Monster Hunter Rise for Nintendo Switch is one of the best, if not the best, game in the series. Made for fans, fine-tuned to the smallest detail, challenging and totally newbie-unfriendly. Designed for those who started playing on PS2, fully explored every detail of Monster Hunter World, was unhappy with the portrayal of the world in the film, and knows what they will spend the next few hundred hours on.
If you were waiting for this, then here it is, a good reason to go on vacation and start hunting monsters.
Monster Hunter, as you might guess from the name, is a series in which you need to hunt monsters. Unlike story-driven shooters and action games, where we are taken by the hand and led from monster to monster, forcing them to kill in order to progress through the plot and see a beautiful video at the end, the MH series has always put the hunt first. Tracking prey, setting traps, carefully preparing for each battle – all this constitutes a successful formula that has captivated players for many years, eagerly awaiting each new game. Rise, of course, is no exception.
Monster Hunter World and the Iceborne add-on to it, which smoothed the corners of game mechanics and were created with the aim of attracting many new players, not just die-hard fans, contributed greatly to this. MHW performed brilliantly in this capacity, on the one hand giving us a normal difficulty curve, and on the other hand, preserving the spirit of the series and allowing us to approach the “same” gaming experience after getting high hunter ranks. Rise, in turn, is trying to stay somewhere in between MHW and, for example, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, a game “for fans” that did not even try to face newcomers. And the novelty, oddly enough, succeeds quite well.
What distinguishes MH Rise from MH World is, first of all, the smaller scale of what is happening. This is a return to the roots of the series, when the story was less epic, the maps were relatively small due to the limitations of consoles, and the game hub remained compact and very densely populated.
Rise’s storyline feels local, allowing you to focus on the battles rather than thinking about what your next move will turn out to be for the entire game world. The story is interesting to follow, but nothing more. The main role in the game is assigned to hunting, and here you clearly feel like a beginner, trying to gain a foothold in the game world and become a seasoned hunter.
Progress is conditionally divided into two parts, because we are given two types of tasks. One is the village quests that move the story forward. The second is Hub Missions, which offer a classic experience and hunting without hard plot constraints and tend to be more difficult. Each player can follow a path convenient for himself, and it will depend on which monster and when you meet. For example, one of the key opponents, Mangamalo, meets through Hub-tasks already at the third rank, but in the quest chain of the village, you can only face him when you get the fourth rank.
Beginners should take a closer look at the plot side of the game first of all, having received a measured gaming experience, while professionals with hundreds of hunts behind their shoulders can farm things better, and then quickly run through the plot sections. It all depends on your preferences and style of play. You will receive beautiful videos when meeting monsters only in story missions (and for those who will pump a new character, a pleasant bonus will be that now cutscenes can be skipped), and the hub for collecting players is limited to only 4 fighters (instead of 16, as in World’e), but all these are trifles and they almost do not affect the impressions.
It is also worth mentioning separately that at the moment there is no clear ending in Rise, because the game will develop over time, receiving additional tasks and ending the story arc. Again, since the story here is minimalistic, you don’t suffer from this, as in story games (for example, I don’t think you would be happy if you just closed access to the final third of Astral Chain), since there is enough work to do. But there is no feeling that you have “passed” the game either.
But there is an additional battle mode that develops the theme of the battle with Zora Magdaros from MHW – the Rampage format quests work on the principles of Tower Defense, forcing you to actively defend yourself, use shelters and different types of weapons, thereby significantly enriching the gameplay as a whole. This mode is surprisingly fun and will be a nice respite between standard hunts.
Another significant innovation is the redesigned Wirebug system, which allows you to be attracted to yourself anywhere on the map to jump from monster attacks, climb into hard-to-reach places, and even quickly recover from being knocked down. At first, only 2 beetles with separate recovery timers are available to the player, but during the game you can get a third one – allowing you to make 3 dashes at the right moments. This mechanic forces you to fight very actively, jumping around the monsters, climbing on their backs and surviving when the damage was inevitable in the previous games of the series. Even some sections of locations are built in such a way that it is necessary to use this skill in order to collect bonuses and additional loot.
