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access_time January 8, 2021 at 8:00 AM in Previews by David Poole

Preview | Monster Hunter Rise

With the demo out in the wild, we couldn’t keep ourselves from checking out Capcom’s Monster Hunter Rise. Getting a new ninja aesthetic and a Japanese inspired presentation, this is really quite the treat for Monster Hunter fans. We go on a few hunts and see how we do against the new monster Great Izuchi and a returning favorite, Mizutsune. We also get a chance to try some of the new mechanics for the game. With that in mind, here’s our full impressions on the game so far.

While I’m definitely not new to Monster Hunter, I still took the chance to jump into the training quests. For these, you’ll join Master Utsushi, the hunter leader of Kamura Village. With his guidance, he’ll teach you how to use the new Wirebug mechanic, as well as Wyvern Riding. At first, Wirebugs will seem like the Clutch Claw from Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, but you’ll soon realize it allows hunters to maneuver in ways like never before. Unlike the Clutch Claw, Wirebugs can launch hunters from any point. You can launch yourself upwards, dash forward, or even aim towards a direction of your choice. With some mastery, you’ll be able to traverse the battlefield with ease.

Using the Wirebug during combat, you’ll be able to perform Silkbind attacks. Each weapon has different attacks, some more effective than others, but the point is to weaken a monster to the silk. After a bit of time, you’ll get the monster stuck in enough silk, allowing you to mount it. While mounting monsters is nothing new, Monster Hunter Rise takes things further with the Wyvern Riding mechanic. When you mount a monster in Rise, you’ll be able to take full control of the monster for a limited time. This means you can not only slam it into walls repeatedly, but you can even use it to attack other monsters. Each monster has light and strong attacks, all of which fill up a gauge to perform a Mounted Punisher. This allows the monster to perform a sort of finishing move on another monster whilst ending your ride.

With Wirebugs and Wyvern Riding, you’ll be able to take on monsters in new ways with all 14 of the returning weapons. Keep in mind, weapons will control more like a traditional Monster Hunter experience. You’ll also have many other returning features with slight changes. One of these features includes riding Canynes, which is similar to riding certain small monsters in Monster Hunter World. On a hunt, you’ll have the option to take a Palamute with you, who will not only fight along side you but provide faster travel. Of course, you’ll also be able to bring a Palico with you, at least when playing solo. When it comes to multiplayer, you have to choose between one or the other. Both have different uses, providing their own unique strengths like the Palico’s healing bubbles or the Palamute’s mounted attacks.

Another slightly changed feature is the use of endemic life. Many of the familiar creatures provide hunters with tools and buffs, but there are new ones as well. One of the new types of creatures comes in the form of a Spiribird, which provides stat buffs based on the color. Running into one, you’ll temporarily increase your HP, defense, attack power, or stamina. Spiribirds and many more creatures will be around for you to utilize against your target and overall help you out with your hunt. This even includes an additional Wirebug, which will temporarily grant you another wire move. This becomes very useful when trying to attempt Wyvern Riding.

Speaking of hunts, let’s talk about the ones in the demo. Before we mention the specific targets, there’s a few things to note. Unlike Monster Hunter World, you won’t track monsters using their tracks and markings. Scoutflies are seemingly nonexistent for Monster Hunter Rise. On the other hand, the various regions are one consistent open area like they are in Monster Hunter World. No more load times between zones. Finally, it’s worth mentioning the amount of vertical level design here. In the demo, we only get to experience the Shrine Ruins, but with tall peaks, waterfalls and lots of walls to scale, it’s clear that environments will make great use of the Wirebug mechanic.

Getting to the beginner hunt puts us on the search for a Great Izuchi. This Bird Wyvern will travel in a pack with two smaller Izuchi and will often rely on them for backup. Trying out the hammer for this hunt, I took to the Shrine Ruins to deliver a good old fashioned beatdown. With the Wirebug, you can launch yourself in the air and bring the hammer down to deliver blunt force to monsters. Usually, I work with bows, but I figured I’d branch out for this new entry. The Great Izuchi was easy enough, as my Palico and Palamute made things even. He even has a pretty low resistance to Silkbind attacks, making him an easy Wyvern Ride. Fighting against an Arzuros, it made for a lot of fun. Of course, this was just the warm-up, as the true fight comes from the intermediate hunt: Mizutsune.

