Monster Hunter Rise review (Switch)

Currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch with a PC release expected to arrive later, Monster Hunter Rise brings the acclaimed franchise to the Switch just over three years after the release of Monster Hunter: World. Here’s our review.

Capcom’s Switch-exclusive Monster Hunter Rise has been eagerly anticipated, and it’s already the second major AAA title to hit the Switch this year after Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. In that sense, they have the new Xbox beat and arguably even the PlayStation 5 – although that will likely change in the coming months.

Monster Hunter Rise certainly doesn’t disappoint though, and adds another mark to the list of reasons to pick up a Switch if you’re not too interested in its massive indie library and mostly want the “big” titles. And although slightly smaller in scope than Monster Hunter: World was, this certainly is a big title and it’s a technical marvel to see it running on the Switch, especially in handheld mode.

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Rise certainly takes a few cues from what World offered though, making the franchise more accessible to newcomers with streamlined gameplay and gradual progress. Here, the narrative revolves around your village and the threat from advancing beasts. As always, it serves mainly as an excuse to battle with them, strip their bodies in search of better outfits and weapons and farm materials you can use. The mechanics are familiar, but as with Monster Hunter: World they’re still a bit daunting to newcomers even if it’s less confusing than it was in the past (on the Nintendo DS games, for example).

We’re slightly oversimplifying here, because there is a lot more diversity to Rise’s quests than simple “a monster approaches – slay it!” assignments. This is an adventure with a grand scope, and one that will take most players dozes of hours (and plenty of Switch recharges) to complete. There’s a wealth of content in its quests, its many pieces of equipment and its unlockable quests and rewards. The game feels like it should one of those 40GB+ downloads on a console, but weighs in at a fraction of that.

We’re bringing up the download size for a reason – Monster Hunter Rise is a technological masterpiece. It looks beautiful, runs smoothly, and pushes the envelope of what’s possible on the Nintendo Switch. Sure, the detail’s been dialed back a bit from what we saw in Monster Hunter: World, but there is a lot of diversity in Rise’s environments and the world doesn’t feel flat in any way – from the detail to the ability to climb to higher ground. If that wasn’t enough, then exploring is also possible and heavily encouraged – the scenery even includes secrets that you can find that will help you on your quests. And although it’s impressive enough to see all that unfold on a television screen it’s truly mesmerizing when playing in handheld mode.

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Monster Hunter Rise is actually so large that being able to use mounts while traversing it is a welcome addition. You can also use grappling hooks to cover distances and/or height, and the entire movement system feels far more accomplished that it should on a (technically) modest console like the Switch. It’s a lot of fun, especially when you’re able to integrate some acrobatics into your monster hunting missions – it doesn’t just look cool, it also feels empowering.

Rampages are one of the highlights when it comes to combat, as they are large scale battles that have multiple tiers where wave after wave of monsters assault your settlement and it’s up to you to divide your attention between them and the ability to set up defenses against the bad guys you can’t actively engage yourself. It’s epic stuff where you’re constantly on the edge of your seat, but when you succeed the rewards are equally impressive too.

As glorious as the combat and core mechanics are, however, Monster Hunter Rise is still a trimmed-down take on the franchise when compared to Monster Hunter: World. This is especially true in the sense that Rise doesn’t do as much to build up the world around you in a narrative sense, so as a story-driven campaign it’s a step back from Capcom’s last outing. Nevertheless, this is still a wonderful title and a must-have for Switch owners who enjoy engaging combat and a satisfying gameplay loop. What is lacks in world-building it more than makes up for with its strong Monster Hunter fundamentals.

Score: 8.7/10

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