Review: Monster Hunter Rise – A Rampaging Good Time

There’s been a lot of hype around Capcom’s latest entry into the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Rise, on the Nintendo Switch. As a lifelong Hunter myself, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into all the goodness that Rise has to offer, and Rise serves up enough to satisfy even a Deviljho.

Monster Hunter Rise opens up with you, a fledgling hunter of Kamura, being informed that your village is about to undergo the Rampage. The Rampage is an event that happens every few years where Monsters go into an unbridled frenzy of rage and all gang up to attack the village. In typical Monster Hunter fashion, you will spend your time completing Village quests to progress in Village Hunter Rank. In doing so, the Guild will start to piece together what’s the cause behind the rampages.

Joining you in these village quests will be your two Buddies: a felyne Palico, and a canyne Palamute; though this can be changed to bring two of the same type if you’d like. These Buddies will help you in various ways during your hunts from providing support through healing horns, buffs to your attack and defense, laying down traps, and just straight up attacking the monster you’re hunting, as well as being able to swiftly move around the map while riding your Palamute!

You’ll start each hunt by first accepting a quest from Hinoa the Quest Maiden, one of two twin sisters in Kamura. After choosing what quest you’d like to go on, you can eat your fill of Fluffy Bunny Dango (the most adorable cut-scene animation I’ve ever seen in gaming) at the canteen to receive buffs to your health and stamina during the quest, and also specific food skills that can increase rewards you earn or alter different aspects of your stats. After picking out what items to take and gear you want to wear, along with one of the fourteen weapons that are offered to you in Rise, you and your Buddies will proceed to the quest!

When out on your quest, you can use the brand new addition of Wirebugs, to traverse all landscapes in the map. Think of the wirebugs as your all access pass to becoming a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Zipping around the map with these bugs feels so incredibly satisfying that there could have been a game designed solely around this concept, and I would have put as many hours into it as I have Rise. Nothing quite feels better than traversing through canyons and up mountains, zipping around and running up walls like a ninja, all to come crashing down with a massive attack on the monster’s head.

After skillfully slaying the monster, which can be more difficult than it looks as you only have three opportunities to faint (four if you manage to eat for the Insurance skill when consuming Dango in the Village) before losing the quest. However, if you are able to successfully slay or capture the monster, you’ll be rewarded with monster materials that you can then use to craft new armor and weapons at the smithy in Kamura village.

That’s the bread and butter of Monster Hunter. You fight monsters to gather materials, create better armor and weapons, then fight even larger and tougher monsters. (This reward cycle is so flawlessly executed in Rise that hours went by before I even realized it).

After returning from a quest, you’ll always have something to do in the Village. You could spend time visiting the Buddy Plaza to send your Palicos and Palamutes out on missions of their own, or to trade for items that you can craft into things like Mega Potions and Dash Juice. Visiting the smithy between hunts will allow you to craft beautifully designed gear, each piece featuring unique visual elements and skills from the monster the piece was crafted from.

The big new feature in Monster Hunter Rise is called Wyvern Riding. This plays out exactly like it sounds. Using your silk binding attacks, (new flashy and powerful moves that make use of your wire bugs and weapons), you will build up a ride gauge on the monster you’re hitting. Once it’s full, the monster will enter a mountable state and you can then ride around and cause it to attack other monsters in the area or simply slam it several times into a wall before toppling it over. Not only does this make you feel incredibly powerful, often dealing damage that rivals that of the Great Sword or Hammers strongest charged attack, but it’s just crazy fun too. Each monster attacks a little differently, and Wyvern Riding is just as important to master as your own weapon, so be sure to spend time doing so!

Also introduced in Rise is a new feature called Switch Skills, which allows you to customize how each of the 14 different weapons play. Veterans and newcomers alike will have a lot to uncover and learn in order to properly hone their hunting techniques. Combining the Switch Skills with a personalized setup of armor and skills will be necessary if you want to join your friends in taking down the menacing HR7 quests. If you’re still looking for an extra challenge, Arena quests are back from previous Monster Hunter titles.

Arenas are two person quests that set you against a monster (or more) with specific armor and weapons. This is where the brave go to prove their mettle. It’s one thing to be able to hunt a monster while decked out in proper defensive and offensive gear to do the most damage, but what about if you don’t have a choice? In the Arena, it’s all up to skill. After you’ve worked your way up through the Hunter Ranks (HR), you’ll eventually be requested by members of Kamura to join in defending the village from the Rampage. These events play out similar to a tower defense game, where you’ll be placing automated and manned ballistas, canons, and more in an attempt to keep the rampaging horde out of the village. These Rampage events are a very welcome change of pace from the standard hunting, and offer some very flashy and exciting combat moments, one of which includes dropping a Splitting Wyvern Shot, which is essentially a mini nuclear bomb, right on the large target monster of the rampage.

After completing your first rampage quest in the village, the elders of Kamura will send you after Rise‘s flagship monster, the Magnamalo. Beating this fearsome foe will roll credits for the Village part of the game; however there is more story and fun to be had in the Hub section, which is focused primarily on multiplayer.

I mentioned HR before, but it becomes even more important of a factor in the multiplayer Hub quests, and Capcom has done something rather amazing in order to streamline this ranking process in Rise. It used to be in older games of this series that you would have to raise your Hub HR separately from your Village HR. This changes in Rise thanks to the introduction of Special Licenses Tests. These tests allow players who have only spent time completing Village quests to unlock higher levels of HR in the Hub, up to a certain point. What this means is that you no longer have to grind out the same monsters again from Village in your low rank Hub quests! This is an incredibly wonderful addition to the series that really streamlines the process for players who enjoy getting into the games themselves before jumping in to hunt with friends.

These, among many other new quality of life improvements really make Rise feel like the pinnacle of Monster Hunter greatness. With 61 large monsters to hunt, and many more coming along the way with free content updates starting sometime in April, there is going to be no reason to be putting Rise down anytime soon.

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