Fun fact: I’ve been on a Monster Hunter World kick for the last six months or so. I played the game when it first came out, but it’s been fun to revisit its lands, chasing Anjanath and Pukei-Pukei. There’s just something thrilling about the hunt, especially when you build a perfect team of hunters — and for years after its release, that gameplay still holds up.
And that latest gaming addiction was on my mind when I started playing through Monster Hunter Rise on the Nintendo Switch. With Rise, Capcom does exactly what it needed to do, capturing all the fun of the Monster Hunter universe in a package that’s simultaneously more bite-sized and just as expansive as anything you’ve come to expect.
As usual with a Monster Hunter title, the story is thin in Rise. You play as a Hunter in Kamura Village, and you must be ready to defend the village against all manner of monsters. It’s a simple tale told in a series of cutscenes, with a Japanese aesthetic and sound as backdrop. But Rise doesn’t spend a ton of time developing it, limiting how much you’ll truly engage with the story. I spent most of the game walking up to NPCs and clicking past anything they might say to get to the good stuff: Gear and quests. There’s a tale here, but it’s not one you’ll care about.
Rise prefers to throw you headlong into the action and teach you the mechanics. And to some extent, that’s OK, since you’re here for the monsters anyway. Monster Hunter Rise quickly finds its rhythm in this regard, letting you operate in a world that seems thoughtfully built for the Nintendo Switch. The Switch, of course, is a unique console, built to be equal parts easy-to-play on the go and beautiful and dynamic when linked to your big-screen TV.
Rise understands that, so it takes the best bits of the Monster Hunter World and makes a more versatile game structure. This is still best played with friends, but the game sets you up to play by yourself as well, giving you two assistants: A Palamute dog, which can fight alongside you, joins your standard Palico.
You’ll spend less time searching for each monster you face, and more time battling and hunting them, a welcome tweak that works better given the format. That’s partly because of the quests you undertake, and partly because of the areas, too: Most are smaller than World’s maps, allowing for snappy load times, and quick, smooth traversal.
That traversal takes place in new ways too, thanks to the Wirebug, which lets you feel slightly like Spiderman, essentially zipping from place to place. Suddenly, areas have a new sense of verticality, and chasing monsters draws a bit more depth. The Wirebug does other things too, delivering Silkbind attacks on all your weapons, and enhancing your dodging ability, making it more useful against the vicious baddies you’ll eventually meet.
And oh, those monsters are a joy. Monster Hunter Rise delivers intense monster-fighting fun, from the Bishaten, which looks like a mutated Wyvern of sorts, to the bird-dragon Aknoson. The looks are distinct, even on the tiny Switch screen. (If Godzilla vs. King Kong every needs a new monster? This is the place to look.) The battles you’ll engage in with these enemies are exciting, too, as you alternately dodge and attack, then, if you’re lucky, unleash a flurry of attacks that set you up to mount the enemy. It’s here when Rise is at its best: You can then ride your new enemy into walls or wreak other havoc.
As you go from quest to quest, it becomes a satisfying loop, complete with a hub world that allows for significant weapon upgrades. And it all adds up to one of the deepest gaming experiences on the Switch. Perfect? No. But you’ll spend 40-50 hours chasing Monster Hunter Rise’s baddies (and then Capcom expects to deliver more updates, too).
And that’s plenty of on-the-go 2021 fun.
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Available on Nintendo Switch[object Object]