Monster Hunter has become one of Capcom’s biggest franchises in decades since its original title was released in 2004 on PlayStation 2. Capcom’s investor relations department calls Monster Hunter: World the best-selling game with 18.3 million sales as of June 30, 2022, not counting the Master Edition Set of the Iceborne add-on. The later version of Monster Hunter Rise currently ranks third among the bestsellers with a circulation of 10.3 million units. New entries are undoubtedly in the pipeline once Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is completed, and one way to expand the series is to introduce more elements.
Unlike traditional role-playing games like Final Fantasy, where characters can use elemental spells that deal their own total damage, the elemental attributes in Monster Hunter act as a secondary damage modifier. The 2004 title included four elements: Fire, Water, Thunder and Dragon. Most of the monsters represented these natural forces, and Fire was represented by creatures such as the original flagship monster Ratalos. The weapon that the hunter creates from monster parts usually includes the same element and has its own attribute number, which is superimposed on top of the net damage depending on the weaknesses or resistance of the target.
The second generation of Monster Hunter games introduced Ice in the main line, which was used by Elder Dragon Kushala Daora, and then passed on to powerful monsters such as Gammoth from Generations and Velkhana from Iceborne. After that, spontaneous diseases debuted in the third generation, which give hunters or monsters unique status conditions with less overall impact than the main ailments “Poison”, “Paralysis”, “Sleep” and “Explosion”. Several other games have tested the waters with elements, but Capcom should consider expanding the core list beyond Ice to give players more content to interact with.
Elementary experiments in other Monster Hunter games
Although the vast majority of monsters can be attributed to one of the five main categories of elements in the series, some do not. Smaller monsters such as the Great Izuti from Rise are independent of the elements, as are iconic beasts such as Diablos, which can be regularly seen in auxiliary media, including the Paul W. S. Anderson feature film. Some selected monsters, including Diablos, Barrot, Nibelsnarf, Duramboros and Uragaan, were assigned the designation of the element “Earth”, exclusive to the mobile game Monster Hunter Explore. In most other entries, non-elemental weapons and monster armor tend to focus on characteristics such as Defense and Proximity (critical strike chance).
Another spin-off, the MMORPG Monster Hunter Frontier, which was shut down in December 2019, experimented with mixing elements. For example, Flame was a mixture of Fire and Dragon, Darkness was a mixture of Ice and Dragon, and Sound was a mixture of Water and Dragon. More often than not, these elements were exclusive to monsters like White Fatalis, who used a mixture of Thunder and Dragon called the Emperor’s Roar. Some of them may still return, given the appearance of Espinas in Monster Hunter Rise, whose fiery breath also potentially causes poisoning and paralysis.
Advantages of additional elements in Monster Hunter
The best place to start adding new item types to Monster Hunter would probably be to bring back the Explorer’s Land designation for monsters like Diablos and Duramboros, known for their behavior that includes digging underground or launching chunks of rock. This would leave room for a handful of monsters with exclusive status effects based on Filth, such as the Madness of Mount Magala and the Bloody Corruption of Malzen, and would also give players a more complex network of strengths, weaknesses and resistances to consider.
Each new element should have its own Defilement, which adds a wrinkle similar to Thunder Rot, which makes it easier to stun hunters, or Fire Rot, which causes damage over time, and if the Hunting Assistants transfer a new bug to cause this Defilement, it will be just as fun. As interesting as it may be to see new monster designs and attack models (or more monsters combining elements and status effects like Garangolm from Sunbreak), probably the main reason why Capcom took this step is that it will contribute to the diversity of the build.
In Monster Hunter, there are almost endless combinations of armor and weapons that give players an advantage in combat or in environmental feats. A key subset of armor builds are those that strengthen one of the five elements, encouraging players to use something like the Ice Greatsword against monsters weak in front of Ice. Adding more item types to this set increases the chances that the monster armor pieces also include unique secondary skills. Exploring this expanding network of options can become too cumbersome if overused, but can add dozens of hours of content and new tricks to demonstrate.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is already available on PC and Switch.