With its exhilarating movement system and weighty combat, Monster Hunter Rise firmly stomps its way towards the top of the Nintendo Switch’s ever-growing library.
For many years, Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has often failed to make a huge impact in the west – despite being one of the most popular games in Japan. However, the release of Monster Hunter: World quickly changed this notion. Not only did World prove how popular the series could be, but it also brought with it some much-needed changes.
Unfortunately, World never made its way to the Switch due to the system’s hardware limitations. This obviously disappointed many fans who had grown accustomed to these games being released on Nintendo systems. Fortunately, Monster Hunter Rise more than makes up for this.
While Rise may build upon the foundations of its predecessors, its combination of new movement mechanics and added weapon moves help set it apart from the rest of the pack.
Monster Hunter Rise – Key Details
- Copy: Monster Hunter Rise
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Developer: Capcom
- Release date: 26/03/2021
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
The thrill of the hunt
As the name suggests, Monster Hunter is all about fighting toothy terrors. While the series features small wyverns that are no bigger than your average human, the real threats come from the colossal behemoths that stalk each environment. At its core, it is a game about taking down ferocious beasts in order to harvest their scaly hides.
These resources are then used to craft a variety of weapons and armor sets, which can be utilized in future hunts. It’s an incredibly simple loop and one that is as addictive as it is rewarding. There’s something deeply cathartic about defeating a monster with weapons and armor sets that have been forged from its body, particularly when said beast proved difficult to best.
While monsters like Great Izuchi and Royal Ludroth may be nothing more than glorified punching bags, things really start to ramp up in mid to late-game quests. For example, the tundra-dwelling beast, Goss Harag, domineers the battlefield with deadly swipes from its icy sword, while the flagship monster, Magnamalo, can quickly tear through even the toughest armor with its relentless combo of claw swipes, tail slams, and hellish fireballs.
It’s in these high-octane fights where Monster Hunter Rise is truly at its best. Narrowly avoiding a fatal blow, then unleashing a heavy-hitting counter-attack, and watching the monster stumble back is extremely satisfying. Once you have learned a monster’s moveset, fights often become this elegant clash of blade and claw – a fatal dance where one wrong step could end up being your last.
There’s even the addition of The Rampage – a new type of quest that sees hordes of monsters swarm Kamura Village’s Stronghold. It’s essentially a tower defense game where you must keep Rise’s beastly behemoths at bay. Everything from cannons, ballistas, explosive traps, and AI hunters can be placed in certain sections of the map to stave off the incoming siege.
These quests are definitely a little weaker when compared to the Rise’s conventional kill and capture quests, but they do help bring a little variation to the mix. Very few games manage to recreate that primal feeling of man vs beast, but Monster Hunter Rise’s adrenaline-fueled fights encapsulate this experience perfectly.
Freedom of movement
The series has always brought new mechanics to the table. Freedom Unite introduced the first AI companions, Tri gave us underwater combat, 4 Ultimate added monster mounting, and World completely removed loading screens and eradicated a lot of tedium that comes with gathering.
While Rise may have been built off the backbone of its predecessors, it manages to further add to the series’ foundations – namely in the way players hunt and traverse the world around them. In Monster Hunter Rise, hunters are kitted out with their very own Wirebug. This nifty feature enables hunters to dart through the air, scale craggy cliffs, dodge attacks, and unleash an onslaught of deadly attacks.
Being able to zip through the air and wall-run across ancient ruins like a prehistoric version of Spider-Man is as fun as it sounds. This hypermobile addition may seem rather overpowered, but you’ll only get up to three charges. Once the Wirebugs have been depleted, they’ll go on cooldown. During this time hunters will have to rely on basic dodges and normal weapon attacks.
Adding to this new movement system is the introduction of Palamute, the series’ first canine companion. Just like the friendly Felynes, this loyal dog will aid you in your endeavors, providing support on solo and multiplayer hunts. However, the main draw here is the ability to hop on its back and go tearing around the environment.
Not only does this greatly speed up traversal times, but you can also gather materials, consume items, sharpen your weapon, and even attack nearby creatures. Never has Monster Hunter’s movement system been this fluid, but things get even more interesting when these added mobility options flow into the fights themselves.
