Monster Hunter Rise is the sixth mainline installation in the Monster Hunter franchise, following the multi-platform Monster Hunter: World; I am sharing my thoughts and reviewing the title.
The more I can say about this game, the less it is. Even after 100 hours into it, I am still not even close to having done everything I want to do from the base game. Capcom have always been masters of perfecting their gameplay loop formula, and Rise is testament to all their efforts thus far in the Monster Hunter series.
The game not only looks great, but it feels great too
Given that the only other MonHun game on the Nintendo Switch is a port of Generations Ultimate, which now feels very clunky and dated, one might be skeptical as to how well the new game holds on the platform.
One would think that the Switch might not be fully capable of competing with the PS4 or Xbox in terms of graphical fidelity – and they would be very wrong.
In all 100 hours of my playthrough, not once did I feel the game was visually lacking. If anything, I’d say that the graphics of the game are at par with World, which is very impressive. It is a very definite improvement from Monster Hunter Generations, the last title from the series to come to the Nintendo Switch.
Aside from just looking great, the game manages to run at an impressively consistent framerate. Somewhere between 25 to 30 frames per second, the fps of the game manages to be stable most of the time – even in multiplayer with 4 hunters, with a companion each, wailing away at the monster, visual effects going off every second.
I feel like this game is perhaps the most accessible Monster Hunter title, being a very solid pick-and-play option. The portability of the game on the Nintendo Switch works amazingly well. The RE Engine does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of Monster Hunter World and packaging it into a portable experience.
Lets talk about the animations and cutscenes
The animations of everything in the game, from NPCs to monsters, are incredibly well done. There are some instances where you can tell that the same skeleton was used, as all of those types of monsters have one particular move in common. However, this is in no way a bad thing.
Reuse of assets is very common in game development, and for a game that amounts up to a total of 7.1GB, reusing the assets and still giving each monster enough unique animations to set them all apart spectacularly is a feat in and of itself.
In addition, the cutscenes that introduce the monsters in the game are done in a very unique way. Each cutscene is nice and short, and presented in Japanese Kabuki theater fashion.
Short, informative, and often entertaining, these cutscenes do a fantastic job of explaining the monster’s nature and the kind of threat the hunter will face.
The canteen cutscenes are not quite the exact same animation featuring the exact same food regardless of what you order. The meal consists of three dango, Japanese rice flour dumplings, and depending on what combination of dango you order, the cutscene shows your exact order every time.
A very neat little detail, and the charming dango song is worth a watch every time.
Now, let’s get into the gameplay
The gameplay is where the game not only shines, but often outdoes itself. Since this will be the main interest point for old fans and newcomers alike, I will talk about all aspects of the gameplay I feel are necessary to discuss without getting into spoilers.
The gameplay is largely centered around the new wirebug mechanic. The wirebug is, in my opinion, a novel addition to the series. Building upon the clutch claw, the new wirebug system provides mobility and versatility never before seen in a Monster Hunter game.
Allowing for amazing spiderman-like swinging out of thin air, instant vertical boosts, wall-running (yes, wall-running), and quick escapes from seemingly fatal situations, the wirebug proved time and time again its usefulness in every hunt. Not once did I feel like not using the mechanic, as it provides an incredible amount of value.
Dropped to the ground from a brutal monster attack? The wirebug recovery mechanic comes to your aid as you can zip out of it immediately and get back on your feet.
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The weapons are designed to harmonize with the wirebug system, allowing for amazing new moves, called “Switch Skills” that provide incredible functionality and allow for weapon use in ways previously unimaginable.
Some classic moves such as the Greatsword True Charged Slash, the Longsword Helm Breaker, the Charge Blade Elemental Discharge – all have amazing new variants. In particular, the Rage Slash switch skill for the Greatsword was my personal favorite addition.
There is something incredible about being an absolutely immovable force and unleash a devastating strike at the perfect moment. Greatsword mains will also be happy to know that the new Rage Slash whiffs way less than the coveted True Charged Slash.
