A new home
As usual, the story plays a subordinate role. The setting is impressive, because this time the village of Kamura, from which you travel to the monster world, is traditionally Japanese. The buildings have been beautifully decorated, the colors are harmonious and the characters also dress according to the era. Of course, you shouldn’t forget the cherry blossoms, which quickly make you feel at home in your new home. It’s always fun to walk back and forth between the forge, the kitchen and the quest counter as the visual backdrop never gets boring.
Of course, there are other characters living in the village with whom the player interacts regularly. Be it the twins who hand out quests, the strong leader or the other residents who keep offering jobs, you won’t get very far without conversation. The dialogues offer the typical, with nice sayings and many clichés, but enliven the small community. In this respect, “Monster Hunter” remains true to itself: The story is only an accessory, but with attention to detail it can still create a smile.
The literal rise
The most interesting is of course the gameplay, and there are huge differences here, especially compared to the last Nintendo Switch part “Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate”. By far the most important element from “Monster Hunter World” has been taken over: Instead of individual zones, the areas now consist of a large landscape that you can travel through without loading times. This makes for a much more natural world, especially if you have to chase monsters through it.
Without this change, even the best innovation would not have been possible: the rope beetle system. Although the hero cannot jump, he can use rope beetles to get himself into the air. As a result, you not only get from A to B faster, but you can also reach completely new heights. Not only that, wall runs that use the endurance bar are now also possible. To make this clear: It is possible to jump from the ground with your mount, jump from it, catapult yourself upwards with two rope beetles and finally run up the wall you have reached to climb a mountain.
That sounds like a lot, but it’s not at all. After the unfortunately quite overloaded and long tutorial, the player can let off steam and explore the areas that have been unlocked until then. Naturally, it is noticeable that there are far fewer limits than ever before. You practically fly over the cards and although the rope beetles have to recharge themselves again and again, an incredibly agile and rapid rhythm is created. Unfortunately, a real jump is missing, but even without it, the environment is more involved in the action than ever before.
In line with this, the areas have also changed significantly and are now designed much more vertically. This is helpful for monster hunting to get an overview: where is the monster, what obstacles are in the vicinity, could it get involved in a fight with other creatures? This is especially important with the more difficult missions, especially when you want to set up traps. The level design is used even more effectively for the collecting missions, because you no longer just run down the points, you also have to think about how to reach them. It is all the more helpful that the map marks all quest objectives and also contains other information that is extremely important for every mission. Without giving too much away: Those who want to learn more about the world are invited to discover every remote place.
Of course, a Palico partner should not be missing who supports the hunter in combat and can also use passive buffs to generate important advantages. Much more interesting, however, is the palamute, which also fights. As a result, the team is always bigger, but like the rope beetle system, the exploration becomes a highlight. The player can ride the Palamute at any time, and thus speed to the goal much faster than ever before on the ground. This minimizes the so-called downtime from the other parts, because reaching the monsters now plays a subordinate role.
Nevertheless, the preparation time should not be missing. The life bar, stamina bar and even the number of rope beetles can be expanded by collecting small beetles. This encourages players not just to run to the goal, but to actually use the fun movement options. If you don’t want that, you can of course still target the monster directly. After numerous hours it becomes really clear that the players are offered more freedom and the pace of the game increases significantly – but not in every area.
The actual monster hunt has hardly changed. Once the monster has been discovered, usually via the mini-map, a fight begins. The weapon selection is familiar and, thanks to a test area, everyone can switch between the different types in order to discover the best one for their own type of game. The types of attack differ enormously from time to time, and speed in particular is an aspect that should be dealt with for a long time and in detail. Monsters are fast, so those who are less experienced will hit the air more often than the monster, especially with weapons like the morph ax. Practice makes perfect, and since repeating missions is still a long-term motivation, it happens naturally in the game. The learning curve is extra rewarding here, because those who master the new mechanics can fight much faster than in the previous offshoots. If you still manage to set two monsters on top of each other using the riding function, you can look forward to an effective spectacle.
