Following the roaring success of Monster Hunter: World back in 2018, the idea that the next big PC entry in Capcom’s dino pants craft ’em up, a game that originally started life on the Nintendo Switch, needs to be tampered with a few feather. But far from being a step down from the World, Monster Hunter Rise is just as much – and Capcom’s excellent work with this PC port has given it a much-needed polish to really make it shine. Not only does Rise offer the same seamless and expansive environments as World, but it also adds a few new twists to make it even more fun to track its titular titans.
The first of these twists is wirebug, a giant, luminous firefly-cum-grab hook that lets hunters throw themselves into the sky, recover from brutal chatter, and put reins on astonishing beasts so you can briefly ride them rodeo-style to hand out some mega hit points. It’s a very versatile piece of equipment that gives rise (sorry) to not only the game’s moniker, but also what lifts it from the rest of the series.
Away from battle, wirebugs transform Monster Hunter Rises cards into veritable playgrounds so you can climb up clean cliff sides that previously would have been nothing more than empty sets of dressing. Useful tracks of state-buffing Spiribirds are ready to guide your eye toward specific resource-rich places tucked away off the main trail, but following your nose to your own discoveries is all part of the fun. Sure, you’re limited by your endurance bar and the number of wirebugs at your disposal at the moment, but overall, these little beetles give a welcome sense of openness to Rise, which even the world’s huge biomes sometimes struggled to convey. In fact, it’s a thrill to climb to the highest peak and watch your quarry have a sink in the creek below on the other side of the map (thank you, increased drag distances) that never gets old.
It also does not whip them out for a quick recovery swing when you are really in the lead. I do not want to lie. As someone who often gets very carried away by swinging his Dual Blades around in the heat of battle, I have probably spent as much time being knocked flat on my ass as I have been standing upright. However, as long as you have a new wirebug on hand, a quick squeeze on the left trigger and a press on A will now bring you to safety instead of breaking the flow of battle while tending to your bruised buttocks (I should also Note that although the keyboard controls can be operated here, it is definitely recommended to use a controller). This is not just about saving face. Picking yourself up again after a proper tumult always felt a little jarring in previous Monster Hunter games, but breaking your fall with a cheeky wirebug helps keep the momentum going and gets you back into the fight faster.
They’re also just fun to throw you over enemies like an anime super warrior. Like previous contributions, damage while in the air brings you closer to being able to mount monsters for extra damage – a concept first introduced in Monster Hunter 4 with Insect Glaive in pole vault, and later expanded in World for to give all weapon classes a taste of the action. However, Rise really goes into town with it, adding a heady rodeo element that sees you take direct control of your enemy and even attack other monsters with it. Turning monsters’ signature attacks against their own is really appealing stuff, and the enduring physical nature of these twisting wyverns has never felt stronger. They are hard to control, but so they should be given their size and strength, and the excitement that comes with trying to get the most out of these short windows never fails to raise your heart rate.
As always, the goal of hunting these scaly animals is to harvest their flesh for precious hides, fangs, and scales to forge ever-stronger sets of armor and weapons for you and your two animal companions. You can only carve out three pieces of monster after a given hunt, though your cat-like Palico and dog-friend Palamute will often eradicate a few extra scratches on your behalf to help pick up the numbers. Still, you rarely have enough to make a complete armor set after just one hunt, so you often have to go out again to fill in the gaps again. This is the age-old rhythm of a Monster Hunter game that creates a natural laugh that some may just not have the patience for.
Personally, though, I rarely needed to repeat specific missions just to get to certain monsters, as there are usually a handful of them roaming around anyway, no matter what mission you are on. Sure, you still have to go through the same 15-20 minute battles to take them down again, but the generous 50 minute time limit means they’re usually pretty comfortable detours – especially when you can see exactly where they (and your actual goals) are on the map. Heck, even the usually boring resource-gathering missions have been accelerated by letting players run on the backs of their Palamute.
All of this makes without a doubt Rise one of the most friendly and streamlined Monster Hunter games to date.
All of this makes without a doubt Rise one of the friendliest and most streamlined Monster Hunter games to date, though you still have to wade through a disproportionate number of textbox tutorials in the beginning before you are left alone to enjoy it properly. Accessibility has never been one of Monster Hunter’s strengths, and Rise also struggles to show off rather than tell you how to get the best out of it. Much of it should feel familiar if you have built up some muscle memory from the World over the years, but newcomers will probably still feel quite intimidated by it all.
The one thing I am grateful for, though, is a marked shift away from catching monsters as opposed to just chasing them. Capturing monsters with traps is something I’ve been bad at in previous Monster Hunter games, and getting stuck in these missions has often been the reason I stopped playing them. With Rise, however, there is not a single capture mission until after the first end credits, and you unlock the Level 5 missions. Superior hunters can of course still catch and capture monsters whenever they want (and get rarer material that is not available via carving in the process), but the lack of emphasis on it in the main campaign is a very welcome change.
The only slightly offensive note in Monster Hunter Rise’s list is its new Rampage missions. Instead of venturing out into the wider world after these, Rampage missions see you protect your hometown of Kamura Village from waves of monsters in a kind of arena-based tower defense game. It’s a fun diversion the first time you do it, but shooting at monsters from mounted cannon towers is nowhere near as gripping as a proper hunt. Fortunately, these can also be largely ignored if you’d rather stick to traditional monster killings, but the fact that they’re just wrapped up in a separate mission menu that potentially will never be seen or heard from again somewhat undermines the momentum. in the main story. The village elders would have you believe that Kamura Village is constantly on the verge of being wiped out by these ravenous beasts, but that excitement is never really expressed in the overall mission structure. As overwhelming as the Rampage missions are compared to regular chases, even I was surprised that I only had to do one of them as part of the main campaign before I saw the first set of completions.
For the most part, though, Monster Hunter Rise is another smelly addition to the series, and in my books a more than worthy sequel to Monster Hunter: World. There is a generous and playful sense of freedom here that keeps combat and exploration fresh, and the momentum of its hunting-led missions means you rarely spin the wheels when looking for the ultimate elusive armor. It’s kept me playing a lot longer than I’ve ever done with World, and I can not wait to see how it progresses with its forthcoming Sunbreak expansion later this summer.