Monster Hunter Rise was announced a while back during Monster Hunter World’s run, a sign that more was to come but for older, classic fans. Leading up to the release, I was both excited and nervous. While I enjoyed World, I saw what they had changed and the differences between the classic and new style. There was a part of me hoping they would just take what was good in World and give us classic Monster Hunter back, like Generations but with World graphics. Playing the game for about an hour, I kept my feelings to myself and just held my breath, waiting for the ball to drop and the game to be bad. It didn’t hit me until three quests or so in when my partner said that the game is amazing and he didn't know how he would go to work the next day. I probably would’ve made this conclusion myself, but hearing him genuinely enjoy the game, being a classic fan and the reason I play, I knew it wasn’t going to turn terrible and unplayable. Monster Hunter Rise is what it is, it’s Monster Hunter - new and shiny, but still has it’s classic charm. It is unique and hard, whilst still being enjoyable. Capcom had a job and they delivered it with Rise, being faithful to the fans while also giving us what we wanted.

The open world feeling while traveling on palamute or flying on the wirebug is honestly amazing. Previously, Monster Hunter had a large map but it was divided into arenas, where each zone was numbered and had a loading screen between them. It was pretty funny to have a monster stuck between two zones and you being hit into a loading screen, but that is in the past. There were limitations to the software, which was understandable since they were on handhelds, but when moving from that to the last gen consoles, those limitations became non-existent. In both a private offline game or in an online multiplayer game, loading feels like it doesn’t exist; usually taking under a minute and with no real lag or delay. I only really saw lag when I was downloading something in the background. Having three large monsters on the map at all times, no loading zones and wildlife about, really makes you feel like you're in different environments where these monsters live. Though knowing this, I went into both the demo and actual version of Monster Hunter Rise thinking there would be some kind of loading screen or reduced quality due to the hardware in the Nintendo Switch being lower end compared to PCs and consoles. It’s not Breath of The Wild or Genshin Impact when it comes to looks. But, with the game running on Capcom’s RE engine, it looks and runs really well, only being slightly toned down in quality to run well on the Switch. It’s like what you had in Monster Hunter World but on Switch, with more to come and really feeling like the older games with welcoming changes.

Let's talk about your fighting companions! While palicos feel the same and as great as ever like they originally did, palamutes feel like they are missing something. To bluntly put it, palamutes are probably the most helpful when travelling and that’s it. Though they have skills and equipment you can get and level up, I find myself preferring the palicos still. The palicos still have their different support types, so you have that back-up which is something I find more desirable over just travelling fast. Palicos can be healers, trap specialists, gatherers, bombers or fighters; and as long as you play solo, you can have two equiped, which I favor.

Palicos and Palamutes setting out
Preparing your team for meowcenaries!

Personally, it’s nice because palicos (and palmutes) are an important part to your team, they are your partners and you want them to be with you no matter what. In classic Monster Hunter, palicos were so important because they are handy in their respect support type, you level them and they could be the reason you don’t faint to a Raithan’s tail hit or a Pleisoth stun. Though, from my partner’s perspective, palamutes are best used for traveling fast, gathering quests since you can stay mounted while collecting materials, and adding height to a jump attack after dismounting. I could see them working on this in future games, since they won’t remove the ability to have dogs as companions. However, I think they should have an additional bonus other than being only “mounts”. I can see them being either some sort of tank or assassin like-class, specializing in speed or distracting, giving another reason to choose them over palicos.

I’m glad quests are divided not only by types but by having both a multiplayer and a solo narrative, while also keeping the whole village accessible online. It’s a feature classic Monster Hunter had, having you able to increase your Hunter Rank, hunt monsters and unlock things in your hub areas both online and solo. For Rise to include the whole village makes the game feel more fleshed out and inclusive to everyone playing, giving a little more immersion to you and your friends. This also makes the game feel like you're always doing something and rewards you for doing so, taking away the annoying chore World had where you needed to see the cutscene to join the quest since they featured your character. And having short poems before a new monster fits the aesthetic of the game nicely.

