As the newest installment in the Monster Hunter franchise, fans were hoping for Monster Hunter: Rise to be the game that would combine the best elements of the classic Monster Hunter titles and Monster Hunter: World that made the latter such a monumental success both critically and financially. Having played over 40 hours, however, I would say it’s a bit more complicated.
Rise takes the blueprint that World established and throws it into a blender with Monster HunterPortable 3rd and Generations. The result is a thrilling title that not only mixes the best parts of the series, both old and new but adds new additions that make this game stand out in comparison to past entries, World included.
As implied by the game’s title, Rise put a major emphasis on verticality with the new Wirebug tool and expanded climbing abilities that allow the player to explore the game’s five maps however they wish. Along with the standard policy, cats that come with their own abilities to aid the player in the hunt, the game adds a new buddy to utilize in the form of the Palamute. Large canines that the player can use to get around the map faster and assist them in combat.
Part of what I’d adore about Monster Hunter World was just much freedom gave the player what they could do regarding movement. Unlike the still wonderful but slightly clunky gameplay of older titles, World removes those shackles to create the game I’d felt was the best in the series, regarding how well I’d felt it played. Through the wire bugs, palamutes, and so much more, Rise might have suppressed that.
It is not only because of how much fun it is to move along the map like a mini-hunter spiderman but also how it plays a role in the combat. Having taken some cues from Generations, the game allows the player to use skill bind abilities tailored for each of the game’s 14 weapons, allowing the freedom to use which skills suits their playstyle. If the player uses enough skill bind attacks on the monster, they can also use what is essentially this game’s version of the mounting system now titled wyvern riding. It’s at this point that the monster is at the player’s mercy who can use it to further damage the monster or use it against the monster they’re actually hunting. While I wish there was some freedom when the player can choose not to use this mechanic, it’s also fun and beneficial.
The newest addition to Rise, however, is the rampage mode. In what is a tower defense mode, players must hold off against waves upon waves of monsters. While it’s very different from the traditional gameplay loop, this mode is very worthwhile for just how wonderfully chaotic it can get, especially when you bring three other players along. Another design choice inspired brought back from Generations that makes its way into this game is the Apex system. Super-powered versions of monsters with their own unique attacks and patterns that the player must overcome. They can get pretty tough but feel very rewarding to bring down.
Artistically, the game might as well be a sequel to Portable 3rd. Karmua Village is such a delightful callback to the latter’s hub area that visually stunning and full of lively characters that the player can interact with that can also provide useful items for the next hunt. The Japanese vibes don’t stop there. Rise wears its aesthetic proudly on its sleeves through the little things like the monster icons, loading screens, soundtrack, and even some very stylized effects work.
For a base game, the starting roster is solid. For fans who criticized World for its heavy focus on the wyverns, Rise brings back various creatures such as the fanged beasts, leviathans, and a new spider monster that is a personal highlight for me this game. Along with the various returning fan favorites, the new monsters are best brought into the gameplay and visual design series. The one aspect that feels a bit lacking is the elder dragons, of which there isn’t that much of at least much of as of writing this review.
In fact, this leads to what may be the most divisive part of this game to consider. While I love all of the available content that will provide plentiful hunting hours, it is quite clear that the production understandably had issues working around the current COVID-19 situation. As such, not all of the content intended for the base game is currently available until the first two (Thankfully free) title updates are released. The first of which is later this month during April.
It’s not an unfinished game for the production values; quite the opposite, in fact. While it can’t much the graphical detail that World brought to the table due to being a Switch title, Rise more than makes use of the RE engine to levels that are quite frankly absurd. This game is visually stunning from the locales to the monsters and thoroughly makes up for its weaknesses through its inspired art design.
Even though Monster Hunter: Rise might feel a bit incomplete as of now, what is available is still nothing short of top-notch. Ever since the first game came out in 2004, Monster Hunter always found a new way to set the bar higher, and Rise is no exception. It truly brings everything to the table to please newcomers and fans alike for what will surely be hours of monster hunting fun.