Monster Hunter Rise Review

Hit the dragon until it’s dead

I’ve considered myself over the years an “ultra casual” when it comes to the Monster Hunter series. I played the second PSP game in the series back in highschool, I played Unite two years after it’s release and I played the Ultimate versions of 3,4, and Generations. I played Monster Hunter World almost to completion. I know that doesn’t sound casual at all. In fact That’s nearly every game in the mainline series. That being said I’ve played maybe 5 hours max out of almost every entry. A standard player can get almost 10 times that much out of each game in the first month alone. Now with the newest release in my hands for a little under a month I’ve played over 55 hours of Monster Hunter Rise. That’s a lot of time for me. I am an avid fan of games….at a respectable distance. Like most people with my interests I like to stay informed so I spend less time these days actually playing games and more time talking about games I want to play, all whilst scrolling away at my phone eagerly anticipating with bated breath the newest stream of never ending bad news. If 55 hours of playing video games means 55 hours of not looking at my phone then I consider that time well spent. In a last ditch effort to appeal to my own hubris I will now make an effort to review Monster Hunter Rise based on not only how much time I spent playing the game, but on what that time meant to me personally. Without further ado…..

MONSTER HUNTER RISE: REVIEW

Gameplay: ★★★★

The Monster Hunter franchise is all about the grind. You kill monsters, take their organs, limbs, tusks, and claws in order to make better armor and weapons. You use said new armor and weapons till kill bigger monsters, take their body parts in order to make even better armor and weapons- and the beat goes on and on until you have done every quest and have every piece of gear and every weapon you want. Once you think you’re done however a new rank of quests becomes available to you, and now you’re virtually back to square one except now the armor you craft is better than the armor you had before. Playing Monster Hunter is like having another job. But unlike your grueling 9–5 job videogames are supposed to be fun, and what’s more fun than doing all this…with buddies. The animal friends in the game are cute and fun. The cats are called Palicoes, and the dogs (new to the franchise) are Palamutes. It took me a few years of playing the series to realize that Palico is a play on words. Pal Calicoes. Palicoes. It took me maybe a minute to take Pal and Malamute and put the two together. I’m getting smarter each day! I named my cat Bino after my real life living cat and my dog SnuggleBear, which is a combination of my two real life dead dogs! It’s fun. The dog is fun. You can ride the dog. You can pet the dog. You can look at the dog and remember the times you had with your dogs when they were alive. . . . . . . .

The cat can steal things from monsters!

Not only can you play with your animal buddies but you can also play with other people online. This has been standard fare for the series. In fact if it wasn’t for the Playstation 2 having online capabilities when it launched in 2000, Monster Hunter might not exist today. The series was developed in response to the growing number of online games in the mid 00’s. Monster Hunter- alongside Resident Evil Outbreak and Auto Modelista (a great racing game by the way) was capcom’s first forays into the online gaming space. Like the first game dating back all the way to 2004- In Monster Hunter Rise you can team up with three other people. Friends, friends of friends, strangers, you name it. Link up with your friends and kill monsters together. It’s the best way to play. It’s perfectly fine to play Monster Hunter solo but I had significantly more fun online. To each their own though.

Visuals: ★★★

Let’s get technical for a moment. The Nintendo Switch is going on 4 years old. Even when it launched in March of 2017 the tech behind the console was already dated to begin with. When you play a game on the Switch you’re not usually going to find high framerates or resolution. Monster Hunter Rise isn’t an exception to the rule, but the game still looks and runs great on the aging console. It runs at around 720p while docked on a TV, and 540p undocked. It’s a Playstation Vita game in all but console and name. The good news is that the game runs at a nearly solid 30fps. You might feel some slowdown during big fights with friends, but melting the framerate while smacking down monsters with your weapons is almost a cathartic experience. Most games in the series actually run at an unlocked framerate, so things get chaotic during big moments and tend to mellow out while you’re just walking around looking for stuff. With Rise having a locked 30fps the game feels consistent and smooth no matter what you’re doing in the game. There is a PC port coming next year though, so if you’re dead set at running the game at 4k 120FPS you may just want to wait this one out. This is also the first Monster Hunter game to run on Capcom’s new proprietary engine. Called the RE Engine- this engine is just a masterwork of design. I have a pretty low end PC, and I can run Resident Evil 2 and 3’s remakes at a solid 60fps because of how well this engine is made. For the longest time Capcom wasn’t able to get the engine to run on Switch, but now 4 years after RE Engine’s release Capcom has finally found a way to port their new architecture to Nintendo’s mighty handheld. Everything looks and feels fluid, and while the textures on some models are a bit muddy, it still stands as a great example of what Capcom plans to do with low end hardware.

