Monster Hunter Rise Review-in-Progress
Monster Hunter is a terrible franchise. Monster Hunter is boring. Monster Hunter lacks depth and creativity. Monster Hunter is a button masher. Anytime I’ve seen a Monster Hunter game hit the market, these are basically the 4 stereotypical responses I go to in order to somehow justify why I don’t want the game. And so, until March 26th, 2021, I had never played a single game in the franchise. I haven’t even played a demo before the Monster Hunter Rise demo. Then, Nintendo came knocking on my door with an opportunity to review Monster Hunter Rise, and since I had an excellent group of writers around me, and there was so much hype for this game, I accepted the code gladly, promised timely coverage, and sent out a mass DM to our group.
You can read Daniel’s Monster Hunter Rise Demo impressions here!
Crickets. While some writers (understandably) noted their disinterest in the franchise, they said they would cover it if necessary. So I let it sit for a few ours, hoping one writer would jump at the opportunity to review Monster Hunter Rise. Crickets. So, with my fledging YouTube channel slowly growing to over 2000 subscribers, I decided I would bite the bullet, play on stream, and do the review myself. And I’m so glad I made that decision.
Monster Hunter Rise has been billed by many outlets who had early access to the game as the most accessible title in the franchise, which made my journey into the wilderness more enticing. And through a variety of excellent tutorials – which you need to read! – getting into my first few trips in Monster Hunter was accessible, easy, and really enjoyable. I quickly learned a few things.
Monster Hunter isn’t a terrible franchise. Monster Hunter isn’t boring. Monster Hunter doesn’t lack depth and creativity. Monster Hunter isn’t a button masher. Who would have thought, right?
While accessible, Rise is still a deep game in terms of buffs, combat, and more. You’ll have plenty of different crafting recipes to learn, understand what food you should eat before heading out, knowing which combo will produce the best results, and which weapons work the best for you. Then you need to learn about the monsters you are fighting, the attacks they have, how they behave, and so much more. Sprinkle in the need to sharpen your weapons frequently, watch your health and stamina closely, and attempt not to die a quick and horrible death become top priorities.
While playing alone is fun, playing with friends is even better! During my second attempt at playing the game over the weekend, I connected with one of my watchers / fans to play some multiplayer, and the fun level ratcheted up another degree. Alone is great, with others is fantastic. Aleksndrea was a Monster Hunter veteran, and was the best person to guide me through a few more difficult monster hunts, but held my own with the little knowledge I had, and was a integral part of our team successes. And getting into online games – whether with friends via password protected lobbies, or with random folks – is easy and quick. And it’s very much a hop-in, hop-out sort of online situation.
All of this matters very little, though, if the game doesn’t run well. Thankfully, Monster Hunter Rise is one of the more beautiful, albeit demanding, games on the Nintendo Switch, and I’m happy to report the games performance is top notch. I had a few instances of frame rate hiccups when the screen became filled with various monsters and multiple online friends, but overall, it was a fairly smooth experience. When playing alone, I had few-to-no issues with framerate. There are more instances of environmental pop-in than I would like, but when you realize it’s running on the Nintendo Switch, this issue can be overlooked.
What I’ve quickly understood while playing Monster Hunter Rise is that this is the most accessible game in the franchise, doing a lot to get you comfortable with the games many mechanics will streamlining other elements of the game. That isn’t to say the game lacks depth, however. You have your mounts you can have, allies to help you in fights that can be hired, and special meals called Dango that will provide you up to 3 buffs per fight, depending on what you eat. Your favourite combination of three can also be saved for quickly accessing later when having meals, which is a great touch. While the number of Dango available is mind boggling, finding good combinations of three is key to beating more difficult monsters.
And that’s where I want this review to finally land. While accessible and easy to get started in, Monster Hunter Rise is still a game that will take a fair amount of skill to beat. While teaming up with a few friends (or random strangers) online will allow you hide your deficiencies amongst the group, taking on some of these monsters solo will definitely test your skills. While early fights are incredibly easy to beat, the deeper you get into the game, the more difficult the monsters become.
But even in death, Monster Hunter Rise is surprisingly forgiving, dumping you back at your camp and allowing you to move out on the hunt once again. And with the breathtaking environments to explore, and the vast number of monsters to fight – which this time are much more varied, as opposed to the somewhat frequent use of Wayverns in past games – there is never a shortage of things to do and discover in Monster Hunter Rise. Whether with friends or on your own, there are dozens of hours of fun to be had here, and the games downsides are small enough that even the most picky Nintendo fans will find an enjoyable experience here. And for long-time fans, it’s the quality of life improvements that might make going back to past experiences rather difficult.
While many things have been streamlined here, the most brilliant new aspect of Monster Hunter Rise is the ability to traverse the world using the Wire Bug, a rechargeable hook-shot type item that hooks onto absolutely nothing, but propels you through the air and around the map with ease. This keeps your focus on monster slaying as opposed to world traversal, which in my opinion is a huge plus!
It’s hard to not recommend Monster Hunter, regardless of how familiar – or unfamiliar – you are with the franchise. As a brand new player, even a few weeks on, I cannot put this title down. It is one I’ll come back to time and time again.