Monster Hunter XX (Nintendo Switch) Preview
While PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and gaming PC owning western Monster Hunter fans have a lot to look forward to in Monster Hunter World, it's not the only upcoming Monster Hunter title. Or, at least, not the only upcoming title in Japan. Monster Hunter XX (or MHXX) - an upgraded re-release of Monster Hunter X (known as Monster Hunter Generations in the west) - originally released on Nintendo 3DS this last March in Japan. This Nintendo Switch release, similar to previous console series releases Monster Hunter Portable 3rd HD and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U, takes a previously portable game and gives it a makeover for the big screen. Although the title hasn't been announced for the west as of yet - the prospects of it getting translated seem unfortunately slim - the Switch is thankfully very much region-free, so fans of the franchise interested in checking the title out still can do so. Creating a Japanese Nintendo account is very easy, and accessing the Japanese eShop is as simple as choosing a user that is linked to a Japan region Nintendo account when booting up the store.
If you aren't already a Monster Hunter fan, it would probably be best if you stayed far away from this demo. Monster Hunter has always had demos more or less targeted towards returning players only, but with all of the baggage such as hunting arts and hunting styles, this demo is even worse on that front. If you aren't familiar with Monster Hunter Generations, you're probably going to feel lost. Assuming that you HAVE played it, then you should know that most of the new features from Monster Hunter Generations are still here. All of the hunting styles, the Prowler system that lets you play as a Felyne in battle, and anything having to do with actual combat remains.
Beyond that, MHXX adds more content to the mix, such as two new hunting styles... which are a bit more complicated compared to the other styles introduced in Generations. Brave style allows for players to both "brace" for attacks by holding down the Y button while sheathing their weapon, as well as to chain special attacks together by pressing Y and a combination of other button presses. Once players max out the "brave gauge" under their hunter's name in the HUD, both a quicker dodge as well as a wider and stronger range of attacks are unlocked for their weapon of choice. It's a bit overpowered but very fun to try in action. Meanwhile, "Renkin" - or "Alchemy" style - acts more like a support class, and gives players a barrel that they can shake multiple times, where depending on how much you shake it, blasts out differing effects. Of course, players have access to their regular weapon as well.
As far as Switch specific changes go, visuals are the biggest deviation from the original 3DS release. The game now runs at a native 720p/1080p depending on your current Switch configuration - compared to the 240p on 3DS - and the title boasts improved lighting, shadows, textures, and in some cases even geometry. Some might be disappointed that the game doesn't run at 60FPS on Switch, instead opting for a locked 30, but to Capcom's credit the full game will feature cross-play with the 3DS version online - so differing framerates might've been a problem there. On the bright side, the Switch version adds a fully analog camera to the series for the first time, allowing players to adjust the camera position without being locked to maneuvering it straight up, straight down, or left to right.
Fundamentally the Switch demo's content is very similar to the one originally released for 3DS, though there were some other small changes here as well. Instead of Barioth being the hardest monster you could tackle, the Switch demo gives players the chance to fight the Monster Hunter XX's "flagship monster", Valphalk. Much like the 3DS demo, however, there is no online option - only solo hunting and local multiplayer. If you want to take the hunt online, you're going to have to shell out for the full release. Other than that, it would be fair to say that the demo showcases more or less everything new coming to the game's Switch release. If you already played the title on 3DS earlier in the year, what you'll be getting is a prettier, and somewhat smoother version of that - but nothing radically different by any sense of the word.
At least when upgrading the title's 3DS visuals while bringing them over to Switch, it seems like Capcom has done a decent job making use of the stronger hardware. Maybe the changes weren't as radical as some players were expecting, and it'll certainly be interesting to see whether it'll be enough to inspire many in Japan to transfer their progress over to the Switch release, but what's most important, however, is that players won't be stuck using a 3DS add-on or that silly New 3DS C-stick for proper camera controls. That, and the game is finally rendered in a proper resolution. As a Monster Hunter fan, personally, that's enough to get me excited to play more.