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Monster Hunter Rise review
Meh
by Watashama

The sights and sounds of this game are as enjoyable as ever but the gameplay is mundane and repetitive. 

Coming from MHW, I had a decent skill gap that prevented me from getting carted even once through Magnamalo fight. Once later starred quests opened up I just couldn't be bothered to keep on the grind. The gameplay of fighting the monsters is just insanely repetitive and is built for people who enjoy the grind. 

Huge ups about the games improved multiplayer features. I still use only 5% of the items in the game. Let's just consolidate a lot of the item-management and focus on keeping improving fighting to make this more enjoyable. 

Other reviews3

Rise marks my 5th diving into the Monster Hunter series, my first one, Monster Hunter Tri had a great impact on me, I remember that I was pretty excited to play this co-op game where you slay big cool looking dragons and monsters with cool looking weapons, to my surprise the controls weren’t exactly intuitive and everything felt slow and clunky, the co-op aspect of the game was reduced to just a few arena battles with specific weapons to choose, there weren’t any helpful nor clear tutorials and my first hours were truly disappointing, to the point that I was really sad for investing in a game I would not enjoy. However, as I started the campaign, slowly get used to its mechanics, and understood that you had to take things with tranquility I started to enjoy greatly my hunter experience, tracking monsters, retreat to use resources and restock if possible with potions, or getting the timer on your neck and have an all or nothing showdown to see who will stand: monster or human, were common events that will gradually fade away as I become more efficient with my skills, but they were great moments nevertheless. It was a slow-paced game that demanded you to take the role of a hunter very seriously in exchange for a rewarding ride and victories.

(Played it by version 1.1.2)

Several Monster Hunter games later and back to Rise is easy to see how much in some aspects and how little in others has changed. In the gaming world, I think there are two kinds of sequels: the first is a type of sequel that expands on the world, characters, or story, it uses the mechanics presented in the past game and use a new setting to try new things with new enemies or stories, think of a Metroid or a Souls game. The second type of sequel it’s what I call the Sports sequel, on which the new game is just a replication of the first game with a couple of refinements here and there with mostly recycled settings and assets, think of a FIFA game, this is not a bad thing per se and because these sequels are released yearly it is hard to blame the developers for not pushing the envelope further, but most than sequels these games feel more like updates. It’s sad to admit but with this new non-numbered sequel (it is non-numbered as nowadays it’s hard to sell a game to new people with a big number like 6 being in the game’s name, but it definitely is Monster Hunter 6) I think that it falls to the label of Sports sequel with the abysmal difference that this is not a one-year developing game.


Brave Hunters

As every MH game, the premise remains almost entirely the same, you are this newly licensed hunter in Kamura village, and you are tasked to increase your hunter rank to try to solve the mystery of the Rampage, an event that has happened years before on which a horde of monsters run through the village and in consequence create havoc, nobody knows why they run like frenzy but some reports indicate that it has a connection with a strong and huge monster, pretty standard Monster Hunter plot. What makes this entry somewhat unique is that the main setting is inspired by Japanese folklore and architecture, we get to see this stylization more with every new monster introduced here, they all seem to have some sort of reinterpretation of a Yokai, and as always, their design and attack applications are stellar.

After you get the basic plot, you are quickly thrown into the continuous cycle of slaying monsters to advance your rank and get parts to upgrade your weapons and armor. The combat remains almost the same in regards to playability, you can choose between 14 weapons that fall into three categories: light weapons (which are easy to control, compared to other weapons they do less damage per hit but they also have faster attacks, since they’re easier to use they are a good choice to new players), heavy weapons (generally do more raw damage but are the slowest), and ranged weapons. Each of them has unique mechanics on which you have to take into consideration several factors like positioning, speed, and timing to get the most of them, a lot of people say that because each weapon is so different it is like trying a new one is like starting a completely new game, I consider this way of thinking an exaggeration since it is like saying a Fighting game as Mortal Kombat is as 20 games in one because each character has a different playstyle, however, they certainly need practice and more than a few hunts to master them, so it certainly adds more replayability. In my case, I made the unconscious decision of trying new weapons with each MH I played, in Monster Hunter World I mained the great sword and I fell in love with her, this time around I tried the charge blade because it has some flashy attacks and its counter-based playstyle aligned well with mine but for the “endgame” I’m currently using the bow and I think this would be my main weapon onwards, it’s simply so much fun.

