I have a long and complicated history with the Monster Hunter franchise. Which is to say that I’ve played multiple entries, but they have never quite clicked with me before. Despite this, I tried a new Monster Hunter game every generation, recognising how good they were even if I couldn’t manage to love them the way that others did. That began to change with Monster Hunter World. Finally, the quality of life changes and small alterations had the game hitting for me in a way that the previous games hadn’t, but I still fell off eventually. Now, with Monster Hunter Rise, I’ve finally found a Monster Hunter game that has truly clicked with me and opened my eyes to just how fantastic monster hunting can truly be.
A big reason for this shift in sentiment is the vastly improved mobility options in Monster Hunter Rise, courtesy of the Palamutes and Wire Bugs. One of my greatest frustrations was having to slowly catch up to a monster after it fled from out early bouts. Slowly trudging along, stopping to heal up, replenish my stamina and sharpen my weapons kept me out of the action just long enough to be truly boring. Now, thanks to my handy Palamute buddy, that’s no longer an issue. Instead of trudging along, I can jump on its back and keep pack with the monster, healing up and preparing for battle all while still moving. It keeps me in the action for longer by removing much of the boring downtime.
Similarly, the Wire Bugs are another fantastic inclusion for mobility, useful both inside and outside of combat. Being able to fling myself upwards at will, to slam down and attack an enemy or clamber up walls to higher vantage points feels fantastic and aids in combat, exploration and traversal. Flinging myself forwards with a simple button combination and covering the gaps with ease is both exhilarating and makes getting to loot spots that much easier. My great hope is that Wire Bugs are here to stay in future entries in the series, because they’re an absolutely amazing addition.
Another reason for my love of Monster Hunter Rise comes from the game’s style, which is nothing short of fantastic. While there are jagged edges galore and the odd frame rate drop that appear, these in no way detract from just how good the game looks, both technically and artistically. Those who have played Monster Hunter games in the past know how imaginative and interesting the series’ monsters and armour can look, but what is most striking here is the game’s main hub Kamura Village. The village’s feudal Japanese style, luscious plants and colourful palette are a sight to behold and create an amazingly welcoming and locale to come back to between missions. Exploratory environments such as the Shrine Ruins are similarly interesting, with unique biomes and styles between them. Combine these with some fantastically detailed character models and the lovely critters that are Felynes and Palamutes and Monster Hunter Rise is one of the best looking games on Switch.
The final reason for my shift in sentiment? Finally finding the right weapon for me. Monster Hunter games come with a swathe of different weapon types, from your bog-standard longswords to more inventive options like the insect glaive. Each weapon type has their own unique mechanic and attack style, such as the charges of the switch axe, but where I found my sweet spot was with the dual blades. Coupled with the new movement mechanics, the already quick and free flowing dual blades became an even more responsive weapon type than ever before. Quickly running behind enemies and hitting their weak spots, dodging their attacks and unleashing demon mode felt frantic and fun in a way that I hadn’t felt before. There’s no doubt that this is a personal preference, but it just felt so good to play that I kept going back for more.
But at the end of the day, what is all of this without a story to push you forwards? You begin the game as a newly certified Hunter of Kamura Village, eager to prove yourself and hunt some large monsters. Quickly, you learn about the Rampage. The Rampage is a periodic occurrence where a mass of monsters attempt to overrun the villages defences and feast on the villagers inside. Alongside the rampage, a fearsome monster called the Magnamalo appears. This isn’t the first time the Magnamalo has shown up at Kamura Village, with its last visit during a rampage leading to a massive loss of life in the Villge. It’s up to you to hunt it down and put a stop to it for good. It’s not the greatest story in existence, but it provides enough motivation to keep you moving forwards.
Where the story really falls flat, is through its introduction of Rampages, which are easily the least exciting part of the game. While normal missions have you exploring large expanses hunting down enemies (complete with some absolutely fantastic opening cutscenes for large monster hunts) Rampages instead have you inside a small arena, fighting off waves of enemies with turrets. They’re mechanically boring, become overly long and difficult as you progress and simply pull you away from the significantly better aspects of the game. Thankfully they’re few and far between enough that they aren’t complete enjoyment killers, but it almost gets to that point at different moments in the story.
Outside of Rampages, your life in Kamura Village is all about the grind. Hunting down monsters and resources to upgrade existing, or craft new, weapons and armour. I spent hours hunting down large monsters and harvesting their parts, all the while eager to jump right back in and go again. There’s no doubt that there’s a grind here to get the best gear, but the moment to moment gameplay is good enough that is never feels like a drag. Especially if you take advantage of luring and mounting large monsters to pit them against other large monsters.
Monster Hunter Rise is nothing short of a must have game, with the quality of life additions to traversal and movement elevating the experience. While its signature Rampages are a low point of the game, they aren’t enough to detract from the overall experience. Whether you’re a series stalwart or a fledgling hunter, this game is for you.
Monster Hunter Rise was reviewed on both a regular Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, with a review copy provided by the Publisher. For more information, check the official website.
- Palamutes and Wire Bugs are the best inclusions in years - Art style is absolutely fantastic - The grind is real, but I love it
- Rampages are largely boring and tedious