The Monster Hunter series has been around for a while but really saw its biggest popularity peak back in 2018 with Monster Hunter World – a game that took pretty much everything that made the series work and threw it all into a fantastic open-world game with the most AAA-sheen the series has ever had. That game still arguably holds the crown as the peak of the series on a technical level, but conceptually, Monster Hunter Rise’s return to a mission-based format is more reminiscent of the older games but with its addicting combat and RPG mechanics intact – plus some neat ideas of its own – still works great. So much so, that I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues giving many other games in the action RPG space some stiff competition throughout 2022.
At this point, the Monster Hunter franchise is one of gaming’s most well-oiled machines. Fans know what they want from the series and Capcom knows how to give it to them. Riding high on the success of the franchises’ most successful game from a couple of years ago, it makes sense to bring out a new entry of the series that not only reminds fans why they love it, but also makes no bones about what it is, and gets right into it with little introduction. Compared to other Monster Hunter games, Rise doesn’t spend a whole lot of time nibbling around the edges of its core experience. After a comparatively short period of introductions, tutorials, and explanations you’ll be right in there with your weapon of choice slaying monsters, gathering resources, and forging new weapons so you can slay more monsters.
"The Monster Hunter gameplay cycle is a markedly simple one, and Rise perhaps exhibits the purest form of it that the series has seen in a long time."
The Monster Hunter gameplay cycle is a markedly simple one, and Rise perhaps exhibits the purest form of it that the series has seen in a long time. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of peripheral things to devote your attention to, though. Plenty of characters hanging around Kamura Village will always have something to say – and often something for you to do – and will keep you as distracted as you’d like to be at any given time. Whether it’s agreeing to urgent quests that pop up throughout the journey, running random errands for side characters, or just exploring the multitude of ways to change up you and your buddy’s armor and weapons – there’s just about always something to do outside of the main quests. While the freedom that Monster Hunter World offered has been scaled back in favor of a more compartmentalized structure, make no mistake about the sheer amount of content here. If you have ever found yourself enjoying the basics of a Monster Hunter game, you have zero reason to think you won’t enjoy Rise.
Monster Hunter Rise plays it pretty safe with its combat, which is to say it hasn’t done much to change what isn’t broken. The moment-to-moment hacking, slashing and bludgeoning is reliably chunky and satisfying despite being a tad sluggish for my taste. Cancelling out of certain things isn’t as liberally allowed as I would prefer, and some of the more elaborate attack animations lead to long stretches of time attacking thin air if you’ve made even the slightest miscalculation or been faked out by a new monster that you haven’t totally mastered yet.
Still, this is something that experienced monster hunters should be well-prepared for, and it certainly makes you all the more calculative in your approach. It also makes nailing a series of direct hits on your target infinitely more satisfying than it would be in a more forgiving game. The arsenal of weapons and armor for you and your compadres doesn’t feel quite as robust as other RPG heavy hitters of today, but it’s certainly enough to spend a solid 20 to 30 hours messing around with before seeing the entirety of it. Same goes for the monster variety. Given that so much of the fun of a Monster Hunter game is discovering new types for the first time, I won’t spoil too much about the monsters here, but suffice it to say I think just about everyone from hardened Monster Hunter veterans to newcomers will be satisfied with the smorgasbord of monsters in this one. Other mainstays in the series like online co-op also return here, too.
"Given that so much of the fun of a Monster Hunter game is discovering new types for the first time, I won’t spoil too much about the monsters here, but suffice it to say I think just about everyone from hardened Monster Hunter veterans to newcomers will be satisfied with the smorgasbord of monsters in this one."
Monster Hunter Rise isn’t just a jog down memory lane though. It also wisely brings in a few new ideas to make this game stand out from its predecessors and not just feel like a lateral move for the series. Most notably, a canine companion that lets you ride through levels at greater speed, wire bugs that let you sling yourself swaths of horizontal and vertical terrain, and a rampage mode that provides a fun defense-based distraction. Thankfully, none of these things are huge enough to make Rise feel like something other than a Monster Hunter game, but are just fundamental enough to give owners of previous games good reason to not pass this one up. They make Rise a distinctly different flavor of a familiar experience. The emphasis on vertical exploration in particular feels like the most natural evolution of them all and often leads to discoveries and techniques that make Rise’s levels feel much fuller than they otherwise would.
I don’t have much in the way of complaints with how well the game runs. I had no problem at all getting the game to run just fine on my rig despite not having the latest and greatest hardware, and I suppose much of that is thanks to the fact that the game was so clearly originally designed with the nearly five-year-old Switch hardware in mind. That said you do have plenty to mess with here if you really want to squeeze every last drop out of it on PC. The frame rate cap can be set as high as 240 or just unlimited. Dynamic shadows, equipment shadows, and processing reduction via model swapping can all be toggled on and off. You also have other options like foliage sway motion blur and lens distortion that don’t have sliders but can be turned on and off. You also have shadow quality and anti-aliasing options, so it’s not a bad list of variables considering where the game comes from. No matter what you do though, it’s not going to look as good as Monster Hunter World. Still, generally, from what I can tell this is an upgrade from the Switch version, albeit a modest one. It’s not a bad looking game, but it would have been nice to see a heftier upgrade to bring the visuals closer to that of World. As it is, I can see how it was impressive on an aging handheld device, but outside of that context, Rise’s visuals aren’t particularly noteworthy one way or the other.
The audio in Monster Hunter Rise is another thing that reminds me more of the older games. Much of the dialogue is either partially voiced or not voiced at all, and the voice acting that is there is decidedly hokey. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it’s something to be aware of if you were expecting a step up from the previous game in the series. On top of that the soundtrack is a bit limited, with only a small handful of tracks that repeat often and tend to blend together after only a few hours. The tracks sound full and support the moments they accompany well, but a tad more variety would have gone a long way for me.
"Monster Hunter Rise manages to follow up the series’ biggest game with an entry that feels worthy of that despite it being a smaller scale effort on the whole."
Monster Hunter Rise accomplishes a lot of things. It manages to follow up the series’ biggest game with an entry that feels worthy of that despite it being a smaller scale effort on the whole. It also manages to bring the fundamentals of a good Monster Hunter game with it while sprinkling in just enough new ideas to keep it from feeling like “just another Monster Hunter game”. It speeds up exploration and traversal, but also cuts back on fluff in a way that makes it feel like a step up even though it’s mostly made up of predictable Monster Hunter fare. It might not expand the broad appeal of the franchise like 2018’s Monster Hunter World did, but it should at the very least keep the regulars’ appetites satiated until the franchise’s next entry.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Excellent combat; Trademark deep combat customization intact; Graphics options.
Music is a bit too limited.