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As some of you might know I have a long history with the Monster Hunter Series. I have been waiting for Rise’s release with bated breath and now that it is finally here I want to share my impressions with my sixth game in the series.
Monster Hunter World introduced massive changes to Capcoms series and took quite some time to resonate with me. Offering a much more streamlined experience without limited whetstones, paintballs etc. made me feel that the delicate balance between preparation, hunting and actual fighting had been disturbed. I also HATED the Zorah Magdaros parts. I did however love the open world and after getting reacquainted with an old friend (called the hammer) I realized that the Monster Hunter future was bright and would never go back to the ways of old. It also helped that it is one of the most gorgeous games out there.
And now there is Monster Hunter Rise, on the Switch with a PC version releasing next year. And lets tackle the elephant in the room immediately, yes it is a visual downgrade from the powerhouse that is MHW. But it really isn’t as big as you would think. MHR is probably the best looking game on the Switch. Capcom has kept most of the characters and monsters in tact visually and the environments have taken the biggest hit. They are emptier with less effects and interactive points but I find it a good design decision. I found environments in MHW too cluttered and often distracting, MHR also is much less alien in its fields and forests making the monsters shine even more.
But besides the expected, modest, visual downgrade nothing else has taken a hit. Environments are still fully open and have actually increased in size, mostly vertically, so you can make the most of your grappling hook, ehhrr, Wirebug. MHR somehow has less loading screens then MHW and loadtimes are so short they rival those of MHW on a top end PC with SSD. Monsters have more unique skeletons so not everything is a wyvern or water/ice/fire Jyuratodus and the new ones are based on Yokai folklore and are absolute highlights design and animation wise. All QoL additions made in MHW are also still intact.
No new weapons have been introduced but you do get a second companion, a palamute. It doubles as a mount and makes chasing monsters much faster. You can even sharpen your weapon and use potions on its back, as well as harvest. Just like your original and still available palico companion you can level it and equip it with gear and skills.
Another addition is the previously mentioned Wirebug. It adds a grappling hook with cooldowns but you can also use it for special, weapon dependent, skills and to mount monsters in a specific state. You can then use mounted monster to attack another monster for a certain amount of time or smash its head first into a wall. It adds another layer of strategy to fights and is an impressive addition opening up entire new strategies. The wirebug, combined with the palamute also adds a certain amount of mobility and momentum to the series which hasn’t been seen before, the game seems a fair bit faster then previous versions too.
Talking about faster, the game gets you up to speed with a relatively large info dump at the start. No problem for those well versed in the world of Monster Hunter but a bit overwhelming for newcomers. You will also still need outside sources to learn the real ins and outs of your weapon of choice. And for the first time ever I decided to ditch my melee play style and have gone with the bow. Its a joy to play and I am getting reasonably good with it. I can however not comment on how weapons have changed between game versions because of it. From what I have heard Horn has been changed the most and has become an absolute beast.
The game also introduces a new game mode called Rampage, where several monsters try to break through the towns defenses and you need to stop them through a combination of Tower Defense and hunting. Its messy and chaotic and while it is a huge step up from those horrible Zorah Magdaros segments it still isn’t something I will spend a lot of time with.
MHR has taken everything that came with MHW and runs with it, literally. It might be my favourite Monster Hunter title ever. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have downsides. In another attempt to streamline the experience the entire part of tracking a beast has been removed. When you enter a zone you immediately see the monster icons on your map, taking away a bit of the excitement. It also is a huge battery drain on my OG Switch. It manages about 2 to 2 1/2 hours and then its empty. I never play multiplayer so I can’t comment on that and I haven’t dug in on the endgame yet. I do know Capcom is already hard at work fleshing that out and adding new monsters, just like they did with MHW.
Now if you will excuse me, monsters don’t kill themselves so I’ve got some work to do.