Monster Hunter Rise – Game Review


Monster Hunter Rise

(Available for Nintendo Switch only)
(PC Version coming out Next Year)

For this review I’m joined by my colleague Reece who is a major Monster Hunter fan so my review will be coming from the perspective of someone who casually enjoys the game whilst his review will be from the perspective of someone who has played the franchise hardcore throughout the years. Monster Hunter Rise becomes the first Monster Hunter Game to hit the switch that wasn’t previously on another console. That coupled with the fact that the game is on what is in part a handheld system and the largest selling console in Japan alongside the very Japanese aesthetic does give the impression that Rise is largely targeting a Japanese audience though they have done a good job also marketing the game to American and European audience especially trying to convince the fanbase that enjoyed Monster Hunter World to get back into the game. The shift to the switch also makes sense given the ease of multiplayer the console gives which has always been a driving force of Monster Hunter’s success.

Pros

  • Gameplay and controls: while I’ve liked the gameplay in other Monster Hunter games I’ve always found it bit clunky and taxing though had some good fast paced moments. In Rise however it feels great simply to new features like the Wire bugs which allow to zip through the air for added movement as well as some excellent on the fly dodging and super attacks. You get 2 at the start but can collect 1 extra temporary one within the map. Once again the game is about hunting specific monsters you’ve been tasked with killing or capturing by your home village with your choice of weapon which you can upgrade at any time you like and are once again joined by a cat like Palico but now you are joined by a dog like Palimute. The buddys are fantastic since they are more useful than ever since they not only attack and assist you but you can also ride the Palimute and use items while riding which was a great help given it allowed me to sharpen my blade before each encounter. The game also has good improvements such as infinite whetstones so you never have to worry about sharpening your blade, a good upgrade system for weapons and armour which is easy to understand and it’s got rid of most of the tedious jobs which held you up from the boss rush you signed up for when you bought Monster Hunter. As a result I was able to get into more of the bigger hunts way quicker and that’s the best part of the game as you learn their characteristics and patterns as well as how to take advantage of weaknesses. The game feels more than ever like a big boss rush mode and it is incredibly addictive I have been doing at least 3-4 hunts a day since getting it. Btw make sure you eat some Dango before every hunt to get stat boost they can make a huge difference on harder difficulties. The weapon selection is also there from the start and it’s a good idea to experiment with various weapons before landing on the one that suits your style of play. By having all of them from the start it is way easier to do this and gets you used to the combat very quickly. The controls while not much different to previous games are still fantastic and do also feel very streamlined and suit the new mechanics well and the game gives good tutorials to get to grips with these mechanics which even retuning players should take part in since it useful to get used to the using the wirebug triggers for dodging and attacks. So not only are you getting improved gameplay but the controls are also excellent to go with it.
  • The environments: the game has great use of different locales. It starts out with the Shrine ruins which have been shown off in most of the trailers that are in regular circulation but you soon get the same variety of locations you’d expect in Monster Hunter like Lava Caves, a Flooded Forest , a Sandy Desert and many more and are all very well designed. The big difference is that thanks to the Wire bug they have really been able to add extra dimensions to these maps so there are less flat surfaces this time around so exploring these environments is way more interesting than usual
  • Multiplayer is still excellent no matter how you do it: I have been playing multiplayer consistently since this game came out and it hasn’t failed to impress me. This was the one thing the developers had to nail and they succeeded. Myself, Reece and Elliot tested the game through wireless communication and it ran smoothly at all times we had no frame rate drops or communication breakdowns which was surprising given that games like Smash Brothers and Mario Kart do have occasional instances of these issues, it really felt like we were playing on one system. Online Muliplayer is as good and has really enjoyable co-op multiplayer with up to 3 other players with each being allowed to 1 buddy with the monster’s health increased to account for the number of players in the hunt and it was surprising how well the multiplayer worked even without voice communication as a feature. Multiplayer has been such good fun to play that I’ve been using it for virtually every mission when playing the game docked (multiplayer drains the battery a bit too much in handheld for my liking)
  • Graphics and performance: It is amazing how good Capcom has made this game look. The developers have used a modified version of the RE engine that has been used on most of the recent Resident Evil games and the fact they have manged to get the engine to work on the Switch in any capacity is outstanding. While it suffers from a few issues when blown up to larger monitors which I’ll detail later. That being said this is still one of the best looking games on the Switch and the fact that Capcom have got the most out of Nintendo’s hardware is outstanding, there are first party Nintendo games that don’t look as good as this game. while some people may not like that the game runs at 30 frames a second but the game is designed around that frame rate so it’s not really an issue and I wasn’t really noticing any frame rate drops even on multiplayer as previously mentioned.
  • Monster selection: fans of previous entries will like the designs of the new monsters for this game which is an admittedly small amount as well as how returning monsters are integrated into the game. Each of the monsters has their own attack patterns and characteristics so once again learning how monsters behave is a crucial part in defeating them. Taking on Rathlos and new headline monster Magnamalo are particular highlights.
  • Soundtrack: as usual for a monster hunter game the soundtrack is really good with a real emphasis on Japanese instruments and sounds. Songs of note include the soothing songs in the village and the song Proof of a Hero which sounds like the journey of an epic adventure.

