I’ve talked about how much I love Monster Hunter Rise before, specifically in my list of nine monsters that should return to the game’s DLC in Summer of 2022 (thank you to Reddit user TheZarkin-90 for pointing out a mistake in the post). However, I’ve never really gone in-depth on the things that make the game so appealing to me. So as I was grinding Chameleos loot for more money, I remembered how I never actually shared my thoughts in this manner and thought to myself, what’s a better way to end the year (or kick off the next one) by talking about my personal game of the year for 2021? So that’s what I’m gonna do here, by giving you my sort of review of Monster Hunter Rise for the Nintendo Switch.
Before I get into it though, I’d like to talk about another game I mentioned on that list: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. If you don’t care, feel free to use the Table of Contents above and skip to the “Disclaimer” part of the post. I had said that the game didn’t give me a fresh Monster Hunter experience compared to the 3DS version. I do stand by that opinion, but I think it’s worth noting that, even though I acknowledged its changes and improvements, I was being unfair by putting that opinion out there without providing the context that I ultimately set myself up for disappointment.
I went into the game thinking it was going to be a completely different experience from the game I was playing for years up to that point. I even decided to start a completely new profile, not using the Data Transfer App to bring my progress to the Switch. Needless to say, those were awful decisions on my part because I messed up the experience for myself. What I’m trying to say is while the games weren’t new and exciting for me, that doesn’t mean it can’t be for anyone else, especially if you come in knowing what to expect (or what not to expect, if that makes sense).
So if anyone that reads that article is reading this as well, I’d like to say this: give Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate a chance if you’d like. Whether you have or haven’t played the inferior 3DS version, there are many players still online and it’s worth giving a try if you want to experience old-fashioned Monster Hunter on a console.
Back to the “review,” this isn’t going to be like a normal review. I’m just gonna list off the things I like about the game in categories and go into detail with them. I might include things I don’t like in those categories as well, but each one as a whole will be more positive than negative.
This goes without saying, but almost everything is going to be my opinion. I may speak about things in a factual manner and back them up with facts as well, but at the end of the day, these are just my experiences and how I feel about these things. You’re completely free to disagree and provide counterarguments for my points upon doing so.
Also, I haven’t played Monster Hunter World but I have played every game up to it after Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (which admittedly isn’t much). Any general comparisons to past games will be made without Monster Hunter World in my mind, so please keep that in yours as you read along. Alright, that should be everything so let’s begin.
Movement and Feel
Movement is always an important part of Monster Hunter. Knowing the right positioning for attacks after a monster makes its move, how long you have to perform a move before you can act freely afterwards, and more pretty much makes or breaks most hunts.
Luckily, movement in Monster Hunter Rise feels the best it’s ever felt in the series, mostly due to the newly added Wirebug mechanic. They open up so many possibilities for movement both on the ground and in the air by giving you the ability to zip, swing and suspend yourself however you please. They also allow you to climb up just about any surface. I have so much fun with this that it’s one of the reasons I always take my Palico with me for online play over my Palamute. This is even doubled with the Wirebug Skills to accommodate weapons, as well as some Switch Skills that replace regular weapon moves and Wirebug Skills with different ones, but more on that later.
Even without the Wirebugs, movement feels great compared to older titles. Running on foot feels fast, sharp and responsive, and the same can be said for crouching and dodging. Weapons also have more freedom than before with more options and ways to act out of and into certain attacks than before in new ways.
One of my favorites things in this game is how you can dodge backwards after an attack and end up facing the direction you were attacking, so you don’t have to worry about manually turning your character back around after a dodge to continue the assault.
I’ve been so conditioned by how Monster Hunter Rise feels that when I go back to Monster Hunter on the 3DS, I often find myself instinctively trying to use Wirebugs or chaining attack inputs that don’t work in those games. (Here’s a small assignment for anyone reading this, if you can go back to a past game, try running around in circles really quickly in those games, then try it in Rise and see how different it is.) Monster Hunter Rise really seems to have mastered movement for hunters and it left an impression on me that I’m glad to have.
This will be the longest section of the post, and I’m gonna start it with what’s probably something very silly to hear, but Monster Hunter Generations (yes, the 3DS version) was my favorite Monster Hunter game. I think it excelled at bringing forth an extra step in something that wasn’t quite in the series when it came to hunting: options.
When I say options, I don’t mean different weapon types or different weapons to use within those types because we’ve always had a great deal of both. However, in the older Monster Hunter games, whatever weapon type you used, whether it was Greatsword, Dual Blades, or Bow, all the weapons within those types would really be used the same way by everyone. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and there are a few specific exceptions such as Honed Weapons, but it would’ve been nice to be able to get whatever weapon I wanted and just do things differently from other hunters back then.
Monster Hunter Generations went in the right direction to address that with Hunter Styles and Hunter Arts, which introduced different ways to play each weapon and a set of special moves that tied to each weapon, along with Arts that worked with any weapon. This added a sense of personality and customization to how every Hunter used the weapons (I can’t count how many players were surprised by the simple fact that my main choice was Adept Insect Glaive). Despite Capcom taking it in the right direction with that game, I think they messed up a bit by making some weapons nearly pointless to pair with certain Styles and Arts compared to others, as well as having a few combinations that made every monster a joke to fight. It was a super fun mechanic that was made not fun by how much it destroyed the balance of the game with its execution.