This weapon versatility is one of the beauties that Monster Hunter has to offer in regards to gameplay, once you break the obtuse learning curve of its mechanics and tutorials, there is a lot to chew off for everyone. Sadly there are no new weapons and aside from some tweaks for the majority of them, they feel relatively the same as past installments, however, they added a couple of battle mechanics to spice things a little. First are the Switch Skills which lets you customize your weapon with 3 out of 6 different skills (you start with only 2 but you unlock them by advancing the main story or by completing some side quests), it depends on the weapon but I find most of these skills pretty similar between them and the game makes a terrible work explaining how to activate them or what they exactly do, so I recommend to check out videos or guides to understand them better. Silkbind attacks are the second type of skills introduced in Rise, these works similarly to skills in an MMO game which has a cooldown between activation, some of them lets you jump and do an air attack, some others do a counter or give you a type of limited boost, as with the Switch skills their effects depend on each weapon. You can try different things with all of them and depending on your playstyle you will be selecting them. They are not the most refreshing thing in the world but they’re also a welcome addition, I haven’t played MH Generations Ultimate yet, but it seems to me that these skills are maybe an evolution of the skills they presented there, why do they not appear in MH World? that certainly, I don’t know.

In tandem with weapon variety, we have a lot of skills that you can unlock when advancing through the main campaign, these skills can be attained by getting armor sets (or mixing them), talismans, and decorations. These skills come in a wide variety that ranges from offensive to support, and they also have different levels from each other to increase their efficacy. More likely you’ll be focusing on getting the best combination possible to be a better hunter.

Another new mechanic is the possibility to ride a monster to attack another one and do massive damage, this mechanic isn’t entirely new either, as you could ride monsters since MH 4 but back then it was only possible to ride them to make them fall. To ride them you need to do enough “Silk” damage with Silkbind attacks and aerial attacks, once you do enough damage it is time to rodeo. After you ride once if you want to ride the monster again, I believe that you have to do a lot more damage than the first time and some time has passed, I’m not entirely sure if this is accurate though. Nevertheless, it is a fun mechanic and can be quite useful to collect more resources and to have quicker hunts.


The Secret of Kamura

Speaking of hunting, there are new tweaks that have changed the hunt experience, for starters, to advance through the main plot you’re tasked to do 4 to 5 quests to advance to the next rank, so instead of the game forcing you to follow a set of specific quests you now can choose between 8 quests (just to say a number) and complete 4 of them, these quests are basically large monster quests so there are no more fetch quests to advance this time around, a thing that I welcome with open arms. In past entries, the rhythm of progression was somewhat stiff and narrow, with some of those quests being more tiresome and frustrating than challenging. The challenge in the single-player campaign, however, is quite easy, even by more “modern” Monster Hunter standards, so a lot of the challenge and rewarding fights are mostly waiting in the later parts of the game.

When playing single player you are not entirely alone, this time around you are not only accompanied by a cat-like buddy Palico but also by a dog-like one called Palamute, these two companions have different abilities and can be customized in different ways depending on your approach, Palicoes are Jacks of all trades, can be healers or attackers, while Palamutes specialize in more offensive skills. In my experience, the best use of them is to be a distraction for the monster but they certainly have some lucky strikes now and then, and also can help to build up elemental damage and ailments.

