It's been just under a year and a half since I last wrote about a Monster Hunter game, and that was Monster Hunter Generations, the first Monster Hunter game on Switch. That blog entry was right before Monster Hunter Rise came out, and even though my past experience with the series had taught me not to expect a lot of differences between the two, I gave into the promise of some online multiplayer with friends and ended up getting Monster Hunter Rise not long after anyway.

Monster Hunter Rise has a number of differences, some bigger than others, and pretty much all of them are for the better. I'm getting a little bored with feudal Japanese settings in video games, but here it does make the game's setting feel a little unique from the rest of the series that I've played. There are these cute little poems that get recited when you're introduced to each monster complete with old film-like footage of the monster in action, which is a fun little touch.

In terms of less cosmetic differences, by far the biggest changes are the wirebug and the Palamutes. The wirebug is this sort of grappling hook that lets you spring into the air, and it really makes the game more dynamic and allows environments to have much more verticality, which is a lot of fun. Palamutes help with this and they also help you travel around the map much more quickly than ever before, which minimizes the dead time when wounded monsters run away and you have to chase after them. The wirebug also gets incorporated into the fighting themselves, both by providing special moves that you can select from (they're all unique to each weapon), and it also enables you to ride monsters and have them fight other monsters or you can also ram them into walls which is fun. Both of these additions are great, and to a relatively casual Monster Hunter player like myself feel like a really nice step forward for the series.

Going along with speeding up the flow of a hunt, the game also hugely speeds up the process for gathering materials. You used to have to sit through an animation whenever you wanted to mine ore or gather plants that would take a few seconds, but boy did those seconds add up. In Rise gathering is pretty much instantaneous, and you can be hurtling along with your Palamute and still pick up items as you go without having to pause at all. I felt some mixed emotions about this and about the simplification of some other mechanics (you no longer have to use cooling or warming drinks in extreme environments and you no longer have to use a paintball to mark monsters on your map when they flee). While these updates definitely streamline the gameplay, they do feel like they're on the border between "quality of life improvements" and dumbing the game down. I'm not sure how purists feel about these types of changes, but even though I was a little unsure about them, for the most part I didn't miss them.

The game also introduces a new tower defense mode where you set up artillery and then fight waves of monsters which I found pretty boring, but thankfully you don't have to do that many of them. As usual the game really shines with the multiplayer, and I had a lot of fun playing online with friends. My weapon of choice this time around was the gunlance, and it hasn't been too hard learning its ins and outs.

Even though I've been playing the series for a while, the faster action of this entry bumps it up over the others I've played and finally an entry in the series makes it to my "Greatest games of all time" list. Despite that distinction, even though I had fun with Rise, I don't feel the need to pour hundreds of hours into the game, although I'm happy to continue playing it occasionally with friends (although they're all way higher ranks than I, which probably limits their enjoyment). Similarly, I'm not really interested in the paid DLC that just came out, but I'll probably end up getting it at some point when its price drops.

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