This isn’t a pre-rendered cutscene. This is in engine. Notice the handles on the swords however.

Sound:★★★★

Maybe it’s because of how long I’ve played the game but Rise’s music hits me with a wave of emotion I can barely put into words. Even the more low key battle themes like the song above get me GOING. I’m ready to fight this big snake dragon monster…thing just by listening to the music. It’s almost Pavlovian now. The soundtrack in this game is absolutely phenomenal. Satoshi Hori put his best work into this music.

But don’t take my word for it!

If virtual anime girls can vibe with this soundtrack then you can too!

While you’re going “Naaaaaa” you’re naturally going to want to hit the lizard, and when you do you get slashing and smashing sounds that not only activate the neurons in your brain but also serve a purpose in the game. If you hit a weak-spot you’ll be met with a satisfying sound of flesh ripping from the monster’s bones, if your blade isn’t sharp enough it’ll naturally bounce off the enemy, and you’ll hear a loud *bonk*. You don’t want to hear the bonk, so run off and sharpen that sword or move around and hit the monster’s tail or something. Every action in the game has a sound, and those sounds give off the “you did something” chemical that your brain so desperately needs in these trying times.

Story:★★

Uh…..well there’s not a whole lot of it. Monster Hunter has never really been about the story. It’s always been there, and if you know where to look you can find little pieces of lore in the game through item and weapon descriptions, but the game’s focus has always been hittin’ those monsters. Monster Hunter World- the game that came out before Rise- was the first in the series to have a significant plot, and also the first to be voiced in English and Japanese. Until then the game’s spoken word was conveyed in it’s own language. I loved this if I’m being honest. It gave the series an almost otherworldly feel. Not quite Western, not quite Eastern. In Monster Hunter Rise English and Japanese voice acting make a return, but the story has seemed to take a backseat again in favor of more subtle lore. It’s definitely more prominent than in games of the past, but the story in Monster Hunter Rise isn’t nearly as vast as World’s. You’ve lived in Kamura Village for what seems like you’re whole life, and you set off on quests leading up to the big battle with the game’s main monster that is set on destroying the village. Without voyaging into spoiler territory I’ll say that there’s more to the story than what I lead on, but you’ll have to play the game to find out more. But let’s be honest here. You just want to hit the monster. I get it. I do too.

IN CONCLUSION

Monster Hunter Rise is a game you can get sucked into. The only game I had played in the last year that has eclipsed this in terms of time spent was Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I have nearly 160 hours clocked in that game….over a year’s time. I have a third of that spent playing Monster Hunter Rise, and this game has only been out for a little under a month. Will I continue playing Monster Hunter? Absolutely. New content updates drop every couple months so I’ll have things to do in the game for a long time. Has this made me a bigger fan than before? Yes. I plan on finishing Monster Hunter World and it’s expansion as soon as I get a chance, and I may revisit some of the older titles as well. There’s still an active community for the classic games, so getting a group to fight monsters will be easy. Should you buy this game? If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, and you’re a fan of action RPGs then yes you should. If you want something to play in bed after work then you should play this game. If you don’t care about portability and you want a game with a higher framerate and resolution then wait for the PC port. If you like cute cats making you sweets to eat before a good hunt then Monster Hunter is the game for you.

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