The environment of the game is ripe with endemic life, lesser monsters, incredible terrain, and collectible items. Players can traverse the areas and gather certain endemic life that provide permanent stat buffs that last until the end of that quest.
Each locale in the game is incredibly detailed and there’s something to be found around every corner. Explorers will have an absolute blast using the wirebugs to reach any heights they wish, or to traverse the terrain in style.
On the topic of mobility, the new buddies – the Palamutes – are a fantastic new addition to the game. Allowing hunters to traverse the entire locale within minutes, these friendly canynes are not just means of transportation.
Much like the Palicoes, they have their own armor and weapons, and provide support during the hunts. In solo hunts, you can carry a Palamute as well as a Palico, or two of either. In multiplayer hunts, you can only bring along one of the buddies, 90% of which seem to be Palamutes.
Needless to say these creatures are very helpful, and very very adorable. You can also hire a whole battalion of canynes and felynes to send on expeditions to gather items from certain locales.
Dubbed “The Meowcenaries”, these companions are very handy in passively acquiring monster materials and other items while you’re busy with your own stuff.
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The quests themselves are split into two sections. Older fans will recognize this system, where the solo-only quests are referred to as Village quests, and the multiplayer quests are called Hub quests.
The Village quests are only scaled for one person, and are rather, for lack of a better term, easy. This may be a problematic thing for older fans who prefer the challenge of a solo hunt where the monster’s attention is entirely on one hunter.
The hub quests scale accordingly depending on how many people are participating in the quest. Unlike World where each quest was scaled for either 1, 2, or 4 people, Monster Hunter Rise introduced scaling for 1, 2, 3, and 4 people.
Additionally, players who leave quests halfway are able to rejoin the quest, which wasn’t possible in World where the quest spot was permanently filled even if a person disconnected. Overall, the multiplayer system can be considered a massive improvement over that of World and other predecessors.
Another new addition to the game is the new monster tower defense mode called Rampage quests.
The Rampage quests are your standard run-of-the-mill tower defense, but the really novel twist is that rampaging monsters will attempt to break down the barricades to Kamura Village and the player will have every resource in Kamura at their disposal to thwart the rampage.
With controllable mounts as well as automatic installations, the players have to strategize between hordes as the monsters keep charging through the valley.
As the hunters are facing several large monsters at once, there is no limit on how many times they faint while trying to repel the rampage, making it much less daunting a task than it seems.
One might argue that rampages are perhaps the easiest part of the game, which might not necessarily be a good thing as it hardly poses a challenge. Either way, it is a fun game mode to participate in with friends.
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However the novelty wears off rather quickly as the sameness of each rampage starts to set in, making it rather predictable and dull.
The skill system in the game is a very unique cross between that of Monster Hunter World, as well as that of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.
World-familiar players will be happy to know that the decorations in this game are all craftable and no longer drop randomly from hunts. Instead, the talismans are now randomly generated by using the melding pots at the vendors in Kamura, and the RNG on the talismans is rather generous.
Similar to World, the armor sets have a variety of skills and decoration slots that allow players to mix up sets to suit their needs.
Finally, the last point of interest that I would like to touch upon is a pretty obvious one – the Monsters themselves. Monster Hunter Rise has a neat little roster of monsters, some completely new to the franchise, and some returning favorites.
The monsters themselves are amazing and incredibly well animated. Each fight had me struggling to figure out the monster’s habits and moves in order to understand it and I feel like that is a strong portion of what really makes the gameplay loop work for me and makes it enjoyable.
However, the monster roster is seemingly one of the most disappointing parts of the game. The game feels like it finishes just as it is getting started.
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Even though I managed to squeeze around 100 hours out of the game trying to make my mixed sets and doing all the optional quests, the story itself is absurdly short-lived.
Having to fight the same monsters in Low Rank and High Rank with very little variance is rather discouraging. Capcom have promised the addition of more monsters in upcoming title updates, which will definitely help to improve the situation.
Overall, the game has a lot to offer both new and old fans alike. It has a few disappointing aspects to it, but its still a very solid title well worth the price tag.