In a world where online gameplay is readily available, some series benefit a bit more than others. You don’t expect much from the minor cooperative elements in Devil May Cry 5, for instance, but when it comes to a series like Monster Hunter then a worthwhile – and reliable – online mode is a key factor regarding a purchase.
Despite its temporary home on somewhat-less-impressive hardware, Monster Hunter Rise on Switch is a solid entry in the extensive hunting-action series and adds in a few twists here and there to spice things up.
In the distant Kamura Village, Monster Hunters approach things a little differently than those from the Old and New Worlds. They’ve got powerful, trained pets that help them out, for instance. They’ve also got a lot of time invested in ensuring that their thread-shooting Wirebugs are ready to help out when needed. Given the rough nature of the monsters surrounding Kamura, it’ sa good thing that the Kamura hunter you embody is ready to go and deal with the pest of the week.
Long-time fans of the series will probably recognize Rise as something of a combination between the classic series and the modern series epitomized by Monster Hunter World. While Rise’s somewhat grittier presentation owes a lot to the classic series, gameplay and combat feel a little more loose a la World. Your character is a lot more mobile and resilient than you might expect if you’re coming from, say, Generations Ultimate, and this is reinforced even further by the new Wire attacks introduced here.
Hunters are now able to instantly grapple around the map and use Wirebugs to perform impressive Silkbind attacks, which do solid damage and allow the hunter to mount and control their opponents. Some weapons are more improved by this than others, so the Dual Swords end up feeling a bit more refined than something like the Charge Blade.
There’s also a big focus on the quality-of-life features introduced in World, and in fact Rise goes even futher than that game in that department by including features like automatically tracking monsters so you don’t have to paint them or track them down anymore. Instead, you’re encouraged to get your preparation done and get into the fight immediately, pushing the game to its climax rather than encouraging more passive segments between fights. This is probably an improvement all around, but fans of the classic series might have an issue with exactly how easy Rise makes the non-combat parts of Monster Hunter.
Additionally, you also go into hunts accompanied by both a Palico cat and a Palamute dog, with the latter serving double duty as a speedy, customizable mount and as a battle-worthy fighter. It’s a great idea that’s well-executed and you’re likely to remain eager to upgrade your pet pals and see just how helpful they can be.
In any case, the newfound emphasis on combat versus non-combat moments also means that Rise ends up feeling a little light on content compared to previous games. Since you don’t need to spend nearly as long actually tracking down a monster, the rogue’s gallery of available baddies can start to come up short fairly quickly. There’s only about thirty monsters here, after all, compared to a much larger portion in World (and its DLC Iceborne) and an absolutely insane number in Generations Ultimate.
That’s not to say you’ll get bored with Rise quickly or that there’s a lack of content, but more that you shouldn’t come in expecting to battle a new monster every single mission. Rise’s cast leans heavily on classic monsters and returning World refugees, but it’s almost certain to see some expansion over time and fighting what’s there is certainly pleasant enough.
There’s even a new mission type called the Rampage, where you’ll control a sort of tower-defense mission in an attempt to keep the village safe. This is completely fine and well put together, though you’ll quickly notice that the installations you summon might not match up to a good player. Winning results in unique prizes that – to say nothing of plot progression – so Rampage missions are well worth doing.
Rise is a Switch-exclusive game (for the moment), so how does it perform on the hardware? Well, it’s still the Switch, after all. That means during heavy fighting and even more graphically intensive open-world exploration you’re going to run into noticeable framerate dips. While I never found this impacted gameplay to the point where I took even a single hit from a target monster, long-term hunters may find they’ve got a little to get used to.
On the other hand, it’s as worthwhile as always to acclimate yourself to the game’s foibles and quirks. Classic Monster Hunter concepts like sending for trades via the Argosy and keeping your pets busy via the Meowcenaries farming system will ensure that Monster Hunter Rise continues to play like a dream for weeks to come. It’s a great time for both Monster Hunter vets and newcomers alike, a must-have adventure at home or on the go.