Need to know
What is it? Murder monsters make such cute hats out of their faces.
Expect to pay £ 50 / $ 60
Reviewed it GeForce GTX 1070, 16 GB RAM, i7-7700HQ
Multiplayer 4-player co-op
Link Official Site
A real pleasure during my life in games has been watching Monster Hunter go from a niche favorite to wild success in Japan and gradually making inroads in the West before – with Monster Hunter: World – smashing through and becoming a global hit. It may be to simplify the arc for Capcom’s beast-bashing grindathon par excellence, but the series now has a huge fanbase and the kind of resource behind it that has resulted in several years of better and better games, as well as a clear division.
There’s Monster Hunter: World version of the series, which has the basics but which is an endeavor with a seriously large budget – a visual and sonic spectacle with beautiful, fluid animations and monsters that catch the eye. Monster Hunter: Rise is the second branch that follows in the footsteps of games like Generations and approaches the series’ portable legacy: Smaller, more contained maps instead of greater exploration of the more open world.
Of course, Rise was originally designed as a Nintendo Switch exclusive, and while this PC release is a good port with everything you would expect, it does not come close to the immediate visual ‘wow’ factor that World did . Nor can it compete on things like textures or the amazing bespoke animations for monsters fighting against each other.
The thing is, though, that Rise is the better game.
Monster Hunter’s problem for new players is also the game’s greatest strength: This is a combat system with almost unsurpassed depth and precision, with literally dozens of fundamentally different playing styles. It’s overwhelming at first. Rise easily has the best onboarding experience in the series, and in the process introduces several new mechanics that enhance the hunting experience even beyond Generations.
One of the funniest additions is your Palamute, a dog that can be ridden on. Of course, you still have your Palico, but the dog transforms the gameplay, which is arguably always a weak – or at least not unique – element. The veterans of the series will remember many long fights across cards you know as your own trouser pocket, simply because that was how things were, but in Rise, your options with and without the dog now include wall races and a Spider-Man-style grabber, which acts as an important combat tool. Not only can you get around faster than ever, but it feels great to do so.
This again changes the rhythm of the fights, but in a great way. In older monster hunters, there always comes the point in a fight where your quarry realizes they are in a place of trouble and starts. You can very rarely stop them from escaping or interrupting these movement sequences, but now you just instantly jump on the dog and hunt. This may make me sound slightly psychopathic, but it’s hugely satisfying to chase a wounded creature trying to escape, down and get on with your mates.
Performance and settings
The performance was smooth on a GTX 1070 – not that you would expect otherwise. Rise occasionally suffers from the screen tearing apart, although I have not noticed any image loss or other performance issues. There are some basic presets before the graphics settings allow you to turn a wide range of options on or off, according to your preferences, as well as support for ultra-wide screens and an unlimited frame rate.
The obvious warning here is that if you play this in 4K at maximum settings with a mega rig … then it’s never going to compete at that level. If you can stand a few jagged edges and fuzzy textures, the art style outweighs the lack of grunt.
There is one quality of Rise that may not be obvious, namely that it has removed an enormous amount of the busy work that the games used to come with. For example, you should look up what the ‘key tasks’ for each hunter rank were online, whereas the game now just tells you. The upgrade trees for weapons have become clearer. There is a mini-tutorial or tutorial mission for each important item. It points out all the things that were a little annoying.
In turn, that means you spend most of your time playing Monster Hunter: Rise on actually chasing monsters instead of rummaging through menus or trying to figure out what to do next, and hunting is definitely the reason I play these games. You can zoom through chases with almost no downtime, and combined with the game’s generally faster pace, it makes Rise feel so much more fast-paced and vibrant than the older titles. The sense of verticality it has in the locations, and the way you lightning around them, soon becomes a different nature, and it really feels like the hunt is on from the first seconds.
Monster Hunter has always been relentless: if you take lightly its monsters, even the most weed plant will quickly send you off. Rise follows the usual pattern of pitting you against small dinosaur-like creatures like Great Baggi or Great Wroggi before introducing the wilder, weirder things like Tigrex, the stone-cold classics like Rathalos and the (mostly) awe-inspiring battles against the older dragons .
It’s actually hard to describe a ‘typical’ hunt in Monster Hunter: Rise, because part of the game’s inexhaustible quality is that there are now so many dozens of great monsters that it can mix and match them in endless new combinations. It’s also less shy than ever by letting monsters fight each other, which used to happen rarely in the older games, but is now very frequent (you can also temporarily ‘ride’ on the monsters below these and enjoy a Godzilla moment) .
The monsters look absolutely amazing and the elderly have more aggressive and surprising behaviors than ever. This game is a tumult: I went with weapons (again) because I love it, and the weapon has certain familiar movements, but also a whole host of new ones that make it feel brand new. The more Rise you play, the more it has to offer. You start unlocking special moves that give each weapon’s set of moves a new angle of attack or a ten ton mark when needed (Gunlance’s big drawback was always low mobility, but in Rise this feels irrelevant when you sprint and fight and forced blasting across the landscape). Sometimes you test a new ability, process what just happened, and then mimic a chef’s kiss and silently thank the Capcom brain who came up with it.
The large selection of Rises bestiary and weapons means that even though the game is going at tremendous speed, it does not stop serving new things for a very long time. There’s so much to do here, and it’s all laid out and explained better than ever, with all the little awkward things that used to annoy players, just gone. Sure, this may be a Nintendo Switch game of origin, and visually it shows. But who cares, because it’s hard to shake the feeling that Monster Hunter Rise is as good as this series has ever been. Which is to say: As good as it gets.