Monster Hunter is a legendary franchise, returning to the Nintendo Switch with Rise, the first new portable installment since the 3DS. It looks to build on the best bits of World while maintaining the core gameplay loop. As a series, MH is incredibly important to video games. You sure wouldn’t have Dark Souls without it. So, does Rise continue its legendary lineage? Well, my first impressions from the Monster Hunter Rise demo seem to suggest that, yes, it definitely does.
I got my first impressions for Monster Hunter Rise in the demo, where you get two proper missions and two tutorial missions. The tutorial missions definitely show you how to play, but it doesn’t exactly hold your hand. The impenetrability of Monster Hunter is still present. The two proper missions are excellent. There is an “easy” one and an “intermediate” one. The easy one took me one try, but the intermediate one took me four, so that goes to show how bad I am at this game. You can try these two missions up to thirty times total, so don’t be afraid to fail.
The first, most obvious thing to say is that this is still definitely Monster Hunter. This is great news. I chose my tried and tested Insect Glaive for flying around the map and landing big falling blows on the beautifully animated monsters. It feels more like World than Generations Ultimate — both of which I put hundreds of hours into — but it’s only a minor difference. The character also feels less heavy than usual. This is in no small part to the new Wirebug, which lets you “fwip” like Spider-man through the sky. It’s the most fluid this series has ever felt.
The new Wirebug takes some getting used to. I had more than a handful of big errors as you can see below. Once you are used to it, however, it allows you an easy escape in a pinch and adds astonishing verticality to the map. Climbing the terrain in Monster Hunter has never really been an option — you’d normally have to stick to the flat ground or big jumps of cliffs — but now you can go almost anywhere. The map is also filled with Endemic Life which can assist you in your game, even in the most hidden corners that take some climbing to get to.
— ben (@bwtjohnson) January 8, 2021
There is more of a focus on the Endemic Life now too, with different creatures to power-up your avatar. Like World, harvesting materials is much more fluid. As you sprint around on your Palamute, grabbing herbs and popping vigorwasps is slick and easy. This Palamute, your new dog companion, makes traversal even easier as well. It adds speed while not draining your stamina, and also allows you to heal or even sharpen your weapon while on the move. All this just makes the act of slaying these big monsters a whole lot easier.
The showiest addition is the new Wyvern Riding feature. This allows you to wrap Wirebug strings around monsters and control them like a puppet. Once aboard you have a limited time to either attack other monsters or drive your big beast into walls to damage them. It’s all a bit hilarious, and an interesting evolution of the mounting abilities in previous games. All in all, I like it. But I don’t yet fully understand how to get a monster to a point where they’re controllable. Maybe I’m just an idiot, who knows (I am), but hopefully it’s a bit clearer in the final game.
Finally, you ought to know that this game looks amazing. The world itself looks like a pared-down version of World, while the monsters look just as good. Fighting the Mizutsune frequently took my breath away. The monster just looked so darn real. And while it all looks this good it also performs well. Sure, it’s just a demo, so they will have given us the best bits they could, but it’s all got me itching for more.
I think the main takeaway from my first few hours with Monster Hunter Rise is that this is exactly what I want. While I loved World and the additions it made, I have always played Monster Hunter on the go, on a handheld, grinding away for hours on end while in front of the TV or something. My dream, when playing World, was to have this experience in a portable package. That’s exactly what this seems to be.