With the release of Capcom’s Monster Hunter Rise for the Nintendo Switch rapidly approaching, I decided to see if the character creation tool was up to the task of creating – well, me. As a person of color, I’ve always attempted to tackle the character creation tool in various games to see if it could create a digital avatar of myself. Some have failed. Others have done a fantastic job, right down to the skin tone and hairstyles. So, I wondered how Monster Hunter Rise would do and put it to the task, simply due to the conversations of the lack of black hairstyles in video games popping up more than I’d like for it to see.
Update: Looks like the Senior Community Manager for Capcom Europe, who goes by the Twitter tag of @socksybear, has mentioned that he’s passed the feedback regarding the hairstyles to Capcom. Here’s to hoping something comes of all this.
When creating a character in the game, you’re given the option of picking from several generated characters, and you can start the game from there. Of course, that’s not my goal, so I opted to go with the advanced settings and was excited to see what was available. Several options can be manipulated; face shape, skin color, hairstyles, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, and makeup. Surprisingly, there wasn’t an option for adjusting the ears.
Getting to work, I got my character’s face similar to mine within a few seconds. While adjusting the skin color to mine was just as quick and painless. Initially, I was having a rough time doing so because of the lack of light – until I noticed that you could move the light source in various ways. Capcom, I love you for that, as it made this so much easier. Thanks to this, I matched up the character’s skin tone to one as close as my own. For those who enjoy doing the same, the color palette is vast, and I’m sure most will be able to find a color to suit them as well.
The rest of the options were also detailed, thanks to the tool allowing you to adjust the measurements (width and height) for every option available. Well, except for hairstyles, that is. I was also quite surprised with the makeup, as it allowed me to add a glowing scar to my character, which looks pretty badass if you ask me. Again, everything is straightforward, and it’s easy to make an adjustment and see if you like what you did. It’s not as complex as the one in Monster Hunter World, but it’s close.
However, I did find some disappointment in the hairstyles, specifically when it comes to those for the male and female BIPOC characters. There are lots of hairstyles, don’t get me wrong. But there isn’t anything that says, “Hey, this is what I’d rock if I could in the game.” The only thing that I could go for was a bald look, a Buzzcut, or an Afro. That’s it! The generic “here’s a BIPOC hairstyle” Cornrolls aren’t even in the game, and they’re pretty much standard in most games. You might be asking why it matters since we’ll be wearing helmets for the majority of the game, and you do make a valid point. Except we can hide the helmets or headgear, just like we could in Monster Hunter World.
Speaking of Monster Hunter World, this is a repeat of what happened with that game. Zero BIPOC hairstyles, and I know some people who asked Capcom why that was the case. I don’t think there was a reply, but going into MHR, I hoped we’d see a change with this. Ultimately, this wasn’t the case, and we’re right back to square one. Am I saying the game is bad because specific hairstyles aren’t in the game? No, not at all. What I am saying is that for every person who wanted to make a character who presents them, like myself, there’s a missed opportunity here. Would it be so hard to add a few more for all the hairstyles available? Demon’s Souls Remake (I loved the creation tool in that game) did it. Cyberpunk 2077 did it. Baldur’s Gate did it and knocked it out of the park. Adding to that, we did see some black hairstyles added to Monster Hunter World once the Iceborne expansion was released. So, there’s some hope.
I’m just saying that we’re past the point of ignoring other ethnicities out there who play these video games. Ethnicities who want to see a digital version of themselves doing all sorts of fun stuff in the digital world, and we can, at the very least, make it so that their entire being makes it into the game. I get it, the sad reality is that my ethnicity isn’t the majority, it isn’t the target demographic. But damn it, we play these games just like everyone else. Developers, please do better and make it so that everyone feels included.