Mizutsune being a much larger Leviathan class monster, I decided to change weapons again, this time using the Long Sword. My goal? Cut off this things tail and claim victory. I don’t have a ton of Long Sword experience, but I decided to make thing my opportunity. The Long Sword offers some pretty interesting Silkbind attacks, one of which launching you for a slash and ground stab, the other being a defensive counter attack. While the first one provides plenty of mobility, it’s not nearly as strong as the counter stance. If you don’t manage to counter a monster’s attack, you’ll be out in the open and down a Wirebug for a bit. Either way, with a few quests of practice, I was feeling pretty confident that I would reach my goal.

When it comes to fighting Mizutsune, the beast is able to create bubbles that don’t deal a lot of damage, but they do create obstacles. These bubbles can luckily be destroyed, making them less of a threat. The real threat is the jet bursts of water that it’ll shoot at you. There’s a few tactics it’ll use for these attacks, one including a straight shot while another involves a spinning maneuver. With the water jet, there’s even an attack Mizutsune will use where it slides along the floor and shoots across a wide area. A well timed dodge or Wirebug jump can make these less of a nuisance, but there comes a time when you’ll likely still get hit. Of course, Mizutsune will also use it’s own body to attack, including it’s long tail and various other slams and tackles.

My first couple attempts of taking down Mizutsune unfortunately ended in failure, but I still learned from it. I also got pretty close in both battles, but the tail remained. I wouldn’t be satisfied with a victory if I didn’t get that tail. Luckily, third time’s the charm, as I came in gathering every Spiribird and buff I could find. I also made sure to stock up on a lot of herbs and healing items just to keep myself well stocked. It was a tough battle, even getting carted a couple times, but with one chance left, I managed to not only slice off tail, but I also delivered a finishing blow during a spirit combo. It was incredibly satisfying, and that’s something that Monster Hunter does extremely well. That same sense of accomplishment still holds true in Monster Hunter Rise.

Of course, both of these monsters were just practice. I wanted to get my bearings on my own before I went online for multiplayer. With Misutzune down, I took my Long Sword online. Joining a lobby was easy enough, though it remains unclear how seamless online multiplayer will be. With the only option being hunts, all I could do was join a lobby, pick a weapon, and then my partner. Playing with four hunters and each having a Palamute makes battles extremely busy. It’s actually quite impressive that this is a Switch game with how much is happening in combat. The fact that online gameplay was pretty stable too also provides a testament to the developers. I didn’t suffer any lag or see any issues while playing online during my two multiplayer hunts.

Hunting Mizutsune again, my first multiplayer hunt didn’t go too well unfortunately. It became clear that my allies were a little less experienced, though I can’t blame them entirely after I went down once myself. After a failed quest, I went on one more. This time, my allies seemed much more experienced. We were a much better group of hunters, healing each other when multiple people needed it, and maintaining an endless barrage of attacks. With my long sword, I continued to focus on getting that tail, and I got it again. Of course, the hunt wasn’t over, and it wasn’t long until Mizutsune was limping away with no tail between its legs. With a shock trap and a few large barrel bombs, as well as a Wyvern Ride with some wall launches, this quest was over.

Overall, the hunts remain as engaging as ever and the Switch manages to keep things performing well. The frame rate does dip from time to time, usually when looking upwards with the camera, but otherwise it maintains a roughly 30fps. Even so, the graphics, while not on the same level as Monster Hunter World, are still rather impressive. Getting the RE Engine to run on the Switch probably wasn’t an easy feat, but it looks like it paid off. Monster Hunter Rise is an impressive looking game, and the presentation is also excellent. There’s even more voice acting than ever before, as hunters will now speak during hunts. This extra touch of personality really helps to make things lively. So far, the music is also pretty amazing, giving me a lot of Okami vibes. The developers should be proud of the amount of effort they’ve put in, as it shows.

While the demo doesn’t let you explore Kamura Village out the new Rampage feature, it’s still a great time. Surprisingly, the demo didn’t offer a “hard” quest, but perhaps that was intentional. Fans are currently speculating that there’s more to the demo, but only time will tell. Either way, Monster Hunter Rise looks like another success story in the making, and I can’t wait till it launches. Monster Hunter Rise will launch on March 26th, 2021 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. We’ll have more information as it gets revealed. For now, if you’re excited for the game, let us know in the comments below!

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