Players take the role of a Hunter who arrives in Bherna to assist in Monster research of the area. The player begins by performing Low-Rank gathering quests before being assigned to take down specific monsters. Like in other games of the series, players hunt and carve monsters to craft new weapons and equipment.
Monster Hunter Generations serves as a celebration of the all previous titles in the Monster Hunter series, with villages and monsters from past games returning. The feline sidekicks, Palicos, return as assistance characters and playable characters. The playable Palicos are known as Nyanta, and feature a selection of unique support items. They can burrow underground to evade monsters, gather items in the field significantly faster, and can resurrect twice before formally being knocked out. The tradeoff is that Palacios are not as strong as human hunters and fights can take longer to finish.
Each weapon type features four unique movesets known as Hunting Styles, which bare similarity to the Skill Ranks from Monster Hunter Frontier G8. The Hunting Styles system provides more attack and defense possibilities for each weapon. Players can equip Hunter Arts through these styles that act as player skills. Hunter Arts must be filled with a gauge from attacking before they can be used. More Arts are unlocked as the player completes quests. All styles can use Hunter Arts.
Two new Hunting Styles are added to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate alongside the four that appear in the normal game. The Valor style and the Alchemy Style. The Valor style allows hunters to sheath a weapon to charge attacks and absorb enemy hits. A variety of special attacks can be conducted from the sheathed stance. By performing maneuvers in the stance, players charge a meter that can be triggered to unlock an upgraded strength and moveset. Valor Style players must play skillfully and waste as little time attacking or chasing the monster. Valor Style allows only one equipable Hunter Art.
The Alchemy style is a support based Style with an attached meter that slowly fills over time. The meter is spent on performing Alchemy which synthesizes special items. These items can be recovery or support items for the player or attached party. Alchemy Style allows three equitable Hunter Arts, but these skills are on a longer cooldown.
The four returning Hunter Styles from Generations include:
- Guild Style: The standard, balanced hunting style used in all Monster Hunter games. Can equip up to two Hunter Arts.
- Aerial Style: Evading into any creature, whether it be a monster or another hunter, or other physical items such as bombs, will have the hunter leap into the air. Gains new attacks in the air at the cost of some grounded ones. Can equip only one Hunter Art.
- Striker Style: Has significantly altered combos and changes to charge speed. Can equip up to three Hunter Arts.
- Adept Style: Evading the split second before being hit will have the hunter perform a leap that covers a great distance and has significant invincibility frames, being able to counterattack and string combos once the leap ends. Blocking the split second before being hit allows the hunter to counterattack and string combos without delay. Certain moves cannot be triggered from standard, and requires evading/blocking. Can equip only one Hunter Art.
Monsters can be mounted, terrain from maps in previous games have included more ledges to provide more mounting opportunities. Mounting threshold, however, has increased which makes mounting monsters more difficult than in Monster Hunter 4. Monsters no longer receive any damage or receive status effects from any source as they are mounted; in turn, other hunter's attacks can no longer force a dismount, and their attacks will assist in building up the monster's knockdown gauge.
New powerful monster types called Deviant monsters are introduced. Although they appear similar to Subspecies, Deviants have a unique title and have completely new attacks rather than alterations to the normal monster's existing attacks and/or more aggressive behaviors. Deviants only appear in their exclusive quests and require special tickets to access their quests.
The weapon upgrade system has been revamped, instead of requiring a specific list of items needed to upgrade, any sort of item in a category listed in the upgrade can be used, drastically reducing the need to grind for a rare specific item. Weapons now have levels that raise attack and elemental attack when raised, and accumulating enough levels will upgrade the weapon. Higher rarity items accumulate more level experience. Armor now utilize the same system.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate contains several returning areas from across the Monster Hunter series, including returning villages.
All fourteen weapon types from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate return in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, with weapon types varying from swords, bows, hammers, guns and lances. Along with the traditional hunter mode, Generations adds the new Prowler mode which allows the player to take the role of a Felyne, a sentient cat-like species.
- Great Sword
- Long Sword
- Sword and Shield
- Dual Blades
- Hunting Horn
- Switch Axe
- Charge Blade
- Insect Glaive
- Light Bowgun
- Heavy Bowgun