The overwhelming success of Monster Hunter: World proved that the series had legs on all formats.
It was undoubtedly a disappointment, then, when its follow up, Monster Hunter Rise, was announced exclusively for Switch. But here we are, nearly two years after its launch on Switch, and now you’re going to be able to play it on all current formats. And that’s after it launched on PC early last year. It’s safe to say that the Monster Hunter series is bigger than it’s ever been, and the quality of this latest entry is only going to grow it even further.
Monster Hunter Rise is the most streamlined and accessible Monster Hunter game to date. Yet new additions and features ensure that it’s also perhaps the deepest and most enjoyable to play. When playing alone, for example, you’re accompanied by both a Palico and a Palamute, a cat and a dog respectively, who back you up with healing, attacks and other helpful skills. You can even jump on the back of the latter, enabling you to traverse the numerous locations available at a blazing pace.
Compared to World, there’s also less legwork to be done before you can get on with the task of actually engaging your target monster in combat. You don’t need to look for clues as to your mark’s whereabouts – all of the monsters active in your locations are marked on the map. Simply head to the one you want to hunt, and give it a good whacking. Some might see it as a bit of a downgrade, but we love the increased forward momentum. Hitting big monsters with big swords is what we’re here for, not scouring the floor for footprints or fecal matter.
Another major change is the introduction of Wirebugs. These allow players to zip around the environment like never before, aiding traversal as well as avoiding enemy attacks. And as if they weren’t already useful enough, they can also be used to perform some additional nifty attacks of your own. Called Switch Skills, there are multiple available for each weapon type, and there are many weapon types available in Monster Hunter Rise. From swords to bowguns, all bases are covered, and it’s worth trying them all to work out which is the perfect fit for you.
Related: Games Like Monster Hunter on PS4
Ultimately, though, the core Monster Hunter experience remains the same. You head out on quests, either alone or with a team, with the intention of hunting one or more monsters. Along the way, there are smaller monsters you can engage in battle with if you wish, as well as resources to plunder. And plunder you will. When you finally come up against your target, you’ll find that taking them down is no walk in the park. They hit hard and have massive pools of HP, and so learning their attack patterns and more about them is imperative to success. Breaking various parts of their body can be useful, too.
After a successful hunt, which ends with you either slaying or capturing your target, you’re regaled with spoils. And here lies the real joy of the series: the power creep. As you move up the Monster Hunter ranks, your targets get stronger and more fearsome, and so you need to gear up to remain a threat. You need to consider attack and defence values, elemental properties, skills and a whole lot more. It’s something you can become rather obsessive about, wanting to create a character that’s as optimised as can be.
And so Monster Hunter Rise becomes a game of two halves: spending time in town giving thought to your setup, and heading out on quests to combat beasts and collect their valuable materials. It’s a compelling combination, one that is sure to keep you playing long after you’ve seen the credits roll on the main story. Head straight through the easier solo-only “Village Quests” and you’ll see the credits roll in around 10 hours, especially if you make use of the optional advanced weapons and armour that are available at the outset. The story then continues via multiplayer-enabled Hub Quests, however, and this is where it could be argued that Monster Hunter Rise really begins.
Needless to say, there’s a hell of a lot of game here: most players are likely to spend 30 hours with it or more, and some even more than 100. And so it’s perhaps strange that the only criticism we can throw at it is that there isn’t more. Unfortunately, the game’s Sunbreak expansion, which has been available on Switch and PC for some time now, isn’t included. There’s probably a good reason for it, like a period of Switch and PC exclusivity, but it feels strange jumping into Monster Hunter Rise right now without it.
Still, the fact remains that the base Monster Hunter Rise experience is compelling enough without the new features introduced in Sunbreak. And as you need to put a serious number of hours into the base game before you can even access the new content, it gives players plenty of time to reach the jumping-in point, or decide it’s not for them without having to pay for the privilege. After all, chances are Monster Hunter Rise would not be launching on PlayStation or Xbox at such a modest price if the Sunbreak expansion was included.
We’ve been playing the PS5 version of Monster Hunter Rise for review, and we have to say that we’re very happy with it indeed. Three graphics settings are available: Default, Prioritise Framerate, and Prioritise Graphics. If you have a 120hz TV, you might want to use the Prioritise Framerate setting if you appreciate the enhanced smoothness, but for us, Prioritise Graphics won us over. There’s a clear improvement in visual fidelity, and the framerate appears to stick to a 60fps target for the majority of the time. What’s really neat, however, is that there’s also a custom graphical options menu where you can tweak everything from dynamic shadows to texture quality. Ultimately, you can configure Monster Hunter Rise to look and perform just how you like.
There are other PS5 enhancements, too. Loading times have been dramatically reduced, for example, meaning you can move from your village preparations to a quest in a matter of seconds. There’s decent DualSense support as well, giving you more feedback while you play. The only real let-down is that there’s limited cross-play support, with only PS4 and PS5 users being able to play together and so forth. If you’ve played Monster Hunter Rise on Switch or PC beforehand, there’s also no way to import your progress – you’ll have to start from scratch to play on these new formats.
So, should you buy Monster Hunter Rise on PS5? The answer is a resounding yes if you’ve not played it before. Providing you don’t mind too much that you can’t carry your progress over, you might want to jump in for a variety of reasons even if you’ve played the game on Switch or PC, too. While the Sunbreak expansion isn’t included, there’s still a hell of a lot of game here. And with its wealth of new gameplay features over previous entries in the series, PS5-centric enhancements and faster-paced gameplay, this is undoubtedly the best Monster Hunter game yet.