Monster Hunter Rise is the latest game in the Japanese action RPG series from Capcom, for the Nintendo Switch. While it lacks some of the grandeur and spectacle of its predecessor World, Rise provides a more intimate story experience with its Japan-inspired setting and rural village hub as you strive to defend it from an oncoming rampage of ferocious monsters.
Naturally, the stars of the game are the monsters themselves. While you will encounter the rampage in the story, you’ll spend most of your time hunting individual monsters in their natural habitats. There are plenty of returning monsters from previous entries, but there are also many new ones, heavily inspired by yōkai from Japanese folklore. Each time you encounter a new monster in the story they are introduced through a cinematic haiku. This adds to the lore of Rise’svarious ecosystems and brings more personality to the already fantastic monster designs. The world truly feels alive as you enter into a greater food chain of monsters large and small. And the game is as much about making the most of your surroundings and its resources in order to survive as it is hunting monsters.
A learning experience
For newcomers, the game may certainly feel overwhelming to begin with. Your first Monster Hunter game is always going to be a gradual learning experience as you get to grips with its many systems and interfaces. My advice would be to experiment with different weapons early on and find the playstyle that suits you. Don’t be afraid to switch it up if one isn’t clicking. Take your time, do some exploring outside of the main hunts, and learn the game at your own pace. Your patience will be rewarded.
The game supports up to four players and its quests are split into two categories. Village quests are solo and progress the game’s story. They’re also easier and act as a great tutorial experience for newer players. Hub quests on the other hand are more challenging. You can tackle these online with other players once you’re feeling confident enough. After a certain point the Village quests become redundant as you’re encouraged to migrate to the Hub quests to continue the story. As a result, Hub is ultimately where you will spend the majority of your time. But Village quests are a good way to prepare yourself in advance and familiarise yourself with the monsters and environments.
Village quests are also a good way to spend more time with your animal companions! While playing alone you’ll be able to choose two buddies to accompany you from your roster of Palicoes (the supporting felines) and Palamutes (the mountable canines). When playing with others you’ll be limited to just the one, so Village quests are a good way to figure out your preferred playstyle and buddies beforehand. Palicoes are a staple in the series. It’s a bit of a shame you won’t see so much of them this time around as you’ll probably be favouring Palamutes for online play. However it’s good to see them return, and they’re as loveable as always.
More than just hunting monsters
Hunting monsters is at the core of the game. But you can also spend time gathering resources and crafting items to assist you in your hunts. There’s also a camera mode for taking photos of endemic wildlife if you’re in the mood to relax. And there hidden shrines you can discover in each location to reward your exploration.
Traversing the game’s environments is also a lot of fun thanks to your canine companion, the Palamute, and your Wirebug. Not only will your Palamute fight alongside you in hunts, but you are also able to mount it outside of combat. This provides a faster alternative to sprinting when covering longer distances by foot. Meanwhile, the Wirebug allows you to zip through the air, scale walls with ease and cross large areas in a shorter space of time. Both are engaging additions to the series and streamline the gameplay loop in a satisfying way.
And more to come
While there is already plenty of content to keep you busy for a long time, it’s still a little early to judge how it will hold up over time compared to its predecessors. The first big patch at the end of April was certainly a sign of good things to come. And there’s another free patch planned this month, introducing even more monsters and story content. So hopefully there will be a steady stream of events to keep players coming back.
I’m especially hoping for an expansion further down the line. Monster Hunter World’s expansion Iceborne was rich with content and essentially doubled the game’s size. If Rise follows a similar roadmap there could be some very exciting announcements for the game over the coming year. My time spent with Rise has been a magical experience so far. I am hopeful it has a healthy lifespan ahead of it. Happy hunting!
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WORDS Andy Porter