What is Monster Hunter Rise?
Why, the next entry in the superlative large-monster-bashing series Monster Hunter of course, and the first one on a portable device since Generations Ultimate in 2017. It’s a series we quite like – back in the day, we did a podcast series on it.
Featuring a whole array of wild new abilities, including a Clutch Claw-esque bug that can grapple on thin air, rideable dog companions and the ability to mount monsters and make them fight one another, it looks like the maddest game yet.
Is Rise a sequel to 2018’s Monster Hunter World?
No, but more of a spiritual successor. Monster Hunter has split into two genealogies. World was the first Monster Hunter in ages to aim itself squarely at home consoles rather than portables, and reinvented the series’ formula. Rise was being developed concurrently, and traces its lineage back to the portable versions (after all, it shares a director, and it’s a Switch game), but has picked up a huge amount of World‘s DNA. Endemic life, more in-depth gathering, exploration and sliding about are in.
What’s the release date for Monster Hunter Rise? And for what platform(s)?
Rise is releasing worldwide on the 26th of March, all at the same time. Rise is only releasing on the Nintendo Switch, unlike Monster Hunter World, which released on all the consoles except Nintendo’s convertible handheld.
If that isn’t soon enough, you’re an enthusiast who wants to try the new bits, or you just want to try before you buy, take heart. There’s a free demo on the Switch store: one that got so many downloads, in fact, that it messed up the store for a while. And that’s why we’re here – moving swiftly on…
Monster Hunter Rise Nintendo Switch demo impressions
Gav: I think Rise will feel instantly familiar for anyone who’s played either of the other games, with the exception of the slightly nutty new mechanics, which I’ll discuss in a bit. As I said earlier, it’s got a bit of a middle-ground vibe to it, with the movement mechanics and item consumption (you’re able to move while drinking, and many of them heal rapidly over time rather than instantly) firmly on the side of World, and much of the UI and general ‘feel’ falling into the Generations-type handheld camp.
Nevi: For me, this meant that playing the demo felt oddly nostalgic. After the smoothing out of World, see the UI in Rise made me remember all the good times I had with the 3DS games. Not that I didn’t love World, but it didn’t always give you that raw Monster Hunter experience.
Gav: One of the reasons World was so appealing to new players is because of the extra fluidity and mobility in the game (even if it had some trade-offs). The ‘classic’ Monster Hunter formula has significant initial ‘clunk’ to it before you manage to master the controls. Rise and World let you feel more immediately in control. When you get swiped to death while stuck chugging a Mega Potion in the older games (and flexing afterwards), the answer to ‘how do I avoid that?’ was a few steps ago: don’t stand there, don’t drink at this part of the attack pattern, etc. Now the decision is friendlier – you can just sprint, roll or dive out of the way, and the punishment for poorly-timed healing is losing the heal over time.
Nevi: This lends an extreme sense of danger to the monster that was often lacking in World. While that game nailed the spectacle and fantastical elements of the monsters, older games were excellent at making you feel miniscule by comparison. And it looks like Rise has managed to combine the best elements of both into one game.
Gav: There isn’t much in the way of changes to the ‘core’ game, with a few exceptions. The weapons are unchanged except from the new Silkbind attacks, which tie in to the game’s new take on the mounting mechanic introduced in Monster Hunter 4. These are two weapon-specific attacks with an array of properties that increase the invisible mounting gauge. Some of these seem more useful than others (I really struggled to hit anything with the Charge Blade’s, er, charge move), but they’re all interesting and add an extra layer to an extended creature-biffing session. You get a dog companion, the Palamute, who you can ride around towards enemies.
Nevi: Monster Hunter Rise is adding a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘fighting like cats and dogs’, since your cat friends can play the drums and your dog has a sword in its mouth.
Monster Hunter: Rise – Mounting an effort
Gav: The change to the mount mechanics I’m a little more indifferent on. While in previous games you basically jumped at the monster until it triggered a mounting minigame, in this one the rules feel a bit more opaque. You perform Silkbind and aerial attacks, get monsters to whack one another, or use an environmental Puppet Spider until the monster is stunned and ready to ride.
Gav: Against the Mizutsune, Rise‘s slippery bullet-hell soap dragon, I spent what felt like all fight trying to get this to trigger, and it didn’t happen at all. That is until a Great Izuchi happened to wander by, at which point it triggered instantly. Whether this was pure coincidence I don’t know, but it seems to me like the system wants you to specifically mount monsters when there are others nearby for them to fight. If this is the case, it’s a bit of a downgrade.
Gav: This is sort of counterbalanced by the new mechanics, however. It’s hard to get a grip on the vastness of mobility that the Wirebug offers just in the demo, but I’m seriously looking forward to zipping about – recovering from knockdowns with it is really cool, offering an interactive element where there wasn’t one before.
Exploration and experience
Gav: One of the things I really liked about Monster Hunter World was that it managed to be multiple things to multiple people. While it was perfectly capable of pleasing stalwart MH fans – mostly – casual players and new fans were captured by the exploration, observation and research elements of the game, while others loved that classic story progression crafting experience. It’s hard to tell from this demo how these things will shape up, as you’re equipped with a full preset kit, the map is completely explored and marked and there’s no access to towns or crafting.
Nevi: The map is beautiful and exploring each area is a big part of the appeal. World brought the environment to life, and it’s good to see that has been continued in Rise. Mizutsune, the new monster being showed off in the demo, is a really cool and unique design, boding well for the rest of the game.
Gav: As a semi-casual fan, I hope they manage to recapture these bits of the game. Progressing through the story and growing better-equipped and more powerful is sort of ‘my’ core MH experience, with a bit of endgame grind thrown in. They seem to be taking a step back from the immersive exploration aspects like the Scoutflies of MHW as well as the tracking, which is a bit of a shame. However, this is an expected part of this game’s handheld inheritance. It’ll be designed to be much easier to consume an entire hunt over a short period of time, without needing to take a while to scrounge about in the undergrowth for footprints and giant turds. This is like when they reduced monster health significantly from the Playstation 2 version of the original Monster Hunter to accomodate the PSP, in a way.
Gav: We’re looking forward to this meeting of the Monster Hunter minds. It’s possible that by combining the two worlds of handheld and console, Rise can manage to make a properly satisfying mixture worthy of the convertible Switch. Just doing a few hunts, I couldn’t help but get that bug again – the need to go grind, get new bits, and repeat over and over in that colourful monster-filled world. Looking forward to this one – give us a follow on Twitter or Instagram if you want to see what we get up to when the game goes live.
If you want to see more of us, why not read Nevi’s recent post on the intriguing map of God of War? If you’re more into anime visual-novelly stuff, read my review of Necrobarista. Or, if you’re feeling like reading about someone else reading a book, you could take a gander at my review of Aftermath: Life Debt, the second novel in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy.
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