Monster Hunter Rise – Review
Follow Genre: Action
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Monster Hunter Rise – Review

Site Score
9.6
Good: Jaw dropping graphics
Bad: Lack of voice chat hurts multiplayer
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re undoubtedly aware that March saw the arrival of the biggest release on the Switch in 2021 so far. (No, we’re not talking about Balan Wonderworld.) Given that it has been six years since we last got a full fledged new entry in the series, Capcom’s Monster Hunter Rise is perhaps the most anticipated Switch title of the year, which is saying something considering we recently got Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and Bravely Default II. Does Rise live up to the hype or did we come home from an empty hunt?

Story

Set in the Japan-inspired Kamura Village, Rise sees you take on the role of the Village’s newest full-fledged hunter. The opening scenes do an incredible job of setting the mood, with the game’s now iconic twins Minoto and Hinoa taking you to the village’s elder, Fugen. After a gorgeous opening cinematic, which showcases the villagers, elder Fugen explains that he received a letter that warns of an upcoming Rampage. This event, which hasn’t happened for fifty years, sees a huge pack of monsters go on a stampede, forcing the village to take a stand and survive the onslaught. This event serves as the background of the events in Rise, but it takes a while for things to get going, giving you ample time to get to grips with the game’s mechanics before the cataclysmic event finally happens. That said, the actual story feels like an afterthought and the game is mostly focused on gameplay rather than delivering an engaging narrative experience. If you’re looking to experience the world of Monster Hunter from a more story-driven perspective, you’re better off waiting for Monster Hunter Stories 2 to arrive on Switch this summer.

Graphics

We’re going to make a bold statement here: Rise is the best looking game on the Switch, bar none. This is especially apparent during the game’s gorgeous cutscenes, but even when you’re roaming around the game’s lush environments on your Palamute, Rise shows that the Switch is capable of handling jaw-dropping visuals. This is of course in part due to the design aesthetics. The creatures that you encounter are otherworldly, yet grounded in reality, and the characters that inhabit your village are distinct and often ooze personality. We should also mention the extensive character creator, which allows you to customize your hunter to a degree hitherto unseen in any Switch title. Despite the detailed graphics, the Switch didn’t have any real issues keeping up, with a consistent frame rate for the majority of our playtime. Graphics do take a hit in multiplayer, but chances are you’ll be too caught up in the action to really notice the slight drop in visual fidelity there

Sound

Whether it’s the bone-chilling roars of some of your prey or the singing of the twins, Rise’s soundscape is another treat. The voice acting in particular is nothing short of fantastic, with elder Fugen being a standout character. One thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is how music fades in and out as you are hunting. When you’re traversing the environment, you won’t hear any music, instead, you’re accompanied by the sounds of the fauna and flora of your surroundings. Should you engage one of the game’s larger creatures, however, the music takes front stage. There is a delicate balance to when and why there is music in the game, and it works surprisingly well when it comes to helping one get immersed in the hunt.

Gameplay

Simply slapping the “action” genre label on Rise, like the Nintendo eShop does, is doing the game disservice. Yes, it is technically an action game, more than it is an RPG or an open-world title. In reality, however, the Monster Hunter series offers up a unique experience that doesn’t really fit any of the aforementioned genres. For the uninitiated, the title Monster Hunter pretty much covers the basic premise of the game. Players take on the role of hunters, as they track down and kill a variety of monsters. As you go out on the hunt, you’ll have a clear objective and are faced with a time limit within which you’ll have to perform said objective. Along the way, you’ll face off against smaller monsters, gather resources, both from your kills and from the environment, which you can then use to craft better hunting gear. Larger monsters typically provide better and unique materials, and you’ll often repeat hunts in order to gain the necessary resources to get better equipment, which in turn allows you to take on bigger and badder beasts.

