(Mojo’s Note: This is primarily me talking about a bunch of the new stuff I encountered in the early hours of the game/the majority of the low rank experience. I Intend to come back to it in written form after getting through High rank and the endgame experience. Now back to the Regularly Scheduled Chicanery)
My experience with Monster Hunter begins and ends with Monster Hunter World. Primarily because Monster Hunter games have usually been on Handheld consoles and I’ve not had access to those consistently until I got a Nintendo Switch. I managed to play the Base game of World and liked it well enough to get my hands on the expansion Iceborne, but I never got around to that content sadly. Monster Hunter Rise, the newest entry in the series, came out last week. It’s all I’ve been playing since I hit publish last week.
A lot of this is because of both going back to a more traditional template from the earlier Monster Hunter games, keeping the quality of life changes brought up in Monster Hunter World, and adding a host of new features that feel right at home. The key ones of these are the Wirebugs and Palamutes. The former is a little critter that lets you extend a zip line out to grapple onto the terrain, in midair, even use them in combat for special Silkbind arts. The coolest of these is the Wire Riding, where you can use the Wirebug to mount a monster and ride them as a mount, damage another monster as a mid-hunt tactic, or just hurl them into walls for a free knockdown and some extra monster parts. The latter is a Canyne helper that aids you in hunts alongside your Palico. On top of being a very good boy, you can also mount your doggo like a tail rider in Iceborne but fully controllable and do all of the in-between hunt tasks like eating to recover stamina and resharpening your weapon.
Both of these add a level of versatility and speed to Rise that made me forget all about missing my Slinger from World. These combined with the additions of new Endemic Life buffs that further make you more capable of fighting the big beasties, make for a much more action-oriented Monster Hunter experience. Speaking of Monsters; the crop of new monsters this time around are probably my favorites in my short time as a Rookie. From the Flagship monster Magnamalo being a demonic, hellfire spewing samurai tiger, the “mermaid dragon” Somnacanth that’s a mix of Eastern and Western Mermaids and Sirens, Serpents, and weirdly enough Otters of all things in its animations, The Packhunting Great Izuchi and Great Wroggi being flanked by their lesser cohorts and resorting to pack tactics to eek out wins, Rise’s Absolute Unit Tetranadon being a mix of a platypus and a hippo, and my personal Favorites: the Aknosom, a bird wyvern that looks like a giant crane mixed with an umbrella that spews fire and uses its wings for massive sweeping attacks; And the Bishaten, a Fanged Beast with a rad tail that’s got what’s essentially a third hand on the end of it that it uses to acrobatically dart around the field and attack you with on top of an assortment of fruits ranging from explosives to poison to even its version of a flash bomb fruit. Even with a limited amount of time, the new mechanics and these new monsters, on top of the existing creatures from past games, all mesh very with the new mechanics make for a great hunting experience. There’s also the new Rampage missions, where you have to fend off waves of increasingly difficult monsters. Those are mostly fine, I generally do my best to keep away from them though. all of the monsters also get introductory cutscenes framed in the style of a haiku telling you what they’re all about, with old film grain and every thing. It’s a great stylistic touch.
Then there’s the out-of-hunt stuff. The Village of Kimura serves as your hub and it’s where you handle all of your business outside of the hunts. Be it inventory management, the forging of new equipment, or even eating at the canteen, you can tell that a lot of love and care went into bringing this place to life. The same can be said for the rest of the locales and areas because just like Monster Hunter World, the spaces you go into feel like lived-in spaces. From the abandoned Shrine Ruins, the frozen Wastes of the Frost Islands, the Jungles of the Flooded Forests, and the Arid cliffs and sands of the Sandy Plains, they all feel like unique biomes and ecosystem with their food chains.
Even though I’ve only played for around 20 hours so far, Monster Hunter Rise is my contender for my favorite game of 2021 so far. And this is just me talking about the new changes in the actual hunts and not getting into the stuff for High ranked or how weapons and armor in general straight-up costs less to craft, which is a godsend. And it’s small stuff like that, the small things that make the play experience quicker to establish, are going to be what keeps me coming back. And that’s probably the best thing I can think to say about a game.