Published on May 3rd, 2021 | by Ignis
REVIEW: MONSTER HUNTER RISE
Monster Hunter Rise is the newest entry in the titular series. Monster Hunter, a series so iconic it has spawned it’s own genre, hit it’s stride with the last console entry “Monster Hunter World” on the PS4, Xbox One and PC has finally became the juggernaut in the West that it is in Japan, with Monster Hunter now being Capcom’s largest franchise.
With such huge expectations from fans going into Rise, it was clear that Capcom would have to step it up if they wanted to continue their time in the spotlight, important to note however that Rise and World were being developed more or less side by side so Rise should be considered less an upgrade and more a sidegrade to the franchise.
Story/Concept: Conceptually the game is quite simple, you are a Hunter of Monsters who is tasked with needing to slay beasts of all types. Whether they be giant birds, dragons, or beasts you’ll need to take your weapon of choice to hunt as many of these creatures as you can handle.
Story isn’t where the Monster Hunter series typically shines and Rise isn’t changing that. Rise’s story focuses very much on needing to slay threatening monsters as they come up, trying to protect your small village from disaster and what’s here is pretty forgettable to be honest. Fortunately, nearly everything else makes up for this shortcoming.
The thing with Monster Hunter is that it doesn’t try and take itself too seriously, the story is used as little more as a plot device in order to direct you to slay bigger and badder monsters and that’s totally okay. The gameplay loop is what keeps me invested in this series, and I don’t think anyone is coming to this series expecting a hugely deep story.
Graphics: Impressive is the thought that comes to mind when I look at Rise’s graphics. I was worried going into this game, given the Nintendo games have all looked underwhelming (They’ve almost exclusively been on handheld consoles so I can give it a pass, but still the concern was there) but the game actually looks really nice on the Switch.
Rise was never going to look like World as it was designed for a console that simply can’t put out the same level of power as the PS4 and the Xbox One, but it does a valiant effort for what the Switch can do and I think is definitely one of the better looking games currently on the console.
Landscapes are beautiful, from lush forests to barren deserts, frozen tundras and more. The game is bursting with colour and this almost photo-realism that was present in World, only to a lesser extent. Then, there’s the monsters. Wow, the monsters look absolutely incredible. From the Great Baggi, to the Rathalos, to the flagship Magnamalo; colourful, frightening, intimidating and everything in between the monsters only look better and better each game.
The other thing Monster Hunter fans look forward to are the armour sets and weapons, and there are a number of old and new sets returning from past games. Many of the high rank sets look gorgeous in the RE Engine (Same engine that Monster Hunter World was running on, which explains why the game looks as good as it does and as similar to World as it does) and weapons look incredible too – as long as you can get past the bland and boring early-game sets.
Performance wise, the game ran without a hitch during my time playing being able to keep to it’s capped 30 FPS with only a few frame drops and is a huge improvement over baseline PS4 and XB1 where the framerate was rather unstable – being fixed by the mid-generation upgrades of the Pro and the One X.
Gameplay: Gameplay is exactly what you would expect of Monster Hunter at this point, with a myriad of weapons to choose from (Sword and Shield, Longsword, Lance, Bowgun and Dual Daggers just to name a few) you get to choose your target monster to hunt for parts. Hunting a particular monster will allow you to build their armour sets and weapons and is where the main gameplay loop comes from – you hunt monsters to make weapons and armour, so you can hunt other monsters to make their weapons and armour with monsters progressively getting more challenging as you progress.
The gameplay loop is just as enticing here as it has always been and that’s largely in part to how fun it is to tackle these various beasts. With up to 4 players being able to hunt a monster together at any time and with each armour set offering different passive bonuses and weapons upgrading into other weapons you’ll never struggle finding a party to hunt with either. Best part is that hunting with 4 players doesn’t make the game significantly easier which is to Capcom’s credit, hunting by yourself or with a party the game feels balanced and when you’re so close to getting that Rathian set it’s really easy to just jump in and hunt it one more time.
There are some new additions to the game that shake up the formula a little bit. Wirebugs allow you to move very quickly around the map and allow you to scale walls which is a very nice from a mobility perspective and also have some additional utility from a Hunting perspective as they allow new, powerful moves for all your weapons. Canynes are another notable mobility improvement which is very welcome. Alongside being a companion that fights with you in single player like the Cat variant Felyne they also function as a mount allowing you to move around the map MUCH faster which is for quality of life as chasing Monsters around a map.
The one thing to note here that is somewhat disappointing (though not surprising, given how much they’re following in the footsteps of World) is that there is currently no G-rank in game. That being said though, Monster Hunter games — -at least in Japan do not come with G-rank as standard and is usually an expansion onto the game. We got this for the first time with World: Iceborne which added G-rank versions of all monsters and I would expect that Rise will have an expansion that will introduce these difficult variants of monsters later down the track. The base game currently only offers Low-Rank and High-Rank versions of each monster, which means for those really wanting a challenge similar to many other Monster Hunter games, you’re gonna find the game is going to come up just short of where you want to, though there are some tough monsters in here.
What’s here though is more than enough to keep hunters busy for quite some time, especially given the roster of monsters to begin with is much higher than when World released (World launched with 30 large monsters, Rise launched with 36) and with the a hopefully steady stream of content coming out will see people playing Rise for years to come.
Sound: The sound here is par for the course for Monster Hunter at this point, that is to say it’s good but nothing outstanding. Monster’s sound great with their various roars and screeches, weapons sound meaty when they strike their target. The actual music itself in Monster Hunter Rise is good for the most part. The town theme as an example this time around is quite nice, there’s a lot of traditional Japanese influence on the music in the soundtrack altogether and a lot of it sounds quite nice.
Awesomeness: The monsters themselves always have been and always will be the main draw of the game. Each of the monsters have their own different behaviours, their own movesets, breakable parts for crafting purposes and most important that they all have their own personality. While there are variants of the same monsters that share the same movesets with small tweaks and certain “types” of monsters share certain moves for the most part they’re all very different and it’s such a huge draw as learning each of their habits makes each new monster a fresh experience. This is a staple in the series which has players diving in for years on end, especially with future content drops.
Final Thoughts: Monster Hunter Rise is another solid entry in the series, while it doesn’t make any huge leaps, Rise isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel like World did and that’s okay. With a new audience and with enough Tweaks the series manages to keep a long running series feeling fresh with captivating gameplay and some quality of life changes that makes it easier to do what we love best – killing the biggest and baddest monsters out there.
Out of 5 Bugs!