There’s no worse feeling like hunting a murder-bird (Aknosom) for thirty or so minutes and then getting disconnected from your best friend only to get bodied for another twenty minutes alone until the clock runs out and you fail the quest. Monster Hunter Rise will lull you into a false sense of security for a couple of hunts, and just when you start getting cocky, the game will throw the biggest vibe check your way to knock you on your ass.
Like most Monster Hunter titles, Rise forces you to cooperate with your teammates to succeed, which is why I think it’s one of the best multiplayer series out there. Monster Hunter has certainly accrued a ton of new fans thanks to World, and many folks who also own a Nintendo Switch might be wondering if it’s worth picking up and what’s different about it.
Sure, Monster Hunter Rise isn’t as graphically stunning as World, but the vivid and vibrant art design makes up for that, and all of the mechanical improvements upon World’s gameplay easily makes Rise worthy of being the sixth mainline installment in the Monster Hunter series.
I mean, you also get to make your own dog and cat, and if that doesn’t make it the superior title in and of itself, then I don’t know what’ll do it.
Is Monster Hunter Rise for newcomers?
Yes, Monster Hunter Rise is relatively accessible for newcomers, but it can be a slog at first. Even Monster Hunter World, one of the most user-friendly titles in the series, has a mountain of tutorials that you have to get through before you’re remotely comfortable with it. If you played World, you won’t have trouble adjusting to Rise -- you might even find it to be a smoother experience. But if you’re new, don’t be discouraged by the first heap of tutorials. Try to barrel your way through them until you get to your first real hunt.
While I will praise Monster Hunter Rise for being one of the best multiplayer games out there, Capcom has cleverly carved out a single-player experience for gamers. So even if you’ve always wanted to get into Monster Hunter, but you prefer to play alone, there’s a whole quest line dedicated to it.
The game is split up into Village Quests and Hub Quests, the former being single-player based and the latter being multiplayer based. You can still play Hub Quests in single-player, but keep in mind that the quests are designed to be much harder. Overall, I think the addition of the Village Quests actually makes the game more accessible because they’re specifically designed for one person and players won’t feel overwhelmed on a hunt in the beginning of the game.
And as I mentioned earlier, players get a dog companion called a Palamute, and a cat companion called a Palico that you get to customize and take into battle with you. For those that played World, the Palico isn’t anything new, but the Palamute is. Just from a quality-of-life standpoint, the Palamute is great because it lets you ride on its back so you get to places faster, and also aids you in combat. This addition not only makes combat feel more dynamic in single-player, but it also allows you to get into the action much quicker.
As far as the story goes, it’s as silly and insignificant as every other Monster Hunter game. That’s usually fine, but the dialogue in this game is way too anime (that’s a bad thing).
What makes Rise more accessible than World?
By far, the most significant mechanical change is the addition of the Wirebug, transforming a previously linear world design to reach a new height of verticality. The big three uses for the Wirebug are: Traversal, weapon combos and Wyvern Riding.
In World, you'd be running around and endlessly climbing vines, but in Rise, the Wirebug lets you launch yourself forward or upward with incredible speed a certain number of times to reach your goal. I’ve used the Wirebug to jump from one area to another, skipping a convoluted tunnel or vine climbing scenarios.
The Wirebug can also be used in combat, and it happens to fix one of the biggest problems in Monster Hunter games: mobility. No matter how good you are at a Monster Hunter game, you're always going to get smacked at least once while slow-walking with a heavy weapon. It makes the entire combat experience feel a bit sluggish. However, the Wirebug let's you propel yourself forward in combat. Think of it as a dodge mechanic, and depending on the weapon, it can also net you a special effect upon activation. This amplifies the fluidity of combat, and is easily the number one reason why I think Rise is more accessible than World. Additionally, each weapon features Wirebug moves that essentially act as a new weapon ability or combo. For example, the Wirebug move for the Heavy Bowgun is a counter. The move lets you counter an attack if you time it right. It is one of my favorite abilities in the game and has saved my ass more times than I can count.
The next big Wirebug ability is Wyvern Riding, which replaces the traditional mounting mechanic found in World. Once you've done enough damage with your Wirebug abilities, a monster will become entangled in wires, which will allow you to mount it. When you mount a monster, you can do four things: a light attack, a heavy attack, an evade and a move that launches the monster into a foe or wall. A common tactic in Rise is to hop onto the monster you’re hunting and launch them into another monster, which will then cause that monster to get entangled. Then, you hop on that monster, and tear into your target. If you do enough damage, you’ll get the ability to use an ultimate move on the monster.
The Wirebug alone completely shakes up the traditional Monster Hunter gameplay. Combining that with World’s introduction of open-map design, hunters can seamlessly make their way around the map without wasting quest time.
Additionally, Rise has made a number of quality-of-life changes that make the game a little more welcoming. For example, hot and cold drinks have been completely removed. Your Buddy gear isn’t dependent on individual parts, but rather scraps obtained via the Meowcenaries or crafting your own gear. Despite some early disconnects, getting connected in multiplayer is so much smoother in Rise. You can even walk around the entire town with your friends and easily fast-travel instead of taking an overly-cinematic lift. Even on the Nintendo Switch, load times feel ridiculously faster than World (on previous-gen consoles). Those are just a few examples of what Rise does to get hunters into the action faster.
The new game mode is OK
Monster Hunter Rise introduces a new game mode to the franchise called The Rampage. This mode expands upon the heavy-duty artillery weapons found in World by building an entire quest around them. Think of The Ramage as a sort of tower-defense mode where you have to build up defenses, manual and automatic, to deter a horde of monsters.
This addition isn’t bad per se, and I love that Capcom is out here experimenting with new things, but I’m not really a fan. I would’ve probably just avoided these quests entirely, but Capcom provides a good incentive for players to participate. Each Rampage provides materials to ramp up your weapons, which give them a nice little boost.
However, I think the biggest issue with Rampage is that it’s relatively longer than a hunt and it doesn’t provide much in the way of monster parts. The only parts you get are at the very end from a random monster that you may or may not need parts from.
Why I love Monster Hunter Rise
There is a metric-crap-ton of more mechanics in Monster Hunter Rise that I could break down into a 6,000-word piece about what works and what doesn’t, but I just don’t have the willpower. Instead, I want to talk about why I love Monster Hunter Rise as a whole.
Monster Hunter is one of the few franchises that brings me and one of my best friends closer. With other games, we just played them to hang out, but with Monster Hunter Rise, there’s an addictive quality about it that brings out our competitiveness and cooperativeness like no other title.
There’s an unspoken competition between each of us wanting to be the best hunter we can be and see who can do the most damage or kill monsters faster. And then, when the game throws a piece of crap like Magnamalo at us, we get humbled so quick that we pull together all we got to take it down. For the record, we wiped on Magnamalo two times, but the third time we took him out without a single death under our belt.
Magnamalo is the first big boss of the game that will make you question your life, and it only gets harder after him. Climbing up the tentpole of incredibly dangerous and vicious monsters with my best friend is one of the most enjoyable things I can imagine. Those moments of solidarity in our desperation and our overflowing joy after a victory are moments that will stick with me for the rest of my life.