Hunting throws you to the action faster than ever, as you traverse the map on foot or by mounting a Palamute, whenever you get an item everything combines automatically with another item if you check it on your crafting list, you only need to see the gathering animation just once for the gathering spots like outcrops and stuff like that. Some of these tweaks were introduced in MH World first and are kind of quality of life changes, they let you focus on the fun of hunting monsters, yet, you also don’t need to find the monsters as they appear on your map from the start, if it is a monster you haven’t encountered yet it will be marked with a “?”, but by pure chance, the monster you’re looking for will be the only unknown one, again this is convenient but it certainly made me think about the slow but rewarding mechanic of tracking your prey in past installments, I thought the tracking mechanic with the bugs in MH World was a sweet middle spot for people who like to track down the monster and people who don’t, it is not as the monsters roam freely on the map, as they always appear in the same areas and move in the same pattern. It feels as if you go to a fancy restaurant and instead of having the entire 5-course meal you go directly for the main dish, this is not a bad thing per se but it is less rewarding and unearned. If tracking monsters and battling them in limited areas is that bothersome, maybe we can just have arena-like battles with the monsters and save all the “trouble” and pretense of hunting them.

With every Monster Hunter game, Capcom always gives us an “extra” mode to hunt monsters, normally it will be a hunting event where you need to slay a big Kaiju-type monster, use weapon installations, get on the monster and defend your base. Rise introduces Rampage mode, and it uses a similar formula but it is more complex and has a more clear Tower Defense type of game structure. At first, I didn’t prefer it that much, because as with everything else with Monster Hunter it’s filled with new poorly explained mechanics, but once you get used to it you can have some fun with this mode, especially while playing co-op, you have to make a lot of installations management so doing it solo can overwhelm you pretty easy. As an extra, Rampage mode is better than previous modes but it isn’t as great as hunting large monsters, so you probably will be doing only the mandatory Rampage Urgent quests and maybe as a diversion to rest a little from hunting monsters, at least that was the case for me.

Maps range from the typical forest with ruins to underground caverns in a volcano, excluding the arena and Rampage mode there are only five areas, each of them is designed with verticality and wirebug displacement in mind. In terms of offering something new, they feel somewhat common, Monster Hunter World gave us the standard five stages but they were exciting and different, the area selection in Rise not only has pretty regular areas but some of them feel as if they are expansions or recreations of past areas. I can’t say they are or look bad but they don’t stand out much from past locations of other MH games, I don’t think that I would remember these areas in the near future as neither has a distinct feeling to them, some of them have Japanese-like structures or Mayan inspired pyramids but they’re not used in any fight so feel more like background noise. To be fair I like the volcanic area, it is a mix between underground caverns with a shallow neon river, if the other location would be as interesting as this one.

Although the game has a lot of verticality on its terrain design, it is only used in navigation with your Palamute and wirebug movement, but it certainly is a missed opportunity in terms of fighting large monsters. I didn’t mind it at first but when fighting the final monster (which won’t be the final in two updates apparently) I saw the potential of moving and evading like Spiderman with your wirebug while fighting, it is a pretty neat battle, but looking back the past large monster fights it just makes me wonder how good would it be to fight some of them like the final boss.


Barbarous Beast

Monster Hunter Rise features 34 large monsters to hunt (by version 1.1.2), but this number varies greatly depending on whom you ask, some people like to count “Apex” monsters which are a unique feature of the Rampage mode, personally, I don’t prefer to count them as Rampage battles aren’t much different from one another aside of the monster’s HP, although we are counting one Rampage monster in the ’34 list. Of these 34 large monsters, only 11 are new (one of this is the Rampage one) and the other 23 are returning monsters from different generations. These new monsters are mostly based on Yokai or Japanese creature folklore and are pretty neat in design, my favorite would be Tetranadon which is a mix between a Kappa (a turtle/frog-like spirit that inhabits ponds and rivers) and a Sumo fighter.

