When Capcom decided to return to their portable roots with the Monster Hunter series, I can’t say I didn’t share any concern in the company’s decision. Right off of the success of Monster Hunter: World, a game that took the series to new heights and then elevated that further with the Iceborne expansion - just how would Capcom be able to carry that momentum over to a portable console? Coming right off of the beautiful eye candy that was World and Iceborne, it seems like downgrading those visuals in exchange for portability would be a step backwards. On paper, at least.
Built from the ground up to squeeze every bit of horsepower the Nintendo Switch could muster, Monster Hunter Rise manages to strike a perfect balance in keeping the quality of life mechanics that World prided itself on, while catering to veterans of the series. Most astonishingly, Capcom manages to consistently innovate a nearly 18-year-old franchise further with a simple introduction of vertical gameplay - the wirebug.
Players are introduced into Rise as a hunter in the seemingly peaceful village of Kamura. Known for its gorgeous aesthetic and renowned smithing, Kamura serves as a resting ground for hunters to collect themselves between hunts and is home to many endearing characters. However, things are quickly flipped on its head with the village being victim to the Rampage. The Rampage is essentially when a horde of monsters assemble with the sole purpose of wiping out the village of Kamura completely. It’s your goal as a hunter (this is where the series name becomes quite literal) to hunt these monsters and investigate what causes the Rampage in the first place.
While the Monster Hunter franchise has never been about its story, I just can’t help but feel that Rise’s narrative lacks any form of depth at all. After the brilliant attempt at the storyline we received in World, it feels like the team behind Rise missed the opportunity to hone in the narrative and bring it to the same standard as the rest of the game.
Thankfully, the paper-thin story can easily be forgiven once you get to the core of the game - hunting. The rather addictive experience that comes with learning what each of the game’s 14 weapons can do against a wide roster of beautifully designed monsters is what has kept me coming back to the franchise for almost a decade, and yet again, Capcom manages to breathe new life into the combat experience. Many of the weapons feel much like their World counterparts, with the addition of the wirebug and skillbind attacks.
Much like the cluthclaw in Iceborne, these new additions offer a whole new dimension to the way we are able to hunt. This allows players to run on walls, zip through the air, and elegantly dodge the fiercest attacks. While the wirebug offers hunters newfound mobility, the skillbind attacks give hunters access to a rather flashy offensive move that varies depending on which of the aforementioned 14 weapons you choose to play with. To bring further depth into the combat, Capcom introduced a new switch skills system that lets players change their weapon’s three special techniques. Picking up new weapons has been a blast with this addition, giving me the ability to tweak the playstyle of the weapon in a way that suits me best.
Monster Hunter Rise launches with a pretty extensive and diverse roster. Many of the monsters are returning hits such as Rathalos and Zinogre, but it’s the new monsters that really stand out in Rise. The game’s flagship monster Magnamalo really gave me a reason to use the wirebug as a staple in my arsenal. The newer monsters felt more aggressive, naturally making the newly added mechanics feel more at home. But it’s always fun to bully a Rathalos from above. The diversity in the roster appeals to me most of all.
Capcom has really stepped up its creativity and that brings me to a point that many veteran fans will be pleased to hear. Remember the rather mediocre weapon design present in World and even plagued Iceborne to an extent? Well, Capcom has definitely listened to the feedback from that game, with the armour and weapon design definitely taking more inspiration from the monsters they are made out of.
With everything that Capcom has managed to raise the bar with, the developer’s decision to stick to some of its legacy layout did feel somewhat out of place. Older Monster Hunter titles would split its single-player and multiplayer missions, and Capcom brought that back with Rise. While it is a nice throwback to past games, I felt like it was a minor step backwards. That being said, everything else is remarkably fluid.
Outside of a few performance drops, Rise felt incredible to play. Monster Hunter Rise definitely doesn’t hold a candle to World in terms of its visual fidelity, but Capcom has managed to give a similar streamlined experience. There are no loading screens on the map, giving players the freedom to explore and makes the hunts feel more immersive overall.
Given just how thrilling of an experience Rise has been, I found myself longing for more in the endgame department. While talisman farming is a far greater experience than RNG-based decoration farming, I still wish there was something more to the endgame. The endgame experience just feels like it’s missing something in its current state. That doesn’t take away from the launch experience in any way, but there is a subtle feeling that the game just stops after you have completed the campaign.
There are two other things you can do outside of talisman farming in the endgame - Rampage mode is Capcom’s take on a Monster Hunter themed tower defense game, which has Apex monsters exclusively locked to it (a missed opportunity for a great endgame experience), and the staple of grinding out armour sets. Rampage mode is definitely missing a degree of challenge, and I would definitely prefer seeing the buffed monsters (somewhat similar to Arch-Tempered monsters) in actual hunts. If Capcom opted to let monsters from the Rampage mode also appear in hunts, that would have been the cherry on the top of the endgame.
Will defend anything Dragon Ball. Occasionally has two-way conversations with himself. Has sleepless nights about Half-Life 3 confirmed.
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