While its predecessor, “Monster Hunter World”, had you tracking your prey first, Monster Hunter Rise instead aims to take a more streamlined approach to hunting. Although this is good in many ways, it could take away from the actual hunting experience. With hunting being half of the game’s name, it’s a pretty important part. That said, the monsters look, feel and act better than ever. So if you’re seeking to jump right into the action, then you’re in luck. Gear up, grab your dango and get going—you’ve got some grinding to do.
Monster Hunter Rise is currently available on PC and Switch for $39,99
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It has been fifty years since the last rampage. The little hunting village—your village—of Kamura reveled in the peace…until now. The rampage has returned for reasons unknown. Something is stirring the hearts of the monsters and it’s up to you to find out what. As a fledgling hunter you’ll need to prove your mettle first: climb the ranks by defeating harder and more difficult monsters to show your worth. And only when you are truly prepared, will the fate of Kamura be put into your hands.
With such an interesting concept, it’s hard for the idea to fall flat. Unfortunately, I feel like that was indeed what happened to Monster Hunter Rise. As is the case with many foreign games being redubbed in English, the impact of the voice lines just isn’t there. This, I feel, causes the story to lose a lot of its weight. Another gripe would be that it’s spread somewhat thin over the duration of the game, which causes it to feel disconnected at times.
You never feel the village being in danger despite the rampage being a “massive threat”. There are rampage quests that have you defend the village against numerous monsters, but they don’t quite cut it.
While story has never been the focus of a Monster Hunter game—that would be their gameplay—it’s still sad to see a great premise underperform. The fact of the matter is that the story is only really there to set up the gameplay and while it’s not great on its own, it can still manage to invest you into the world despite that.
Ah, here we are: the reason behind the franchise’s success. From numerous complex and difficult-to-master weapons, to sending your companions away on missions…strap in, we have a lot to cover. It would not be a true Monster Hunter game if it weren’t overloaded with systems. I remember starting the game and feeling well past overwhelmed at the amount of things thrown at me. It’s only when you get quite a few hours under your belt where everything starts to make a bit of sense. The pieces begin to fall into place and your head can attempt to wrap itself around the complexity hidden within Monster Hunter Rise.
Progression — Ranking Up
Are you dreaming of having epic fights with monsters ten times your size? Well, keep dreaming. As with everything, you gotta start somewhere. In Monster Hunter Rise this would be “HR1” (Hunter Rank 1),or in other terms: a low-rank 1 star hunter. The bottom of the barrel, a nobody with no experience.
For now you’ll need to forget about big fights and massive monsters, because you’re just not there yet. That’s not to say the low ranks are inherently easy. In fact, for a beginner they’ll still provide a good challenge and get you to learn the basics in relative safety. But soon enough you’ll find yourself about to reach a new rank, bringing with it new monsters and a big jump in difficulty.
To rank up, you’ll need to complete a specific amount of unique hunts in each rank to prove yourself worthy of the next. At the end of each, you’ll need to fight a specific monster to progress into the next tier. These fights are typically quite difficult because of a lack of better gear and experience. You should make sure to prepare yourself for the challenge that lies ahead.
Ranks consist of two categories: low-rank and high-rank. HR1 through HR3 counts as low-rank, while HR4 and upwards is considered high-rank. While the two sport the same type of monsters, don’t be fooled: you will quickly learn the difference when a monster’s tail connects with your flank and your HP bar is sent flying along with you.
After reaching HR8, this ranking style will turn into more of an XP system with monsters giving you experience points towards the next rank. While there are milestones that unlock new and difficult monsters, this removes any importance that your rank held prior.
Preparation For The Hunt — Know Thy Enemy
Without preparing first, you may as well be running in blindfolded. Preparation is half the hunt and will save you a considerable amount of time and effort. You’ve got a few checkboxes to tick before you can set out.
Hunting a new monster is a tricky thing—you never quite know what you can expect. But often it’s safe to assume that, for example, a monster with the title of “Emperor of Flame” would make use of fire. With this knowledge you can prepare accordingly to stand the best chance: do the most and take the least amount of damage possible. You can accomplish this in a few ways, all of which are important.
This might sound straightforward, but you want to put on the strongest gear you have. However, consider that every item also has elemental resistances that come into play. Every item is strong against specific elements, and weak against others—even possibly lowering your resistances into the negative. Weapons work similarly in that monsters have their own strengths and weaknesses to elements. Trying to use lightning against a lightning monster will not do much more than tickle them and you’ll be better off picking another option.
The concept of crafting weapons and armor from beasts you fell is outright sick. Unfortunately a lot of that greatness is taken away upon trying to navigate the weapon tree in the first place. While the armor crafting is a bit easier to keep track of, it’s still a mess at best. I do understand the reasoning behind it—with it being a PC port from Switch—but these menus just do not work on PC.
It gets the job done, even though the system is clunky and messy. Wearing your newly crafted pieces like epic trophies certainly makes it feel a lot more rewarding to navigate their menus. Plus they just look cool.
