The release of Monster Hunter World has sparked controversy throughout the Internet as to why Capcom refused to release the game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s been three long years and Monster Hunter fans have finally received the alternative they’ve waited for. Despite the number of Monster Hunter games already on the console, Rise builds off of World with never-before-seen mechanics to hit the series.
Fifty years ago, the dreadful calamity known as “The Rampage” threatened Kamura Village. Signs of its return have resurfaced. As the new Hunter of the village, you must help complete various quests to supply the villagers with goods while also helping defend the land. Each new major hunting quest comes with a short cutscene consisting of a rhyme. These rhymes have been catchy introductions to each of these quests, but that’s pretty much all you should expect to get along with some additional cutscenes at the end of urgent quests. The story doesn’t go beyond that point and its seeming endpoint is a bit of a disappointment. It’s already been confirmed that a new ending will be added in a later update, so there’s still a fighting chance of the disappointing end molding into one that is of a satisfactory level.
Upon starting the game, one of the first tasks you’ll be given is making your character and choosing your furry friends. The game offers extensive character creation to make your character as detailed as you desire. You’ll have the power to change your character’s hairstyle, eyebrows, facial hair, facial features, clothing, and voice. The system does go beyond simplistic with facial features and color selection. Even though the armor you equip is reflected on your character, you have the option of keeping its perks while turning off its display in the overworld. There will likely be no quarrel with the amount of content the game’s character creation has to offer.
Unlike previous Monster Hunter games, you’ll be able to have an additional buddy tag along with you during your adventures. Known as Palamutes, these specially trained canines help support you in battle and give you more mobility by letting you ride them. Both of your buddies can be customized with their own weaponry, body armor, and head armor. These pieces of equipment change their appearance in the overworld. It isn’t as extensive as making your own character, but it is something to give them a fresh look every once in a while. The options of armor available for these beasts rival that of your character.
Monster Hunter Rise returns with the monster hunting gameplay it’s been loved for, with new additions to spice things up. Famous mechanics such as carving has also resurfaced in this game. You’ll be able to carve the materials out of the poor monsters that cross paths with you after beating the living daylights out of them. The majority of the gameplay will have you embarking on quests through various maps to complete their objectives. Collecting materials play a major role in this game and can be used as either crafting materials or a source of money. Although the basics aren’t difficult to iron out, training quests are available to help you get familiar with the gameplay.
If you’ve seen a video or a screenshot of Monster Hunter Rise’s gameplay, one of the first things that come to mind is how well it performs on the Nintendo Switch. Surprisingly, the game runs perfectly for what it is at a solid 30FPS. The developers did a great job at making the combat in this game run smoothly. But how well the Nintendo Switch can handle this game isn’t its only beauty. The combat itself speaks for itself with the variety of weapons at your disposal.
Weapon and Armor Variety
There’s a massive number of weapons and armor to choose from in the game. Whether the weaponry is long-range or close combat, finding the right one for you is the key to enjoying Monster Hunter’s gameplay. Using a weapon you don’t fancy might give off a bad impression; however, the game really brightens up after finding the perfect weapon and its associating skill that fits your playstyle. There’s no good or bad weapon in the game; they all feel balanced.
Each weapon has its own base properties. The newly-found materials you acquire open up accessibility to stronger weapons and armor. Each weapon type has its own style of attack. The skills you equip to your weapon of choice also opens up a new move to slay monsters. Utilizing these skills with the strongest weapon you’re capable of using and maintaining its sharpness makes defeating the toughest monsters ever so pleasurable. Failing to retain the weapon’s sharpness takes away your adventure and can make you fall victim to tougher monsters’ hardening gimmick. Situations like these prolong battles and make a powerful monster feel almost invincible.
Using good armor helps ensure your survival during quests. They all come with their strengths and weaknesses. Some offer a good defense stat; good and poor resistance against certain elements will reside within some; some even let you equip varying perks to further support you during combat. Making your own build and choosing the right monsters to use it against sparks the strategic side of players. It can be fun covering all of your weaknesses while trying to make the sturdiest armor you’re capable of.
One of the intriguing mechanics of Monster Hunter Rise is the Wyvern Riding. You’ll be able to ride one of the large monsters from time to time. Have them attack another monster in the area or slam them into walls to weaken them; the choice lies with you on how you want to weaken these terrifying foes. Having these large monsters duke it out on the battlefield has always felt as rewarding as ever. It opens up a new way to enjoy combat without having to hack and slash your enemies to pieces.
Mobility and Item Usage
Running won’t always get you far in the game. It comes in handy when trying to make a quick getaway from strong monsters, but that’s pretty much where its usefulness ends. Thankfully, there are better methods of transportation. Besides riding your Palamute, the new Wirebug lets you traverse the maps quicker than running ever could. It also gets you to high areas you normally couldn’t. It feels like a cross between Spiderman and Monster Hunter; the only catch is, you swing from plain air instead of structures. The ability opens up new ways to fight monsters in style, or flee the scene before fainting. Careful usage is required against certain opponents, as rocks can annoyingly be thrown at you from behind.
Using items in the heat of the moment is crucial for any player. From a quick-pick menu to opening up your entire inventory and highlighting an item to use, items can provide great support during combat. You’ll be able to move while using an item, although its full effects may not be applied if you’re interrupted or cancel its usage. The game provides decent tools and several methods to make it convenient to use these items during battle. The intended method has a learning curve to it in which you open up a quick menu and scroll between usable items. The option to open the item inventory and highlight the item isn’t always a viable option, even though it might be the preferred method for newbies.
The heart of Monster Hunter Rise’s gameplay lies within its quests. Although there are several types of quests in this game, the main two come down to Village and Hub Quests. Village Quests are regarded as the easier, single-player quests to get you acquainted with the game. After obtaining sufficient experience, you can move on to the tougher Hub Quests. These Hub Quests can be done either solo or with up to four players. There’s some level of catering done for the people who prefer to finish the single-player portion of the game before diving into its multiplayer. If you’ve accumulated enough strength to withstand the additional yet optional tests given to you, you’ll be able to skip some of the low-rank Hub Quests and jump straight into the ones more suited for your level.
As for the quests themselves, there is a variety to choose from. The most notable are gathering quests, delivery quests, monster-slaying quests, and monster capturing quests. Regardless of the quest type, the majority felt the same. Only the large monster quests felt slightly different. This was because of the different elements they possess and the style of their combat. The variety of maps also play a part in lessening the repetitiveness. Without the motivation of progressing through the ranks, Monster Hunter Rise might not have been a game that urged you to continuously play for long hours. It felt more enjoyable with breaks in between, especially since quests are the core component of the game.
Unlike before, your new owl friend is always sent out at the beginning of a quest. This furry flying critter highlights specific elements on the map to make completing them easier. You’ll always know the location of your hunting targets and materials have become a whole lot easier to obtain. Drop items have also become visible in the overworld to make collecting them easier on the eyes. It removes the troubles newbies may have had with the game while also making it a lot more convenient for longtime players.
One of the key tasks you’ll be assigned is preventing the rampages. Hordes of monsters will try to break through your defenses and it’s up to you to set up weapons and stand your ground. Similar to quests, rampages are ranked with stars in two sections: a low-rank division and a high-rank division. You’ll have to use your hunting installations and items wisely to defeat the threat that’s marching to your front door. It’s an interesting concept and something to divert your mind from the repetitive quests Monster Hunter Rise has to offer. These rampages have been an exhilarating experience where you must be on your toes to overcome the challenges it offers.
There are many tools to help you man your fort during these rampages. Besides special equipment, manual and auto weaponry exist to make the experience more realistic. While manual weapons are self-explanatory, auto weapons are weaponry controlled by NPCs that you can set up. Your Stronghold Level, which resets at the end of a rampage, determines the weaponry you’re capable of setting up. It increases and unlocks new weaponry as you slay these uninvited guests and complete sub-assignments during a rampage. The different types of hunting installations are commendable and while you have the choice of using them manually, you can optionally head to the field and fight the way you know best—with your main hunting weapon. As for the special equipment, one-time-use items such as the Counter Gong are available; the Counter Gong, for example, significantly heightens the attack power of all players until the timer runs out.
