Monster Hunter Rise brings the thrill of the hunt to Nintendo Switch!
Monster Hunter Tri was one of the very first console games I got to call my own. I recall the clunky swimming segments, the tiniest subtitles known to man, and a whole lot of annoying little jaggis snapping at my heels as I attempted to focus on my target. But most importantly, I remember my best friend across the country and I teaming up to slay monsters.
Every Monster Hunter game I’ve ever played has lived or died on multiplayer.
When I couldn’t find anyone to play with me, the game felt empty and I just didn’t know how to slay massive creatures on my own. Even Monster Hunter World, a game I love to pieces for its gorgeous graphics and art design, couldn’t keep me interested in single player. It’s hard to say why this is, honestly just about everyone in my seven-person statewide hunting group never cared. As the last to pick up the game, they often helped me level up by fighting boss monsters (so 9/10 of them); it came with a lot of “yeah the story doesn’t matter, you’re just looking around and the Handler almost dies again.” 70% of the time it seems that’s exactly how you’d encounter a new monster, which got stale quickly. I wanted to get invested in the story, but it just didn’t have a lot to offer.
Monster Hunter Generations is probably the closest I came to an installment satisfying enough that I could play solo. I adored the idea of being part of 4 different villages. It did shake things up a little, having unique villages to stay in between hunts… and more importantly, the monsters, as the name suggests, all came from different generations of the series. My favorite is the Mizutsune! And, as the memes suggest, this meant I fought the same creature over and over. The monster itself, its combat style, the music, the armor you can forge from its materials- that was the first time I really loved playing solo.
First and foremost, the art design in Monster Hunter Rise is gorgeous. The graphics aren’t nearly as detailed as Monster Hunter World, which is to be expected given the Switch’s limitations, but it’s by no means archaic. When docked, the game looks really beautiful, even on my older TV model. Characters are aesthetic and distinct and for the most part I really like the armor design.
I’m still a bit of a ways from unlocking layered armor, the ability to have a custom skin of whichever armor pieces you like over whatever stronger set you’re wearing, but I have a small handful of unique cosmetics. You’ll notice my avatar’s fox mask, that’s one of them. They’re essentially $1-$3 DLC items which aren’t even limited to your character. I’m REALLY hoping Capcom takes the opportunity to make DLC costumes for your cat and dog companions based on Okami. It’s a match made in heaven, no pun intended. It wouldn’t even be the first time the did a crossover with the divine dog’s design!
What’s wild about Rise is the way it combines so many elements from previous games and then some. So World gave hunters a crossbow gauntlet to shoot monsters or traverse specific terrain and scout flies to help you track monsters…
Rise gives you Wirebugs which help you explore in an open world sort of way; allowing you to glide across chasms and scales cliffs on foot, all with speed and an unusual free-roaming approach. There’s still the series’ usual vines to climb on, but the wirebugs are probably the best way to search every cave and crevasse for secrets and unlockable base camps. But in combat, the insects increase your move set and offer a wide array of special attacks from trapping to aerial assault to straight up wrangling and riding monsters! Personally I’m still learning to make use of the wirebug mechanics in combat, but it’s so cool how they give every weapon even more unique moves! It’s just ridiculously satisfying to launch into the air and slash a wyvern with your comically large katana!
— Eve Lavellan (@Elfie_KnifeEars) June 21, 2021
And it just keeps getting better…
One of the best additions to the series as a whole has to be the Palamute. While your canine companion is billed as an asset in battle, they also serve as your fastest option to chase down monsters as they flee to recover. But what’s more, your palamute can climb vine walls faster without wasting stamina and can leap to pretty impressive heights, which is perfect both for exploration and pursuit! Plus, you can pull off some really badass attacks…
So the story thus far isn’t super different from my observations in World. Both plots are driven by an ecological disaster, one where monsters are driven from one place to another, often with the civilization you reside in on the path of destruction.
While World has its share of endearing NPCs, Rise just has me more invested this time around. You’re charged with defending a small, bustling village populated by colorful merchants, most of which are interconnected. A lot of focus is placed on Yomogi the dango chef (your source of increased health and stamina as well as stat buffs) and Iori the buddy Handler (purveyor of palicos and palamutes.) The two are present during your first Rampage, the aforementioned ecological disaster of the month, despite being children?
They aren’t the only young NPCs and, even as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of kids, they all come off as endearing and express a common desire to help keep the village safe. Your role is the village hunter, so everyone essentially relies on your efforts, but every NPC seems to do a lot to aid your cause. It’s not exactly profound, but I find the whole experience pretty wholesome. I mean these characters aren’t just standing by watching you fight, in Rampage quests especially you’re able to summon certain characters to fight as well! There’s just so much going on and while my dyslexia is a bit overwhelmed, I’m thrilled by all the various mechanics available.
As a tower defense, it’s chaotic and fun, but like other aspects of the franchise, it doesn’t please everyone. One of my series veteran friends describes the Rampage quests as follows: “They’re a lot to take in at first, but I love the idea. It’s tower defense! My two moods in Rampages- confused on what to do and being overwhelmed OR I know how to do everything and I’m bored. My first Apex monster scared the shit out of me, now I’m taking them out like nothing.
I like it, but I don’t think it stuck the landing.” Dylan, having played every Nintendo-published Monster Hunter game to date, feels that Rise is very much a spiritual successor to the Pre-World style of games. On one hand, he liked the game so much that he beat it in 5 hours. On the other hand, it was so EASY for a veteran like himself, he beat it in 5 hours. And not long after that discussion, I reached the credits as well. It’s a surprisingly short campaign. There’s still other monsters I haven’t fought yet and collectibles to find, but then why not extend the story mode a bit more?
Dylan and I share the hope that Capcom will be pushing out substantial updates for Monster Hunter Rise, similar to Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne expansion, but perhaps in smaller bites. Maybe we’ll get a handful of older monsters like fan favorite (or mortal enemy) Deviljo or the iconic blood dragon, Odogaron. It’s difficult to say, but personally I’ll enjoy picking Rise up from time to time, solo to give myself that escapism and accomplishment of sucker punching monsters, as well as multiplayer with friends around the country. That said, my series-staple pet pig, Poogie (as is the default name) is still nowhere to be seen!
— Monster Hunter (@monsterhunter) January 2, 2020
Monster Hunter Rise is available for digital and physical purchase at an MSRP of $59.99 and is subject to sales from various retailers including the Nintendo eShop, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and more.