Familiar weapons with meaningful mechanics
Of course, you won’t be getting anywhere if you don’t have a weapon to keep the beasts at bay. Fortunately, all 14 weapon types have returned and they have never felt better to use. From the elegant slices of the Long Sword to the bone-crushing slams of the Hammer, there is a weapon for every kind of playstyle.
While those who played Monster Hunter: World will be instantly familiar with each weapon’s core combos, there have been a number of changes. These differences mainly come in the form of the new Silkbind attacks – moves that utilize Rise’s Wirebug feature. However, unlike the aerial and ground dashes offered via the Wirebug, the Silkbind is purely offensive in its nature.
Whenever your weapon is drawn and your Wirebug gauge hasn’t been depleted, you’ll be able to unleash some devastating attacks. All 14 weapons have two unique Silkbind moves, further adding to the already vast variety of lethal combos. For example, unleashing the Hammer’s Silkbind attack will see the hunter gracefully leap into the air, raising the weapon above their head, before slamming it down into the beast below.
Each weapon has two unique Silkbind attacks and more can be unlocked as you progress through the game. Mastery of these attacks is essential as they serve to not only exhaust a monster, they also provide the perfect opportunity to utilize the Wyvern Riding Mechanic – Rise’s new mounting mechanic.
If that prospect wasn’t tantalizing enough, there is also the addition of Switch Skills. As the name suggests, Switch Skills enable you to change a weapon’s regular attacks and Silkbind moves. Every weapon has a total of three Switch Skill slots, meaning that you can completely customize the way your favorite weapon plays.
For example, the Great Sword’s conventional Tackle can be switched out for Guard Tackle, a move that uses the flat side of the blade to ram a monster. It’s a little more cumbersome than the ordinary tackle, but it does have the added benefit of guarding against a fearsome attack, while also being able to follow up with a powerful charged hit.
While these new moves often share a lot of similarities to Monster Hunter Generations’ Hunter Arts, they don’t feel tact on. Instead, both the Silkbind moves and Switch Skills offer a huge amount of experimentation, giving the game’s older weapons a fresh feel – something that is important for veteran hunters that have grown familiar with the series.
Tying into Rise’s Wirebug system and Silkbind attacks is that of Wyvern Riding. This new feature shares similarities to World’s Clutch Claw mechanic, which enables hunters to jump atop a creature’s back and send them careering towards a nearby obstacle or beast. However, Wyvern Riding adapts this feature and cranks the dial all the way up to 100.
For the first time ever, hunters can fully control a monster and utilize its attacks against anything that dares to get in the way. It’s as if Capcom looked at the 14 weapon types and decided that the monsters themselves should make up the 15th slot. Being able to orchestrate your very own beastly brawls is extremely satisfying, particularly when you deliver a knockout blow.
Beginner-friendly with enough depth
One of the biggest pitfall traps of the Monster Hunter series has always been how impenetrable it is to newcomers. Many a hunter has often hung up their sword due to the complex nature of the series, but Capcom has greatly alleviated this issue in its latest entry.
In fact, Monster Hunter Rise is the most accessible game in the franchise to date. Upon loading into the game, you’ll be greeted with a slew of tutorial missions, a dedicated training area, and a continually updated Hunter’s notes section.
To make matters even better, Wyvern Riding, Wirebug controls, Rampage basics, and capturing monsters can all be repeated via the Training Quests section. Meanwhile, the Training Area outlines each weapon’s combos and allows you to set up various options to test out your skills.
Monster damage charts can also be accessed via the Hunter’s Notes section, which finally gives hunters an in-depth look at the weakest areas of a monster. Not only does it show statistical data on weapon damage, it also shows everything from resistant thresholds, and material drop rate percentages.
No longer do hunters need to spend hours trawling through the Monster Hunter wiki, simply open up your Hunter’s Notes and all the info is right there. All these QoF changes make Rise extremely accessible to new players, but Capcom has also ensured that there’s still enough depth for the series’ most hardcore fans.
With its gigantic roster of toothy terrors, adrenaline-fueled combat, in-depth weapon mastery, and seemingly never-ending gear customization, Monster Hunter Rise is Capcom’s best installment in the hit monster-slaying saga. Not only does it adapt and change existing mechanics for the better, but it also breathes new life into this 17-year-old series.
Monster Hunter Rise firmly stomps its way to the top of the Nintendo Switch’s library and unleashes a deafening roar that demands to be heard. If this game wasn’t on your radar already, then it definitely should be.
Reviewed on Switch