I have a reputation with the staff of this site for not really liking anything. While I can be a curmudgeon at times there is one thing I love. GIANT. MONSTERS. Whether this be the latest Godzilla flick or a game about giant fighting crabs I just love me some big old scaly beasties, which Monster Hunter Rise delivers.
Monster Hunter Rise is the latest edition to the long running Monster Hunter franchise. It was developed alongside Monster Hunter World with the intention of being on the current Nintendo hand-held system. The Switch. This allowed Capcom to focus on mechanics and reinventing the series while the team for World made most of the actual assets that would be used. All they needed was a little downscaling to work on the lower resolution Switch.
If graphics are all you care about in your videogames then go play Monster Hunter World. I sank 600 hours into that game and loved every second of it. But for me I wanted something new. New locations, new monsters and a new story. Monster Hunter Rise does all of that and then some.
A Graphical Downgrade But With Good Reasoning
So let’s get the negatives out of the way for this game. YES graphically it is a downgrade from world but honestly I rarely notice it unless I really press my face against those grass textures. It is also a shame that the maps in Rise are not nearly as complex as they were in World. But there’s also solid reasoning for that so these negatives are only negative if you ignore the context. The maps in Rise are less complex so that they can allow the game to feel a little more like a classic Monster Hunter game which includes monster behaviour, movement, type, and size.
With the negatives out of the way let’s talk about why this is the best game that’s released so far this year. The first thing you’re going to notice with Rise is the new movement system, Wire Bugs. These cheeky little silk spinners allow the player to take the fight to the Y Axis. Either you can use them to travel across the map quicker or launch yourself skyward to bring the pain down on your target.
Each and every weapon has been given a slew of special skills they can use while in the air or when launching themselves with the wire bug. Be that the hammer player who can now launch themselves into their spinning aerial which they used to only be able to use while sliding down a hill. Or the dual blades player who can now dash forward into an enemy attack to parry it and receive zero damage. It really is a completely different ball game with these new moves. So if you’ve been itching for a new mechanic to really wrap your head around and make an excel spreadsheet of pros and cons, get hype for Wire Bugs.
Now There’s Dogs! But are They as Good as Cats?
The second big change is Palamutes. If you’re a veteran of the series you’re going to be familiar with Palicoes. Your helpful feline companion who heals you, knocks you out of stuns and gathers useful materials while you’re carving up monster booty. Palamutes are mountable dogs that help you zip across the map and will also join in the fight much more aggressively than your furry feline fighters.
They are just as customizable as Palicoes including armour, weapons and abilities so you can really tailor them to your playstyle. However, and this is a personal preference mind, I find it more useful to bring two Palicoes into a solo fight or one Palicoe into a multiplayer lobby because a little extra damage is nice but having a helpful little healing tree planted just for you is just more useful. So my canine companions tend to sit back in base while me and two rad cats go on a murder spree.
There’s Something for Fans Old and New Alike
In terms of new monsters this games a winner again. There’s plenty of new monsters to give you new experience but there’s also plenty of classic monsters to get excited about too. While the Tetranadon is a big beefy boy who dashes at you like he’s picking up his Dominoes down the street, the Zinogre is still there waiting in the bushes to push your face into the dirt and repeatedly crush your dreams with his Super Saiyan tail.
A friend of mine did say that he thought new monsters in the series had started to feel “over designed” which is a fair criticism for a game that’s had to come up with more new monster designs than a new season of Star Trek but I don’t see it. The brand new monsters like the Goss Harag, Somnacanth and Aknasom look just as natural as classics like the Diablos and Rathalos. And the new Elder Dragons (which I won’t spoil) look as insane as any of the previous entries to the series.
Performance wise the game works like a dream. No drops below 30fps in or out of hand-held mode. No problems with screen tearing or graphical bugs. The game just works. Plain and simple really. The only downside to handheld mode is the awkward positions of the analogue sticks which is more a fault with the Switch’s design than it is Rise.
Combat wise there’s not been a drastic amount of changes from previous titles, most of the focus has been put into increasing the pace of the combat rather than how the combat is done. With the wirebugs added in most weapons are far more mobile than they used to be and instead of trying to get a monster near a ledge to get jumping attacks you can now innitiate the vertical styles just by launching yourself skyward.
Weapon Arts are Back Baby
Rise also sees the return of a slew of new weapon moves known now as “Switch skills.” This allows you to actually chang the combos your weapon has and how you play the game. Most of these skills are from older titles such as Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate’s weapon arts. While, again, these don’t exactly change the combat at its core they do add some nice variety for each weapon user to enjoy. If you want more verticality there’s a switch skill for that, if you trust your friends to fight in the skys and you want to focus on ruining the monster when it hits the ground then there’s a switch skill for that too. Player choice is the phrase of the day and Capcom have been saying it A LOT recently.
When talking about the story of Rise it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the ending isn’t there yet. The story kind of petres out a little and just says “The big bad will return, next week in Monster Ball G!” And we’re expected to wait a few months for updates to the game and its story. Personally this hasn’t been too much of an issue for me, I’ve already sank 150 hours into the game and felt like it was all for fun and not just to pass time.
It’s incredibly likely that COVID-19 had a hand in slowing down the development of Rise as it has in so many video games but the devs have already release their first update to the game and the next will be out by the end of May so even though there’s not quite as much content on launch as their was for World there’s also going to be far more frequent update with Rise.
If it wasn’t obvious, overall my experience with Rise has been overwhelmingly positive and it’s just been great to pick up my weapons again and slay some big nasty beasties. If you’re umming and ahing about getting into Monster Hunter then this is the perfect game for you as it is probably the most user-friendly and welcoming Monster Hunter game to date.