Title: Monster Hunter Rise
Release Date: March 26, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Action RPG
Monster Hunter Rise is the latest entry to Capcom’s popular Monster Hunter franchise, and it also happens to be one of the most impressive titles to release on the Nintendo Switch by far. Even considering myself a more casual fan of the series, this title has easily become one of the best games of 2021 and one that I’m finding harder and harder to put down.
In Monster Hunter Rise, you take on the role of a new hunter, which you create along with their Palamute and Palico buddies. I spent a good amount of time in this portion of the game since there are many options to play around with.
Players live in the village of Kamura, which is threatened by a catastrophic event known as the Rampage, where hordes of monsters will target and attack the village all at once, which is told to have occurred fifty years ago. It’s a hunter’s job to protect the village and help out its inhabitants by hunting monsters and completing various tasks.
The story also focuses on the world’s ecosystem that the characters and monsters inhabit and the delicate balance that comes along with it. However, most of this is found in certain lore-related items that you may find throughout your play-time.\
The characters that you meet within Kamura village are enjoyable to interact with, such as Hinoa, Minoto, and Elder Fugen. These characters exude quite a bit of charm with help from the localization, which gives them a unique personality. The story itself can be entertaining at times but takes a backseat to the gameplay.
The gameplay in Monster Hunter Rise can be challenging, but it’s thrilling in so many ways. Players take on various quests from the two quest-givers in the village, separated into Village Quests that are story-related and Hub Quests, which ramp up the difficulty. It’s recommended that you take a party along for the ride for these Hub Quests, which are required to increase your Hunter Rank.
These quests have a few different clear conditions, such as slaying a certain amount of monsters, fetching a specified amount of items, and hunting monsters. Each quest can be completed in multiplayer, either locally or online, with friends or random people in lobbies.
During quests, you get to explore huge and expansive locales that you can traverse on foot or on your Palamute, which is a bit faster and doesn’t take any stamina away from you while dashing. However, you can also use the new Wirebug mechanic to zip around the map and reach new areas. Though this action is on a cool-down timer, so it needs to recharge, you can also find additional Wirebugs for use during your quest along with other endemic life that either buff your stats or can be used in other various ways like blinding your enemies and recovering your HP among other things.
The combat is frantic as you stare down with a large monster you need to hunt. It’s not an easy feat to take down most of these monsters as the combat can feel a slight bit sluggish because you need to commit to your attacks. However, there’s a sense of rhythm that you find during battles that makes it exceptionally engaging. I had a great time experimenting with the different weapon types, but I found myself liking the Charge Blade most, which works like a Sword and Shield and can switch into an Axe.
Wirebugs can also be used in combat to get out of sticky situations or to perform special skills called “Silkbinds,” which are used either offensively or defensively as a counter-attack depending on the weapon type that you use. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your stamina and your weapon’s sharpness since these can degrade over time during quests. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but I also feel that Monster Hunter Rise has to be the most accessible title in the series so far as I got into it more easily than some of the older titles I have played in the past.
Defeating enemies, completing quests, and exploring will provide materials that you can use to forge new gear and improve that gear for use in your next adventures. Further, Kamura Village offers a few different ways to prepare for your quests, such as the merchants where you can buy items from or the Canteen where you can eat Dango that buffs up your HP and Stamina. At times this gives you various buffing effects, including increases to the rewards you get for completing quests though these have varying degrees of success. It’s this gameplay loop of tough battles with balanced rewards that make this adventure so addicting.
Next to the usual quests you undertake as a hunter; you also have Rampage Quests that work as a Tower Defense style game where you have to fend off a horde of monsters in waves. To help defend, you can set up various installations like Ballistas, Cannons, and other weapons. However, these quests don’t appear as much compared to the other quest types. Perhaps later updates will add more of them.
During Online gameplay, Monster Hunter Rise runs pretty well. I haven’t noticed a lot of lag during my time playing, and disconnects only occurred to me once or twice though mileage may vary depending on your internet connection and if you are on Wi-Fi or Ethernet. But I will say that taking down quests with a group of players is a boatload of fun.
Monster Hunter Rise is simply gorgeous, from the varied locations like Kamura Village to the character models. I really loved the ancient Japanese aesthetic that the game’s art style and lore are influenced by. It’s awe-inspiring to know that this was developed with the RE Engine used for games like Devil May Cry 5. While Monster Hunter Rise may not look as photo-realistic, it is still a huge feat to see a game on the Switch developed with this particular engine and still have it look this great.
I found no issues while playing in both docked and handheld mode with a locked framerate of 30FPS, but that can dip when things get hectic on the battlefield. I didn’t feel like this hindered my experience with the adventure as I was more fascinated by how it handled in situations where I thought it would crawl. When it comes to sound design, the soundtrack is well-done, containing a good few memorable tracks. The voice acting is also really impressive to listen to whether you pick English, Japanese, or the Monster Hunter Language voice options.
Monster Hunter Rise is an amazing addition to the series that manages to be accessible for newcomers and contains so much for longtime fans. The addicting gameloop of questing with friends and exploring these awesome environments provides a cathartic and natural gaming experience. Even with a few forgettable story beats or a dropped frame, I had an amazing time hunting down monsters as I soaked up the charm of Kamura Village for hours on end.
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