If only Monster Hunter Rise had come out a year ago when most of us were locked inside, bored, and without anything to do. Many looked to video games to fill in the void. For me, Animal Crossing: New Horizons dominated my life for several long months, and it was one of the only games I went back to over and over to combat the boredom. If Monster Hunter Rise was out at that time, I reckon that would dominate my life—and even affect my considerable time with Animal Crossing, too. That's just how addicting Monster Hunter Rise is.
The premise of Monster Hunter Rise is the same as previous entries in this formerly-cult now-mainstream series. You play as a monster hunter equipped with one of over a dozen weapon types and armor crated from the very beasts you slay. You'll follow a story throughout, but the goal remains the same: slay some monsters and rise to the top.
Monster Hunter Rise's Gameplay Rises High
If you came from Monster Hunter World or other games in the series, you'll immediately be able to grasp the mechanics behind Monster Hunter Rise. There are a few new inclusions of note, however, that sets Rise apart from other games in the series. These most prominent additions include a new companion called Palamutes, a tool called a wirebug, as well as some new ways to slay monsters.
In previous Monster Hunter games, you'd have a felyne (yes, felyne) companion called Palicos, which are little cat creatures that would aid you in combat through healing, attacking, and more. They do return and are as useful as ever, and you can customize them too. Accompanying your hunting party are also Palamutes, which are large dog-like creatures that are insanely useful and even more adorable. You can ride these into battle like valiant steeds, they'll attack for you, and of course, customize them too.
While your hunter is the main damage dealer, having a Palamute along is so much fun. The ability to ride them brings with it the option to take potions and sharpen your weapon while moving around at greater speeds, as well as gather different resources. They aren't just a silly inclusion, but a truly useful part of your toolset. Just as prominent an inclusion to Monster Hunter Rise is the wirebug, letting players soar to new heights. This is a creature that allows you to launch into the air and fling yourself far, or scale large terrains like hills and mountains. In combat, new abilities can be used in combination with your weapon, so there are several new and exciting weapon skills that help set Monster Hunter Rise apart.
Using a wirebug in combat is exhilarating and creates a fast-paced atmosphere. Being able to fling around, dodge attacks, then strike at that pesky wyvern you're fighting is tons of fun. Its usefulness comes into play with another new gameplay component. The wirebug allows players to ride on top of wyverns and control them in combat. Should the opportunity arise, such as when two monsters fight each other, you might have the chance to use the wirebug to mount on top of your foe. You'll temporarily take control of the monster itself to attack, dodge, or launch the beast forward.
There's never a dull moment when riding a monster, and it's extremely easy to get the hang of—there are no complex moves here to memorize, unlike with your weapons. It allows for players to down monsters or get much-needed damage on their prey. Controlling the fire-breathing Rathian and attacking Rise's flagship monster, the Magnamalo, is an experience like no other. It makes for some incredibly satisfying gameplay.
Besides riding on a bucking monster like it's some kind of stubborn bronco, you can fight a parade of equally angry beasts in Rampages. Rampages is a new way to hunt monsters; rather than going out into the field and tracking these wyverns down, you'll be defending your village from waves of beasts. It works as a tower defense of sorts, where you can set up turrets that are either automated or manned by your character—these defenses are there to protect the walls of your village.
Rampages is a nice change of pace from the typical hunting gameplay, but nothing is too bombastic about it. Manning cannons and giant crossbows to fight monsters can be fun, but it doesn't have an incredible "wow-factor" to it. It feels a bit drawn out and not as fun as being in the wide-open areas filled with endemic life. Either way, Monster Hunter Rise's new gameplay components are the stars of the show, and all of them (even Rampages to a degree) add a lot of unique flair to this particular entry.
Monster Hunter Rise's Stunning Presentation
Going from Monster Hunter World to Rise, the transition in graphical fidelity can be a little jarring. World was, and still is, a beautiful game. The hardware on the Switch just isn't capable of running such a pretty game. Despite this, Rise is still a visually pleasing game in its own right. The RE Engine is a fantastic game engine and is able to run Rise very smoothly. You're not going to find that the detail in the environments and monsters are lacking. The reflections of the water look realistic and the monsters, weapons, and animal companions are very detailed.
Speaking of monsters, there's a range of newcomers to the Monster Hunter roster, from the platypus-like Tetranadon to the mud-flinging Almudron. Each one is so unique and themed appropriately for Rise's blatantly Japanese aesthetic. The new monsters are incredibly thrilling to fight, but the roster of returning foes such as the Anjanath and Diablos are just as engaging as ever.
The graphics really pop when inside Kamura Village, your home base in Rise. This area is a densely packed, old-fashioned Japanese-like town with cherry blossoms blowing every which way, NPCs working away on crafting or cooking, and more. This hub area is probably my favorite in the series, surpassing World's hub in aesthetic and character. And whether you decide to dock the Switch and play on the big screen or fight in handheld, Rise is going to look surprisingly crisp no matter what.
The presentation thus far is stellar, although I wish there was more story to Rise. I can't expect Capcom to craft a story equally as grand as World's, which was filled with voiced cutscenes and far more story content in general, but I had hoped for something more. There's nothing of the sort here; sure, there's some dialogue that follows a story and a clear goal, but World overshadows Rise's story easily.
Monster Hunter Rise | Final Thoughts
Monster Hunter Rise is a multiplayer-centric game, although there's a whole single-player portion as well. If you want to progress, you'll definitely have to play with strangers or friends. Having played online and remembering in the back of my mind that Nintendo's online is less than adequate, I'm happy to report that the online seems quite stable. I never had a problem with my connection once I got into a game, although there were a few times where my attempts to join strangers ended up not working.
It's no wonder that Monster Hunter Rise's sales are through the roof worldwide. The series became mainstream with World, and many gamers are realizing just how addicting the formula for this series is. Monster Hunter Rise does a wonderful job of introducing new mechanics while feeling similar to past entries, and it even looks damn good too. I truly fear for society's free time, as I am sure it has diminished greatly for those who picked up Rise.
TechRaptor reviewed Monster Hunter Rise on the Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.
- New Set of Tools are Fantastic
- Palamutes Steal the Show
- Monster Riding is Awesome
- Decent Graphics and Terrific New Monster Designs
- Rampages Lack Impact
- Not a Lot of Story