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

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak DLC – Review

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Good: Follower quests recreate the multiplayer experience even in solo mode
Bad: Takes a long time before you can access the DLC content
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

One thing you can’t say about Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise is that it does things in a small way. Such is the case with Sunbreak, a DLC for last year’s Monster Hunter Rise, which is so massive that it took us a while to fully sink our teeth into. Getting to experience Sunbreak for yourself isn’t an easy task: just getting to the DLC content will take several dozen hours -and then we haven’t even gotten started on Sunbreak itself. This makes the expansion a rather large investment, not just in terms of money but in terms of time as well. Is it worth it?


The mainline Monster Hunter games were never heavy on story -we’ve got the aptly named Monster Hunter Stories spinoff games for that- and Sunbreak doesn’t buck that trend. It’s set in a new location, Elgado, and it introduces a bunch of new characters, but it essentially boils down to the same core premise: something is upsetting the local monster population, causing them to go on a rampage and threaten a human settlement, and it’s up to you to take down these monsters one by one and put a stop to all of it. Compared to the base game’s Japan-inspired setting, Sunbreak’s new village takes inspiration from medieval Europe for its locations, cast, as well as its monster designs, and it’s a welcome change that manages to feel both fresh and familiar.


When we reviewed Rise last year, we made the bold claim that it was -at the time- the best-looking Switch game bar none. Over a year has passed since then -which is ages in video game time- yet somehow, Sunbreak proves that Monster Hunter Rise still holds on to that crown. Sure, there have been contenders, such as New Pokémon Snap and Shin Megami Tensei V, and yes, a year in, Monster Hunter Rise’s wow effect has lost some of its luster, but even then this is a graphical marvel by Switch standards. The only real issue we had with the game’s visuals is that you need to see it in motion to truly appreciate the visual spectacle. We’re not sure whether it’s because we got too caught up in the action or that the game manages to hide lower visual fidelity behind motion, but we didn’t seem to be able to make good screenshots in the middle of the action. We would’ve killed for a photo mode similar to the one in Jurassic World Evolution 2 so we could really take some impressive snaps of the reptilian mayhem we found ourselves in.


There aren’t a whole lot of new things we can say about Sunbreak’s soundscape, because it does pretty much the same as what Rise did. That is to say, it’s a game that doesn’t just look fantastic but it sounds great as well. The additional music is a treat and the voice performances elevate the new cast from obligatory NPCs to genuinely likable characters.


You need to have progressed quite a bit into Rise before you’re able to get stuck into Sunbreak, and with good reason. Compared to previous Monster Hunter titles, Rise is considered a much more accessible game, and although it still proves quite the challenge, especially for newcomers, it’s still considered an ‘easier’ Monster Hunter title. Sunbreak aims to rectify this by amping up the difficulty alongside the introduction of a new mechanic or two. This does come with the “downside” that you’ll need to have put in several dozen hours into Rise before you can access Sunbreak -although Monster Hunter veterans will have gotten to this point by now- but it also means that you’ll have built up a decent selection of gear and have mastered the mechanics required to be successful here.

One thing we immediately noticed was that Sunbreak seemed a lot more geared towards solo players, something we were happy about. Yes, Monster Hunter is at its best when you can team up with other players online, but this isn’t always an option for everyone. The main new feature here comes in the form of so-called ‘follower quests’ which let you take NPCs alongside you on missions, even while playing offline. The AI might not match the effectiveness of skilled Monster Hunter players, but they still perform well above average. At first, followers are only available in story-driven missions, but gradually, their availability increases and you’ll soon find that you are able to play through the majority of what Sunbreak has to offer with some artificial buddies by your side.

The other main new feature introduced in Sunbreak is the Switch Skill Swap ability. This allows you to set two skill sets on a red and blue scroll and swap between them mid-battle. The game recommends that you use the red scroll for your tried-and-true skills and that you best attach your special skills to the blue scroll, and while at first it seems like yet another mechanic that you need to wrap your head around, it’s actually easier to use in practice than it seems in theory. The downside here is that although it appears in the UI, the game doesn’t really remind you that it’s there. Unless you actually remember that this is a feature, it’s easily overlooked, especially when you get caught up in the fray, but it’s an incredibly handy feature if you don’t forget to use it.

Of course, the main draw for most players isn’t going to be the new features but the new monsters, gear, and maps. We already mentioned that it takes a while before Sunbreak content becomes accessible, and it takes even longer before you meet the first new creature. Sunbreak expects you to take on some familiar bosses at a higher difficulty level for the first few missions, but the pacing here is fantastic, slowly building up towards that first new boss. That’s not a bad thing because Sunbreak is a massive expansion, offering over 40 hours of additional content -and that’s the bare minimum because as hardcore Monster Hunter players can attest, it’s easy to sink hundreds of hours into this game. The price tag on Sunbreak may seem a little steep when looking at it from the outside -it’s nearly as expensive as the base game- but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

It all adds up to an essential expansion to what is already one of the most impressive Switch games ever. It’s easy to forget what Nintendo’s little hybrid console is capable of, especially when compared to Sony and Microsoft’s powerhouses. Ultimately, Sunbreak’s greatest weakness ends up being its greatest strength as well: it takes a while before you can access it. This means that there is no pressure to buy the expansion right from the get-go, and allows you to make an educated decision about picking it up. There is the inevitable overlap with the base game here, of course. The new mechanics don’t shake things up a lot but they do streamline the experience. Sunbreak’s gameplay feels like “more of the same”, but when “the same” is this good we don’t have any reason to complain about that.


Given the timing of our review, you probably have already picked up Sunbreak by now if you’re a die-hard Monster Hunter fan, but then we’d be preaching to the choir anyway. Those that haven’t taken the plunge yet, either because they are newcomers or because they’re on the fence about returning to Rise after an absence should have no qualms about expanding their experience. Just keep in mind that the new content isn’t accessible until you’ve made it quite far into the game -so by then you should probably already have decided if Rise is up your alley in the first place. If you like Rise, then picking up Sunbreak is a no-brainer that is worth every penny.

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Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak DLC - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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