More than a decade ago, in a lifetime before The edge Monster Hunter on the PSP was my favorite commuting game. I spent a few hours a day on solo quests as my train meandered through the Japanese countryside, comparing the loot with friends late at night as we took together the monsters we couldn’t beat alone.
2018’s Monster Hunter World couldn’t hope to replicate that experience. World tried to reimagine the series as a primarily online adventure that took advantage of powerful hardware – and it was a huge success, with Monster Hunter for a much larger Western audience than ever before. World was a great game and Capcom has clearly moved Monster Hunter in the right direction. But for me something was missing.
That’s true Monster Hunter Rise comes in. It is an exclusive Nintendo Switch game that builds on World‘s progress – but now you can get started.
Monster Hunter Rise is not a completely new idea. The last time a big novelty Monster Hunter game first came to a home console – 2009’s Monster Hunter 3 for the Wii – it grew out of the huge success of a previous PSP release. Monster Hunter 3 brought a lot of progress to the series, but a direct port to the less powerful PSP wouldn’t have been practical for technical reasons, so Capcom tweaked many of its elements and content into a new PSP game called Monster Hunter Portable 3rdIt eventually became the best-selling game in the series, at least until World came by, and it was the version that consumed the most time for me on those train rides.
That’s actually what Capcom has done with Monster Hunter RiseIt is not a Switch port World – it’s better. Almost everything that is made World a quantum leap for the series is here, and Rise develops the formula while operating within a range that makes more sense to the Switch. The result is an all-new game that feels at home on its portable hardware rather than being compromised to fit.
Monster Hunter Rise arguably the most technically impressive Switch game I’ve seen to date; it is certainly the most impressive of those not made by Nintendo. The character models and monsters running on Capcom’s RE Engine are very similar to those of World – especially on the small Switch screen. Capcom has done an excellent job in the field of conservation Worldessence and style on less powerful hardware.
The biggest concessions are the environments. The stages feel more like old school Monster Hunter games than they did in World, with less elaborate designs and less graphic flourishes such as dense foliage. Unlike the older games, the sub-sections are not divided into loading screens, which helps Rise play in the same way as World‘s more free-flowing style.
In fact, Rise goes even further in that respect. Traversing the environments is faster than ever thanks to two new elements: a dog named Palamute that accompanies you in battle and lets you ride on its back, and a tool called the Wirebug that can be used to zip up and hit walls. jump monsters, which they occasionally even control in large-scale confrontations with other beasts. What RiseThe city’s stages aren’t complicated, they add verticality, and although your goals are marked on the map from the beginning this time, you’ll often find yourself meeting them at their level.
Rise feels even better suited for portable games than previous games, as you never wander aimlessly in search of a monster. Other changes save seconds that add up in hundreds of hours – for example, you can now deplete resources from a mine or bonepile with a single tap of a button.
Different, Rise is a typical Monster Hunter game. It’s a fairly complex action RPG in which you choose one of several weapon classes to hunt increasingly dangerous beasts, and collect them for materials that you can use to craft new weapons and armor to take on even more dangerous beasts. The game is definitely an acquired taste, and I’m not sure the constant barrage of tutorial popups explaining obscure mechanics will be as useful to newbies as Capcom seems to think.
However, what will help is that Monster Hunter Rise is just not terribly difficult compared to other games in the series, even WorldI found the “village” missions that continue the story and get you to the end game unusually easy – it’s like they’re the actual tutorial. I am experienced with the series, but by no means an incredible player, yet I sent most of the new monsters much faster than usual on my first try. The village quests are never anyone’s real meat Monster Hunter game, so I think it’s okay that they serve as a fun campaign that anyone can shoot through.
There is also a range of more challenging “hub” missions available from the outset, and they should dispel the notion that Rise does not target existing fans. But it is difficult to judge one Monster Hunter game before launch because I had very little time to test it online, let alone see how the player base tackles the most challenging content. RiseIts longevity will be due in large part to the design of the endgame and how Capcom handles future updates, which aren’t known at this point.
At least for now Rise seems to be a more solid package in terms of content World was ahead of its major at launch Iceborne extension. It’s certainly not lacking in samples, and the variety is wider than anything else World on offer, with several old favorites and some imaginative new designs.
Monster Hunter Rise is the most accessible game in the series to date, and it just might turn out to be the best. I’m not ready to mention that just yet, as a lot will depend on how the post-launch support turns out. But Capcom definitely has the bones of a classic here. Almost everything it was good at World goes for Riseunless you want to run it at 4K / 60fps. If you do (and so do I), there will be a PC version next year.
It feels like Monster Hunter has come full circle RiseThe series started off on the PS2, of course, but it only really became a cult phenomenon when it moved to portables, which is what it returns to now World brought it to an even wider global audience. You don’t have to travel long to understand how Monster Hunter benefits from a portable format.
One of the joys of the Switch is that you can play in it when you otherwise couldn’t, even if it’s as basic a situation as your living room is occupied. Monster Hunter has always had that one-more quest impulse for series fans, and with its breezy new design and portable form factor, Rise should look much more to the cause.
Monster Hunter Rise is available for Nintendo Switch starting today.