Of course, old mechanics weren’t just copied. Each weapon has new attacks in connection with the rope beetles, which make the often slow combat system a little faster. It gets especially exciting when you can tie up a monster, because then the player can ride it and even fight against other monsters – or simply throw it at an object to cause damage. Again and again new possibilities for fighting open up, even a strong hit after a wall run can be done with enough practice. It is also possible to exchange certain attacks in order to dynamically design your moveset as your own style requires. In terms of play, “Monster Hunter Rise” never disappoints and motivates more than any other part of the series to tackle the same missions in different ways. In addition, further adjustments from “World” have been adopted so that some items can be used while walking, plants are sometimes collected while walking past and items like the pickaxe are an integral part and do not have to be equipped.
Learned from the right ones
The plus point just described will also cause confusion for some. Since the pace of the battle is faster than in the 3DS parts and also “Monster Hunter World”, old hands will have to get used to it first. If you haven’t gotten to grips with the series so far, “Monster Hunter Rise” won’t change your mind either. Of course, the rope beetles create a new dynamic, but the fights are still relatively slow, take a long time from an early age and require careful positioning in order not to constantly miss the mark. Some will not like it, others will like it all the more.
The defensive missions, which are good in concept, are a little less successful. Here players have to place traps in front of the village and activate turrets so that the monster waves are defeated. This is interesting at one point, but it evolves too quickly into a typical tower defense battle that removes everything that makes Monster Hunter such a unique experience. Fortunately, these missions don’t happen too often, and the rewards are not to be underestimated either. And since there is not only passive watching but also active fighting, some should enjoy this type of mission.
The necessary fine-tuning
Of course, it’s all about the gameplay loop. The player kills monsters, collects their materials and uses them to create better armor and weapons at the blacksmith’s. These are not only a little more robust or look different, but distribute electrical damage or change parts of the moveset. Since forging takes place in a wonderful overview, they can be compared wonderfully, and those who want can even attach the materials they need so that they don’t have to constantly look up what is still missing. Equipment can also be improved in the classic way, so that you don’t have to constantly switch between different ones. The menu system is based on the clear type from “Monster Hunter World” and can therefore also score points compared to the old parts.
This process is still extremely fun, also because the open nature of the areas means that you can get to materials faster and more often, even from larger monsters. If you want a complete set, you won’t get around repeating missions – which always sounds worse than it is. After all, you are not forced to wear something uniform, and the multiplayer mode also keeps you motivated. In addition, sometimes fewer materials are required than before, which means that
Together on the hunt
The centerpiece remains the online mode, which is why there is again a separate area with separate quests. Although these can also be mastered alone, they were designed for a group and are therefore more fun, even if the level of difficulty is dynamically adapted to the number of players. In addition, guilds can be created and friendships made at the push of a button directly after a quest. It all sounds great, but we were only able to briefly dive into these options. It will be clear on the day of publication whether the servers will remain stable when the big wave of players comes.
Another kind of beauty
To anticipate the only real points of criticism: Yes, the texture quality is of course not on the level of “Monster Hunter World”, the world has been equipped with fewer details, the resolution in handheld mode could be higher and the foresight is not optimal. Despite all these problems, the game looks wonderful, even in TV mode. On the one hand, this is due to the style, which is charming in every area and can even hide many unsightly surfaces in snow. At the same time, however, both characters and monsters are first class, and the partly destroyed buildings also impress with their optical subtleties.
But the real show belongs to the monsters, whose animations are so fantastic that you can never get enough of the fighting. The movements clarify the character and even create funny moments that we obviously don’t want to anticipate. The music, which is back in the traditional Japanese style, also sounds wonderful. The frame rate usually remains stable, and the few dropouts never get in the way. There is even a photo mode to capture the most beautiful moments. Anyone who feels compelled to compare the graphics with “Monster Hunter World” deprives themselves of a wonderful atmosphere.