Monster Hunter Rise Review: Better than World

In this Monster Hunter Rise Review, we’ll take an in-depth look at Capcom’s Action-RPG for Nintendo Switch, reveal new content, what it adds to the series, and suggest whether it’s worth your time and money from the perspective of a long time player who is not necessarily hardcore. If you were a fan of Monster Hunter World, and want to know how Rise stacks up, read on to find out.

Monster Hunter Rise Review

Genre:  Action-RPG
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Release date:  March 26th 2021 (Nintendo Switch) TBA 2022 (PC)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (review platform, code provided by Capcom), PC (releasing on PC in 2022)
Price at the time of review: $59.99 (regular) $69.99 (deluxe)

Monster Hunter Rise Features

  • Rise to New Heights – The debut of the new “Wirebug” mechanic allows for wire-based grappling actions that can be used to scale cliffs and other hard-to-reach areas, providing new traversal and aerial attack options.
  • New and Returning Monsters – The game will introduce Magnamalo, a menacing new flagship monster, as well as other new monsters like the shape-shifting Aknosom, the amphibious Tetranadon, and more. Hunters can also expect to encounter numerous fan-favorite and returning species from previous Monster Hunter games.
  • Canyne Companions – New hunting partners called Palamutes can be personalized and used to ride across the terrain, providing players with all-new traveling and attack options. On solo hunts, players can select both a Palamute andPalico to assist them, while multiplayer hunters can bring one or the other into the field.
  • The Rampage – In addition to the plethora of solo and multiplayer quests, the immersive story mode will task aspiring hunters with discovering the secrets behind the puzzling “Rampage” events that threaten Kamura Village.
  • Hunting Options – Play solo, or join up to three other hunters in local or online co-op play. The Nintendo Switch system also allows for hunting anywhere, anytime and with anyone!
  • Seamless Gameplay– Featuring maps with no loading times, the continuous gameplay ensures that players will remain on their quests as soon as the hunt begins, without transitions between areas.

MHR Review: Story & Setting

Monster Hunter Rise features the village of Kamura, that has been besieged by a calamity known as “The Rampage” for over 100 years, leading townfolk to hone their battle arts and prepare defenses around the perimeter. You are a new and aspiring hunter, raising your rank in the Hunter’s Guild, and hoping to make a name for yourself as you take on every threat to your hometown. Along the way, you will meet colorful but one-dimensional characters who cheer you on your journey to max rank.

The story element has never been the main attraction of Monster Hunter games. While the overall universe of the series has interesting lore and engaging monster and species details, most players skip past the dialogue as quick as they can and don’t think too deeply about the possible plot holes that abound. In Monster Hunter Rise’s case, there is enough there so that the overall progression and happenings are rather more interesting than Monster Hunter World was, and some players will enjoy this aspect better than in previous entries.

NPC dialogue is available via chit-chat, and lore notes marked as “notebook entries” add further context to the world and can be discovered by exploring the several areas in strenuous detail.

MHR Review: Gameplay

Monster Hunter Rise is, as are all Monster Hunter games, focused on gameplay. This was actually my first Nintendo Switch title so I struggled with the controls for a while, but once grooved in I came out of my 90 hours of gameplay with the feeling that, somehow, the gameplay of Rise was superior to that of Monster Hunter: World. Why is that so? Well, there are a few reasons!

The New Mechanics

The Wirebug

The Wirebug is a replacement to World’s Clutch Claw that improves on the concept and adds fluidity and execution mastery to combat, but also expands exploration in new and unexpected ways. I would normally not fuss too much over discovering every nook and cranny of a locale, but the Wirebug enticed me to travel to new heights and claim the highest peaks, which was a very welcome and satisfying addition to Expeditions.

In combat, the Wirebug completely changed the way I handled my Long Sword: from allowing me to increase my Spirit Gauge without having to complete a lengthy combo, to introducing a really fantastic “parry & riposte” system, and of course giving me quick outs of difficult situations via vertical jumps or even in-air hovering. The Wirebug won me over quickly, and felt that the longer multiplayer-intended quests were not as much of a chore to do solo due to the highly entertaining mix and match of combos it added to the game.

