The locations you explore in Monster Hunter Rise have already felt the delicate touch of humanity’s hand. Traditional Japanese torii can be found weaving through mountainside paths, leading to sacred shrines, while decaying temples have been reclaimed by nature as local plant life envelops the aging architecture. Signs of human life can even be found at the base of a raging volcano and in the midst of a flooded forest, where a Mesoamerican-style pyramid dominates the landscape.
If 2018’s Monster Hunter World was all about unearthing a new continent as an intrepid frontiersman, then Rise is a triumphant return to the Old World with valuable lessons learned. An enhanced port of the 3DS title Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate may have already graced the Nintendo Switch, but Rise is the first game in the series built from the ground up for Nintendo’s latest console. As such, Rise closely follows in the footsteps of World while reneging on some of its changes and introducing plenty of new impactful ideas that excellently shift the focus towards the series’ heart-pumping action.
The core Monster Hunter gameplay loop has remained relatively unchanged as you hunt down gargantuan monsters, harvest their materials to craft new weapons and armor, and tackle increasingly tougher foes. World coalesced both the single and multiplayer parts of the experience into one cohesive whole, but Rise reverts back to the old ways by splitting them into disparate Village and Hub quests. Village quests can only be played alone, while Hub quests can still be tackled solo but are designed with multiple players in mind. This isn’t the most welcome setup for newcomers since it isn’t immediately clear which quests progress the story, nor is there any indication of whether or not you should be alternating between both paths. The impact this structure has on the game isn’t as substantial as it initially seems, though. Hunting the same monster multiple times has always been a part of Monster Hunter’s DNA, so repeating the same mission as both a Village and Hub quest is something you would typically seek out anyway.
That’s not to say Rise isn’t approachable in other areas either. There’s a renewed focus on fast-paced action that strikes an impressive balance between being welcoming for newcomers and satisfying for battle-hardened veterans. When entering a location, for example, your trusty pet Cahoot will mark all of the nearby monsters on your map. You won’t immediately know the identity of each one until you’ve already discovered them, but this cuts down on the time it takes to seek out your foe and gets you into the heart of the action much faster. It’s an ideal fit for the Switch’s handheld mode, allowing you to jump in and out of its most thrilling moments without having to engage with the long-winded slog to find and follow a monster’s tracks.
Exploration is still a key part of the experience, even if you know the exact location of your prey. There are plenty of shortcuts and hidden paths to uncover within each location, and the addition of local wildlife–known as Endemic Life–encourages you to seek out every nook and cranny in order to gain the temporary buffs to damage output, stamina regeneration, and so on, that they offer. On the flip side, if you’re not interested in boosting specific stats to get a leg up in battle, you can always ignore the Endemic Life and tailor the challenge to your liking. Rise offers a degree of flexibility in the way you’re able to tackle each monster that goes beyond your choice of weapon and armor.
With that being said, the verticality afforded by the new Wirebug mechanic has the most significant impact on Rise’s exploration. This exciting new tool allows you to zip through the air by utilizing what’s known as Wire-dashing. From here, you can chain moves together, mixing in wall runs with additional Wire-dashes to reach previously unattainable heights and traverse the environment at a rapid pace. The finesse it requires takes some getting used to, and you still need to be shrewd with the Wirebug’s forgiving cooldown to be successful, but it’s an incredibly fun tool to use once you’re comfortable with its demands.
There’s a renewed focus on fast-paced action that strikes an impressive balance between being welcoming for newcomers and satisfying for battle-hardened veterans.
The Wirebug also plays an important role in combat, as each of Rise’s 14 signature weapons has its own Silkbind attacks. These unique moves are relatively easy to pull off and range from a timing-based counter with the Long Sword to an uppercut leading into an explosive downward strike with the Switch Axe. Each Silkbind attack can be linked into different combos, opening up your repertoire of potential techniques, and the Wirebug expands on this even further with its defensive maneuvers. The evasive Wirefall move, for instance, gives you an opportunity to get back on your feet and avoid a monster’s follow-up attack after being knocked down or pushed back, while the Wire-dash extends the reach of your dodge for when you need to quickly evade a rampaging beast.
Aside from the addition of Silkbind attacks, each of Rise’s weapon types have remarkable depth in keeping with the series’ traditions. Mastering a particular weapon is just as rewarding as before, and there’s also an element of customization available this time around too. The aptly named Switch Skills allow you to swap out certain regular and Silkbind attacks to make a weapon that’s reflective of your play style and preferences. An improved training area, and a reduction in the amount of materials necessary to upgrade a new weapon, also makes this aspect of the game more approachable for newcomers who need to experiment in order to find a weapon type that suits them.
Monster Hunter Rise Review
The Wirebug enhances both exploration and combat with its exciting moveset
New traversal options get you into the heart of the action much faster
Each weapon type retains its remarkable depth, which is further enhanced by an element of customization
The Rampage increases the game's scale with a diverse alternative to regular hunts
Reverting back to separate Village and Hub quests sacrifices some of the cohesion
The paper-thin story makes it difficult to invest in what's happening