The Monster Hunter series had very humble beginnings as merely a niche series that started to gain a foothold in the handheld market before truly exploding with Monster Hunter World in 2018. When that game released, Nintendo Switch owners were hoping to get their own port, but instead all they got was an upgraded port of a 3DS game with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. Capcom was still very interested in bringing a more modern Monster Hunter experience to the Nintendo Switch though, which finally has come to fruition with the release of Monster Hunter Rise.
For anyone that is new to the Monster Hunter franchise, the core gameplay for the series is literally what the title would lead you to think it is. That is exactly the case in Monster Hunter Rise, where you create your own Hunter character and can go on quests to slay various monsters. However, there is much more to it than that, as there is a lot of depth to the game in a number of different ways that will keep you coming back for more again and again.
Across most of the franchise, Monster Hunter area maps were segmented into separate zones that had load screens between both, but Monster Hunter World changed that dramatically by opening up each area. Monster Hunter Rise takes a similar approach, by having each map in the game be one area that you can explore to your heart’s content without any sign of a loading screen. Like with World, this makes the chasing after of monsters when they run away from you leagues better than it was before, as you feel like you are actually on their trail.
Exploration takes a step forward in Monster Hunter Rise thanks to the addition of what is known as the Wirebug. The Wirebug has multiple uses in the game, including both in exploring the map and in battle. At the beginning of each quest, you start with two Wirebugs, which can be activated with the press of a button. Monster Hunter Rise adds a sense of scale to the game to a level that has not seen before, with you able to use the Wirebug to grab onto cliffs and climb up them if there are no vines nearby, as well as wall run.
The Wirebug can even be used out in the open to move from one spot to the next more quickly, which can be useful to dodge an enemy attack. When you are hit by an attack and sent flying, you can also use a Wirebug to execute a Wirefall to quickly rebound. Each of the weapons also have what are known as Silkbind attacks related to the Wirebug as well, but you are limited to how many you have. The good news is that they will replenish after a short cooldown, along with you being able to find extra ones around the map as well.
Monster Hunter Rise also introduces another major feature that serves as yet another quality of life improvement for the series, the Palamute. Palicoes were added to the series prior as cat companions that you could use to help you in battle and now you have your own dog companion as well. While Palamutes can be designed just like Palicoes and are able to help you in battle, they take it one step further by letting you ride your Palamute everywhere. This not only saves time when traveling around the map yourself, but is a lifesaver when chasing after runaway monsters.
Monster Hunter Rise offers players 14 different weapons types to choose from, including the Great Sword, Dual Blades, Bow, and many more. While this is the exact same lineup offered in Monster Hunter World, these weapons offer a great variety of different options. You have more simple weapons like the Dual Blades that are great for newcomers, while also having much more intricate movesets with weapons like the Charge Blade or Insect Glaive. This allows players to tailor the game to their level of experience and how comfortable they are with branching out. Like in the past, you can hone in on one specific weapon and work towards mastering it or you can switch it up and try them all.
Not only do you have access to the different weapon types, but there are also numerous variations of each weapon that you can forge or upgrade at the Blacksmith. This will require you to find the right supplies and reach certain points of the game to where you have access to higher level versions of the weapons. One really helpful feature is that you can rollback your builds to retain the parts used in them to then go for another path with that same weapon.
Monster Hunter Rise has its own distinct structure when it comes to quests, which are what the game itself revolves around. Like most Monster Hunter games, there isn’t much of a story here other than you needing to go out and hunt monsters for people in the village or protecting the village itself from larger scale attacks. The quests are given by different NPCs located around the village of Kamura, including the Village Quests given by Hinoa the Quest Maiden. These are essentially the equivalent of story missions for the game, which are ranked in difficulty from Level 1 to Level 5.
Each level has a list of Key Quests that must be completed to move the game forward, while there are also some extra missions mixed in that can just be done for reward money and materials. One of the most daunting elements of previous Monster Hunter games has been the steep learning curve and early difficulty, but Monster Hunter Rise feels a bit different here. The early quests are much more manageable and allow new players to get acclimated before upping the difficulty too much, which is a major shift from past entries and makes the game much more accessible. After completing each tier of Key Village Quests, you will unlock what is known as an Urgent Quest. These are not really anything too special from the regular quests, but they must be completed to unlock the next level of Village Quests.
While completing these, there are also Optional Subquests available of which you can only select up to five at at time. These task you with things such as gathering a certain number of plants or slaying a certain number of small monsters. By completing these, you will get very useful items, including Kamura Points and often Armor Spheres, the latter of which will allow you to upgrade your armor at the Blacksmith. Talking to villagers in Kamura will also unlock special Requests that you can complete for them through the Village Quests menu.
Eventually, you will face what is known as a Rampage Quest, which is brand new to the franchise in Monster Hunter Rise. Rampage Quests are wave-based battles where you have to defend Kamura Village from hordes of monsters. You are not alone here though, as this adds in a tower defense mechanic into the mix where you can place offensive and defensive installations around the area to help fend them off. The defensive installations will be manned automatically, but the offensive ones you can use yourself to take out the monsters. There are also some traps you can lay or utilize to try and take them down more easily.
Netcode works near seamlessly
These hordes are made up of easy to defeat monsters, which are then followed by a leader that will take awhile to take down. You can go and fight them head on as well as per usual, but the safer router is definitely to take advantage of the installations. Your goal is to defend the gates and prevent them from making it into the village by breaking through every gate in the area. After the initial Rampage Quest that is part of the story, you can access them at anytime to do more of them. These are distinctly different from the rest of the quests in the game, so it was a great decision to add something like this to keep the game fresh.
Similar to the Village Quests are the Hub Gathering Quests, which are given elsewhere in the game. These are much more difficult than the Village Quests, which can even be taken on with up to three other Hunters online. Arena quests can also be done with one other person, which pit you with a monster within an arena, though you are given specific equipment to use each time. Monster Hunter World made the online element of the game such an integral part and these quests are what will keep Monster Hunter Rise going for years thanks to the online mechanic. Mixing online play and Nintendo Switch is often a recipe for disaster, but the netcode works near seamlessly awhile traversing the maps and in battle.
Online isn’t the only area that Nintendo Switch has struggled at times in the past either, as performance is often a question mark with certain games. The good news here though is that Monster Hunter Rise runs very well both in docked and in handheld mode, with the battles being very fluid. A game like Monster Hunter Rise really needs absolute precision when it comes to combat, so having it run smoothly was very important. The game certainly isn’t among the best on the Switch in visuals, but the environments are very well designed and add a lot to the overall experience.
Monster Hunter has been growing in popularity and the release of Monster Hunter Rise should help to take that to the next level. Rather than a hampered port of Monster Hunter World, this game is its own full scale game from beginning to end. Making the game a little easier at the beginning was a great choice to help newer players get their feet wet before throwing everything that makes the series so great at them. Adding in the new game mechanics of the Wirebug and Palamute takes things to the next level and make Monster Hunter Rise yet another must own game for the Nintendo Switch.
Monster Hunter Rise takes the best elements from the series and mixes them with a few new mechanics to give players a fresh experience that is the most accessible in the franchise to date.