Monster Hunter as a series is a titan of the video games industry. New releases come out for the game like clockwork for fans to excitedly explore its newest mechanics and locations. Each new release in the series provides great additions for fans to adapt to as they fight new and returning monsters, but this has historically led to the series being a bit impenetrable for newcomers. Luckily, Monster Hunter Rise manages to be the most accessible entry the series has seen, which is great due to how many platforms its new ports have arrived on.
For those who don’t know, the Monster Hunter series sees players joining a small fantasy community before they start helping out by slaying a range of colossal monsters in nearby areas. To do so, players can equip one of a range of weapons that each have their own mechanics, strengths, combos, and styles. After killing monsters players are able to harvest materials from them that are in turn used to craft and upgrade their armor and weapons to tackle more difficult monsters to get better materials and so on.
This creates a near-perfect gameplay loop of tackling monsters in intense fights to assemble the perfect build of armor. This loop is supported by the game’s fantastic action. Slaying monsters in Monster Hunter is all about precise movement, preparation, and intimate knowledge of one’s arsenal. And Monster Hunter Rise manages to stay true to the series’ strengths while helping newcomers find their place in it along the way.
The largest way that it does so is by providing in-depth training for each type of weapon as well as giving players more information when using some of the more complicated options. To keep things from getting too simplified, however, each weapon class also got a new aspect or ability in Monster Hunter Rise for players to learn and integrate into their playstyle, which is great for expanding the options players have at any given time.
Once players are comfortable with their weapon of choice and know how to take advantage of its strengths, combos, and abilities, fights come down to preparation and performance. Preparation requires players to stock their inventory with the items necessary for an upcoming fight by crafting items with materials gathered on hunts or equipping specific armor. For any given fight a player could need food to replenish Stamina, healing items, items to cure status effects given by the monster, ammunition for their weapon, a trap to capture them in, or bombs to stun them with. At higher level hunts, carefully preparing can be a task as demanding and intricate as the fight itself.
Then comes the player’s performance. Monster Hunter fights have a propensity for being some of the most cinematic and grueling in the medium. This is, in part, thanks to the impressive scale of the monsters face, alongside Monster Hunter Rise’s precise hit boxes, weighty animations, and graphical flair. A single fight sees a player pulling off exciting combos, flying through the world with their grapple-hook like wire bug, finding time to sharpen their weapon, and potentially even mounting other monsters and turning them into temporary tanks.
The cinematic flair of the fights is further enhanced by the games graphical improvements in moving from the Switch to the Xbox Series X/S. The tech improvements that are evident make the game a much smoother and more enjoyable experience, on top of also helping it look beautiful. Loading times are almost non-existent, the frame rate is butter smooth during hunts, and every model is crisp and vibrant. The only disappointment in the game’s presentation is how its pre-rendered cutscenes are still at a lower frame-rate, causing them to seem like a sudden stutter when viewed alongside the surrounding game.
Monster Hunter Rise can also be played with up to three other players for co-op hunts. When playing alone players progress through a storyline that is so forgettable I struggle to remember anything about it after finishing it on Xbox and Switch. In multiplayer, players can instead team up to tackle hunts with no strings attached. Playing with others makes Monster Hunter Rise a much more enjoyable experience thanks to the intricacies of planning for hunts and how different weapons can fulfill different roles in fights. However, the game is still plenty fun on one’s own and there is matchmaking available as well.
From the outside, it can be easy to look at the surface of Monster Hunter as a series and get the feeling that it doesn’t change or evolve significantly between its numerous releases. Monster Hunter Rise proves this wrong, however. It makes numerous improvements in how it onboards new players, adds layers to its core combat loop that are difficult to imagine going without now, and does so while staying true to what makes the series so special.
Monster Hunter Rise is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Monster Hunter Rise
It makes numerous improvements in how it onboards new players, adds layers to its core combat loop that are difficult to imagine going without now, and does so while staying true to what makes the series so special.
Arron is a writer and video editor for But Why Tho? that is passionate about all things gaming, whether it be on a screen or table. When he isn’t writing for the site he’s either playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching arthouse movies, or trying to find someone to convince that the shooter Brink was ahead of its time.
March 20, 2023