Mixed

  • Rampage quests: the Rampage quests are a new feature that work like a tower defence game where you and possibly 3 other players use various automatic and manned weapons to defend a gate from several powerful monsters. This mode has nothing inherently wrong with it and I didn’t even dislike it but I also wasn’t a fan of it either. I did a few of these and every time they felt less strategic like the hunts and more of a bombardment of stress trying to account for several monsters and clash with other players ideas about what was the best weapon to go where. It just doesn’t have much of the enjoyable nature that I got from doing the hunts and was avoiding them for the most part when I could.

Cons

  • Amiibo Support: as usual it’s entirely cosmetic but I wish it went a bit further. For example I can make my character look like it has the Magnamalo armour if you scan a Magnamalo Amiibo but why can’t I get a Link costume if I scan a Link Amiibo or something like that. The Amiibo support could easily be better but it’s not great right now and I am aware that licencing issues are a large part about that but I don’t understand why we couldn’t get some Nintendo Easter eggs considering how much Nintendo is financially backing and heavily marking the game.
  • Lower content than usual for a Monster Hunter game at launch: this is quite good for new players to the franchise since it’s not the huge time sink other games have but at launch the game is about 15 hours for a bare minimum, you can really up the play time to around 40 hours to invest in extras and has a 102 hour time for 100% completion. Now the real downside is that despite the fact it mostly makes good use of the time you have with it most of the extra content is not in the post game and that means most of the extras come from busy work, fun busy work but busy work nonE the less and it does feel like a game waiting for added content which will mostly be free and be coming later this year, presumably a few months after Monster Hunter Stories 2 comes out.
  • Story: it’s not very interesting by any stretch despite how the trailers made it out to be but to be fair you aren’t playing a traditional Monster Hunter Game for the Story so it’s not a big deal.
  • Some noticeable texture issues when blown up to 4K monitors: this was an issue on my TV at home compared to the monitor in my office which isn’t 4K ready. When it was on large 4K ready screen I noticed that there were some texture issues especially on faces of characters though these were confined to certain areas and situations. as I mentioned in the Bravely Default 2 review if the rumours of how the rumoured Switch Pro is going to work is true I do feel Capcom could benefit from a DLSS patch to get it true 4K ready.