The new mission type called “Rampages'' aren't totally new to classic Monster Hunter. Siege quests have been in the games before, usually appearing for one or two monsters. Rise, however, decided to take this and make these more like tower-defence, where you need to defend the village against a parade of monsters. To simplify it, monsters have always been attracted to the village and it's your turn to help. Rampage quests are timed and have little side-quests included to help you increase rewards, along with three types of attackers you need to worry about. There’s stalkers, gate crashers and targeters. Stalkers will pursue a hunter and attack them, destroying any installments you have. It's the same with targeters, but usually keeping a distance while doing so (mostly aerial monsters). And lastly, gate crashers, who will b-line to the gate and try to destroy it, resulting in a fail if unattended to. Optionally, there will be an Apex monster you need to defend the gate from, a hyped-up monster that will do high amounts of damage that will either kill you in two hits or the gate if not distracted. Adding a new quest type that isn’t limited in time or monsters is just a nice chance of pace and very fun to do. They reward multiple monster parts and defender tickets that can amp up your weapons to have additional efforts or buffs like jewelry and decorations. It’s new to see them experiment with something that’s not just a single quest, these aren’t just easy set-up defenses and they aren’t hair-pulling hard either.

Mizutsune fight
Mizutsune, the calm before the storm

The monsters, either returning or new, are amazing. Older monsters get a shiny new coat of paint and either new animations, interactives and/or moves. For example, Mizutsune, the water-fox levitation is a returning monster from Monster Hunter Generations, and a personal favorite. This aggressive male monster is very swift and elegant, using a water beam and bubbles to fight. It can add ‘bubble blight’ to itself and the hunters, making everything slippery. Bubbles are slow and usually in singles or threes. The slim beam is fast and accurate, usually direct or in a large swipe around itself and will kill you if you are not paying attention. In Rise, the bouncing fox seems fast at all times, applying the’ bubble blight’ more often and it now has a bubble shield that spins around it and it spits in hunter’s way, applying water blight or reduced stamina.

When actually looking at the list of current monsters, I haven’t seen around three out of the nine new monsters. This is a little upsetting, if I had to be blunt. Something that made me fall in love with this series was that each monster was different and unique. A glorified way I think of the series is a “dragons/wyverns and dinosaur boss rush-hack and slash type of game with equipment and cats" with some new creature every quest. With 35 large monsters in total and only nine being new, this is really disappointing. Though, World was a new build of the game on consoles, having no foundation like previous games in the series. It contained 36 large monsters and 22 new creatures in the base game. Though there will be updates coming, at least two we know about, I thought there would be more new monsters to surprise me and make me excited. Having nine, two being elder dragons and the other seven being normal monsters we’ve seen in the demo and trailers, is missing the same charm that’s been missing in the newest installments of games like Smash Bros. and Pokemon. That mystery of something new, a child-like wonder of “what’s this?” is just a feature that’s great because it puts you on edge and makes you cautious. With leakers and hackers, I can understand why companies have been doing this more often, telling the public everything they have before someone on Twitter or Reddit can. But I want that wonder, like opening a new card pack or something to just get my brain thinking. Guessing with last year being on the harder end of things and possibly with the data breach, Capcom took a hit on the game (but that’s just assuming). Hopefully, with the tease of the update at the end of the month, we get more new monsters and not just variations of the monsters we currently have. 

Magnamalo
First encounter with Magnamalo!

The new monsters are very cool and promising for the future, especially with Magnamalo, Rise’s flagship monster. Without spoiling the reason of his presence in the story, the fanged wyvern is monstrous and the first actual challenge that gave many other player issues facing him so early in the game, myself included. I don’t know if Capcom was thinking you would be playing solo before multiplayer so you would be more set, but that wasn’t the case. The majority of people are doing the gathering hub quests, meaning you face Magnamalo in your second urgent quest, which is fun but really not recommended. I was stuck on him for about five or so tries, with having only two hunters and two palicos on said hunt. After a day of grinding a stronger set, we captured him the moment we could because we only had one more life and we didn’t want him to be enraged again. 

