Monster Hunter Rise escalates the hunt for the poor dinosaur-like animals that most want to keep their skin.
Now, my beloved little chicks
Let’s go out into the steaming jungles of the Nintendo Switch together
And smelly swamp
Now we’m going on a monster hunt
Now we’m going on a monster hunt!
Monster Hunter is a strange series, in several ways. On the one hand, it is one of the few co-op-focused game series on portable formats such as 3DS and PSP that were actually extremely popular and played online. Which is impressive considering how lousy the 3DS online system is. It is also a series that used to be almost completely devoid of story. You just went out into the jungles, deserts, mountains and swamps and killed every single big monster (and a lot of small ones, too) you saw. All to make huge weapons from their skeletons, as well as usually very ugly clothes from their skins and fur. A kind of Felix Herngren simulator, you could say.
It is really an, in my eyes, extremely unsympathetic concept. There is no real reason to kill all these animals, which mostly take care of themselves, other than to be able to get bigger weapons to kill even more monsters with. In recent games, they have tried to write more of a story reason why you go bloody bananas on everything that moves, but still.
Of course, it’s just a game, so it’s not directly that I call animal welfare. But it hurts a little to see your victim get tired and injured and drooling around to desperately try to escape.
However, none of this has stopped me from playing unnecessarily many hours Monster Hunter on both PSP, 3DS and PC. Above all, the phenomenal Monster Hunter World, which added a lot of much-needed streamlining to the previously unnecessarily cumbersome game series.
Also read: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne – a sickly cool review
What is it?
A return to the portable format of the Japanese monster series.
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A horse job for a dog
Monster Hunter Rise continues on that path, with even faster accumulation of resources and a higher pace overall – not least in the battles themselves. It does not take as long to trap the early monsters, which makes it quicker for a veteran to get to the point where the game finally gets a little more challenging. However, it’s a bit easy until you get to the tougher high rank monsters. That you do not have to knock on the monsters for as long (for the most part) is welcome, but they would have been a little more difficult. Some of the monsters have either fairly simple and expected attack patterns, while others mostly feel quite gimmicky. The battles seldom get that intensity or weight as in Monster Hunter World.
That does not mean that Rise is bad, just that I do not think it pokes the predecessor off the throne – although I appreciate how it speeds up the sadder, more grumpy pieces of the game. You do not have to collect several times from each plant, bone mound, beehive or whatever it is you collect. A pressure empties it of everything it has at the moment. It is very welcome. The city is also small, so you can easily and quickly do everything you want there before the next battle.
And then we have the riding and climbing, which definitely adds a lot and makes you feel more mobile than ever. At least between the battles. In the battles themselves, you are about as awkward as ever – but it would not have been Monster Hunter otherwise. Being able to swing forward, ride large dogs and even run up mountain walls, feels very right.
Meat on the dinosaur bones
The environments, on the other hand, are sadder than in their predecessor. Here it definitely feels like a return to the 3DS era, with sometimes ugly surroundings (there are exceptions – the city is more detailed than the forest environments, but in the city you still do not want to linger unnecessarily long) and worlds that do not feel particularly fun to explore. Even though they are more vertical than ever. You do not need to do that either, because the maps are usually so small that you run through them quite quickly. And you rarely or never have to look for what you need, as both monsters and mission-critical resources are marked on the map.
The meat on those legs is of course the battles, and they are still fun – even if they lack that brutal intensity from World. However, it is difficult to ignore the fact that it is difficult to go from 60 frames per second in the predecessor, to only 30 in Rise. When you play in portable mode, it is less noticeable than if you play on TV, but even I, who is not a huge framerate snob, have a hard time getting used to it. Often I simply feel that I want to return to Monster Hunter World. Not because Rise is bad, but because the predecessor is simply so very good.
Monster Hunter Rise is a really good game – especially if you see it as a portable game. Definitely many trips better than the today difficult to play and sluggish 3DS editions. Switch has to work hard to run the game, however, so the battery is drained in the blink of an eye. But it’s worth it. A pretty thin game year like this so it feels Rise definitely like a healthy fan, and it does far more right than wrong. I just wish it did a little more right. It’s just to pick up his huge leg sword, throw on some Mora Swamp and go out on a tiger… I mean monster hunting.
Also read: Returnal – is it worth returning to again and again?
In some ways a step forward, in other ways a step back. Still shamefully fun to hunt monsters.