Overall thoughts

Monster Hunter Rise has been the game to finally really get me into Monster Hunter after games like World and Tri whilst commendable, didn’t grab me. I love the combat and the extra level of movement from the new mechanics which really make a lot of the annoying aspects of Monster Hunter a non issue and the move from Hunt to Hunt is particularly addictive in how enjoyable it is that you will spend a lot of time saying phrases like “c’mon let’s get one more monster before bed”. The graphics are great and really use the hardware on the switch to the best degree making this possibly the best looking Switch game not made by Nintendo. The multiplayer is incredibly good and has been some of the most fun I have had playing multiplayer on the Switch and both Online and wireless lan play with multiple switches close by run consistently well. I would say this game eases in new players to Monster Hunter much better than many previous entries so if you haven’t gotten into the franchise yet do not be afraid to make Rise your first Monster Hunter experience and I think there’s plenty here to excite veteran fans though I have heard many are skipping the Switch version due to it running at 30 frames a second preferring to wait for the PC version, to come out in 2022. All I can say is you’re missing out if you do since this game runs perfectly well at that rate and the combat has ben tailored to suit it so it’s not too limiting and you really will be waiting quite a while especially if the game gets a delay which given the uncertainty of supplies in many countries is a possibility.

Score: 9.4/10

This will not go on sale any time soon so absolutely buy it. If you have a good micro SD and particularly want to take part in on the go multiplayer I would recommend picking up a digital version for quick access to the game. if you don’t have a switch there is bundle available that includes Monster Hunter Rise but I would add buying a new switch right now could be risky since Nintendo is likely to announce the Switch revision within 2021.

Calvin
Nerd Consultant

And now for Reece’s review

My history with the Monster Hunter series is that I’ve played to completion all western releases Monster Hunter games from the original back on the PS2 back in September 21, 2004 and I have been in love with the series ever since. The only Monster Hunter game I’ve not played is Monster Hunter World due to not having access to a PS4/Xbox1/PC at the time of its release.

The Monster Hunter game that I put the most time into was Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on PSP, where I maxed out the in game clock by spending over 999 hours on it. So I definitely have experience with the franchise and have been following the franchise since it’s inception in 2004 till now (Yes that includes the terrible live action film, that no person or fan should force themselves to watch)

Monster Hunter Rise is the second Monster Hunter game for Nintendo Switch following Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate in August 25, 2017 in Japan and August 28, 2018 worldwide.

It is part of the 5th Generation of Monster Hunter games along with Monster Hunter World that released worldwide back in January 26, 2018.

Pro’s:

Freedom of movement. Freedom of movement has been greatly improved with the introduction of the Wirebug. Players start off each hunt with 2 uses of Wirebugs that can be used to traverse the environment by catapulting the player through the air to reach higher areas off the ground or use in conjunction with the new ability to wall climb any flat surface similarly to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Players can also pick up a temporary third Wirebug to use but this will disappear after a short time. 

Freedom of customisation. One of the main strengths of the Monster Hunter series is being able to create a Hunter that is unique to you as there are over 40+ sets of armour that you can wear and mix with other armour sets to get the skills you want. To go along with this is the 100+ weapons available across the 14 weapon types, and unlike other games there are no bad weapon types as any weapon can be used in the hands of a skilled hunter. So you as a player are free to try each of the 14 weapon types to find a type that suits you and your playstyle as the game begins with giving you one basic weapon of every weapon type, so you are free to experiment in the training area free of monsters to get to learn each weapon type.

New Silkbind attacks. Through the use of these Wirebugs, the players can also perform new “Silkbind attacks” that use 1-2 of the these Wirebugs to perform new attacks exclusive to Monster Hunter Rise that are similar to the “Hunter Arts” from Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. Each of the 14 weapon types have their own specific Silkbind attacks that when used on a monster build up enough Wirebug damage to allow players to mount and ride the monster. When a monster is mounted it gives the player a new set of controls that allows players to directly control each monster, unique with the monster’s signature move set that players can then use to attack other monsters on a hunt to do big damage along with doing enough damage to build “The Mounted Punisher” bar than when filled allows players to perform a final combo that will knock down the opposing monster for a long while, allowing other players to attack while the monster is down.

Graphical innovation. Monster Hunter Rise is also the first Monster Hunter game on Nintendo console to use the modified Resident Evil game engine that is currently being used in the Resident Evil game series, so this is the best looking Monster Hunter game so far with the exception of Monster Hunter World that is on superior hardware for graphics as it is currently on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It is a vast improvement other the previous Switch Monster Hunter game with Generations Ultimate as there are improved textures, lighting and shadows.

