Review: Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)

Monster Hunter Rise has the potential to be the best Monster Hunter yet.

By Nick Dollar. Posted 04/20/2021 16:10 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Runs smooth/looks great; new gameplay features are great; don’t have to watch cutscenes separately before playing with friends
Poison Mushroom for...
Story isn’t finished yet but will be in free update; tutorials are a bit heavy handed in the beginning; needs more layered armor

Is Monster Hunter Rise the new latest and greatest addition to the Monster Hunter series? Possibly, but only time will tell. As a veteran of the series having played since the PSP days, I was very excited to see what the newest Monster Hunter had to offer.

When first booting up the game I was looking to get right into hunting monsters and using the new Wirebug and Silkbind attacks that have been so heavily promoted, but I was slowed down quite a bit by tutorial window after tutorial window. Teaching players a game like Monster Hunter is no easy task, as there are a lot of different systems going on within the game, but Capcom’s approach of throwing loads of tutorials at the player is a messy way of handling that. Veterans can easily breeze through the text and pick out any new mechanics while skipping over stuff they already know, but newcomers are bombarded with information that can just as easily be skipped over. A large amount of these details can drastically alter the experience of playing through Rise if the player knows it and utilizes it or if they skipped it and don’t know what they are missing.

Monster Hunter Rise at its core is very similar to Monster Hunter World with each weapon fundamentally working the same as it did in that previous game. Much like how Hunter Arts were not carried over from Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate to World and the Iceborne expansion, the Slinger and Clutch Claw are similarly not brought into Rise. Instead, a clever combination of both seems to be the basis of what’s new to combat this time around. Wirebugs are introduced in one of the many tutorials early on and vastly improve a hunter’s mobility. A hunter can fling themselves into the air using one of the two Wirebugs they have ready access to. This ability allows a hunter to cross large gaps, climb over walls, or even set themselves up for an aerial attack on a monster. On top of the Wirebug mobility when your weapon is sheathed, each weapon has access to two different Silkbind attacks or moves when unsheathed. A pair of dual blades might stab a kunai into the monster for a delayed burst of damage based on damage done during the attack, while a lumbering weapon like the lance is able to tether to the monster and instantly close the gap between hunter and prey. The charge blade can instantly block an attack and fill its phials that it uses to unleash some of the weapon’s most devastating attacks. Whenever a Wirebug is used, whether for offense or defense, it has a short to long cooldown depending on what move consumed it before it can be used again. I really like the design of this system because it offers a choice to players: you can use the Wirebugs to dish out some strong attacks but at the cost of limiting your own mobility, or you can save your Wirebugs for more mobility and defensive options. It’s such a great addition that incorporates some of the utility of the Clutch Claw from Iceborne and adds some of the flexibility of the Hunter Arts from Generations.

Another major system that is new to Rise is the Switch Skill system. The Switch Skill system lets you swap out one move for another, and there are three slots for each different weapon. So for example, gunlance has traditionally had a charged shell attack, which powers up a shot for a brief second and unleashes it in a more damaging blast than a normal shell attack. If you don’t like that attack or never find yourself using it, you can swap it out for blast dash which rockets you forward and provides some much needed mobility to the gunlance. The nice thing about Switch Skills is that each one is a choice and you aren’t ever forced to use them. The game allows you to define your own playstyle. You unlock Switch Skills gradually as you progress through the game and I often found myself experimenting with new weapons as soon as I unlocked a skill to see what cool new options were available.

The last big change to game systems is how mounting works in Rise. In previous games, a hunter was able to mount a monster with aerial attacks that eventually started a minigame where a hunter stabbed a monster with a knife until the creature fell over. In Rise you can trigger a Wyvern Ride by doing aerial attacks or Silkbind attacks against a monster. While Wyvern riding you can directly control the monster and you are given a lot of options while doing so; it depends on what you want to do at a given moment. You can slam a monster into a wall if you want to do some quick damage and get back to your own two feet and continue attacking, or seek out a brawl with another monster to use them against each other to soften them both up. Wyvern Riding is just another awesome system that brings forth what I believe is the focus of Monster Hunter Rise—flexibility.

