For a long time, the Monster Hunter franchise was only a blockbuster in Japan and a niche series elsewhere. But that’s all changed in recent years with Capcom masterfully expanding the franchise to be a global juggernaut as part of the publisher’s “redemption arc” as of late. Monster Hunter World not only sold likes hotcakes, but it became Capcom’s best-selling game of all time. The recently-released Rise for the Nintendo Switch impressed too, given the former is currently only available there.
It brought some new great innovations that make the experience more seamless. The wirebug and Palamute are QOL features that are critical, and hopefully newer mechanics, QOL or otherwise, are introduced and older ones revitalized. Tri‘s underwater combat could be the latter, so here are five reasons it should be revived and five it should stay in the past.
10 Should: Unused Since Tri/3 Ultimate
For one, underwater combat vanished from the Monster Hunter series after Tri (or 3) on the Nintendo Wii back in 2009 and 3 Ultimate on the 3DS in 2011–later on Wii U–for their original Japanese releases. It’s understandable why it was left out, as it was said to have taken incredible manpower in incorporating.
After all, Monster Hunter games have a lot of interconnected mechanics for the player to learn and master as is, and those surely need plenty of dedication to design and program, too. That being said, spending that much time out of commission for such a potentially thrilling gameplay mechanic has to beg some kind of grand return in the tentatively titled Monster Hunter 6–presumably for PS5, XSX and PC.
9 Shouldn’t: Mechanically Cumbersome
The easiest point against underwater gameplay, for the time being, is how mechanically cumbersome it was in the aforementioned two games. Part of the reason Monster Hunter was only a niche global series and Japan-only blockbuster was in some of the tedious mechanics of the older games on PS2 and PSP in particular.
The Wii was not much different, however, as even though the concept of underwater combat seemed thrilling conceptually, it made boss fights needlessly stressful. Given the camera controls were always a factor partially against the player still then, throwing in fighting agile, lethal underwater monsters seemed another pointless disadvantage.
8 Should: The Lord Of The Sea’s Return
Perhaps the biggest casualty in putting this mechanic on ice is the minimal exposure of fan-favorite monster Lagiacrus. The Lord of the Sea was the flagship monster for Tri and essentially the face of the feature, as well as the game itself. An incredibly well-designed sea wyvern and leviathan, Lagiacrus was an aquatic terror with its movements and electric-based offense.
To date, Lagiacrus has only featured in (for mainline games) Tri, 3 Ultimate, and Generations Ultimate, though was reportedly intended for World. However, it couldn’t be worked in given the monster’s skeleton model and difficulties with underwater, so bringing this back would mean a proper return for the sea’s Lord without having to overly nerf power.
7 Shouldn’t: Rework Lagiacrus And Co. To Work On Land
A way to work back in the likes of Lagiacrus and other aquatic monsters is to adjust them to work on land. Some underwater monsters have seen minimal appearances in recent years on top of it, but there are some that have been retooled to have aquatic characteristics and move sets while still functioning on terrestrially for combat, like Jyuratodus.
It’s essentially a repurposed Plesioth given the complications that one would have and Jyuratodus is based around mobility and attacking in muddy, more shallow water. Generations Ultimate included Lagiacrus, for instance, but adjusted his attacks to pose a better challenge on land. Given how advanced the series has gotten, perhaps there’s a way to leave out underwater combat but still bring back monsters like it.
6 Should: Modern Hardware
Speaking of the series’ advancements, the PS5 and XSX could potentially provide a way to conceivably reintroduce this feature in a future game. What Monster Hunter 6 will have in store is a mystery, including whether it will be current-gen exclusive or not, but there could be a paved path back in at some point.
Given the old-school “jank” it had back on the Wii, the meteoric rise in quality of the hardware at Capcom’s disposal now may be able to polish the feature and smooth out those rough edges in mobility. It might have some degree of growing pains given bugs at game launches and having been gone for so long from the series, but it’s something with potential.
5 Shouldn’t: Build On Land Traversal
But with how the two most recent games in the series, World and Rise, made land traversal–among other things–so much smoother and convenient, perhaps Capcom should just stick with building off the sure-fire winner they’ve got already. Particularly with the latter, the wirebug and Palamute made moving around an absolute delight.
The Switch blockbuster also added an exhilarating degree of verticality to the game, making the worlds feel much more alive. It’s not a cumbersome slog in the slightest as zooming across maps is easy, while players can also take their time to explore too. It’s the best of both worlds, so maybe Capcom should just focus on that.
4 Should: Returning Aquatic Monsters Properly
Aside from the flagship monster that helped introduce the feature, straight-up bringing underwater action back will also retroactively fix/improve even older monsters. Lagiacrus would get his abilities returned and improved for a modern-day, streamlined Monster Hunter game.
Plesioth, for example, would get underwater mechanics in a makeover, and maybe even Tri monster and menace Gobul might come back. Though, the latter might see some scorn from fans. This way, there aren’t any compromises and some classics could get a fresh coat of paint on top of their typical land-based and original water-based AI.
3 Shouldn’t: Too Much Manpower
As touched on, when this was first added in for Tri and 3 Ultimate it was already said that it required a great deal of effort in making this feature function. The series has been doing an excellent job as is in terms of adapting to modern technology and a global audience. With that, the trouble may not be worth it anyway, at least not just yet.
It seems like it was at least partially in the cards for World if they attempted to model Lagiacrus, but scrapped it. If the team feels like it would be too draining on everything they already have to maintain and improve on that’s already there, it might be for the best to leave it out.
2 Should: Opportunity For New Monsters
Of course, another clear pro is that if Capcom effectively reintegrates this in 6 or another game down the line, it blows the doors open for potential new monster designs. Thankfully, whether it comes back or not, it seems like the developers in charge of monster design are in a perpetual state of being on their A-game, as so many of these creatures are winners from a visual and gameplay perspective.
Allowing for truly aquatic gameplay and monsters to make a comeback, and the team can get even more creative. Having all the bases covered for land, sky, and sea would make for even better future-proofing of the Monster Hunter franchise as a whole.
1 Shouldn’t: Taking Focus Away From Other New Features
If there are some exciting new gameplay mechanics planned for the next game or the ones after, fans will likely be fine if underwater gameplay ends up staying in the past. There’s certainly not a bad chance that some beloved monsters that were tied to that method might make the suggested retooled comebacks with some compromises and compensations, making it an easier pill to swallow for those hoping for a full-on return.
Currently, Capcom doesn’t seem to need too much extra help the maintain and grow the games’ quality and popularity. As it stands, it might be more worthwhile to see something completely original be integrated into future games than siphoning off attention trying to make an older, more clunky element work again.
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