Fishing isn’t an important activity in Monster Hunter Rise, yet it’s been fantastically implemented in the game. Catching the varying fish is a straightforward process with little to no complications, but it’s always felt good throwing a line and reeling a big one in. This is because of the detail that’s shown when performing the action. It doesn’t take long for one of these sea creatures to take the bait and seeing them reeled in is both satisfying and relaxing to watch.
Playing Monster Hunter Rise solo isn’t the only way to play the game. You’ll be able to play with up to 4 players either locally or online. Combat is smooth during single-player sessions, but that doesn’t change when other players meet up with you on a stable Internet connection. There has rarely been any lag when playing the game’s multiplayer portion for this review. Finding players to play with has also not been a troublesome task. There are always players waiting for a hunt the moment you open an online lobby, regardless of the quest you choose.
Creating or joining an online session is no problem at all. The menus are easy to understand once you know your way around the village. Creating a lobby is straightforward and you can always lock the room down to a passcode, if necessary. When playing together with others you know, you’ll be able to see them in your village before a quest begins. It’s more exciting this way rather than restricting things after a quest has been chosen. It is easy to begin a quest without your friend, though. But after making that mistake, it’s unlikely to repeat itself.
Having multiple players doesn’t make a difficult quest easier. The difficulty is balanced during multiplayer sessions by adjusting the monster’s health based on the number of players playing. Additionally, the money reward is divided between players. Similar to solo play, fainting three times results in a failed quest. During a multiplayer session, failing the quest through fainting is linked between all players while the concept remains the same. Therefore any player who faints a total of three times means it’s time to pack up and go home.
Monster Hunter Rise is likely a game you’ll be playing for months to come. The hunt doesn’t end after completing all of the Village and Hub quests available. Even with the many future content updates that are yet to come, exploring completed quests with a different weapon or with friends opens up a new experience. With the different attack styles and teamwork, Monster Hunter Rise will surely add further hours of investment after finishing its main campaign content. However, the best news is the large number of content players will be able to explore later as updates slowly roll out.
Graphics and Performance
Monster Hunter Rise shines brightly for a Nintendo Switch game. Motion is fluid and the detail is clearly seen. From making a landing to mounting your Palamute, it’s clear that effort has been invested into these scenes. As previously mentioned, combat is also smooth with little to no lag. There will also be no long loading screens, which is surprising for a game of this caliber. Capcom’s developers deserve all the praise for making such a flawless game, in terms of performance, for the Nintendo Switch console.
Performance aside, the game looks absolutely stunning. The level of character customization is commendable and the character models certainly show it. The monster designs feel menacing and appear as real threats—as they should be. The several areas in the game fit well for the hunting grounds they’re supposed to portray. The little cutscenes have also been a joy to watch, especially the old-school cinema-themed footage before quests.
The game’s soundtrack brings life to the adventure that awaits you. One of the first songs you’ll listen to is the village music which is soothing to the ear and sets the tone of a peaceful atmosphere. Heading to the fields on your adventure opens with a short melody and is afterward accompanied by sound effects throughout the map. You’ll be able to hear the waves crashing while you transverse specific maps and your blade clashing with your enemy. There could have been more sound effects to further set the mood of the environment, but it’s far from a dealbreaker. Only when you engage a monster in combat would it trigger music ready to pump fire through your blood. Altogether, the balance works well even though there could have been more sound effects in the mix.
Monster Hunter Rise is a game that focuses more on its monster-hunting gameplay loop rather than its plot. The few new mechanics spice up this entry to the series, introducing new ways to subdue the wide range of monsters with a variety of weapons and armor. It also sets an example of how games with great visuals and live-action gameplay don’t have to be held back by long loading screens on the Nintendo Switch. With more content to come and online multiplayer, Monster Hunter Rise will likely give you over 50 hours of playtime.
Monster Hunter Rise gets a 9/10.