Console, Gaming, Nintendo, Review

Monster Hunter Rise Review: Rekindling My Love for the Series

Monster Hunter has a special place in my heart. My first game in the series was 2008’s Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for the PlayStation Portable, and I’ve spent countless hours in that game, as well as every successive title in the series. In fact, I even got the PS4 Pro Monster Hunter: World Rathalos Edition console.

But as years go by, I started to lose interest in the series. That is, until Monster Hunter Rise was announced. It’s the first proper portable Monster Hunter game in a long time, and it really rekindled my love for the series with its new mechanics, much better mobility, and most of all, its portable nature.

In short, Monster Hunter Rise is easily the best Monster Hunter game to date, and to me, it is also the best game yet to be released for the Nintendo Switch.

What It Is

Monster Hunter Rise succeeds Monster Hunter: World, which was originally released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and eventually PC not long after in 2018. What sets Rise apart from World is the fact that it is actually exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, though it will be arriving on PC sometime in early 2022 next year.

Anyway, Monster Hunter Rise marks the series’ return to a portable console in earnest. Yes, the Switch did get Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate in 2018, but that game was still based on Monster Hunter Generations, which was released way back in 2015. In that sense, there hasn’t been a “properly new” Monster Hunter game for portable consoles in six long years.

That’s the reason why the release of Monster Hunter Rise on a portable console like the Switch is such a big deal. On top of that, Rise also brings with it a suite of quality of life improvements from World – let’s get to that in the next section.

The Good Stuff

Compared to older games in the series, Monster Hunter Rise is a lot more accessible to newcomers, thanks to a range of features brought forward from Monster Hunter: World. Monsters are marked automatically on the map – you don’t have to roam around the map endlessly to look for your target anymore – gathering items can be done with just one click of a button now, and the different areas of a map are no longer broken up by loading screens.

Aside from that, despite running on the Switch’s less powerful hardware, Rise still looks gorgeous. Utilising Capcom’s RE Engine, the character models are quite detailed, and so are the monsters. Sure, the environment is not quite as lush or as elaborate as World – monsters further away from the player are also rendered in a lower frame rate – but it still looks very impressive for a Switch game.

Another aspect of Monster Hunter Rise I absolutely love is the improved mobility. Thanks to two new mechanics – a pet dog Palamute and the Wirebug – I can move faster than ever in Rise. I can ride on a Palamute to sprint from one area to another relatively quickly, and the Wirebug allows me to traverse over terrains very easily.

Traversing is not the only use of the Wirebug. When you’re sent flying by a monster, you can use the Wirebug to quickly recover and move away from a monster’s incoming attack. On top of that, there are also new “Silkbind” attacks for each weapon too, which can even be customised as you progress further into the game.

Speaking of weapons, there are a total of 14 different weapons to choose from in Monster Hunter Rise, each with their own distinct mechanics. Every weapon in the game is viable, and finding one that suits your personal playstyle will definitely make the game that much more enjoyable. I’m currently using the Long Sword, and I love the new ways I can counter a monster’s attack with the weapon now.

But really, the best part of Rise – or any Monster Hunter game for that matter – are the countless hours of gameplay it offers. Once you’re done with the main storyline (it took me about 11 hours to get to the game’s credits), that’s when the game truly starts. More challenging monsters are unlocked, I can craft even more powerful weapons, and the grind to get the best endgame equipment begins.

On top of that, Capcom will also add new content to Rise in the future to keep the experience fresh. If World’s post-launch updates are anything to go by, expect to get some pretty interesting new content in Rise.

The Bad Stuff

From the moment I started Monster Hunter Rise, one annoyance immediately popped up (quite literally): I get bombarded with tutorial pop-ups at almost every possibility. Granted, some of the tutorials are quite helpful, but I imagine it can get quite overwhelming to those who are new to the game.

Despite the barrage of tutorials, there are still a number of mechanics in Rise that are not explained particularly well, especially the weapon controls. To get more information, you’ll have to access the Hunter’s Notes, which is buried in the start menu. Thankfully, once you’re in the right page, you do get the information you need.

Another area where Rise feels a little underwhelming is its storyline. Just like every other Monster Hunter game, there’s no elaborate, immersive story to speak of here. Rise really only has a storyline for the sake of it, so if you pick up the game expecting to be blown away by an engrossing narrative, you will be quite disappointed.

Is It Worth It?

Of course, the Monster Hunter franchise is not known for its storytelling chops. Instead, it’s all about hunting large, intimidating monsters with a weapon of your choice, harvesting their materials, craft new weapons and armors with said materials, and hunt even bigger monsters.

Monster Hunter Rise allows you to do this for many, many hours with gorgeous graphics, new weapon mechanics, mobility that has never been offered in previous Monster Hunter games, and a number of quality of life improvements that make it much more accessible to newcomers.

If you’ve always wanted to get into the series, Monster Hunter Rise is the best entry point yet. Besides that, I’m sure veteran hunters will enjoy this game for hours on end as well – I certainly do.

Monster Hunter Rise is now available for the Nintendo Switch.