Monster Hunter: Rise once again allows me to fulfill my fantasy of fighting a giant fire-breathing dragon, except this time, it lets me ride the fire-breathing dragon into battle against a massive crocodile-hippopotamus creature before nosediving the dragon straight into a wall. That, coupled with a few other improvements to accessibility and gameplay, make this a painful review to write because I’d much rather be playing the game instead. I received my review copy a day and a half before it came out, so I’ve been playing it incessantly ever since the download finished. The first hour was because I had to get this review out, and the other 10 hours were because this game was more important to me than food and sleep.
My history with Monster Hunter is strange and short, but I feel like it’s more common than you’d think. I started with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS and had no idea what the heck I was doing at all. Undeterred, I hopped at the Monster Hunter: World demo and LOVED it. I bought the game on release and put almost 90 hours into it (although I never did pick up Iceborne, for whatever reason. Also, please keep in mind that this review is written from the perspective of World being the only prior experience). I had a significantly better idea of what I was doing, still a bit more confused than I’d like, but what an incredible experience that game was.
Now Rise walks in and makes it even easier for me to get into the game and understand more of the concepts. The scope is much smaller, at least for as far as I’ve gotten (admittedly not that far), which I don’t necessarily see as a bad thing. It makes everything easier to digest and understand. They’ve also introduced speech bubbles for when someone in the village has something urgent/important/quest-related to say and different colors to represent each. Packaged in with that QoL update is a fast-travel system within the town with spots such as your bedroom, the two quest hubs (which, with some research, I have discovered is a step backwards, but I quite like it), and the village hub. The fast travel menu has symbols representing what areas has someone you need to or should talk to. It makes the in-between hunts feel so much better and way easier to navigate.
Another absolute game-changer introduced early on in the village is the Wirebug, which brings in a Spider-Man-Esque wire slinging ability. It works with charges and cooldowns; the character carries two naturally and can pick up a Wirebug in the wild to open a third charge for a period of time. That makes Rise’s environments much easier and more fun to traverse, vertically speaking. It’s also the basis for some cool new combat mechanics. You can expend a charge of Wirebug to recover from an attack and get immediately back into action. You can also use charges in combat to lay down damage from above, opening up the ability to wyvern ride, which is the new ability to ride whichever monster you’re fighting at the time. When riding a monster, you can use it to fight another in the area or ram it into a wall a few times to damage it. You can only ride them for a short period, which diminishes each time you are attacked. Sometimes you ride a big raptor, sometimes you ride a bear with rock armor. It’s dope!
The main combat loop, and gameplay loop for that matter, are still very much intact. Pick one of the well-varied weapons, equip some armor, go hunt a monster and upgrade your weapons and armor. That might sound boring, but I cannot tell you how incredibly fun it is. Civilization has the “One. More. Turn.” slogan, but I found myself turning that one. last. hunt. into 2 more hours of playing. I wanted to slice up one more electric lizard, chase down a monkey owl while riding my dog, I wanted more more more of every single thing this game had to offer me. All but one.
This game has introduced Rampage Missions, a new tower-defense, turret-shooter minigame that accompanies the story. I respect that they are trying big new things, but it just didn’t feel anywhere near as satisfying as the usual gameplay loop. You build ballistas and cannons and bombs to stop an onslaught of monsters with one boss monster at the end. The rewards you get from these missions open up skills for your regular weapons, but time will tell if those skills feel worth playing through the Rampage Missions.
I feel bad closing out on a complaint, but I think it encapsulates my overall feel about this game. I have very few negative things to say and I’m too busy hunting to list off all the positive things. Overall, this game has reignited my love of what made me sink almost 100 hours into World while making it even easier to understand and get more out of that 100 hours. I’m not going to give this a numerical score because I struggle real hard with those, but I highly recommend this to anyone on the fence, both newbies and veterans alike. Now with that said, I’m off to sink 90 more hours into this one and then probably dive into World again, with my increased knowledge. There are a lot of monsters to hunt and nowhere near enough time.