Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has come a long way from being just a household name in Japan to a must have for pretty much every gamer. Capcom are looking to build on the success of the Monster Hunter: World with their latest entry Monster Hunter Rise.
The Monster Hunter series has gone from strength to strength since its release on the Playstation 2 in 2004. Its core gameplay loop – where players take the role of a Hunter to slay and trap monsters – was addictively fun, but had a steep learning curve at the same time. The sheer depth of its customisation, unique landscapes and intense battles have allowed it to become one of Capcom’s best selling series only second to Resident Evil. Its online multiplayer is a massive feature of the series and part of what made Monster Hunter: World so popular.
Monster Hunter games have appeared on consoles throughout the years making use of their different functionalities. The sixth instalment, Monster Hunter Rise has been built from the ground up for the Nintendo Switch, so clearly Capcom are looking to take advantage of the console’s different play options. This isn’t the first time a game in the series has been on a handheld console, but with the Nintendo Switch’s superior capabilities to past handhelds, Monster Hunter Rise should make for an amazing experience.
Monster Hunter Rise is the sixth main title in the series, but newcomers need not worry as each title is independent from the latter, so it’s easy to jump into any title.
Monster Hunter’s stories have always been overshadowed by the gameplay and here is no different. The story simply serves as a prompt for new modes or difficult quests to be unlocked. Saying that the cast of characters are charming, delivering entertaining skits during major story moments, especially the hilarious Palicoes. The main campaign will take around 25 hours to complete and much more if you want to complete all the extra quests.
Monster Hunter Rise looks gorgeous, mixing its Edo period influence with bright and brazen designs. Each character model has a grand design with intricate details, making them as unique as their personalities. The design of each hunting ground is fantastic, oozing so much personality that not only adds to the thrill of the hunt but will make players explore their glory.
A lot of work has gone into the design of the monsters with the new additions looking very at home in the Japan inspired world. Visually Monster Hunter Rise is one of the best looking games on the Nintendo Switch, its stunning locales and extravagant designs are just sensational to watch in motion.
The music in Monster Hunter Rise is a majestic work of art, with each theme adding extra depth to your overall experience. Players will be enthralled by the amazing instrumental ensembles, from the soothing ballads in Kamura Village to the intense monster battle themes. Each track is always shifting to match the situation or location you are in and the big orchestral pieces just make every situation feel epic.
Monster Hunter Rise comes with voice acting, and players are able to pick from the Monster Hunter language, Japanese and English. I feel most players will feel right at home with either the Monster Hunter language or Japanese as their main choice. However the English dub is actually decent compared most, even though not all characters work as well as others, this option doesn’t take anything away from the overall experience.
Like previous entries in the series Monster Hunter Rise will let you create your hunter and the customisation is as in depth as ever. Players will be able to choose either a male or female hunter and go from there. The character creation is really detailed and gives the player full authority to how their hunter looks, right down to expressions, skin tone and voice pitch.
Players will be able to see how their character looks in each location and adjust the lighting angles before you settle on your final look. This depth is fully welcome as Capcom knows that players will be spending hours with their hunter so it’s very important that they look right. This customisation depth is equally extended to the creation of your Palicoes, Palamute and Cohoots which is handy as you want your crew to look correct when slaying monsters.
Monster Hunter’s core gaming loop is all about slaying and capturing monsters on quest and using your spoils of war to forge or upgrade your items. However Monster Hunter Rise offers more diversity with its different types of quest.
Players wanting to slay or capture monsters will want to go to the Gathering Hub and select a key quest that will help players to improve their hunter ranking, allowing for more difficult quests. These key quests will mainly have players searching for a specific monster to kill or capture it within a time limit. Players can also do these quests online with up to three other hunters or they can join someone’s quest. One thing to be aware of is that level of difficulty will depend on the amount of players within that quest. Every now and then an urgent quest will appear offering a new monster sometimes in a new location.
The Village quests are designed to be tackled alone, most of these are more varied compared to the Hub quest. Players will be searching for rare items or slaying multiple little monsters to name a few. I feel this quest is good because they will help you to explore the different locales adding an extra scope to the overall experience.
The Rampage quests are probably the most diverse within the game. Aside from being one of the main story events that your hunter is working towards, these quests have proven to be an excellent surprise. The Rampage quest will see players defending Kamura’s stronghold against waves of monsters, it may sound simple on paper but the depth in the strategy is where these quests truly shine. The Rampage is hectic but provides hours of intense fun, a truly well devised mode that will keep players on the edge of their seat.
