Review: ‘Monster Hunter Rise’ Definitely Rises to the Occasion

Monster Hunter: World saw a lot of success following its release in 2018it has shipped over 16.8 million copies to date. This made me really curious to see what the future of the Monster Hunter series would hold. While Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, also released in 2018, was the franchises debut on Nintendo Switch, Monster Hunter Rise is the first one built with the hybrid console in mindalthough a PC port is also coming next year. The subtle changes in quality of life mechanics make the game a perfect fit for Nintendos latest system and streamlines the overall experience in case youd like to take it on the go.

Monster Hunter Rise feels very similar to Monster Hunter: World, and for good reason. You hunt monsters in big, open, and varied environments and then salvage their parts to make equipment such as weapons and armor. In the past, the series has been known for its complexity, which turned some newcomers away. However, many quality-of-life improvements that started in World can be found in Rise. The game doesnt provide any huge overhauls, so its the same core Monster Hunter experience that players will expect, but Rise manages to add in some new mechanics and aesthetics that help it stand out.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

The games medieval Japanese aesthetic really is charming. You can see the townsfolk dressed in traditional Japanese-inspired clothing, and many iconic aspects of the culture can be seen throughout Kamura Village, your home base in Rise. The candy apple stand, onigiri shop, and dango cafe all add to the small-town atmosphere.

Kamura Village isnt nearly as overwhelmingly big as Worlds main hub, Astera. Instead of seamlessly running between Asteras multiple floors, youll have to transition through loading screens to get between Kamuras main area and various other areas such as the arena.

Luckily, the loading transitions between them are almost nonexistent, usually lasting only about a second. Additionally, Rise is seamless where it matters: out in the battlefield. Much like World, the hunting grounds in Rise are vast areas instead of individual ones connected by loading screens. Thanks to the Switchs more powerful hardware, battle and traversal run smoother than they ever did in the franchises 3DS entries.

Rise places much more emphasis on verticality than previous games. Youre equipped with a Wirebug that essentially acts as a grappling hook. You can utilize it for both traversal and combat. In the games environments, the Wirebug allows you to scale walls to reach higher ground. During battle, the Wirebug can be used to add combos to your attacks. For example, you can propel yourself into the air with the Wirebug and then use it again to suspend yourself in midair before coming down with an attack. This adds new dimensions to the gameplay and makes the combat even more dynamic than before.

The absence of loading screens out in the battlefield offers many different interactions, including Turf Wars, which make their return from World. Areas typically have two or three large apex monsters, and one can stumble within the vicinity of anotherin which case they will battle each other for control of the area.

New Gameplay Additions Elevate the Series

Another mechanic that Rise introduces to the gameplay formula is Wyvern Riding, where, if you inflict enough damage with Wirebug attacks, you can actually temporarily ride them and take control. If theres another monster around, then you use the monster youre riding to attack it. You can also cause it to hurt itself by ramming it into objects. Although this new mechanic is great, the Wyvern Riding process doesnt last very long before you have to relinquish control of the monster. While its cool in the moment its happening, the damage you inflict doesnt seem to affect the outcome of the battle very much. These monsters have huge HP pools, and even though dealing damage while riding a Wyvern does more damage than your normal attacks would, it still feels like sometimes youre barely making a dent.

The Palico cats return from Monster Hunter: World as well. The Palamute dog is a new addition to Rise, and both of your animal companions will assist you in the battlefield. What I particularly love about the Palamute is that riding it around the battlefield is much faster than running, and it doesnt deplete stamina at all. When a monster tries to run away and seek refuge on another side of the map, you can waste no time at all by riding your Palamute and chasing it down.

Speaking of chasing down monsters, a welcome change in Rise is that you can just mark them on your minimap and itll tell you the monsters exact location. In World, you had to track them down by examining their footprints. While that added some worldbuilding, I enjoy the more simplistic approach that Rise takes as it makes for a much easier experience. You can also purchase more Palicos and Palamutes to send them off to acquire additional materials while youre out hunting yourself.

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