I think it’s safe to classify large monsters into three categories: The easy ones, the middle ones, and the hard ones. If you’re a completionist you’re most likely hunt each one of these a lot of times, but if you’re more into the hunt for getting the best equipment (which is mostly linked to the hard ones and some middle ones) and the challenge, most probably you’ll do the hard ones and some of the middles. The returning monster selection it’s ok, my biggest issue( aside from the 1/3 ratio of new monsters, but more on that soon after) is their distribution, most of the monsters fall into the categories of easy and middle, but just a few belong to the hard category. This affects your game-time as your hunts will be reduced to just a few and make your sessions somewhat repetitive. Again, if you’re a completionist you won’t see this as an issue but I assume that most of the people aren’t so I think it is important to mention this.


Sanctuary Abandoned by the Gods

So let’s talk a little about the “endgame” and the “free” updates model that is using Capcom nowadays.

After finishing the last monster battle, the story ends abruptly in a cliffhanger, it teases you with story bits and a monster that could easily be in the main game, and different from MH World this time around there are no more Elder monsters, no new weapon upgrades, just the ability to change the second color in your HR armor sets that frankly, it isn’t that noticeable at all. With Iceborne and many updates after, we got layered armors, which serve to dress up your hunter with your preferred style without compromising skills, this can give the endgame a lot of steam since you can collect your favorite armors and make different combinations to match your preferences. Sadly, the only layered armors that we currently can have are tied only for amiibo or paid DLC, so again, what is the point to collect every single armor or even the few that I like if I can’t use them because it will mess up my carefully selected skills?. In MH World at launch you could get two versions of the same armor when reaching High Rank, here you only get one and that’s all, more importantly, (and I know that this has been the case since the past games but that doesn’t mean that it is a good thing), the armors for the returning monsters are basically the same as always, I would love to see new designs for each monster with each new installment, Rise has a Japanese theme so imagine all the missed potential.

Years before, I didn’t understand why Capcom USA didn’t localize a lot of its Monster Hunter games until they have the Ultimate treatment, but now I think I get it, it is because the original versions lack a lot of content and honestly they feel almost the same between each other. When Monster Hunter World launched I give a blind eye to all of these issues since I thought that it lacked stuff because it was the big jump to a next-gen system and all that, but seeing Rise as it is now, I understand that is more a cheap business model on which they sort of launch an unfinished game on purpose to receive money while they develop the next content (if not they already have it from the beginning, which I bet they had) and advertised it as a “free” update, this business model isn’t new, as Battle royale games use it and honestly I think it is OK with them since they are free games and all, but what bothers me, in this case, is that this isn’t a free game, it is a full price $60 game that it is supposed to be finished by the time it is in the shelves and in the digital stores.

Sports sequels like FIFA 20XX are released yearly and for what it seems, their upgrades aren’t as big as other genre sequels that take from 3 to 4 years in development, but being yearly developed, I think it is kind of justified. Monster Hunter Rise was in development for at least 4 years, in that amount of time, other sequels have been made that offer a lot of new content with some reused assets and models, so speaking only in new content, Why Rise has a free pass in terms of giving us new stuff? To me it is kind of unacceptable, this is a sequel to a now AAA property, Why does it feel more like an expansion with a full price tag? Monster models, armor models, animation, all of these look like retouched versions of assets we have seen in past Monster Hunter entries, so in theory, it will be easier to add them as extras and focus more on putting new stuff in the game, but instead, we only got 1/3 of new content.

My rant it’s linked to the games preservation discussion, if these “free” updates were somehow burned in the game’s cartridge I wouldn’t be raving at all, but because preservation is an issue that big publishers and a lot of consumers aren’t bothered at all, this rant would most likely be passed as an exaggeration, however, I do believe that in 10 to 15 years when the Nintendo Switch servers will be closing down, we will be all locked with an unfinished game if we miraculously don’t have our content downloaded to our system’s data. With the PS3 and PSP stores closing-not-closing, I think more people is aware of this problem and I’m in the hopes that we get a solution soon, of the three big video game brands, only X-box is doing a good job with their backward compatible games policy, so hopefully, Nintendo and Sony do something similar with their digital platforms, I’m not that optimist though.