Most stable multiplayer experience. In my experience of nearly 60 hours in game, I have never once had a disconnect during a hunt in my time playing and I have not experienced lag or frame rate drops. It also brings back “local multiplayer” so instead of needing an internet connection you can play with upto 3 other Switch owners in a small proximity to yourself and this method works just as well as online multiplayer does.

New monsters. Rise introduces 11 new monsters to the franchise, while 2 of these new monsters serve as the final bosses so 9 can be fought before endgame at the Gathering Hub. These new monsters are very fun to fight and are unique to fight against with my favourite being the “Flagship” monster of Magnamalo, for being a hyper aggressive tiger-like monster.

Returning monsters. Along with the new monsters it also features the return of monsters from previous games including the fan favourite Khezu from the original game in 2004 (Which finally has its own music theme after never having a theme before meaning that it used to be hunted in silence in previous games).

New weapons and armour. Along with the new monsters this means that there is a lot of new weapons and armour to make from the new monsters. Generally each monster allows a weapon to be created in each of the 14 weapon types, so if you like a monster then it will have a weapon available for whichever weapon type you prefer. The new armours also come with a variety of skills allowing to be used in conjunction with other armour pieces to create a custom armour loadout to have a plethora of skills available.

The Palamute System. Since Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on PSP back in 2008, it introduced the Felyne Comrade (Later renamed to the Palico) a supporting cat monster who could come with you on hunts to better simulate multiplayer while playing solo. Since then it’s role has expanded into different weapon types and skills to be a good supporter throughout the years, but now we finally have a new supporter type of monster called a Palamute. The Palamute is a big game changer in that it’s a domesticated wolf who supports the player and allows the player to ride on its back to quickly traverse the map rather than previous games when you had to slowly run across the map. This cuts down on the dead time of slowly running around the map to find the monster, compared to now you can dash from one end of the open map to the other. The player can also leap off the Palamute in order to do an aerial attack on the monster for big damage and can use the Palamute to quickly scale walls covered In ivy, increasing the speed that the player can use traverse the map. The Palamute also comes along with its own skills and weapon types that the player can customise along with armour that you can craft from the monsters you hunt, these weapons can range from leaping and attaching itself to the monster to do damage over time or use scrolls to buff the Hunter or other players.

Endemic life. To represent that this Hunter is more in tune with nature, the player can receive buffs to their various stats e.g. Health, Stamina, Attack and Defence by interacting with small creatures on each map by simply running into them. This is a great new change as sometimes an extra few points of Health makes all the difference between winning and losing a hunt. There are also other various non-buff types of endemic life that can be collected by the Hunter to make hunting the monster easier, these include “Puppet Spiders” which allow a monster to almost always be able to be mounted so the Hunter can use it to attack other monsters or slam into the environment to do more damage to it.

Polished controls. Arguably one of the most important things for an action game to get right is it controls. Thankfully Monster Hunter Rise is the best the series has ever felt control wise as each of the 14 weapon types has an extremely polished move set and most of the time if you miss a move to mess up in game then it is normally the players fault so not timing the weapon correctly.

Monster introduction videos. A majority of the monsters when first introduced in the Village quests will have an short introductory video explaining the monster and it’s typical behaviour. In these videos the monsters are spoken more about in song (This is more prevalent in the Japanese audio version, where the voice actor actually sings their lines as if reciting a traditional folksong giving the monsters more of a history in the world and that they are living creatures of legend who are both feared and respected by the people of this world) rather than a documentary like with what David Attenborough produces. These videos are only short and can be skipped if the player wishes too, but I would recommend watching them atleast once as all cutscenes can be rewatched by going to your Housekeeper and going through the menu.

Key Quests. For the first time a Monster Hunter game tells the player which quests are “Key Quests”, Key Quests are certain quests that need to be completed to unlock the next level of quests in the Village or Hub. In previous games these quests were not shown to the player, so players had to complete quests at random and hope they had done quests that were also hidden Key Quests. Whereas now players can plan what quests they want to do, since they know that they only have to do the shown Key Quests to be able to progress to the next level of quests in the Village or Hub.

