It's hard to escape the buzz surrounding Monster Hunter: World right now. Released on consoles last week, Capcom's cherished action RPG about fighting giant fantasy beasts is the thrilling, bold evolution that the series needed. It's fantastic. But World isn't due out on PC until later this fall, and unless you own a console (and don't mind gaming at 30 fps), those months can feel like an eternity.
Fortunately, the PC has some stellar monster hunting games that'll scratch that itch while we wait. They might not offer the same stunning art design or some of Monster Hunter's coolest innovations, but they absolutely nail the tension of fighting a two-story-tall behemoth with an absurdly large sword. If the wait for Monster Hunter: World is killing you, consider giving one of these games a try.
Like Nioh is to Dark Souls, Toukiden 2 borrows many of Monster Hunter's ideas but livens them up by steeping them in rich Japanese mythology. Instead of hunting giant dragons, you're taking on equally vibrant Oni—Japanese demons that have taken over much of the world. But beneath that far Eastern aesthetic, Toukiden 2 is still faithful to what makes these games so much fun. Using a variety of weapons that each have wildly different combat styles, you'll hunt Oni, gather materials to craft new armor and weapons that, in turn, allow you to take on even more powerful enemies.
What's great about Toukiden 2, however, is that it's set in a large open world every bit as interesting to explore as Monster Hunter: World. Instead of grinding the same quests over and over again for materials, you can simply explore the world and find crafting items along the way. It's a feature that, before World, was ahead of its time for the genre.
Combat is where Toukiden 2 shines, though, and just like Monster Hunter there's a lot of diversity to it. With 11 weapons to choose from—including unique options like the chain and sickle—there's a combat style for everyone. A demonic hand lets you grapple larger Oni's specific limbs and weakspots and pulls you in for a deadly combo, making the combat feel fast and kinetic compared to Monster Hunter's more deliberate pacing. The only downside is that Toukiden 2's multiplayer servers are supposedly empty, making this not a great choice for players averse to going it alone. Still, Toukiden 2 is one of the best Monster Hunter clones on PC.
Monster Hunter's biggest competition on PC comes from indie studio Phoenix Labs—and if co-op hunting is your thing, Dauntless is the way to go. Even though it's still in early access, there's a sizable community and the fun of multiplayer hunts more than makes up for Dauntless' unrefined edges.
Unlike the open world Toukiden 2, Dauntless is a classic Monster Hunter clone through and through. You take on quests in a central village and then head out to spacious and colorful environments to track the monster and kill it. What's appealing about Dauntless, however, is the way it trims so much of the fat that even the most hardcore Monster Hunter fans gag on. There's still a meaty challenge in felling its colorful beasts, but Dauntless isn't obsessed with gathering hundreds of items to combine and craft. It's way less grindy.
For hardcore fans, that can be a drawback. With only five weapon types and a handful of monsters to hunt, Dauntless is definitely lacking depth. But if you're new to the genre it's a great place to start. What I do enjoy, however, is that fights often remind me of really good MMO boss battles. Monsters don't just try to rip your face off, they also have cool abilities too. Nayzaga, for example, litters the field with electric spines that occasionally fire lightning orbs players have to bat away with their weapon. Just like in an MMO, players will have to coordinate as a team, with some focusing on the monster while others destroy these equally dangerous threats.
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Stepping beyond the monster hunting genre, Capcom's charmingly bizarre action RPG has more Monster Hunter in its DNA than you might think. After a colossal dragon attacks your village and steals your heart (literally, though he is pretty handsome), you set out on a grand adventure with a party of AI-controlled teammates to take it back. On the surface, Dragon's Dogma is an open world adventure with a really weird story, but the moment you start fighting some of its bigger enemies, you'll see Monster Hunter beginning to shine through.
There's a deliberate and punishing pace to combat that makes it always feel tense and fatal, and Dark Arisen can be brutal for those who don't take time to prepare for each quest. The coolest part of combat is being able to climb onto larger foes to target specific weak spots while your team frantically tries to keep them distracted. Like Monster Hunter, breaking certain monster parts, like stabbing a cyclop's eye, rewards you with rare materials to use on your adventure. Instead of that tight loop of killing and crafting, however, Dragon's Dogma is much more in style with something like Skyrim, where most of your gear is found in dungeons or from merchants.
But the spirit of Monster Hunter is there, if not in the combat then in the esoteric systems that drive it. It can be a daunting game at times, but the ability to freely switch between equally cool classes with wildly different combat styles rewards experimentation. And while the world of Gransys appears fairly bland at first glance, diving into its dungeons is still one of the best roleplaying experiences I've had in recent years. If you do decide to check it out, be sure to read our handy tips to help you get started.
God Eater 2 Rage Burst
If all of the games above seemed okay but you were like, "Damn, I sure wish these were way more anime," God Eater is for you. Ported over from the PS Vita, Rage Burst definitely suffers from the limitations of the system but makes up for the bland visuals with razor sharp combat and a progression system that is easily the most robust of these recommendations.
What distinguishes God Eater from other Monster Hunter clones is its weapon system. Called God Arcs, these weapons smoothly morph from giant-ass swords to giant-ass cannons mid-fight, giving you plenty of options as you take on the demonic Arigami that have destroyed the world. God Arcs also let you take a literal bite out of a monster, buffing your stats and letting you use a monster's own element against them. While Rage Burst is decidedly easier than other games on this list, it'll appeal to those who find Monster Hunter's combat too deliberate. God Eater is more akin to a character action game like Devil May Cry, where you'll dish out a constant stream of damage. There's a staggering number of upgrades to consider when enhancing these weapons too, helping alleviate the tedium of seeing the same monsters and zones again and again.
You can team up with a squad, but God Eater 2's matchmaking can be a headache. Far more reliable, in most cases, is the group of angsty urban-dressed NPC teens you can bring along. As I said, you'll need to be okay with Rage Burst's unrepentant anime tropes, but the story definitely has cool moments. I mean, who doesn't like a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by demons?