Monster Hunter Rise on the Nintendo Switch is the game many fans of Capcom's iconic series have been waiting for: it's the first brand-new Monster Hunter adventure for the handheld/home console hybrid, and attempts to delivers an experience that once again caters to on-the-go gaming.
Monster Hunter World was my first introduction to the series, so playing Rise was quite the change. Going from a big-screen console title to a handheld game is a big shift for players who are expecting something akin to World. It took a little getting used to, but eventually playing it in docked mode was the best way to go, to properly enjoy exploring the gorgeous new world. Playing in handheld mode was more of a struggle, whereas playing docked actually let me take in the visuals when playing on the big screen.
As soon as you kick-start the game, the very first thing you're greeted with is a character creator, which offers quite a variety. From hair and make-up to body shape and skin tone, there's plenty of options for crafting the right you for this adventure. Straight after making your selections, you can customise your Palico and the newly introduced canine-esque Palamute, too.
The ideal thing about this new companion is that you can use them to quickly traverse the map without draining stamina. When you're in the middle of fighting a monster, the last thing you want to worry about is running off when your stamina's depleted. Now, you can quickly whistle for your Palamute to give you a ride, and chase down the bugger. This, coupled with the new addition of Wirebugs, makes traversal a breeze.
The hub world of Monster Hunter Rise is pretty similar to that of its predecessor. Everything you need, from weapons to potions, is all in one spot. Pick up quests, jazz up your Palico and Palamute - you can do it all. And, if you ever get lost, there's an easy fast-travel map to help you dash to where you need to go. It's also from here that you can party up with any pals to go on monster hunting adventures together. And there's not much more to add, really: if you've played a Monster Hunter game, then you'll find that this is pretty much same old, same old. Why change what already works, and has done for so many games now.
After talking to a few NPCs you can begin to pick up quests to embark upon. While that might sound easy as easy can be, it was actually a bit tiresome getting through the first hour of tutorials. As ridiculous as it might sound, there is a lot of reading to do. If you're dyslexic, like myself, then that becomes pretty troublesome. If it wasn't for the fact that I had a basic understanding from Monster Hunter World then I'd have been at a complete loss. Thankfully, I was able to navigate my way to the core of the game.
Text aside, when the monster-hunting action properly kicks off there's a lot of fun to be had, much like there was in Monster Hunter World. While it's best to make sure you stock up on health potions and food rations, it's not absolutely critical. I found most of the time I could dive straight into a quest and gather items along the way that would help keep me sustained. The lands across Rise are all rich with plants and all kinds of life for you to gather. More often than not I'd just hop on my Palamute, do a lap around the map to collect resources, and then head straight for the monster.
The combat system eventually begins to feel incredibly smooth, but like all Monster Hunter games, it takes some getting used to. The key thing here is finding a weapon set that best suits your playstyle. If you're the type of player who likes heavy weapons that deal a lot of damage, then the switch axe is the one for you. If you're someone looking for speed, then the dual blades are what you want.
There's a variety of playstyles for you to choose from, and once you find the right one and learn it then you're set. Taking down monsters will just be non-stop fun every single time. As you level up you unlock harder quests to do, and sometimes this might involve experimenting again with new weapon sets. But that's all part of the beauty in Monster Hunter Rise - it doesn't leave you too comfortable and pushes you to keep trying new things. It keeps things very lively in the game.
Of course, traditional weapons aren't the only way to fight monsters in Monster Hunter Rise. Now players can use the new Wirebug mechanic to mount onto monsters and use them to attack other monsters in the game. It's a pretty straightforward system to use, and extremely helpful when you've got it locked down. Sometimes in dire situations, the best way to take down a beast is with the help of another beast. I mean, why else would we be getting a Godzilla vs Kong movie? Man is just not enough.
All in all, if you're a fan of the Monster Hunter franchise then this new instalment will absolutely tick all your boxes and more, what with all the new additions it brings. While Monster Hunter World was definitely a game designed more to welcome new players, Monster Hunter Rise calls back to the core fans. If you're relatively new, this might be intimidating at first; but once you get the hang of it there's a lot of fun to be had, either solo or with a group of friends.
Pros: Hours upon hours of content; Palamute is great for traversal; Wirebug is a fun tool for mounting monsters
Cons: Tutorials become very tiresome; tough to play in handheld mode
For fans of: Dauntless, Attack on Titan, Dragon's Dogma
Monster Hunter Rise is available 26th March on Nintendo Switch. Review code for Nintendo Switch was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
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