I’ve been playing a lot of Monster Hunter Rise since it launched. Like, an unhealthy amount. It’s easily my new favourite in the series, serving as a great jumping on point for new players and a place for veterans to hone their skills. But while I’ve enjoyed zipping to and fro with the new Wirebug, and riding around with my Palamute dog companion, Rise still makes me uncomfortable every now and then. Rise’s monsters are easily some of the most creative, awe-inspiring beasts in all of gaming, which makes it all the more upsetting when you’re driving blades through their hides and making hats out of their wings.
I understand what Monster Hunter is, the clue is in the name after all. I do wish that there were more ways of interacting with the series’ beasties than straight up killing them, though. This got me thinking, wouldn’t a ‘Monster Hunter Snap’ game be wonderful?
This hypothetical Monster Hunter spin-off would of course follow Pokémon Snap’s approach to the Pokémon universe. Pokémon Snap was a natural evolution of the series, giving players a way to hang out with Pokémon without having to make them fight. This has always been something my partner has pointed out to me while watching me play Pokémon: ‘I love this Pokémon, why do you have to fight it?’; ‘I just wish I didn’t have to battle all the time, I think I’d really enjoy Pokémon otherwise’ — it’s clear that there’s a lot of space for Pokémon games that exist without having to lean into combat as a main focus. The reveal of Pokémon Legends: Arceus earlier this year is yet another indicator of this shift, offering more exploration and free-roam play, as well as the usual battles.
The Monster Hunter series has already started to take steps towards a more empathetic view of the monsters that inhabit its world. Monster Hunter Stories allows you to hatch monster eggs and befriend monsters, being more akin to the Pokémon series in the treatment of monsters. It still involves battling, but from a much more friendly angle than the usual stab, kill and carve loop featured in the core series. Monsters like the Rathalos, Mizutsune and Tigrex have become icons over the years, with distinct personalities that make them feel like real animals.
Imagine being tasked with photographing two monsters as they battle, having to set up your shots to get great pictures while also keeping at a safe distance
Stories gives players a new way to interact with these creatures, forging bonds and adding a spin on the way the series usually views its monsters. The lesser-known Monster Hunter Diary also took a new direction, with an emphasis on village-management and Animal Crossing-style interactions with Felyne characters.
Taking the monster-friendly ethos of Stories further could really work in a Monster Hunter Snap game. Snapping photographs is already a part of Rise, there’s even missions that specifically ask you to photograph monsters in certain ways, like catching a Bombadgy as it exhales gas and rolls around. The monsters of Monster Hunter already exhibit unique behaviours and follow strict routines, setting the stage for players to go in and photograph them. Imagine being tasked with photographing two monsters as they battle, having to set up your shots to get great pictures while also keeping at a safe distance. The new Wirebug is a great fit for a photography game, given that it allows you to reach cliff tops and hidden areas with ease. You can bet there’d be a cat running the photo hut where you develop your pics, too.
You could be a researcher tasked with writing the first Hunters Notes volume, filling it in as you photograph each monster as it goes about its day. This would be a way to have progression tied to something other than armour sets and weapons. Mostly, I just want an excuse to spend more time admiring the beautiful locales I’m usually riding through as fast as possible. These locales are also often filled with strange and interesting flora, as well as smaller creatures that hide away behind the scenes. I’d love to get all Planet Earth and slowly document each area, perhaps visiting locations from a variety of Monster Hunter games. The many games in the Monster Hunter series are rarely tied together, meaning the overarching universe can feel a little undefined at times. What better way to establish this world than by letting players explore it at their leisure, documenting the differences between regions and learning new things along the way?
More than anything, I’d like non-combative spin-offs to become more of the norm. It makes sense that as games become more complex, with better visual fidelity and AI, that the ways we interact with them should become more complex also. This is something that genres like military shooters have had to wrangle with recently, offering deeper explanations as to why you are doing the things you’re being asked to do. Nintendo has always been better at this than most, and with Monster Hunter having much of its history entangled with the platform holder, it’d be interesting to see the series broaden to appeal to a more diverse set of gamers. The Switch has sold extremely well, and has excellent gyroscopic controls that could really shine here. I’d bet a MH Snap game would be a much easier sell than the often-intimidating main games.
The last two Monster Hunter mainline games have both seen amazing sales, finally bringing the series to mainstream Western audiences. It’s clear that Monster Hunter is currently a very hot property indeed (hey, you saw the film, right), and I’m hoping that this success will allow Capcom to be a bit more daring with potential spin-offs. With New Pokémon Snap on the way, it will be interesting to see how well it sells, and whether this could be yet another sign to developers like Capcom that there is an appetite for these kinds of games.
After so many Monster Hunter games it’s surely time to build out the world a bit with some smaller, weirder titles. Stories is a great start, as is having the new entry tie into Rise through shared compatibility. I’ll honestly take any opportunity to jump back into the Monster Hunter universe but please Capcom, consider making Monster Hunter Snap.