Monster Hunter Rise stands out among similar games

April 28, 2023

By Esteban Ramirez
Staff Writer

Monster Hunter Rise is an action role-playing game released on March 26, 2021. It is the sixth main installment in the Monster Hunter series. Fortunately, many of the issues are fixed or made less annoying with the Sunbreak Downloadable Content (DLC). Unsurprisingly, the game is about hunting monsters, and players are immediately thrown into a vast and intimidating world. While this game is imperfect, I still averaged 10 hours of playing time each day during my first week with this game.

Monster Hunter Rise was, unfortunately, developed for the Nintendo Switch, so its graphics aren’t particularly impressive, and the framerate on the Switch is just not good. It was only made available for Xbox and PlayStation on Jan. 20, where higher frame rates are available. Visually, its graphics and art style are not particularly realistic, but it’s not crazy cartoonish either. It’s right in the middle, and it fits the style of the game perfectly. 

Monster Hunter Rise offers the Sunbreak DLC Expansion. It brings back many fan-favorite monsters from previous games and has an interesting storyline. If you enjoy the base-game Monster Hunter Rise, Sunbreak is a no-brainer to purchase. It builds on Monster Hunter Rise’s strengths and works to fix many of its weaknesses. Most excitingly, it more than doubles the content the game offers.

Kamura, which is completely forgettable, is the main village players will spend time in throughout the game. The characters are just not captivating, there is a lack of interesting story cutscenes and an absence of any plot whatsoever. Luckily, all the cutscenes are skippable, so the player isn’t forced to watch them. This is the first issue that Sunbreak fixes with more interesting characters and more emphasis on the flagship monster.

Although the title of the game may make the game seem very simple, the fun of the core gameplay loop comes in the nuance in every step of the process. Hunt, craft, repeat. Which monster are you hunting? Where are its weak points? What elements does it utilize? Monsters provide the player with materials they can use to craft stronger weapons, armor and decorations that provide skills.

Monster hunter games are typically tougher to get into, with a huge learning curve in the beginning as you are bombarded with instructions, tutorials and unforgiving gameplay. Monster Hunter Rise does not suffer from this as much, as it is less complicated and the wirebugs make the gameplay more forgiving and faster-paced. 

Wirebugs are small glowing bugs that you can throw and grapple with. These bugs act as a rechargeable resource to either maneuver around the map, use in attacks or make a quick recovery after getting hit. The wirebugs are so much fun, removing the monotonous walk to the monster, and any time it moved to a different area than other Monster Hunter games had. It works to make the fights a little easier and much faster, as players can recover from taking a big hit, quickly heal and return to the fight.

You can hunt monsters with 15 different weapons: bow, charge blade, dual blades, great sword, gunlance, hammer, hunting horn, insect glaive, lance, long sword, light and heavy bow guns, sword and shield and switch axe. Most weapons have unique strengths and weaknesses. There are three types of weapon damage and five different elements, and these factor in with each monster’s resistance to a type of damage in certain areas. Where blunt weapons typically go for the head, sharp weapons will mostly go for the tail. These weapons are fun to play with, but some take a bit of getting used to, which does add to the learning curve. Learning them does feel very rewarding, and most of them are decently matched in viability.

Hunters can choose to bring two companions on solo quests, or if users are playing online, just one. Palicoes are small bipedal cats that can use varied abilities to aid players in hunts. Their abilities can range from gathering extra materials from monsters or launching the nearby fauna at the monster. Monster Hunter Rise’s new Palamutes are basically big dogs that players can ride around on or aid players in attacking the monster. The riding ability of Palamutes is helpful in traversal and sometimes even in fights, but their utility in a fight is outclassed by Palicoes’ abilities. 

The monsters themselves are super interesting. Each is unique and presents the player with a new threat to learn and maneuver. The monsters are memorable, but they lack the interaction with their environment that makes them seem alive in other games. The flagship monster, Magnamalo, suffers from egregiously poor storytelling because it has such potential to stand out from the rest of the monsters. Sunbreak’s flagship monster, Malzeno, gets much more attention and relevance. In Monster Hunter Rise, unlike other games, each new monster that players face is introduced with a skippable intro cutscene. I enjoyed these because they previewed a bit about the monster players were going to fight and how it could possibly attack or how it behaves outside of battle. 

It works to make the fights a little easier and much faster, as players can recover from taking a big hit, quickly heal and return to the fight.

You can either hunt or capture monsters, but exclusive to Monster Hunter Rise are rampage quests. Rampage quests are a mode where you set up defenses and prepare to fight off a horde of monsters. Despite being a major part of the storyline, they are boring and take too long to complete. Additionally, some of the later ones are too difficult to complete without help from another player. They are too repetitive and obnoxious, but thankfully they aren’t plentiful if you are playing through the game normally. These quests were such a failure that in Sunbreak that they were scrapped entirely and did not make a return.

The base game’s difficulty is split into low and high ranks. Once enough low-rank quests are completed, the player can participate in high-rank quests. Players can encounter the same monsters as before and more, but they will be harder to catch. Gear that was good for low rank is not good enough to tackle the tougher hunts, and the player will be forced to adopt new gear. While there is a large list of monsters in the game, the progression and base game content is lackluster toward the end. Finally, crafting the build you want and reaching the end to see there are few challenges left to face is a little heartbreaking. This issue is improved dramatically in Sunbreak, with the Risen monsters, who are more difficult to fight than the regular variants, incentivizing players to hunt stronger forms of various monsters, including the earlier ones, for stronger gear.

Monster hunter games generally require a big time commitment. Monster Hunter Rise takes a step away from this, being much faster and easier to play, with players not needing to dedicate the sometimes unreasonable amount of time for grinding and progression. For this, Monster Hunter Rise is really good at bringing in newcomers to the series, while alienating its long-time fans a little with the switch to an easier and faster style. Despite the drawbacks in certain respects, I would still give Monster Hunter Rise an 8/10 because it easily grabbed my attention and held my interest for a long time, and Sunbreak is a testament to the developers’ ability to respond to criticism and build upon what has become a great game.


bookmark icon