Additionally, using Wirebug skills fills an unseen gauge that will eventually allow you to ride Monsters and use them to deal massive damage to other monsters, or force them to run into walls until they knock themselves down. Monster Riding is a fun, engaging and strategic mechanic that adds depth, and a surprise element to Turf Wars – or a reason to lure a monster to another.

The Buddies

The new Palamutes are a great improvement on Monster Hunter World’s “ride” mechanic, and they allow you to traverse the map much faster while preserving your stamina and even execute actions like gather, sharpen, etc. But they are not just for show! Palamutes can also join you in combat with 3 equipment slots and several mix-and-match skills that unlock as you level them up.

Palicoes are of course a feature of the game, and their Purr-ecious felyne actions will continue to captivate the audience as they have the entire series. You can now recruit up to 35 buddies, that you can design and name, as well as chose specializations such as “Healer”, “Bombardier”, etc. I found the AI for the palicoes better than previous titles, and I specifically liked that they give you a heads up whenever a monster is ready for capture.

Buddies that are not with you on a quest can go out in “Meowcenary” campaigns to get your loot from monsters, may go on submarine expeditions to gather special materials, or can be at the dojo leveling up while you quest. Overall, managing buddies and their equipment is a fun activity and I enjoyed hiring them and decking them out in as many Sets as I could craft.

The Hunting Helpers

Another new mechanic is that Endemic Life, such as Paratoads, to be captured and used on Monsters around the map. So if you see a Poisontoad in sector 1, you can grab it and then use it on the monster spotted in sector 8. I was actually surprised to see just how fun and effective these little helpers were. One single Blasttoad, for example, will actually knock down a fully enraged Rajang! And of course, the “Stinkminx” can be used to lure a monster to another one to trigger a turf war and facilitate some Monster Riding, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Loot

I wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to loot with Rise, as for some reason I associated the Nintendo Switch with a “smaller” production. This is not the case, and at 90 hours in I have yet to discover some materials and I just unlocked my final weapon. There is a great variety of Armor and Weapons, as well as all the Buddy Equipment to handle, but there are also craft-on-demand decorations, special “ramp up” effects for your weapons, and multi-skill talismans to improve your build with too. If you were satisfied with the customization in World, then you will hands down love Rise as well.

The Rampage Quests

A new type of repeatable, “random” quest called a Rampage Quest provides a new way to play against familiar monsters. Set up like a pseudo tower defense game, you will be tasked with setting up automated and manual installations that are used to repel hordes of monsters. I found this aspect of the game very awkward to begin with, but after I understood the mechanics I found it a pleasant break from the usual hunts.

Rampage Quests feature many different monsters in quick succession, and while you need to use the provided artillery to ensure you defeat all the waves, you will still get to fight against the challenging “leaders of the pack” with a special mechanic called “Counter Signal”. This effect boosts your damage significantly, to the point one of my counter slashes did 2000 damage to one of the “Apex” versions of a Monster at endgame. That’s nothing next to the 7000 the “wyvernfire” did to it, but it did feel really good!

Overall, the Rampage Quests are a lot of fun to do in multiplayer, and will provide you with Materials for many different monsters as well as valuable weapon “ramp-up” tickets to boost your equipment with. It’s kind of like the Guiding Lands from World on steroids in some ways.

The Monsters

Monster Hunter recycles its main enemies, as is expected, but they always add new and innovative ones as well. In this regard, I was overall satisfied with the variety and I feel that the design of them is along the lines of what any MH player would expect.

That said, while I think that Xeno’Jiiva and Safi’Jiiva were great boss designs, get ready for a completely new and exciting boss experience in Monster Hunter Rise. One boss took me 30 minutes to kill by myself, but I honestly don’t think I’ve enjoyed a hunt that much in ages! I don’t want to spoil too much, but you’re in for a wild Rise…errr…ride.

MHR Review: Replayability, Multiplayer & Endgame

Monster Hunter Rise is, as are all the MH games, about the replayability and multiplayer, and an ongoing endgame via updates. The low rank portion of the game can be completed via solo “village” quests and then you’ll graduate to High Rank Hub Quests intended for multiplayer. I completed all the content solo, so you should not be put off if you feel you won’t have others to play with, as there wasn’t a “multiplayer wall” per se.

