterns
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, its 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.
Below is a list of games in the Monster Hunter main series. Each generation has a number of entries that are derivative of the original release. While the f
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