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access_time April 10, 2021 at 6:30 AM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Monster Hunter Rise

After the success of Capcom’s best-selling Monster Hunter World, it was only a matter of time before the phenomenon joined forces with Nintendo’s successful Switch console with an original project. The result of that venture is Monster Hunter Rise, a game that utilizes the Switch’s strengths while coming out on top as arguably the most impressive title on the platform. After Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, it’s great to finally see what the platform can do with a game built from the ground up. Turns out that in the right hands, the Switch is an incredibly capable platform.

Monster Hunter Rise takes would-be hunters to Kamura Village, a colorful setting with some ninja flair. As a new hunter, you’ll start from the bottom and rise through the ranks to become a hunter the village can count on. Of course, with the oncoming threat of the rampage, a horde of attacking monsters dead-set on breaking into the village, players will have to adapt to new strategies as they defend their home. This also means taking down the menacing Magnamalo, a powerful fanged wyvern that appears during rampages. The story doesn’t quite go to the depths of Monster Hunter World, but it puts its focus on the thing that matters most: hunting badass monsters.

While the story is short and sweet, there’s really a lot to say about the presentation of the game. Everything from the wonderful music to the stunning visuals is a showcase for AAA products on the Switch. The soundtrack suits every location and monster fight, and the “Bunny Dango” theme breaks it up with incredible amounts of charm. The adaptable RE Engine runs unbelievably well here, making the game look gorgeous in the process. Each of the expansive locations are full of detail, giving the game an impeccable sense of quality. With the amount of love and effort put into the visuals, Monster Hunter Rise is an easy contender for the best looking Switch game. Even with occasional dips in the frame rate, the game still manages to perform admirably.

Of course, the true star of the show is the tried and true gameplay of the franchise. Fans will still have 14 weapon types to choose from, each with their own unique attacks and abilities. Once you have your ideal weapon of choice, you’ll set out to slay monsters to forge new weapons and armor in an endless cycle. New to Rise is the wirebug mechanic, which feels like an evolution of the clutch claw from Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. Not only does this unlock tons of new attacks and abilities for the various weapons, but it also gives way to new traversal mechanics as well. Wirebugs can launch players quickly around a battlefield, up a mountain, and even give them some hang time. They also unleash Silkbind attacks, giving players access to another new feature: Wyvern Riding.

Wyvern Riding is the next step for mounting monsters, granting players the ability to temporarily control a monster. Players will be able to move the monster, launch them into walls, and even be able to make them attack. Using one monster to attack another gives easy access to material farming. It can even deal some pretty decent amounts of damage. While riding, players will have access to light and strong attacks, and even a dodge ability. You’ll be working under a time limit, but if you manage to dish enough damage with your attacks, you’ll be able to unleash a Mounted Punisher attack. It works sort of like an elaborate game of Punch Out!!, but it works fantastically.

While Wyvern Riding and wirebugs add a lot to the game, there’s one big element that deserves praise. Of course, we’re talking about the Palamute, the new Canyne companions in the game. These loyal dogs not only aid you in combat, but they also give you convenience by allowing you to ride them. At first, it’ll be like the tailrider mounts in Monster Hunter World, but there’s so much more to them. There’s a ton of quality of life improvements with the new Palamute mount. Not only can hunters move faster while mounted, but they can carve, gather, and even use items while riding. With this new addition, hunters can now sharpen their weapons on the go, making hunts go much smoother. There’s also the incredibly satisfying launch off the Palamute into a powerful attack against unsuspecting monsters.

Of course, you’ll still have access to your Palico companions as well, working much like they have in past entries. Both of these buddies can have their own sets of gear, conveniently made from scraps of monster parts. Having more buddies also allows access to the “Meowcenaries” and the Argosy submarines. This helps to gather resources and items, again working like past games. There’s also one more companion in the owl-like Cohoot, though it’s more for appearances rather than usefulness. It’s basically the Poogie of Monster Hunter Rise, but with a bit more interactivity. You’ll also have access to Spiribirds, which will give you buffs during hunts depending on your Petalace. This feature mostly just gives a bit more encouragement for going certain paths during hunts.

Finally, there’s the rampages themselves, a new tower defense style mode that has hordes of monsters attack all at once. Players will set up their defenses with manual and automatic ballistas, cannons, bombs and more. You’ll use a variety of projectile attacks to thwart off the incoming monsters with a goal of forcing a retreat. Doing so will complete various tasks and even level up your defenses. Do well and you’ll even be able to utilize various villagers to aid you in the fight. This can include the Elder Hunter Fugen or even the Quest Maidens Hinoa and Minoto. Rampages add a bit of diversity to the game, and while they’re not as fun as hunts, there’s plenty of purpose to doing them. Successful completion will net you exclusive components to upgrade your weapons, even giving access to new passive abilities.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Monster Hunter experience without multiplayer. Thankfully, both the standard hunts and rampages offer the ability to play with up to four players. It also comes with some great social improvements, most notably the ability to explore Kamura Village with a friend. Previously, the Gathering Hub was the only place to hang out with other players. Now, there is no longer a limitation, as players can go wherever they want with each other. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any limits here. Monster Hunter World allowed for 16 players in a lobby, while Rise only allows for four. No more big gathering hub parties, as we now return to the standard number of players.

Monster Hunter Rise boasts an impressive amount of monsters, including a good balance of new and old creatures. Fan favorites like Mizutsune and Zinogre are joined by new monsters like Almudron and Goss Harag. The new monsters add a lot to the Japanese folklore style of the game while being formidable as well. As for the returning monsters, they blend seamlessly with the new surroundings and mechanics. There’s even a fun poem to introduce each monster as you go out on a village hunt. With a solid amount of monsters already available and more on the way, this is a game with extremely long legs. The Hunter Rank is currently capped at HR7, but by the end of this month, that cap will be removed.

When it comes to forging armor and weapons, not much has changed in Monster Hunter Rise. Aside from the monster scraps for your buddies, you’ll still do a bit of grinding to get the essential parts for your gear. As you player the game, you’ll get access to new armor and weapon trees, giving additional options. Over the same span of time, you’ll unlock new abilities for your weapons and even new Petalaces. There’s a ton of variety on offer, and it can be a bit overwhelming, but having this much choice is a good thing. If you’re new to the series, this is still a good entry to get started in. On the other hand, if you’re a series vet, then you’ll quickly adapt to the changes.

Overall, Monster Hunter Rise is an incredibly impressive feat. It looks amazing, plays fantastically, and it’s chock full of everlasting charm and replayability. The quality of life improvements far outweigh the sacrifices, and the game is as addicting as it ever was. With a great selection of monsters to hunt, plenty of new features, and new buddies to love, this is quickly rising up to being a new fan favorite. Whether you’re a monster hunting pro or taking your first venture, Monster Hunter Rise is a fantastic game to play for hours on end.

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10

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