You will likely finish the main story at around 40 hours, but you’re looking at 70+ to complete other content and many, many more if you want to unlock all weapons and armor and discover all the secret notes hidden in each map.

Replayability is boosted via the Rampage Quests as they add an element of randomness that is somewhat missing from previous Monster Hunter games. Additionally, multiplayer can be done via lobbies or by joining random quests, so you have the option to look for a team of four and set out together, or join an in-progress adventure from others.

The multiplayer aspect of the game wasn’t fully open during the review period so I had limited chances to test it, but I didn’t experience disconnects or significant lag. It was a lot of fun to join 3 other hunters and their main buddy so that all 8 of us could gang up on a monster, and I certainly noticed the buffs to the hunting horn – that is now a popular weapon!

Another aspect of multiplayer that is certainly worth mentioning is that difficulty is now dynamic and it adapts to the amount of players currently in the quest. This means that if a player leaves your quest, it will not stay as difficult as it was with the other player on. That’s a welcome change to say the least!

Endgame is focused on completing challenging “Apex” monster Rampage Quests, but it is clear from the abrupt “ending” to the story that the game will have DLC. Additionally, the weapon trees end in a similar manner, with a ? marker, letting you know that there’s more content coming.

MHR Design, Audio & Visual

The design of Monster Hunter Rise is among my favorite in the series. I was not a huge fan of the “jurassic” feel of Monster Hunter World, where everything was gigantic and the hunter seemed misplaced in a world made for much larger creatures. Kamura Village is endearing and detailed, if small, and everything within the game matches its theme. The aesthetic choices may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they did work for me and I very much enjoyed the variety of armor and weapon design, and the multiple outfits for my buddy team.

In regards to visuals and performance, this is unfortunately a Switch-only title (until PC launches in 2022), which means you’re locked at 1080p and under 30FPS. This was really difficult for me as I have gotten spoiled by 4k and 60FPS, and particularly since World’s graphics were top notch. I struggled and pondered the viability of my eyesight as I saw pixelated everything on my large screen, so for those of you not used to switch titles this is something you may want to be ready for. Eventually, I got used to the “poor” graphics and the game’s other points more than made up for the console’s shortcomings.

The audio track, on the other hand, is remarkably good. While I am not a fan of the main screen’s song and I skip out of it as fast as possible, the tunes of Kamura Village and the many locales are relaxing and a thematically good fit for the game. Similarly, I really enjoyed the individual tunes for the monsters, and the overall audio production is quite good. Monster Hunter has still not gotten around to fully voiced dialogue, but this time around your own character will have a voice. The frequency of this can be regulated, but I suggest you leave it on and get used to it, as your character will give you audio queues for important events such as monster aggro or rage attacks before they happen, which can save your hide more than once.

MHR Review: Final Thoughts

In all honesty, I went into Monster Hunter Rise curious about the game but not as excited as I was for Monster Hunter World. I come out the Rare 7 side with the shocking realization that I actually like it more than World, even though the console I had to play it with has technological limitations that hurt the title.

Monster Hunter Rise has an addictive quality and more RPG elements than its larger brother, and is designed in such an endearing and detailed way that I found myself more attached to my Palico and Palamute, and more interested in NPC interactions.

What initially started as a “let’s see how it goes” quickly became a “can’t wait to get to my switch” situation, and I am honestly so excited to join everyone else on their hunts and be able to tackle some of these harder monsters with a team.

So: Should you buy Monster Hunter Rise? I actually bought a Nintendo Switch to play it and, as it stands, I do not regret it one bit, and can see myself getting excited to see the story evolve and take on more Monsters, craft new Weapons and Armor, and make new hunter friends. The game provides content and entertainment well worth its 60 USD price tag.

Monster Hunter Rise releases March 26th on Nintendo Switch with PC arriving in early 2022.

9
Summary: Monster Hunter Rise is an excellent entry into the series that enhances RPG and combat mechanics while also keeping the game accessible to newcomers. A fun, addictive and satisfying experience for the old school and uninitiated alike, MHR will likely be the best game out on Switch all year.
Story & Setting (7.5)
Gameplay (10)
Design, Visual & Audio (8)
Replability & Multiplayer (10)
Pricepoint (9)
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MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

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