Proof of a Hero

My time with Monster Hunter Rise has been a bittersweet one, it is undeniable that I have had fun while playing it with my friends since the first demo was released, however, it has a lot of issues inside and outside the game that I think I’m too old to overlook. For starters, this is a good game as any of the last games to enter, it is still filled with cumbersome and unclear tutorials that will easily overwhelm any newcomer, but once that bridge is closed, its new mechanics and QOL changes will take a lot of your days, in a good way. For veterans, I think this is a good time to think about what we deserve as consumers, are we really ok to accept a new sequel disguised as an expansion? What Capcom is doing here with Monster Hunter is basically giving us the same game over and over again with only the bare minimum of improvements to be passed as a sequel. I still love the franchise, but for the time being, I’m kind of done with it, unless the next installment looks like a true sequel I’m probably skipping it.
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Monster Hunter: Rise is definitely a monster hunter game. It iterates on the formula in some really great ways, but at its core, it's still a game about hunting monsters and using their parts to make better equipment to then hunt more monsters. This simple loop can be repetitive and boring at times, but there's enough monsters and weapons to keep things fresh for atleast 50 hours of content.

Rise is significantly more mobile than previous entries. The new dog-like companion, Palamutes, can be mounted for extra speed. You can even use items and sharpen your weapon while riding. Silkbind attacks allow you to dash forward or even into the air at any time. There's also three alternate silkbind abilities for each weapon that open up more options. You can wall run on almost any surface, and stamina consumption has been adjusted to allow more aggressive dodging. All of this together gives Rise the most satisfying combat of the series.

There's planty quality of life changes. All food items always give the max stamina and health bonus, giving the player more freedom in their meal choices. Palamute and Palico armor now uses "scraps" that you get free-of-charge from crafting your own equipment. World's weapon-downgrade system is still here. Optional Missions that give armor spheres and other goodies are easier to access and complete (a bit too easy, if you ask me. I have more Hard Amor Spheres than I know what to do with.) There's a new system for farming Honey/Bugs/Plants which allows you to gather a wider variety of resources. Decorations are now crafted, but Charms are now randomized through the melding pot. Controls are streamlined and allow customizable quick access to all the important items and abilities. 

Then there's the unwelcome changes. The game feels lacking in difficulty, although that might just be me getting better at Monster Hunter. There was no difficulty spike like there was in World when you encounter Nergigante for the first time. The tower-defense Rampage missions are clunky and annoying when played solo. Monster AI feels like it needs some work. Way too often monsters immediately run away as soon as I begin a fight. The new monster riding mechanics are very fun, but you can only ride each monster once per mission. This makes sense for balance reasons, but I still wish I could mount a monster multiple times in a single hunt. There's no longer any way to use melding or special assignments to get high rarity monster parts, which can result in a lot of grinding. There's new "Spiribird" lifeforms that provide buffs lasting for the entire hunt, like extra health, defense, or attack. On most hunts, I would spend some time wondering around the locale in order to get my health and defense up before actually fighting the monster. This level of preparation felt satisying to me, but I can see it being a downside. Arena quests seem severely lacking (there's only 5), but I never really liked those anyways.

Netplay has no issues whatsoever. Connection was stable, and getting connected to friends is extremely straightforward. Difficulty curve of adding more hunters seems appropriate. 

The campaign for Rise is short, and the amount of monsters feels lacking, but the monsters that are there, the locales, and the overall aestethics are on point. As long as it gets the same support World received, Rise will have no shortage of challenging monsters and High Rank content. There's a safari-style side-quest in the game where you can take pictures of monsters and endemic lifeforms to keep in a log. Additionally, there's an achievement system that makes this type of side-content more meaningful. 
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