Monster Hunter is a franchise that seemingly manages to embrace its own complexity. The series is notorious for being overwhelming at times, especially from a newcomer’s perspective. It frequently introduces perplexing gameplay mechanics, sometimes at a breakneck pace. However, despite these initial hurdles, an addictive gameplay loop manages to grab you, just like the game’s variety of ravenous monsters. For the most part, this has not changed in Monster Hunter Rise for Nintendo Switch, Capcom’s latest installment in the long-running series. Monster Hunter Rise manages to retain what made the franchise great in the first place, continuing to reward its players meaningfully and make each monster encounter feel unique. However, a few new additions here and there, alongside a beautiful art style and fantastic presentation, have made Monster Hunter Rise one of my favorite Switch games.
Kamura Village and its surrounding areas are beautiful
The previous Monster Hunter game, Monster Hunter World, was beautiful. It managed to live up to its subtitle, offering a living, breathing world filled with discoveries and excitement. Monster Hunter Rise doesn’t look as visually exciting as its predecessor, mostly in part to the jump to less powerful hardware. Instead, the game manages to create its own identity, offering a unique art style that is both beautiful and exciting to look at.
Most of this is achieved through the game’s setting and environments. Monster Hunter Rise takes place in Kamura Village during an era that resembles feudal Japan. Its residents have eccentric and often fun personalities, with one of my favorite characters being Yomogi, who serves as this game’s leader of all things food-related. She is also voiced by the wonderful Erika Harlacher, one of the best voice actresses in the industry. Generally speaking, the voice acting is brilliant across the board, even though you rarely hear full sentences, with most of it being reserved for cutscenes.
Even though Monster Hunter Rise has a fantastic setting and fun characters, the story itself is only serviceable. This is nothing new for the Monster Hunter series; narrative has seldom really been an area of focus. The new threat present in the story has some cool moments, but it doesn’t really resonate. Fortunately, the game’s fantastic presentation and distinct sandboxes to explore make up for the narrative issues.
Kamura Village is surrounded by a diverse set of explorable areas, each teeming with distinct lifeforms to hunt and materials to collect. These landscapes are complemented by a fantastic musical score and a huge level of detail directed towards the game’s ambience. Traversal is made even more interesting with all sorts of noises coming from all directions, including the booming roars of the game’s titular monsters.
Hunting is just as fun as it was before
As the name implies, the game is filled to the brim with monster hunting galore. Series veterans will recognize some monsters from past games, including the likes of the Tobi Kadachi, Rathalos, Khezu, and much more. There are also some new monsters making their series debut and are designed really well, fitting right in with an already solid roster. One of my personal favorites is the Aknosom, a bird-like creature that can shoot fireballs at you. Encountering a monster for the first time is just as thrilling as it was in past games, as you need to learn its traits and behavioral patterns, which will make future hunts more efficient. Slaying a monster still rewards you with materials to craft new gear, or if you are in a Pokémon mood, you can capture them — which also comes with its own payoff.
Hunting monsters by yourself can be a lonely endeavour, so you can always dive into some multiplayer. This time around, online play is separated from the game’s story, meaning you can hop into multiplayer right from the get-go. Everything multiplayer-related is located in the Gathering Hub, offering quests that are designed for more than one person and including nearby services for ease of access. Joining an online lobby with your friends is made simpler, as not much is needed to get started. Multiplayer-designed quests increase your overall Hunter Rank, adding more monsters to fight as you raise your ranking. Likewise, the same can be said for single-player Village Quests that advance the main story and offer expeditions that are designed to be completed on your own devices.
In my own personal experience, the multiplayer hunts were a different kind of fun. There was a lot more going on, especially when monsters would attack one another. One of my favorite moments was when another player and I were riding on a monster, launching them all over the place, dealing massive damage as a result. Monster Hunter Rise also manages to balance these quests depending on the number of players in your hunting party. If you’re feeling up to it, they can also be completed solo. However, despite offering more money and items, the hunts themselves are no laughing matter and will provide a decent challenge.
One of Monster Hunter Rise‘s core gameplay additions is Rampage Quests. They are an essential part of the game’s story and can easily be described as a game of tower defense. For the most part, these quests, while providing some hectic gameplay, are more frustrating than enjoyable. Hordes of monsters will come charging at you, so tactful strategies to defend Kamura Village are needed to survive. After a few of these, the Rampage Quests start to lose their welcome quickly. There is a limited amount of workspace to place traps and equipment, meaning that it often becomes extremely tedious. Despite all this, tackling these quests in multiplayer can be somewhat enjoyable, as you have a greater chance of succeeding.
Per series norm, the most important part of Monster Hunter Rise is its progression system. Killing a monster rewards you with all sorts of goodies, which can be used to craft new armor and weapons. Visiting the forge will be on your agenda a lot, and yes, you’ll need to deal with that intimidating weapon upgrade tree.
At first glance, the upgrade system in Monster Hunter Rise is quite overwhelming, with tons of options to choose from. For instance, you may need to defeat more monsters to unlock other parts of the upgrade tree so that you can then use those materials to finally get that Great Sword you have been after for five hours. No upgrade is permanent though, with options to roll back gear, so you can recover your well-spent crafting materials. This is where Monster Hunter Rise becomes dangerously addictive, to the point where you start to realize its 5 a.m. and should probably get some sleep.
Enter the Palamute and Wirebug mechanic
Monster Hunter Rise comes packed with some interesting new additions, and the introduction of the Palamute is probably one of the game’s biggest strengths. It significantly speeds up traversal of the game’s gorgeous locales and makes exploring more fun from a gameplay perspective. The Palamute is also formidable during a monster encounter and will attack them to deal commendable damage.
Alongside your newfound canine companion, the iconic Palico return and continue to support the hunter while out in the field. Both creatures come with deep customization options and have a whole section of Kamura Village dedicated to them. There are even options to recruit a variety of different animal pals, each with their own skills that can be swapped out at any time.
All 14 weapon variations from the series make a triumphant return. Each one comes with a unique play style, featuring different combo options and ways to approach a monster encounter. Monster Hunter Rise makes this even more engaging with the implementation of the Wirebug mechanic. Essentially it is a grappling hook of sorts, presenting you with the opportunity to dodge attacks more fluidly and use the environment to your advantage. They add more depth to an already fantastic action RPG, allowing you to launch yourself onto a monster with brute force or knock them down to perform Wyvern Riding. The latter basically replaces the traditional mounting mechanics, allowing you to take full control of a monster’s movements to attack other creatures or launch them to deal massive damage to the monster itself.
More to discover
Monster Hunter Rise respects your time with tons of content, ample upgrades and rewards for those wanting to get stronger. The game also understands that some players want to take their time with it, with no real sense of urgency to rush to the top of the ranks. I’m excited for the official launch of the game, as I’ll be able to enjoy going out on hunts with my friends. Monster Hunter Rise is a game that I’ll continue to play for a long time, as Capcom has promised additional content, with the first round arriving sometime in April.
A review code was provided by the publisher.