There are no doubt going to be a torrent of reviews for Monster Hunter Rise hitting the internet today from a range of folks who’ve poured hours of their life into the franchise. That’s all well and good, the comparison to previous games should go a long way to helping experienced individuals figure out whether Rise is worth their time.
Having said all that, I’m coming at this from a different perspective: As someone who’s only ever had a passing interest in Monster Hunter. I put a few hours into Monster Hunter World and while I enjoyed the game, but it was never something I wanted to sit down at my console and play first. Which made Rise the perfect excuse for me to properly dive into Monster Hunter and let me be the first to tell you: This game rocks. It takes everything you loved about World, including the more streamlined progress of the game, and translates it beautifully onto the Nintendo Switch even if the game is still plagued by those classic Monster Hunter problems the developers just can’t seem to fix.
The structure for Rise is a familiar one if you’re already acquainted with Monster Hunter. Your village is under threat from an ominously approaching Rampage of beasts and you need to do what no one else will and brutally slaughter them, carving up their corpses for parts to building better armour and weapons. It’s like playing Kraven The Hunter with an even comically larger array of weapons. Rise does a fantastic job of providing the player with a staggering amount to do; there’s a vast selection of different quest types to pursue, a surprisingly broad selection of monsters to slay and a seemingly endless pile of materials to farm. It’s overwhelming at first and the game’s explanations for how to use everything are poor to say the least. A small text box will pop up with a brief tutorial message highlighting what you need to know but its never explained in a way that makes immediate sense. Monster Hunter has historically battled to explain its systems to players, resorting to dumping them in the deep end and assuming they’ll figure it out by paging through a digital tome as they progress. I can envision many first-comers dropping off because of that but for the people that persevere, there’s a staggeringly well-made game here.
Monster Hunter Rise shouldn’t work on the Switch. As far as I’m concerned, Capcom has pulled off a genuine marvel of software engineering having something that looks this good running as smoothly as it does on the Nintendo handheld. The environments, while certainly not as stuffed with visual filler as World, are all beautifully distinct and varied across different biomes with loads to discover in every nook and cranny. They’re far more vertical than I would have expected, with secrets and treats hidden in locations you’d never expect but thanks to the lack of fall damage you’ll be able to go for that one rare ore jutting out precariously from a ledge without fear in your heart. Endemic Life, creatures that you don’t need to hunt but finding them gives you a stat boost for your current mission, encourages players to explore their environments, and dig up whatever they can find. It becomes fun to learn optimal roots to close the distance on your prey while maximising the number of stat boosts you can grab on the way there.
Yet the best part of Monster Hunter: Rise is the movement, helped along by the addition of ridable palamutes and wirebugs. If you don’t feel like trudging through the mud and sludge of a location, you can simply summon your giant palamute, jump onto its back and gallop after whatever you’re hunting. The speed boost is a much appreciated inclusion as it helps the game’s pace substantially. Hell, you can drift on these things. Monster Hunter: Rise has driftable dogs. If you’re not hunting a Khezu while drifting around the abomination with Deja Vu playing over your headset, what are you even doing? Wirebugs also improve the game’s instantaneous speed dramatically. You’ll start with two of the little insectoid grappling hooks on your person that’ll refresh over time depending on how you used them (movement cools down relatively quickly, while wirebug attacks take much longer). They’re remarkably robust in how they open up exploration in the game’s locations. Zipping into a wall, either vertically or horizontally, launches your hunter into a wall run which can then be combo-ed with your back up wirebugs to string together this impressive (and fun) display of parkour and grappling hooks.
It’s rad. Launching yourself off a mountain to come crashing down on whatever unsuspecting prey below you will forever be on the most satisfying experiences on the Switch. Wirebugs also let players perform a Wyvern Ride and while Rise’s marketing made a big deal about jumping on top of whatever beast you’re fighting and giving it the ol’ “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” treatment, it never feels worth the effort. The damage a hunter gets off of it is often much less than their weapons can deliver and while smacking around a second monster can be fun, the movement feels so clunky that it just doesn’t feel great. Something that can hopefully be tweaked with a balance patch or two.
There’s so much to talk about with Rise and I’m very quickly running out of words. The Rampage Quests are maybe the best part of the game for me: Just a boss rush mode of defending a series of gates from an increasingly angry horde of beasties where the player has to zip from fight to fight while laying defences like ballistas and bombs in their wake. It’s challenging but so incredibly satisfying. There’s a generous spread of equipment to forge and the materials, which can often be a little sparse, never require hours upon hours of grinding to earn; at least, that was my experience. I’ve only just begun the endgame which seems fleshed out enough but I’d need a little more time to really sink into.
There’s just so much that Monster Hunter Rise gets right. The very fact that the game is on a portable device is a big plus for me but all the other cool new additions make it a truly exceptional experience from start to finish. The combat is chunky and satisfying, the movement is fluid and dynamic, and there’s just such a huge spread of content for hunters to sink their teeth into. While new players may be intimidated at first, it’s well worth pushing through the game’s less-than-stellar tutorial system (which will keep popping up after a dozen hours in the game) to experience everything on offer.
Last Updated: March 23, 2021