Come The Moment, Come The Monsters

HIGH Those wirebugs are a phenomenal addition to the formula.

LOW The Rampage quests are really half-assed.

WTF Walking through someone’s front door in the middle of the day is considered ‘stealthy’?

Monster Hunter veterans will know the score by now.

With the release of Monster Hunter Rise on consoles, it’s time to create a new character in a new locale and defend humanity from the threat of vicious creatures. Rise introduces a feudal Japanese-themed ninja village named Kamura tucked away in the mountains as our new base of operations, filled with cheerful villagers and handy hunter amenities aplenty. It also features two hot twins who think that walking into the player’s house while they’re asleep isn’t weird in the slightest, and that’s just how things work there.

Well, whatever.  

It’s not all cookies, milk and twin home invaders, though — there’s a flood of monsters threatening to overwhelm the village due to a rare event they call the Rampage. Everyone in Kamura yearns to be free of this threat, a feeling I suspect many players of Monster Hunter Rise will also share by the game’s end. More on that later though.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Monster Hunter is a third-person hunting game in which players choose from a variety of melee and ranged weapons, such as a massive oversized hammer or a heavy bowgun, then accept quests at a nearby hub before heading out into the field to capture or kill the monster that’s been causing all the ruckus. There are variations on this (such as heading out to collect fruits and berries instead) but players will generally be facing something the size of a small building with a lot of pointy teeth trying to rip their face off.

Victory brings rewards, and upon returning to the village hub it’s possible to use the money and materials earned on the hunt to upgrade their equipment and buy new gear, such as traps and healing items. The village offers everything a hunter could possibly need, including a restaurant with potent food that buffs up stats before each hunt, a multiplayer hub to group up with others online, various training and trading grounds, and a blacksmith to create or upgrade weapons and armor from the parts collected from each monster.

This is all classic Monster Hunter, but Rise also introduces a bunch of new mechanics.

The addition of ninja-style wall-running and grappling hook inspired Wirebugs to the formula allows for vastly increased mobility while on the hunt. Riding the hunter’s freshly-introduced and ride-able Palamutes (basically, huge dogs) to speed across the hunting ground in search of prey is simple and effective. Between these two timesaving creations and many new shortcuts that offer fast paths between hunting areas, the additional freedom is very welcome indeed.

Rise isn’t just about adding elements, though. If previous instalment and worldwide hit Monster Hunter World was responsible for pulling the series into the present with an assortment of  modern functions that a general audience takes for granted, Rise takes another hard look and cuts away even more of the series’ legacy busywork. For instance, players have a cute pet owl that they automatically dispatch to highlight every monster on the map, meaning there’s no need to track or mark them now. Various hostile climates no longer need the use of items such as hot or cold drinks to operate effectively within them. Cutscenes can be skipped upon a first viewing, and there’s none of World’s absurdly tedious clues needed to track down threats before finally unlocking the matching quest.

It all equals a friendlier, faster approach to getting in there and walloping enemies, and it absolutely works in Rise’s favor. It’s dangerous to make so many things more approachable, though — at the rate Capcom’s dishing out these quality-of-life improvements, the next installment might automatically refresh the player’s loadout at the end of a hunt without having to go to the item box every time. Imagine such decadence!

Everything isn’t simply handed to players on a platter, though. Hunters will still have to down certain monsters numerous times while praying for a 3% drop rate to get the bits they need to make a spectacularly useful piece of armor. I had to hunt one monster about twenty times to get my hands on a Purple Magna Orb for a sweet pair of bracers, so it’s a good thing being out in the field hunting feels great.

The monsters themselves are a great mix of old favourites and fresh faces, and all have their own strengths, weaknesses and battlefield behaviors. During any given fight, these beasts will go into a fury status where they become more dangerous and hit harder, before eventually tiring out and tottering around the place at half their previous speed. Following this rhythm is important, so as not to get lasered by an enemy’s ultimate attack at inopportune moments. Players always have backup, though, with the possibility of either two AI helper pets while playing alone, or up to three human players online.

So far, so good… until we get to the part of Rise that absolutely sucks, the Rampage quests.

Rampage quests are essentially a Tower Defense minigame where players are tasked with protecting the  gate leading into Kamura from a stream of rampaging monsters led by an Apex predator. Predetermined spots around the map allow for installations such as autocannons, traps or manual gun emplacements to be set up to defend from the onslaught, and occasionally super-powerful ‘hero’ units will become available to assist hunters with massive damage and support buffs for brief periods.

Sound interesting? Perhaps, but the implementation leaves much to be desired. They’re stressful in the worst possible way, with villagers constantly screaming about how everything’s going to hell as the hunter gets pingponged across the battlefield by a barrage of monsters, fireballs and screen-filling lightning blasts they’ve almost no chance of seeing coming. These sequences aren’t even that difficult once players figure out a worthwhile strategy, but they’re very, very irritating in solo play and downright boring in multiplayer.

Thankfully, only a few of these quests are required in order to progress through the story, though players aiming for the best endgame gear will have to suffer for their gains.

The other mild annoyance is that the online functionality isn’t very user-friendly, making it tough to join groups battling specific monsters without getting granular on specific quests. Most players trying to join a hunt won’t care about the quest so much as the monster holding the parts they need, so it’s just a bit more fiddly than it should be to get matched with an appropriate hunt. Oh, and there’s no crossplay either. Bleh.

In short, Rise is a great iteration on the classic Monster Hunter formula, making things more approachable and getting rid of some of the series’ less desirable elements. They may have made sense in the past, but the removal of much busywork is a net positive in my eyes. It’s a shame that Capcom didn’t include the massive Sunbreak expansion with this release given that it’s already out on Switch and PC, but it’s not like this package is lacking in content or value. For hunters of any experience level, Rise is a great entry in a storied series.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Capcom. It is currently available on XBO/X/S, PS4/5, Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBX. Approximately 55 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed, including every postgame monster and completing my optimal armor set and build. 7 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Alcohol Reference, Blood and Violence. Their official description from the Switch version reads as follows: This is an action adventure game in which players assume the role of a hunter who must save a village from a monster invasion. Players traverse a fantasy world and hunt down and kill various dragons, wyverns, and giant spiders. Players use swords, hammers, bows, and axes to kill creatures in frenetic melee-style combat. Spurts of blood are often depicted when players and creatures are injured during combat. A handful of missions allow players to operate mounted turrets and cannons to shoot rampaging creatures. The game contains several references to alcohol in the dialogue (e.g., “Enjoy the occasional drink and you’ll never need a docto—*hic*”; “I had a couple of sips of alcohol…”; “Drinking alone ain’t the worst thing, but booze tastes better with company”; “Pops tells the story whenever he gets boozed up.”).

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. Some in-game battle callouts aren’t translated. They’re usually of minor value, though characters will yell when an enemy is about to unleash their strongest attacks, giving D/HH players a minor disadvantage. Still, these callouts weren’t in previous titles at all and watching the enemy’s movements carefully should reveal the same information. Despite the lack of bark captioning, I’d still class it as fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. There are a lot of contextual controls and every button is not only used, but also used in combination with others. The left stick moves the player, the right stick controls the camera, the face buttons interact with the environment, accept or cancel menu options or unleash attacks, and the shoulder buttons can sprint, charge up attacks, use projectiles or unleash other types of attacks. Holding down the left bumper can also access item shortcuts or scrolling windows. It’s complicated and can be a little fiddly, but it works.

Darren Forman
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Badger Commander
Badger Commander
1 month ago

Agreed, the multiplayer UX is a mess – my partner and I gave up before managing to find a way to join a hunt together