Monster Hunter Rise – Rising Above The Rest
For many years, the Monster Hunter franchise was considered hard to approach for prospective new fans. The barrier of entry was high due to weak tutorialisation paired with hard to master mechanics and challenging levels of difficulty, but in 2018 something changed. With the release of Monster Hunter World, the impenetrable wall around the franchise began to crumble. World was by no means easy, but the quality of life improvements that were made opened up the franchise to millions, and the praise flowed steadily as a result. Despite Capcom’s best efforts to bring World to the Switch, it never eventuated, and in seemingly an act of goodwill, Switch owners have received their own, console exclusive Monster Hunter title in the form of the newest arrival, Monster Hunter Rise.
The story of the Monster Hunter titles has never been the most enticing piece of the puzzle, and nothing has changed in the case of Rise, though it does provide adequate scaffolding for some new types of combat scenarios. As you (conveniently) earn the title of Hunter, a recurring threat emerges. The village has long been tortured by the Rampage, an event that transpires every few decades and causes countless loss of life and damage when the local monsters are frenzied and attack the village for no apparent reason. As the newest hunter on the block, your job is to work with Elder Fugen, and the other locals to investigate, and then put a stop to the monster threat.
Rise is a mirror image of World in a host of ways, bringing with it the many quality of life elements that its predecessor introduced, while layers some other changes of its own in. Mechanically, and even in terms of the user-interface, Rise looks and feels very much like World did, with some minor tweaks cleaning things up further for fresh, and relatively fresh faces to the franchise. The locations you’ll visit on your hunting journey are deceptively small at first, but thanks to the inclusion of the new Wirebug, a tool that is a handy tool in combat, allowing you to mount opponents and force them to attack other monsters, but namely for traversal. Proficient players with the Wirebug will use it’s guaranteed two uses (more, temporary uses can be found in the environment) to evade monster attacks with ease, but also scale cliff-faces, and reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the map. This is no exploit either, with a number of resources, and other collectables having been left for those who meticulously explore every nook and cranny available.
The Wirebug feels like a natural extension of your arm in many facets of the experience, and when paired with the mobility and speed of the newly introduced Palamute, your canine companion that will have you scooting from one end of the map to the other, to hunt your prey becomes a breeze. There are also a small handful of sites where a “Great Wirebug” can be placed. This variant of the Wirebug is permanent and restricted to the defined locations you can place them in, but provide enormous platforming boosts for the player. When you’re chasing down a fleeing monster, having these occasional shortcuts, that might even allow you to intercept the target before it reaches its destination, are greatly appreciated.
The tools of the Hunting trade have gradually grown from entry to entry in the franchise, and while Rise feels like a comparatively small jump, at least when compared to the inclusions with previous new entries, it also feels the most cohesive. What Rise does introduce however are Rampages, these sometimes scripted events, most represent a tower defence mode, with players needing to install traps, canons, ballistae, and other forms of manual, and automatically controlled artillery in order to hold the stronghold together as waves of monsters attack. These scenarios, which at first avail themselves at story-defined times, become accessible whenever you choose and make for a great change of pace to the typical grind that Monster Hunter titles can become.
The quest itself scales significantly depending on how you wish to play it. Players have access to Village Quests, essentially the campaign, which can only be played solo, and Hub Quests which, while manageable solo (at least up to a point), are designed and scaled with multiplayer in mind. Multiplayer itself is slightly handicapped by Nintendo’s archaic online systems, but once you’re in, players will have a great time working with their friends to take on some of the game’s fiercest foes. As was also the case in Monster Hunter World, players can also use the Join Requests section to seek help from others or be the help someone else is looking for, this works quite smoothly overall. The Village Quests do feel a bit easier than what we’ve come to expect from prior franchise entries, with less upgrading/farming necessary to thwart the monsters in your path, but once you’ve quickly hit High-Rank quests, or when you’re tackling monsters in the Hub Quests portion, you’ll soon find the challenge that’s expected from a core Monster Hunter franchise entry.
Preparation for combat encounters is also important, and as always you will need to gear up with the right armour, and the right weapon, imbued with the right elements. On top of that, players will also want to invest some time at the Canteen where the adorable Palico that work there have a range of Dango for you to devour before your next big quest. Three Dango can be popped on a skewer, and each will offer potential buffs for your next adventure, from reducing the likelihood of you being knocked on your rear by monsters, extra Kamura points, attack points, speed boosts to weapon sharpening and many more. These can be paid for with Kamura points, or Zenny, and Dango Tickets can be used to guarantee that boosters are activated.
Previous Monster Hunter environments have typically fallen into the diverse biome basket, a lush forest region, or an icy tundra for example, but the technological back-step from World to Rise means that while the regions themselves stand in juxtaposition to one another, within their own space, they can feel a bit bland and light on for diversity, others feel like assets from World have been scaled back and dropped into this new setting. It looks great, with the disclaimer being “for the Switch”, but it’s hard to not dream about what might’ve been possible had the game been developed with the PS4/PS5 or Xbox One/Xbox Series consoles in mind instead. Character models themselves are varied and engaging, their personalities equally so, but it’s the sounds of Rise that constantly stimulate the senses. From the clashing of your weapons against the monsters’ hard shells, or fleshy masses, to the energetic chatter from NPCs, and the ebbs and flows of the game’s dynamic soundtrack, Rise is a sweet sound on the ears.
While not the gigantic leap that World was a couple of years prior, Monster Hunter Rise, is a refined, sleek title that is suitable for new and old fans alike. The world itself is a bit rough around the edges, but the game does an excellent job of squeezing everything it can out of the Switch hardware. New quality of life features, as well as a handful of new gameplay scenarios, keep the formula evolving for the hardened fan, whilst still accessible and constantly enjoyable for those new to the franchise. With something for all players, no matter their experience or proficiency, with more content on the way, Rise rises above the pack to become the new pinnacle of the franchise
Monster Hunter Rise was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly supplied by Nintendo Australia