The other two monsters I thought were amazing were Goss Harag and Somnacanth. Goss Harag being a giant bear-like creature similar to an abominable snowman that can create ice swords on its arms, and Somnacanth being a serpent that gets mistaken for a mermaid that swims on its back using it’s fins and puts hunters and monsters to sleep using gas. Seeing the different creatures that have something so different about them and then they surprise you, like Harag’s sword attack, is just something I congratulate the series for doing because it makes the monsters just feel that more alive and fleshed out from each other, instead of them all just feeling like a big monster.

To roughly sum up the worst parts of this game: There’s not enough monsters to see variety and the story is very loose throughout everything. I think it would be nice to see more new monsters since the nine we got are amazing, I just want to see more of what they have in store. For the story, I think it’s nice to have something as a reason for us to be hunting, but since it’s left unfinished, it makes you feel unsatisfied, and not in a way most games are nowadays. Games usually have the main plot (roughly) wrapped and have a sub-plot in later updates, but since the game technically isn’t finished, we are cheated out of a conclusion as of right now. 

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Fellow Hunter, Rose, with her cahoot.

For the best parts of the game is that Monster Hunter Rise is a step in the right direction for the series, for both the classic and new games. Between World and Generations, Monster Hunter's next game needed to feel new and welcoming while pleasing old fans and keeping tradition. The Pros overshine the cons in my opinion. The game looks fantastic for the Switch without pushing it too hard (small monsters will drop frames of animation in the distance but who cares), monsters interact with other monsters and the environment so naturally. Rampages mean a new quest type and people finally have dogs in the series. The game also feels very open world while still sticking to a mapped location. Wirebugs give hunters the ability to travel and climb everything, collectables are in every corner because of this and there’s even a temple you can go to in the Flooded Forest! I’ve gotten into well over 50 hours after getting it the Sunday following the release and I’ve gotten my money’s worth within five hours. 

The game, in the eye’s of Capcom and fans, had to top Monster Hunter World and really ‘wow’ people. For classic fans and World fans the game is fun and not a chore, while giving the challenge classic is known for. Drops are low, making you have to hunt several times to get everything. Monsters hit hard and the movement feels smooth and nice. I’ve seen people saying they are struggling or that the game is hard and this is a good thing. Since these games are grindy and difficult to challenge you as a hunter, if you keep dying, you need to step back and think about it; either change your strategy and playstyle, or upgrade your armor. World was quite easy for me but seems chaotic at times, usually meaning you’re going too fast or maybe increasing your defense by one. With Rise, you have to do that on top of looking for weakness, getting more armor spheres and knowing a monster’s patterns. Classic Monster Hunters are familiar with the grind, so they are happy that the game isn’t toned down for World fans. 

Monster Hunter Rise is a great game and I can’t wait to see it go forward with everything it’s doing currently. It’s a joy to play the game and I love seeing more Monster Hunter. The fact the game is the classic style is also nice and it's good to see that Capcom is making games for both old and new fans. I recommend Rise to everyone, especially people that like grindy gameplay and want a challenge. Either playing it by yourself or with friends, the game has everything for everyone. I think you should wait for the update if you're not too sure, but if you have a friend or a group then go for it. The game is apparently coming to PC early next year, if you don’t want to buy a Switch. I think that the fact this instalment isn’t finished is the ultimate flaw here and I do hope Capcom doesn't do this going forward with any other game. Monster Hunter is a game about you hunting giant creatures to use their materials to hunt other, harder monsters and getting paid to do so. Both doing it by yourself or with a team, the game is a blast and will make you sink a lot of time doing so but you're enjoying it the whole time. Since my hunting partner is the one who got me interested in this series so much, being a die-hard classic fan, I think it’s fitting that the next new game in the series is a classic-style game that is amazing at what it’s trying to do, while still adding new elements that makes everything new and different. 

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Finishing the Rathian hunt in style.

Fun Fact: the best thing about the game is that you can still see yourself in the monster after a hunt. If you can move your camera, you can chill inside like it’s your new home. It’s really weird but it’s a known fact that if it’s removed, people will riot.