It seems that in Monster Hunter Rise, they’ve improved on that department. In this game, Hunter Arts are pretty much replaced by various new Wirebug Skills that you can change up. However, using Switch Skills, you can also switch out basic attacks along with Wirebug Skills and mix them together to truly make a hunting style of your own. There’s so many options and all of them have their own unique uses and benefits that it’ll be nearly impossible to come across some random Hunter with the exact same set and Switch Skills as your own. And unlike Monster Hunter Generations’ Styles and Arts, the monsters in this game are actually built around the Wirebug Mechanic so there’s a balance between hunters and monsters again.
More options also come in the form of your Buddies. Thanks to Capcom finally adding canine companions in the form of Palamutes, you can also personalize your assistance throughout hunts a bit more. In terms of single quests, you can either take two Palamutes, two Palicos, or one of each, and mix up their gear, Support Type, and behavior to fit however you’d like. You’re still only limited to one when it comes to online, but now every hunter can bring one along regardless of player count and it can be either of the two animals.
Basically, having several options makes a game great to play for me personally, because nothing gets old to see. This isn’t even all of the ways that Monster Hunter Rise excels at that, and with DLC for the game in the way, there’s bound to be much more.
Communication and teamwork is another important part of Monster Hunter. If you don’t have a clear plan or strategy in mind, or don’t know what the current situation of a hunt is, it’ll be very easy for you to end up carting multiple times from carelessness or screw up a sleep bombing strategy, or anything in between… that’s an odd spectrum, but you get the point.
In Monster Hunter Rise, that’s not much of a problem at all. Players have multiple ways to communicate with each other in this game both in and out of hunts, with stickers that can have messages on them, automatic shoutouts for almost any important situation, and a bunch of manual shoutouts you can use whenever you’d like. It’s due to these that I’ve been saved from waking up a sleeping monster several times, and I saved my quest mates from killing a monster I needed to capture for orbs.
If neither of those are to your liking, you can also use the Switch keyboard to say exactly what you need to say. However, there doesn’t seem to be a way to tell when someone sends a message as you’re typing on the keyboard since it takes up so much of the screen, which can be annoying to deal with for both sides. I’ve had too many times where I was speaking to a player and read that they’ve said one or two more things before I even finished typing my response to the first message. Hopefully Capcom finds a way to fix that later, maybe by creating a notification sound?
There’s also gestures that range from important things like greetings, apologies and the like to silly dances and cheers. Some of them, as well as more stickers, are available to buy from the eShop and I may or may not have spent my money on each gesture set.
The villagers of Kamura feel more important than the villagers of the past games have ever felt. To be honest, as much as I liked some of the characters and Ace Hunters of the past, their importance and relevance to the story and quests always seemed to boil down to “tell me what to hunt” or “be of very little to no convenience.”
In Monster Hunter Rise, all of the residents of Kamura, whether it’s the Quest Maidens or the Village Elder himself, lend their aid in the Rampage quests in different ways. Even the nameless villagers help out by manning cannons and ballistas to defend the gates to the village. It’s made going on Rampage quests my favorite way to play because, on top of how chaotic and fun it can be, the feeling of actually fighting alongside the villagers for the cause of protecting their home is an amazing one that I never really got from the villagers of past games despite its implications that I wasn’t alone.
I feel like they could’ve done a bit more with the main NPC’s though. As it seems like they use actual weapons, with the Chef, Yomogi, using a Heavy Bowgun and Village Elder Fugen using a Longsword, they could’ve taken it a step further and have quests outside of the Rampage where they can come along and help out, even if it’s only for a bit. But that’s a very minor nitpick that I can do without.
Graphics and Maps
Before Monster Hunter Rise came out, many people were skeptical of the game, specifically because it was coming out for the Nintendo Switch. Besides the silly points about Monster Hunter “not belonging on a Nintendo system” (just hear how ridiculous that sounds), people were rightfully questioning whether the portable system would be able to capture the quality of wildlife and environments in the same way that Monster Hunter World did for PS4 and Xbox One.
After the game’s been out for over nine months, I think it’s safe to say that those questions were effectively laid to rest. It’s definitely not as good looking as Monster Hunter World, but it still holds up against it considerably. Whenever I’m on expeditions, I find myself going to a high place, or some area close to being out of bounds of the maps and just taking in the world around me.
The maps are also huge, with so much space to explore and discover things, and each part of it looks so great, whether on handheld or on docked mode. I haven’t been on the game nonstop but I still have yet to find all the Endemic Life creatures, that goes to show how much there is to look for. It’s a bit of a shame that, as of writing this, there’s only five maps (with the exception of areas specific to Rampages and certain monsters), but like weapon options and things like that, there’s bound to be more to come with the DLC.
There’s definitely more to love, like various monster designs and the amazing voice acting (especially in the Monster Hunter language), but the things I mentioned were specific highlights for me. That being said, how do you feel about the things I brought up? Do you agree or disagree with any of them in particular? And what else do you like about Monster Hunter Rise? I’d love to hear your thoughts.