Sound. One of Monster Hunters strongest points in my opinion is its focus on it’s soundtrack and sound effect. This time around Monster Hunter Rise has a stellar soundtrack that is definitely most enjoyable with the Switch in docked mode hooked upto good speakers or by using a high quality headset using the Switch’s audio jack. Even the sound effects in game are amazing as to be expected over the series, as each monster has its own specific series of roars, noises and theme. These help make the monsters sound and feel more like living, breathing creatures rather than just typical enemies in a video game. As the player can even observe the monster before engaging them in battle and see how they interact with other smaller monsters, eat food from carcasses (If they are a carnivore) or get into “Turf Wars” with other large monster (These are a spectacular to watch as the two monsters engage in a mini skirmish. My personal favourite being Magnamalo vs Aknosom, where they take the battle into the sky and I couldn’t help but just watch the aerial acrobatics)

Rampage mechanic. New to Monster Hunter Rise is the use of Rampage quests, where the player is tasked with defending a fortress from an increasing wave of monsters that have to be repelled before they destroy the final gate guarding the Village. These quests are similar to the massive Elder Dragon hunts of previous games (Namely the Lao-Shan Lung quests) where a player is tasked with defending a fortress from a monster that is normally the size of a building. The differences are now instead of simply fighting one very large monster, the player is tasked with fending off a horde of many different species of monsters and have access to many more fortifications than in previous games, ranging from ballista, cannons, to the mighty Dragonator. New to the Rampage missions is the ability to summon an npc from the Village for fight for a wave of monsters before leaving they help take some pressure off the player as they do a lot of damage or can give the player buffs to increase their own abilities. These quests are a fun distraction and do not clash much with the traditional style of Monster Hunter and the player is only forced to do these Rampage quests a handful of times as they are mostly optional. Then once the player has progressed enough then they unlock the ability to take on Rampage quests at any time for extra rewards, so if traditional hunts are getting too repetitive then the player can go on a Rampage Quest which basically turns the game into a “Tower Defence” game. They are also very fun with multiplayer compared to solo as the Rampage quest mechanic feels much more suited for multiple players due to how many fortification encampments are posted around that is normally impossible for one player to use, and the horde of monsters can get overwhelming at high difficulties if the player is hunting solo.

Con’s:

Limited Endgame. No G Rank on release, this means that it has substantial less content than other Monster Hunter games currently on the market. With Monster Hunter World and Generations Ultimate (Which is already running on the same system) offering more quests and a lot more monster to hunt. So players are technically getting less content that other games that are currently cheaper than Monster Hunter Rise was at release. (Rise has 35 large boss monsters to hunt, in comparison to World with 71 including its expansion and Generations Ultimate which had a staggering 93 large monsters to hunt)

Repetitious quests. Due to only having 35 large monsters most of the monsters get reused for multiple quests where you have to hunt 2 of the same monster or you have to fight 2 different monsters in the same quest that previously had to be hunted alone. Due to this reusing of monsters, players will be rehunting the same species of monster across multiple quests leading to a lack of variety in quests.

Village quests lack finality. The Village quest line abruptly ends when you finish the 6 ⭐️ quests with no finality as it expects the player to then move onto the multiplayer Gathering Hub to get the remainder of the story plot. This can be difficult and frustrating if you don’t have other people to play together with as Monsters in the Gathering Hub have increased health values and do extra damage, so if you are playing solo then it is definitely less enjoyable to try and grind through the Hub to see the ending of the story. Compared to previous games where the story was almost entirely contained to the Village rather than the Gathering Hub. The game’s director, Yasunori Ichinose said that the game’s story won’t wrap up until the end of the second dlc, so players will have a while before the entirety of the games story is told.

Multiplayer focus. As with previous games, the majority of the game is in the Gathering Hub as while the Village quests only consist of Low Rank quests the Gathering Hub has both Low Rank and High Rank quests. If you do not have access to the internet or poor internet signal then it is much more difficult to play through the Gathering Hub with others as you will have to play solo with only your Palamute & Palico for support. This can be a turn off for newer players who may be playing Rise as their first Monster Hunter game as they may feel overwhelmed playing solo with no other players to distract the monsters.