There are five new zones in Monster Hunter Rise along with Kamura Village, and there’s a lot to love about each one. Kamura Village is filled with interesting characters and charm, and loading between each section of the village is nearly instantaneous. Each of the five hunting zones have a very unique feel to them and at first glance seem about as large as the zones from Monster Hunter World. The difference here is that the maps are more detailed and intricate, as there’s more small hidden passageways and interesting stuff to discover if you stray from the main paths—and there’s a great reason to do so as well. On each map you can collect permabuffers that increase one of four stats—health, stamina, attack, defense—for the rest of that hunt, as well as hunting helpers that provide benefits like inflicting status on a monster, or being able to lure a monster to the location of another monster. There are a few of these here and there on the main paths, but with a little exploration you’ll find a large majority of these boosters are scattered about the map in side passages and up cliffsides and so on. With these permabuffers and helpers as part of each hunt, the player can choose to go straight for the target monster and take it on, or maybe if they aren’t super confident they can take a bit longer to gather some more buffs before heading into battle. I really enjoy this design decision because once again this is a choice presented to the player and neither one is the “best” choice. It is a refreshing change to the gameplay when you can break from the loop for a little bit to explore and traverse the map to get a tad stronger before heading into battle once again.

The core Monster Hunter gameplay loop remains the same; hunt monsters and craft weapons and armor to fight increasingly more difficult monsters. All of the new monsters that have debuted in Rise are very well designed and each one has a unique fight. Meanwhile, some of the returning monsters have new tricks as well, which is a great thing to see. On top of the regular hunting, Rise features a new mode called Rampage which pits the hunters defending the gates of Kamura against waves of monsters. Hunters are able to build fortifications like mines that trigger when monsters get near, alongside ballista turrets that can be manned and fired manually or by a villager to fire autonomously. As the fight progresses and the hunters complete side objectives, they can unlock more advanced and powerful fortifications as well as some of the major characters from Kamura to help in the fight. Rampage can be quite chaotic but it can also be a very nice change of pace from time to time from the regular hunting players are used to. Having spent most of my time with Rise playing with others, Rampage really shines when you have a friend or three to help out. Players are encouraged to participate in Rampage as it allows you to unlock special skills for each weapon using the tickets received from completing a Rampage quest.

As mentioned before, I spent a large portion of my time playing with others, and the rest progressing through the solo Village Quests. Differing from World and similar to previous entries to the series, Rise splits multiplayer and solo quests into Hub and Village Quests respectively. Village Quests must be done solo and Hub Quests can be 1 to 4 players, with certain benefits being unlocked by progressing through each. It was a bit of a disappointment when first starting out when trying to progress through the game with a friend to learn that we had to do Village Quests by ourselves and could only play together through the Hub Quests, but as time went on and we finished off the Village Quests it was all smooth sailing from there. A great feature Capcom added since previous versions is the ability to skip through the low rank portion of Hub Quests once you make enough progress in the Village Quests. This is done through special License Quests that instantly rank you up for Hub Quests upon completion. As for multiplayer lobbies, they are very fast to join and there are zero loading screens as players materialize around you as soon as you join up. Joining quests is just as quick and easy when you can pull up the quest board anywhere in the village and hop into a quest with a friend. I wish the Village Quests could be done with friends, as I imagine most players do as well, but they are easy enough to complete and Hub is where the real Monster Hunter experience begins anyway.

The story of Monster Hunter historically hasn’t really been the focus of the series, and World is where the story finally became a main part of the series. I have mixed feelings about the story in Rise for a couple of reasons. For Rise the story spans both Village and Hub Quests but also is currently incomplete due to the game being developed during a global pandemic. As it stands now, and this is before I have even faced the final boss that you ultimately fight at the end of Hub Quests, the story seems fine to me but what really throws me for a loop is when you are about halfway through the progression of the Village Quests. You complete the urgent quest to get to the next set… and the credits roll. Things just end out of the blue. I was a bit confused when I encountered the credits so early on with so much left in the game to do. Now, Capcom has stated it will be providing an ending to the story in a future update along with new monsters and such just like it had done with World, so perhaps this is why the credits are where they are now, but it makes you wonder if the “ending” would be where it is once the story is truly complete.

Monster Hunter Rise is a perfect example of what can be done with Switch. It runs incredibly smoothly and only slows down a little when there’s a lot happening all at once, even during a Rampage with a full lobby. It has been some time since I have played World, but Rise looks almost as good. While some textures here and there are a bit rough, I highly doubt you’re going to be inspecting the wall textures with an angry Rathalos chasing you down. Monster Hunter Rise brings a lot of great new features for fans of the franchise while making it more accessible than ever. With the amount of future updates planned I can’t wait to see what Rise can become.

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