You can’t always be at the top of your game. Everyone has off days and hunters are no exceptions. But who’ll be there to catch you when you’re about to fall against a tough enemy? Potions. You had best be sure to stock up on these little lifesavers before every hunt, or you’ll live—or rather, won’t—to regret it.
But potions are far from the only consumable you have at your disposal. For instance, traps: to immobilize the monster and allow you to freely show them the error of their existence. There are also flasks to boost damage/resistances, or to reduce your stamina consumption (the lifeblood of certain weapons). You also have powders with these effects to assist you, as well as your team.
There’s an item for every situation, though it’s up to you to consider what to take with you on the hunt. Your pouch can only house so many items, after all. Speaking of the pouch, however, it’s definitely not the easiest thing to navigate in the middle of a heated exchange. Good thing you can set up a shortcut wheel for all of your general needs, but have fun scrolling for that one item not on there while a monster is trying to turn you into supper.
Everyone loves dango. If you don’t, you better start pretending because they are very much necessary. Eating them before every hunt will fill your belly, as well as your HP and stamina bars. As if this weren’t enough incentive, you get to receive not one, not two, but three buffs just for eating them. You also get to choose these buffs from a fairly decent list of different ones, ranging from elemental resistances, all the way to preventing you from being knocked to your butt.
They’re cool to use and it makes you feel like you’re actually preparing for the upcoming battle in some way. But I cannot stomach another dango if I have to sit through (or skip through) their animation one more damn time.
Even More Prep
Finally, the action you’ve been waiting for is here—and it’s glorious!…mostly. First you’ll probably want to run around the entire map atop your trusty palamute collecting birds. Not any birds, mind you, but spirit birds. These little buddies give some extra spring to your step by means of adding additional HP; stamina; attack and defense. They’re all colored differently so you’ll know exactly which is which. While they’re not necessary, it’ll never hurt to pick some up along the way to your target. It can get annoying if you’re like me and feel like you need to max their buffs out first though.
Your Vast Arsenal
There are a lot of options to choose from. Every weapon is unique and has a lot of depth. But most importantly, no matter which you brought with you, they all feel great to use. Regardless of what you choose, you’re destined to have a blast after learning how it works (at least at a basic level). The animations are fantastic and the big hits feel impactful. There’s nothing quite like getting off one of those big hits and sending the monster’s tail flying across the battlefield.
Whether you want to be up and personal, or have a bit of distance between you and danger, Monster Hunter Rise has got you covered. Then there are also quick weapons and bulky weapons. Or blade weapons and blunt weapons…my point is, there is something for everyone. You can even jump around and attack with a pet insect courtesy of the “Insect Glaive”.
Apart from their natural difficulty, weapons also come packed with a few unlockable “switch-skills” that allow you to swap around some skills with others, depending on your playstyle and needs. I feel like this is a great addition and does not feel cumbersome to use at all.
After all of the preparation, the time has finally come. There’s only one thing standing between you and that shiny new weapon you’ve been eyeing…a big, fearsome, walking pile of materials. I said it at the start, and I’ll say it again: Monster Hunter Rise truly shines in its gameplay and its combat is at the center of that. For all of their bloated systems, monsters just feel right. From their attacks and animations, to their behaviors and patterns…they feel alive. These monsters are fighting to survive just as much as you are fighting to kill them. They will do whatever they can to keep their shiny hides on their bodies, even running away at times. But that’s not to say they won’t try and send you back to camp first—be very wary of them when they’re enraged and consider weathering the storm until they tire themselves out.
The game does an amazing job of making every monster feel like its own being. They all have different personalities. While their attacks do repeat themselves, there’s enough variety in their patterns to not really pay much attention to it. Depending on your gear, skill and experience, these fights can drag on for quite a good while. By the end you both might just very well be on your last legs—out of potions and just one blow away from giving in—but the monster is tired. You see your opportunity and go in for the kill. It winds up its next attack, but by the skin of your teeth you’re able to carve out a triumph over the beast and send it toppling down to the ground.
After a long and hard-fought battle, coming out on top feels incredible and rewarding.
Reaping The Rewards
What would a hunt be without your just reward? Before you travel back to Kamura, remember to carve your kill like a piñata stocked full of goodies first—because it very much is. And don’t forget the tail you sent flying earlier either! All that’s left is to pray that RNG blessed you today and that the monster dropped the right materials, lest you find yourself right there again very soon. But hey, at least the grind is part of the fun.
Graphics & Sound
Monster Hunter Rise received a new HD coat of paint for its textures with the PC port. Despite this, the game never really wows with its graphics but it’s fine for what it is. It’s not groundbreaking, nor is it bad at all.
The sound for the most part is great. The music is amazing and the ambience does an amazing job of immersing you into the maps and settings. Every monster sounds unique and so does every weapon (I’m looking at you, hunting horn). These are all natural parts of the game, but my one big gripe is the English voice acting for the story. It just does not cut it by any standards. Voice lines by themselves are fine enough, but there is just something so very off with the cutscenes.