Quick battery drain. The battery drains a lot faster for Rise than previous Monster Hunter games as we (Myself and my fellow colleagues) found that during just one multiplayer hunt between the 3 of us, that the battery in our Switch drained about 20-25% each. So if you plan to play multiplayer with your friends either local or online then you should make sure your Switch is fully charged to be able to play multiple quests in a row.

No new Weapon Types. While not a new problem, there are no new weapon types in Monster Hunter Rise. This has been the same since Monster Hunter 4 back in 2013.

Only “currently on” Switch. This is a downside if you want to play the game but do not have a Switch, as with Monster Hunter World it is due for a PC release but is not scheduled to release until the first half of 2022. This can be a potential dealbreaker for people who would prefer to play Monster Hunter Rise without being locked to 30fps on the Switch compared to Monster Hunter World, which had 3 different frame rate settings, that being 30fps, 60fps and no limit (Basically 60fps+ if your PC could handle it)

Lip Syncing. Now while the game does offer 3 different voiceover languages for the npcs (English, Japanese and the traditional Monster Hunter language that is meant to sound like gibberish). These are welcome inclusions but the lip animations for the npcs are made for the Japanese language so when the player selects English voices they do not really match the lips of the characters. It is a minor issue that would of required a lot more work on behalf of Capcom, it does not detract much from the final product but it is noticeable if you are looking for it.

Glitches. It would not be a Monster Hunter game without some glitches. In my 60 hours of play time I have only encountered a few minor glitches (My last one was my Palamute getting stuck on a piece of geometry unable to move, but thankfully if you the player get too far away from your Palamute & Palico then they will dig into the ground and then spawn next to you so you are not without them for long). While no major game breaking glitches have been widespread a few have been seen and catalogued in video format mostly shown by TeamDarkSide on YouTube with their series of “MHRise gone wrong” which is good fun to watch along. Unlike many other games being released effectively broken to the public, Monster Hunter Rise works really well without server issues or game breaking glitches like broken AAA games being released with little to no care.

Final Thoughts:

This is another great entry into the Monster Hunter series and I would recommend it people who are new to the series as rather than the daunting prospect of going through Low Rank to High Rank and then G Rank, it is more streamlined with just Low Rank and High Rank.

I definitely enjoyed my time with the game and came out at a great time where there were not many other releases so I was able to spend a large chunk of time with the game and almost finishing it.

Experienced players may be let down by the lack of content at launch of Monster Hunter Rise compared to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate which is already on Switch. Newer players may not mind the game being only 75 hours long compared to World at 100 hours and Generations Ultimate at 175 hours (These figures are from howlongtobeat.com as a reference) as newer players may not have the free time or patience to put into playing a game for a 175 hours if they are new to the series and would instead prefer a shorter and more contained story with Rise being under 80 hours to beat the Gathering Hall.

Considering that you can expect to get 75+ hours out of the game if you plan to finish it, then I definitely say it is value for money and worth the price of admission compared to other games currently out on the Switch.

If you are only able to play solo and have a Switch then I would recommend buying Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate instead as it offers nearly 3 times the amount of large monsters to hunt (35 vs 93), as well as provide an entire extra level of difficulty above High Rank with G Rank.

Overall I would say that if you have a bunch of friends to hunt with, then Monster Hunter Rise is definitely a great time and with all previous Monster Hunter games Capcom will be releasing free dlc including new Monsters, with the first batch of free dlc due out near the end of April that will reintroduce fan favourite monsters such as Chameleos. So there will be more monsters to hunt over the coming year or so, unless Capcom decide to do an expansion like they did with World as they released Iceborne which introduced 40 large monsters into the game, both new and returning monsters.

So if you are a returning player who has already completed Monster Hunter World with its Iceborne expansion, then I definitely recommend Monster Hunter Rise as a fun return to portable Monster Hunter games. As Monster Hunter Rise brings enough new features to the Monster Hunter formula to entertain returning and new players.

Score – 9.1

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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