Arena and Challenge quest are quests that will have special rules and conditions forcing players out of their comfort zones. This could be using preset items to battle monsters or completing the mission in a time limit, players will gain rewards and be given a rank for these quests. I think these quests are a lot of fun and stop allowing players to experiment with different weapon builds or try to improve their efficiency in battle.
There are also two types of sidequest for players to tackle, players can choose to complete the optional subquest which are from the Hunters Guild. They will consist of killing a certain amount of monsters or finding a certain item, these can be done while doing key quests. The second side quest is a request, these are quests from various villagers and feel more like errands instead of quests.
I feel that there is a good amount of diverse content for players to tackle, the different difficulties and variations in quests will stop the overall experience from getting too repetitive. Mixing in the rampage and challenge quest just adds another level of gameplay for players who are more competitive and love a challenge.
Gameplay is mainly split between hunting, customisation and exploration, with the Rampage being its own thing entirely.
There is a steep learning curve to becoming a good hunter and players will have to be really creative in how they utilise all their weapons, items and skills to slay or capture a monster. There isn’t one definitive way to reach your goal and Monster Hunter Rise really rewards players who know what they are doing. For example using items like the Stinkmink to lure other monsters to your prey, resulting in them fighting each other will not only deal massive amounts of damage but put monsters in a mountable state ready for some cinematic Wyvern riding action.
The use of endemic lifeforms is also great because the game allows you to dictate what buffs you use within each hunt giving players full authority on how they improve their hunter depending on the monster being hunted. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg and the beauty of Monster Hunter Rise is that no hunt will ever be the same as each monster has a very unique attack pattern and there are just so many strategies to defeat them.
The major new addition is the Wirebug – an insect that produces a special kind of silk that acts like a grappling hook, allowing players to reach new areas. It also adds an extra layer to battle strategies, granting players extra mobility and allowing for last minute dodges. The Wirebug can also be used with each weapon to execute a Silkbind action, this adds to the weapons move set and combos. Wirebug can also be used for Wyvern riding which I found was a really crucial element to my strategies. The Wirebug is an amazing addition to the monster hunter series, that adds so much depth to different parts of the game.
The customisation within Monster Hunter Rise may seem daunting at first but it has been really scaled down compared to previous games. Players will need less items to forge or upgrade weapons and armour. It’s really important to experiment with different builds of armour and weapons to find the right set that is best for you.
As there are fourteen different weapons styles to choose from and magnitudes of weapon types to forge it’s safe to say players have a long road ahead of them before they find that perfect build if it exists. Players will also be able to customise their buddies the Palamute and Palicoes which is an added bonus as you will be hunting as a trio most of the time.
It was impressive to see that Monster Hunter Rise exploration elements aren’t toned down and simply add on additions. There’s a lot to find in these levels with hidden pathways, relics and more, adding that extra bit of graft needed within the quest. I say graft as some of the rare items such as Gargwa Eggs really put players through some turmoil to gain their rewards. Luckily the new Wirebug feature makes exploration fun and will allow players to reach new heights not really seen before in past titles.
Another important feature is how buddies are utilised outside of battle and exploration.
Players will be able to send them off on missions to find new items and gather materials. New buddies can be hired out to replace them in your team. There’s a ton more as to what your Palicoes and Palamutes can do which is a massive bonus adding another layer of depth to Monster Hunter Rise.
The gaming mechanics work a charm and Capcom have done a great job porting over some of the older controls to the Nintendo Switch. Monster Hunter Rise does feel like older entries in the series while mixing in new mechanics such as the Wirebug which works effortlessly throughout the game. Players will need to get used to the Wyvern riding parts of the games as controls may appear to be slightly sluggish but this is more to mimic the movements of the monsters who aren’t as nimble as the hunters.
Monster Hunter Rise is an amazing game and probably one of the best titles on the Nintendo Switch. Veterans of the series may feel there is more emphasis on the action elements of the game compared to previous entries, but I feel that the game does well to balance the RPG elements with the action. The few other tweaks made to Monster Hunter Rise are fully welcomed as they don’t take away what made previous titles great making it one of the best games in the series.
Monster Hunter Rise may feel slightly daunting to newcomers at first but players will get to grips with the depth of customisation and the gaming loops. This game is a must have for all Nintendo Switch owners as its content seems endless and it’s just a sheer joy to play.
Monster Hunter Rise is out now for the Nintendo Switch