Silkbind attacks are also associated with these timers – special techniques that allow you to quickly inflict a lot of damage, or restore the sharpness of the weapon. It all depends on what kind of weapon and when to use them. The main thing is not to forget in the heat of battle that you need resources to evade, otherwise it will turn out that with a series of quick attacks the armor was knocked down with a monster, and there is no longer any way to evade a counter-strike. This happens all the time – in the end, against agile monsters, it is better to hold one cooldown for survival, because no palico can cure everything.
The amplification system at locations has also been redesigned. Insects with different colored belly now fly all over the territory, giving a permanent buff after you run through them. The buff works until you leave the location, so you collect these insects while you move to the boss, and in battle you also distract for a second to pick up the next power-up. The process does not slow down in any way, the placement of the bugs on the map is very competent, so the mechanics work fine. True, when you have already found a monster, you are not particularly distracted by buffs, but getting a small increase in strength while catching up with a fleeing lizard is always nice. I flew in like this a couple of times without looking at a crowd of small enemies in pursuit of power-up, and got more negative effects from the fight than necessary, but if you carefully look around and study the map,
Another important point is the ability to ride a weakened monster and use it as a mount. Thanks to this mechanic, you can not only ride the coolest lizards in the world of Monster Hunter, but also use them in battle. There is a special scale, after filling which you can apply the super-attack of the monster. And there is a balancing element, because the player, after a series of hits on his controlled monster, is simply thrown to the ground. Sometimes in the most inappropriate place. And no one wants to find themselves under the feet of several huge monsters.
In addition to the Palico cat, we are now accompanied by a faithful riding dog, which we create together with the character at the very beginning. With its help, you move around the map incredibly quickly, it can run up a mountain right along the wall, and even helps in battle. Its introduction also had a very significant impact on the pace of the game, allowing you to return to battle after failures in a matter of seconds and track down fleeing monsters faster.
The rest of the changes and innovations were expected. Many new monsters (for some reason, Khezu is the most memorable, pale and worm-headed, although he was previously in the series), a lot of cool armor, an excellent pace of battles – that’s what we buy new games in the series for. You can now complain that experienced players can quickly get to the maximum and collect the necessary loot, and itemization and building complex builds for each monster do not make sense yet, but before that there will be 50 hours, or even 150 interesting battles, so before the first content patches, everyone will have something to do.
As for the technical part of the game, everything is pretty good. The picture is juicy, the sound is high-quality, the models of monsters and players are made at the proper level. I played the Nintendo Switch in pocket mode and there were almost no performance issues, except for water areas with a lot of on-screen effects. FPS rarely drops significantly, but not enough to interfere with the game. Perhaps this will be fixed with patches. But the low detail of the picture with patches can no longer be corrected – if on the small screen of the pocket mode and in dynamics everything looks normal, then on the screenshots the game no longer looks so beautiful. This is especially noticeable in combat moments, because during the cutscenes and in the village, the characters look good.
I would also like to mention fast (especially by the standards of the series) downloads, which pleased me almost more than anything else.
Before the release, I managed to participate in the multiplayer hunt only once (since the game was only in the press at the time of writing), but after the official release, there were no problems either. Sometimes there is a lag and loss of connection when playing with random people from the Internet, but there are not so many such moments and it is difficult to understand whether this is due to the network code of the game or whether the Internet failed at one of my allies.
Monster Hunter Rise is a great sequel to the series. Moderately challenging, interesting, varied and well done. It develops all the game mechanics of the series, but at the same time has no obvious flaws, except for the nominal endgame. And even without it, you will have more than one week of cool evenings and bright monster hunts, for which we play Monster Hunter.