The Monster Hunter series has been a mainstay for Nintendo platforms for over ten years now, since the series made the switch from being exclusive to Playstation platforms. However, despite the roaring commercial success of the Nintendo Switch, the hybrid console has yet to receive its own Monster Hunter title and so far has had to make do with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, which is a port of Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS. This has all changed with the release of Monster Hunter Rise that has been built from the ground up for Nintendo’s popular hybrid console and boy was it worth the wait.
It’s difficult to review Monster Hunter Rise without first comparing it to the excellent Monster Hunter World that was released on Playstation 4 and Xbox One in 2017 and PC in 2018. World took the series in a bold new direction by making the series more streamlined and beginner friendly, whilst also bringing the narrative to the forefront. Rise looks to continue this trend with some minor tweaks that help blend the new introductions from World with the mechanics from the older games in the series. Rise will likely please fans of the older titles but is also accessible enough that newcomers to the series will not be put off by the steep learning curve.
Monster Hunter Rise looks amazing considering the hardware that is powering it and should be included in the list of titles that truly showcase what the handheld-come-home console is capable of. Environments are understandably less detailed than those in World, however they are far from barren and the fact that there are still no loading screens when moving about the locales is a testament to the job that Capcom have done. Built using the proprietary RE Engine that has been used to power the Resident Evil titles since Resident Evil 7, Rise runs at an almost stable 30 frames-per-second in both docked and handheld mode. This will occasionally dip however when there is a lot happening on screen but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t dampen the overall experience.
The gameplay is pretty much the same old Monster Hunter that the series has become known for, however it has been refined slightly to feel a little more fluid. Past titles have often relied on deliberate planning of each strike and learning the positioning required for the weapon of choice. That principle still applies to Rise, however it feels slightly more fluid due to the new wirebug mechanic that takes inspiration from the Clutch Claw introduced in World’s Iceborne expansion. The wirebug allows players to zip around the environment and reach areas that would previously have been off limits, which gives the player an unprecedented level of freedom. It’s a simple mechanic on the surface but it adds a new element to hunts and can be used in creative ways to take down one of the many monsters throughout the game.
The new buddy type added to the game also helps speed up the hunt process and improve the fluidity of hunting monsters. These canine companions, known as Palamutes, can be ridden, allowing players to traverse the maps at a much faster pace than before and even chase down monsters as they flee. Hunters can even use items while on the backs of their Palamute, which is another welcome addition as it allows players to prepare themselves while still traversing the map at speed.
The main attraction in any Monster Hunter game are the Monsters themselves and this is another area where the Rise shines. The roster consists of series favourites as well as some excellent new additions that require hunters to adapt and change things up. The tried and true formula of hunting monsters, crafting better gear to hunt tougher monsters, rinse and repeat remains here so it’s not going to change the minds of any players who have tried and not liked this formula before. So it’s a good job then that this formula is executed so well here and the roster of monsters keep things entertaining and fresh.
A standout within the new roster of monsters is the Bishaten, which is an ape-slash-bird monster based on the Tengu yokai within Japanese folklore. This monster slings fruit at the player while it bounces around acrobatically on its tail and is a real joy to hunt. The same can still be said for many of the returning monsters and the overall roster here is excellent as it contains a good mix of returning favourites and new monsters that bring fresh new mechanics.
There are also a number of additional quality of life improvements that have been included in Rise too, which really help improve the overall experience. One of the major complaints with World was that it was often difficult to get into hunts with friends and often required players to have completed the same quests before joining up, which is thankfully no longer the case here. In Rise it is now also clearer what quests need to be completed before a player can progress onto the next set of quests, which was often something that could only be achieved in older titles by searching the web.
While there is a story in Monster Hunter Rise it serves little more than a tool to continue pushing the player to hunt the toughest monsters in the game. It does introduce a new mechanic that is exclusive to Rise, which is the new Rampage quests. These quests pit hunters against waves of monsters, which players must defend against. Hunter’s are allowed to set up traps and heavy weaponry to use against the oncoming monsters, which makes it sort of tower defence style. These quests can be a fun change of pace from the main hunts and there are even exclusive skills that can be given to weapons to help in these quests. However, while they do provide a nice occasional change of pace, they often feel more like a mini-game rather than a full accompaniment to the standard hunting quests. The potential is here for this to become a great new mode, however in practice these quests serve as little more than a brief diversion to break up the regular hunting quests, which is a shame. Hopefully this is something that Capcom will look to flesh out further via post-release updates, as there is some real potential with this mode, particularly in multiplayer.
The Monster Hunter series has never been known for its story and that’s not going to change here. However, there are some interesting characters that can be interacted with when not on hunts, as well as some gorgeously animated cutscenes. There are also brief cutscenes that precede a hunter’s foray into a new area or a first encounter with a Monster, which are superbly presented and channel influences from Japanese cinema. The presentation throughout is excellent with Rise and the feudal japan inspired town of Kamura that serves as the hub in between hunts is incredibly crafted and a joy to return to after a tough hunt.
As with everything in life, nothing is quite ever perfect and that remains true here as Monster Hunter Rise unfortunately is not without its problems. As mentioned, the Rampage quests, while fun, serve as little more than a brief distraction in their current state, which feels a little like a missed opportunity to add a new game mode to the series. However, the most significant flaw with Rise is the lack of an endgame, which is an unfortunate flaw to have for a franchise that is popular mostly for its endgame content. The conclusion to Rise’s story is also unfinished as it ends on a cliff-hanger. It feels like Capcom are setting the stage for some free follow up content and have already announced a major update coming at the end of April. It’s almost a given that Capcom will continue to support the game with free updates similar to how they did with World, which should be commended, however it is still unfortunate that there is no real ending and no endgame content for those that finish the game not long after launch. As it stands, around 50 hours should be enough for hunters to see most of what the game currently has to offer, however expect this to balloon dramatically once the updates start rolling in. Despite this flaw the game is still a real gem to play and provides a plethora of content that is only going to increase as Capcom continues to support the game beyond its release.
Monster Hunter Rise is very much still a Monster Hunter title, albeit with a few much needed quality of life improvements that build on many of the bold changes made in Monster Hunter World. Fans of the series will thoroughly enjoy the refinements, however many will also be disappointed at the lack of an endgame at launch, which fortunately should be rectified with future updates. Newcomers to the series may find this to be an easier jumping-in point, however those that don’t enjoy the long standing formula they are unlikely to be swayed by Rise. Rise is a phenomenal entry into the Monster Hunter series and is nothing short of being a technical marvel for what it is able to achieve on mobile hardware. For fan’s of the series, Monster Hunter Rise should be considered one of the must own titles for Nintendo’s popular hybrid console and now is a better time than ever for newcomer’s to give the series a try.
Rise and Shine Hunters
Monster Hunter Rise is arguably the best entry in the beloved Monster Hunter series with its simple yet effective refinements to the tried and true formula. The lack of an endgame at launch is disappointing, however the content that is here is phenomenal and Capcom have already announced plans to support the game with tonnes of free content after launch.