As the latest Monster Hunter game in an ever-expanding franchise, Monster Hunter Rise doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel—but rather expand upon the series’ successes and further sand down the remaining rough edges.
For the unfamiliar, Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise is a series of multiplayer action games where you, as the name suggests, hunt giant beasts that are threatening the local populations and ecosystems using an expansive arsenal of cartoonishly oversized weapons. You and up to three other players will head out searching for the fiend, gathering materials to craft items and upgrades along the way, fighting said monster, and using its parts to become strong enough to take on the next big bad on the list. It’s a series with a very tight gameplay loop. While Rise does a couple of things to expedite the process, that system is still fully intact, so if you didn’t like the loop of previous Monster Hunter games, this one probably won’t change your mind.
The biggest thing Monster Hunter Rise adds to the franchise is mobility—previous games were balanced around the players’ relative immobility. Weapons like the great sword, switch axe, and hunting hammer all could deal massive damage at the cost of being heavy. These weapons weigh down the player while drawn, leading to a very frantic hit and run style where you would constantly be re-sheathing your weapon every time the monster moved even slightly out of your range. Rise doesn’t altogether remove this aspect of the gameplay, but it does add several additional ways to get into that critical spot.
The wirebug is an appropriately themed grappling hook that expands upon Monster Hunter World: Iceborne‘s ideas. While the clutch claw felt largely ignorable, the wirebug is incorporated into both the level design and combat of Rise to the degree that makes it more than worth exploring. Together with the addition of the palamute, a speedy new rideable dog, you’re able to clear space faster than in any previous game.
Previous Monster Hunter areas were these sprawling, nature-themed mazes that constantly looped back in on themselves; much like the combat, Rise now lets you to approach your destination from any angle. There are very few areas that I gave up on scaling—and it’s not because I thought I couldn’t possibly do it, but because, for once, the obvious path was faster.
Both players and monsters have seen a mobility boost. Early trials used to pit the player against simple bosses that teach them to dodge properly. Rise‘s early game decides to introduce projectiles and status effects to make the player want to be aware of space and angle, reminding them of their ability to take space with the new mechanics.
“You should probably move,” Rise constantly whispers just before the beast does some manner of crazy supernatural attack, be it a massive fireball, a lightling fast tackle, or summoning building-high pillars of mud to defend itself with. It all culminates in the new tower defense game mode, Rampage.
Monster Hunter has toyed around with defense in the past, but these were generally one-off gimmick levels where you’re shooting at a single, giant monster. Rampage is easily the most realized version of it, even if it is a bit overwhelming on your own. Having to zip around to keep up with the monsters going through your base is as difficult as it is frantic, especially when a boss monster four times the normal breed’s size comes crashing through. They feel better suited to multiplayer, and thankfully Rise makes getting into a game with friends infinitely easier than its predecessor.
Overall, Monster Hunter Rise is another triumph of the series. While it doesn’t do much to win over new players, fans of the series will appreciate the smoother, faster experience.