Every one of the main Monster Hunter titles follows this basic premise, and veterans of the series will feel right at home when they start their journey in Rise. Of course, a new mainline entry means additional mechanics, shiny new equipment and an expansion of the menagerie of monsters. If you were afraid that Capcom would simply put a fresh lick of paint on an old title and call it a day, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of reasons to return to the world of Monster Hunter, especially if it’s been a few entries since you last played a Monster Hunter title. Of course, we have to keep newcomers in mind as well, and we can happily say that this is easily the most accessible entry in the series yet. That’s not to say there is a lot of handholding going on here, as things can still feel daunting and overwhelming as an overload of information is thrown at you through on-screen text instructions during your first few hours with the game. However, MH Rise gives you room to familiarize yourself with its concepts at your own pace, and you are able to revisit information at the push of a button.

The sheer amount of content means that a true in-depth review of Rise that covers every aspect in full detail is nearly impossible, if only because of the amount of time necessary to “complete” the game – if that’s even possible, as there are always more hunts to go on online. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what’s on offer here, from new Wirebug movement mechanics, to your companions, including an adorable Palico and a loyal Palamute, and the variety of weapon types, each of which changes up how the game plays. Of course, different bosses are easier to take down with different weapons, so unless you’re dedicated to mastering each weapon type, your best bet to take down some of the bigger beasts in the game is by teaming up with other players online.

This is where the Monster Hunter series really shines. Assembling a party of up to four players and coöperating to defeat a massive creature that dwarfs you and your companions is incredibly satisfying. Setting up a multiplayer game is possible almost as soon as you start your journey and although you need to jump through a few hoops to get a game going the first time, it’s easy enough to set up a multiplayer hunt once you’re familiar with the setup process. One minor gripe here though is that the game doesn’t offer any sort of voice chat. Communication with your team members is often the key to victory, so if you’re serious about online multiplayer, you’re going to have to rely on third-party applications to coördinate your attack. A rudimentary chat system is in place, and you can even assign shortcuts for repetitive commands, but this is far from ideal.

Keep in mind that there is a distinct split between single-player and multiplayer missions, which is a departure from earlier entries in the series. This means that you won’t be able to call upon your friends when you can’t tackle a certain mission solo, which might be a letdown for some, but a motivation to improve hunting prowess for others. Either way, although the multiplayer component is an essential part of Monster Hunter’s DNA, Rise is easily the title that offers the most single-player content, meaning that even if you can’t convince your friends to join you, there is still plenty to do here.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, as we haven’t mentioned the Coohoot, an owl-like companion that you can use to take pictures, the Wyvern riding mechanic, which allows you to mount monsters and subsequently use them as weapons against other monsters and the way Kamura village is structured, allowing for much more in-depth preparation before you set out to hunt. As we mentioned before, there is so much to do in this game, but some things are simply better left to discover for yourself. Should you allow yourself to get immersed into this amazing world, there is a good chance you’ll find that time simply flies by as you explore a new location and sniff out whatever big bad beast is hiding there.

The result is a streamlined game that offers up hundreds of hours worth of content. The sheer size of what’s on offer here is what makes Rise such an attractive package, but in a way, it’s also the game’s biggest weakness: should you decide to go on this journey, be aware that you’re going to have to invest a sizeable amount of time in order to fully enjoy what MH Rise has to offer. That’s not to say that Rise feels grindy, as it is fun every step of the way, but it’s also a game that is not suited for casual pick-up and play sessions of a few minutes. That said, taking down monsters is incredibly satisfying and fun. Add to this that the game’s combat feels incredibly balanced, especially to the clunkier controls of certain earlier titles in the series, and you’re looking at a game that succeeds at practically everything it has to offer.

Conclusion

Whether you’re new to the art of monster hunting or have been looking to return to the series, Monster Hunter Rise is an essential addition to your Switch library. The lack of a voice chat option is disappointing (although not surprising given Nintendo’s history of not having voice chat options) and the game requires a bit of commitment to fully enjoy what is on offer, but if you decide to take the plunge, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re still on the fence, you can always give the free demo a try, but if you ask us, there has never been a better time to start monster hunting.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Monster Hunter Rise - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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