Nintendo 3DS

How Predator/Prey Relationships Built Monster Hunter Generations New Elder Dragon

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Monster Hunter Generations’ got a new, chilling Elder Dragon in the form of Osutogaroa – the Corpse Wyvern. Well, more like Corpse Cephalopod, but what do naming conventions even mean to the Hunters Guild these days? The big ‘ol bone squid covers its body in the bones of monsters it’s killed, and tips each of its two tentacles in different monster skulls to mislead hunter, prey, and rival predators (if any) into thinking it’s a fierce hydra. It can swap monster skulls in battle, and concentrate its latent energy into an elemental blast – either from the tentacle, or from the mouth of the beast itself.

 

But, it wasn’t always such a cunning creeper. In fact, its original design was anything but cunning.

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Osutogaroa began as lumbering fortress. The only part of the monster the player would see in the opening cinematic was its castle-like shell, whose points (made to look like a conch) would bare a resemblance to cannons – which would begin to fire projectiles as they drew near. The player would climb Osutogaroa’s shell and break these cannons. After breaking enough, two Hydra heads would pop out of the water and surprise the player. At this point they’d put two and two together and realize the fortress was really just a shell.

 

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In later designs, they scuttled the fortress idea but elaborated on Osutogaroa’s deceptive tentacles and super-predator status. To lure in flying wyverns, It would lift its head-like tentacle above the water’s surface. When they drew near, it would launch itself out of the water, knock it out, and drag it to its den where it would dispose of its remains.

While the remains would continue to decompose underground, a forest of giant fungus would grow above the surface. In some of the sketches for Osutogaroa’s habitat, the player is supposed to run through the different areas and slowly piece together the identity of the mysterious Elder Dragon, first seeing the giant fungus, then the bones, then the cave filled with water, then a small patch of land littered with bones and populated by fungus. Then the creature would make its reveal.

 

Oh, and it’s worth noting that the monster was supposed to puzzle the Hunter’s Guild, chalking up witness accounts to nothing more than illusions or shadows. A silhouette not unlike that of the Loch Ness Monster pops up in its final sketches and adds a nice bit of lore to the Monster Hunter universe.

 

This heavy focus on predator/prey relationship carried over into other monster designs as well.

 

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Osutogaroa is a super predator that makes use of deception – but smaller monsters like, say, the Great Maccao, rely on stealth to find their meals. The Great Maccao is a scavenger, snatching eggs from nests while large wyverns are out on the hunt. Originally its hands were rather like large scoops – perfectly shaped for holding and transporting large eggs – and this helped design its attack style: boxing.

 

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The large scoop-shaped hands resemble boxing gloves, and were hard enough to deflect attacks. In a defensive situation, the Great Maccao would raise its egg-stealing mitts to its face, not unlike professional boxer. In addition, it would duck to dodge and use the opportunity to deliver a strong spinning uppercut that would put Little Mac to shame. Eventually, the Great Maccao’s boxing gloves were removed, and its style moved from boxing to kick-boxing, using its tail to propel itself and deliver strong attacks.

 

The Great Maccao makes a suitable replacement for the Great Jaggi, and its fast but readable attacks make it a blast to fight with any style. On the topic of weapons, The Great Maccao also appears in sketches for the Wyvern Boomerang concept weapon, which we covered a while back. The hunter’s ability to punch the Wyvern Boomerang seemed to compliment the Great Maccao’s original boxing-oriented design – perhaps he would punch it back at the wyvern – but sadly didn’t make it into Monster Hunter Generations.

 

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Lastly, there is Malfestio. The new Owl Monster is a testament to the Monster Hunter team’s focus on real movement and observation of the natural world. Have you seen an owl hunt? Then you will know how Malfestio hunts. It stays low to the ground as it stalks you after a successful hit. It turns its head 360* if you manage to get behind it, not giving you a single moment to breathe.

 

What’s more, Malfestio’s “gimmick” you could say is something new to Monster Hunter. Certain bird families have a unique type of protective feathering called powder down. While real-world birds use it to clean and waterproof their feathers, Malfestio’s powder down has a unique characteristic to it: it numbs the senses. To a hunter, this means reversing all of your movements using the circle-pad. If you’re holding the opposite direction when it wears off, it will create an opening for Malfestio by having you quickly turn in the opposite direction.

 

Malfestio, like its real world inspiration, is a cunning and sly hunter – and you can try fighting it yourself when Monster Hunter Generations is released in the west this summer.