Review: Monster Hunter Rise Streamlines the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity

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Just a handful of years ago, hardly anyone in the West was talking about Monster Hunter, but now it has gone on to become one of Capcom’s bestselling franchises. That momentum has continued with Monster Hunter Rise, a game that was specifically built from the ground up for Nintendo Switch. But how does it stack up against the previous games in the series? Does it have enough new features to warrant a purchase?

Thankfully, this entry is one of the friendliest for newcomers, featuring many streamlined ideas, plenty of tutorials, and quality of life improvements that make it easier to get into. That isn’t to say it’s lost its complexity — but rather that Capcom wants to appeal to more players by adding plenty to help its audience grasp its various features.

Monster Hunter Rise Streamlines the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity

MHR battle

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’re tasked with taking down massive creatures, which grant you with various resources that can be turned into gear. These monsters come in all shapes and sizes and have various attack patterns that you’ll want to take note of. The tougher the monster, the better the gear you can craft, and therein lies the addictive loop. There are lots of different types of monsters, as well as various locales to explore, offering tons of variety — not just in scenery, but in how you play.

The Monster Hunter series became famous for its gameplay loop, giving players fun cooperative (or solo) experiences with a focus on complex combat and the never-ending quest for gear. Though it didn’t really pick up in the West until Monster Hunter World launched in 2018, and now, thanks to the Switch-exclusive Monster Hunter Rise, even more players have jumped in.

We’ve actually seen a lot of people posting on Twitter, saying something along the lines of “Monster Hunter Rise is my first game in the series,” while asking for people to play with. There’s something fascinating about an experienced veteran teaching a newcomer how the game works. It’s almost part of the game’s meta, without being something that Capcom has direct control of. So with that in mind, we’re pleased with how this new entry handles the introduction of new (or existing) mechanics.

Rise is much more clear with what you need to do in order to make progress, like giving you objectives that show how far along you are within a certain quest set. For example, you always know how many Key Quests you’ve completed and how many you need to finish to move on.

And while it doesn’t do a lot to streamline the controls (it still feels like Monster Hunter, after all), many of the systems around the actual moment-to-moment gameplay have been tweaked to be easier to understand. Likewise, we noticed that the early game monsters were a lot easier when compared to the opening fights of previous games. It’s slightly harder to die in the early stages, which is great for new players.

Monster Hunter Rise Streamlines the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity

monster hunter rise 2

One thing we really love is that when you collect certain resources, the game will automatically craft commonly used items for you. This little feature saves time and allows you to get into the action quicker. You can also pull up the map to see exactly where all the resources are located, making it simpler to grind for specific materials. Little things like these are steps in the right direction — especially when trying to retain the attention of new players.

It’s also extremely easy to get into a lobby to hunt with others. The game offers a general multiplayer option that allows groups to hang out and hunt at their own leisure — as well as the option to hunt specific monsters on an individual basis. With this feature, you can select the monster you’d like to tackle and the game will load you into a session, matching you with other players looking to complete that same mission. When you’ve completed the objective, the session ends and you’re sent back to the main hub. This is ideal for players who just want to take down a monster and move onto the next — perfect for those who are less talkative while playing with others.

Along with that, the game features lots of new ideas, such as the Wirebug, which is essentially like a grappling hook. This new mechanic allows you to zip around the map like Spider-Man, giving you much more mobility and verticality than before. In fact, the maps are designed with a lot of verticality in mind, specifically because you’re able to explore them thanks to the Wirebug.

Not only that, but you’re able to utilize this Wirebug to wrangle certain monsters and even control them for a brief period. There’s nothing more exhilarating than making a massive creature battle against another during a hunt — and there are benefits to this, as you can cause significant damage to your target. Plus it just looks cool.

One of the other new additions is the Palamute companion, which is effectively a massive dog that you can ride around the map. Capcom has doubled down on the idea of quicker movement, with an emphasis on getting you to the battles faster than before. This is clear with the additions of the Wirebug and the Palamute, as both can be used to travel around the map at lightning speed. Gone are the days of simply running from point A to B on foot, and we’re glad to see the series move in this direction.

Monster Hunter Rise also includes a new quest type called Rampage, functioning like a tower defense mission wherein players must keep a horde of monsters from destroying a base. While Rampage quests don’t feel as fleshed out as we’d like, they’re an excellent change of pace, offering a new way to play. There’s a certain strategy you have to use when playing these quests, and it’s refreshing, most notably because the base quests can feel repetitive at times.

Monster Hunter Rise Streamlines the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity

monster hunter rise demo

But what about the combat itself? Unfortunately, it still feels a little clunky, which can be a turnoff to newcomers. Even after putting close to 500 hours into the series overall, we realize that we’ve simply gotten used to the way it feels. The controls aren’t necessarily bad, but they feel almost intentionally obtuse to make the gameplay slower. Some might think it takes one too many button inputs to select what you’d like and for the most part, that’s a fair criticism.

That’s the difference between Monster Hunter and something like Devil May Cry — instead of leaning into fast, hack ‘n slash gameplay, Monster Hunter Rise wants you to be much more deliberate, as it throws many different things to keep track of like stamina, your weapon’s durability, other status ailments, and the various combos you can use. It’s curious to think about how this game would feel if the controls were snappier or faster. It might not even feel like Monster Hunter anymore, which may or may not be better.

One thing that might be disappointing to returning fans is that there are no new weapon types in Rise. It still features 14 base weapons, focusing on many playstyles like the slow Great Sword or the ranged Bowgun, with tons of options in between. But 14 weapon types is still plenty to choose from and when you consider that one weapon category has a slew of different options — all of which have their own styles and abilities — you likely won’t run out of options any time soon.

Monster Hunter Rise Streamlines the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity

MHR creatures

Above all else, Rise excels with its multiplayer component — much like the previous installments. Though in this entry, we’d argue that it does a lot more to entice you to play with others — especially with how easy it is to jump in and out of quests. We also appreciate the ease of communicating with others, which can done by selecting from a template of words and phrases, or typed out as you’d expect. You’d be surprised how effective sending a quick message during a middle of a hunt can be.

We only wish other aspects of the game were more streamlined, such as the weapon upgrade system. When visiting a blacksmith, it’s quite clear how to upgrade or craft armor, as it works like it does in many other RPGs. You have a list of armor sets that can be crafted based on monsters you’ve discovered and it’s pretty intuitive. However, the weapon crafting/upgrade system is still a mess, and hides behind an intimidating skill tree that is way too complex for its own good. We wish it mirrored the armor system, because it would be easier to navigate and tell how the upgrades work.

That idea of overcomplication has always been a crux of the Monster Hunter series and while Rise certainly does a lot to fix many of these issues, there are still many more that could be improved upon.

At the end of the day, Monster Hunter Rise is a superb entry in the series, but if you didn’t like World or any of the others, this one probably won’t change your mind. It’s a great starting point, as it streamlines many outdated features, gets you to the action faster, and makes it much simpler to play online with friends. Newcomers will likely benefit from having someone show them the ropes, and if you can get a grasp for the somewhat clunky controls and numerous complex menus, you’ll have a good time with Rise.

Monster Hunter Rise

$60.00

Streamlining the Series While Maintaining Its Complexity


9.0/10

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