Today Capcom announced Monster Hunter XX ('double cross') through a dedicated Nintendo Direct - though at this stage, only for Japan. Due for release on March 18 2017, MH XX is a direct continuation of MH X, re-named MH Generations in the western market, and uses that game as a foundation to layer even more systems, monsters and options over the core activity of turning dragons into hats.
Time for some real talk. MH Generations isn't just the best game released on 3DS this year, it has a decent shout of being my favourite portable game ever - this is a series built on refinement, and Generations certainly has that, but its introduction of hunting styles and arts (special moves) was revitalising. People can be cynical about Capcom's Ultra Super Hyper Business Model of basically adding to and improving games then re-releasing them, but when you're talking about a game like Generations - which feels essentially endless, with thousands of hours' worth of content - it makes sense for everyone. Especially because, with XX, there's a solution to one of the series' regular problems.
As a Monster Hunter fan I eagerly await each new entry, sorry only because it means waving goodbye to my old hunter. MH titles have allowed save transfers before, but mainly in Japan, and only within the same 'generation' of game. It was painful to leave my 3U bagpiper behind and, more recently, I wept a manly tear at the thought of my 4U lancer's loneliness as I headed for greener fields. MH XX allows players to import their MH X save files, which at a stroke precludes my grumbling about losing the time invested in MH X, and is of a part with what MH XX is really offering.
At one point during the presentation a huge G slammed on-screen, and across the globe hunters smiled as one. G-Rank is back baby! MH X launched with high rank missions only, which of course scale to ridiculous levels, but the traditional elite badge and mission set of G-Rank wasn't there. G-Rank essentially means a tonne of new bespoke endgame quests, monster variants or subspecies, and new armour sets and weapon possibilities. I'm panting at the prospect.
A theme of MH X was the number four - four styles, four flagship monsters, four towns, and so on. MH XX goes with six, adding two of each category. The biggest addition will be the two new hunting styles, with the one shown called Grade style. Styles are basically how you've set up your hunter to fight - whether they're a maven of the special move dashing about, an aerial acrobat, a dodge specialist, and so on. Grade is a combo-focused style that seems to be constructed around continual aggression and the ability to perform counter-attacks that power through monster attacks - in the video this was being executed flawlessly, of course, and it won't be nearly so simple. The other style, which seems to translate as Bombing style, was shown only in silhouette - but anyone who's played with a bomber felyne, and watched monsters light up like fireworks displays, knows how explosively fun this could be.
On top of this MH XX will bring back classic monsters - Barrioth, Barroth, a deviant version of the Diablos - alongside two new flagships, which are some sort of rocket-winged hellbeast, and a silvery dragon named Barufaruku. The desert environment from MH 2 returns, alongside a new and utterly gorgeous mountaintop map. Prowlers seem to have new attacks and be using hunter styles like Aerial. One of the new cities has lots of blimps, which is always nice. This is what they're showing at first glance, of a game that we already know will have incredible legs.
MH X is a magnificent game, and it's hard to define exactly what the relationship with MH XX is - this isn't a remake, and it adds too much to be a director's cut, but nor is it the next entry proper. Some might not be happy with this, but Capcom's record with the MH games is relatively flawless - hunters already know that this is going to be a truly special game. In fact, if you ask me, it's so hot it should really be Monster Hunter XXX.