God f****** damn, Monster Hunter Rise is a good game. I had my reservations about going back to the Switch after the glory that is Monster Hunter World, because so much of what that game did, and a lot of the streamlining that it introduced, felt as though it was linked to the platforms it was on, and we all know that the Switch simply doesn’t have that much raw power.
Having jumped from PS4 to PC with World, the idea of putting all of that good monster-hunting back onto a handheld device just wasn’t something I wanted to do. However, Rise has absolutely crushed it, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable in the slightest to say that this is the best Monster Hunter has ever been.
Monster Hunter Rise has you playing as a newly qualified hunter. Your goal is to prepare for a rampage, a catastrophic event where monsters basically gather up their forces and then attack your village, Kamura.
Feels Like Home
Monsters vary wildly, often surpassing those in World
Kamura village and a lot of the game itself has a lot of nods to Japanese history, myths, and general style too. One of the early monsters is incredibly reminiscent of the Kappa, and your instructor is basically a ninja. It’s nice to journey around an area and world with a bit more of an authentic feel to it, as World often felt placeless. That lack of place was probably because you were well away from any proper home-invading other places, but the fact that Kamura and the areas around it all feel a little bit more linked and cohesive is one of the smaller wins of Rise.
Rise adds in a few new mechanics, and I’d be a fool if I didn’t mention them because they’re both absolutely incredible.
The first of these is the Wirebugs, which links into the second ability, but I’m just going to focus on how you can personally use these strange little bugs. So, Wirebugs allow you to zip around a little bit more, and this includes granting the ability to effectively climb walls, clear large gaps, and even perform incredible midair dodges. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got one of your Wirebugs available, and you can do some amazing stunts.
They come into play in combat as well, and not just because you can steer clear of the many brutal attacks the monsters will be throwing your way. Every weapon has a very similar moveset to the ones introduced in Monster Hunter World, but the key difference here is the new abilities that grant special effects depending on the weapon you’re using and which skill you use. Each weapon has two of these at any given time, and it’ll often be one very attack-focussed option, and one more movement, or defensive option.
What’s really cool about this is that you’ll actually unlock the ability to switch some skills out as you make your way through the game, which makes the weapons feel more personal than ever before.
Not Just A Pretty Face
The game is one of the Switch's best-lookers
On top of looking cool, though, the Wirebug attacks also deal a special kind of damage to Monsters, and if you do enough of this kind of damage to them, then you’ll be able to mount them.
Now, if you played Iceborne, you’ll have had a glimpse of this ability thanks to the Clutch Claw, but Rise lets you not only jump on the beasts but even get them to attack if you want them to. You can use a light attack, a strong attack, dodge, or even send whatever you’re riding into a wall to deal damage to it. Plus, if you land enough attacks, you’ll be able to unleash massive special attacks. You can think of this a bit like the turf wars from World, except you get to take a very active part in them.
The other new thing is the rampage mode, which has you setting up defences in a mildly 'tower defence' style take on Monster Hunter that is an incredible amount of fun. This adds in a nice little change of pace where the monsters will come to you, but you’ll need to be able to stand your ground to fight them off.
Palamutes make traversal much faster, and help in combat, too
Oh, also, alongside Palicos, you now have Palamutes, your dog companions. These actually play an essential part of the best thing about Monster Hunter Rise, which is the fact that it’s the most user-friendly version of the game ever made.
The Palamutes help you fight, and you can give them tools too, but one of the best features they offer is the ability to ride them around to help you traverse the map a little quicker. This is great because you can now see nearly everything on the map as long as you’ve done a little bit of exploration, and that means that if you’re in a rush, you can find whatever you’re hunting with ease.
It makes every mission easier, and it also means that you can purposefully avoid your objective if you fancy hunting something other than your target. It makes things so much better, especially when you’re tracking down weird mushrooms because the maps are huge now, and the verticality of them isn’t a nuisance thanks to the Wirebugs.
When you consider all of these new additions on top of the solid foundation of Monster Hunter World, what you’re left with is the best Monster Hunter game around.
This game is as close to perfect as we’ve had yet, and assuming it gets a lot of post-launch support, we’re in for an incredibly exciting new era of Monster Hunter, and one that brings back some of the bombastic absurdity that World omitted.
Review code provided by the publisher
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch