Monster Hunter is quite a phenomenon and I knew it for quite some time, but never really got into the games. This changed when I bought my first Monster Hunter on the Wii U; Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate. The game ended up not really managing to grab and hold my attention as much as I had hoped. Then Monster Hunter World was released on PlayStation 4 and I wanted to give the franchise another chance, because I felt I should. Ever since I’ve been hooked on the game and when I saw the announcement for Monster Hunter Rise for Nintendo Switch, I knew I just had to have this game!
The game’s namesake is exactly what the game is. You hunt monsters. From small ones, to huge dragons that fill the entire screen. In this game you’re a resident of Kamura Village, a very Eastern-like village that is threatened to be attacked by a phenomenon they call “The Rampage”. Whenever Magnamalo shows up (the monster that is depicted on the game’s boxart) it’s an omen that a new Rampage is due and an enormous horde of monsters is set to attack Kamura Village. It’s up to the player to prepare for this event by hunting monsters, collecting materials and forging new weapons and armor to face the ongoing threats to the village.
I’ve already played MHR for over a hundred hours by the time I write this review and the playing time stacks up very fast. A hunt typically takes between 15 and 45 minutes. The game has a low entry point, but gets harder quite fast. As the player you have a vast arsenal to deal with the monsters. You can dodge, defend, use special moves and gadgets to succesfully hunt your prey. Choosing the right armor type for the job also becomes increasingly more important. For instance, if you’re facing a Rathalos (a flying wyvern) you might want to increase your fire and poison resistance to make the fight easier.
Preparation is key
Before going on a hunt you have to prepare yourself. You can only take a limited amount of items with you, but you also have to take into consideration that you want to keep some space free for any loot you might find. You can bring potions, antidotes, traps and even several types of explosives and bombs, each giving you that edge you will need to win the fight. Eating is also important before going on a hunt. Bunny Dango, a very sweet marshmellow-like treat is being served by the local chef and this stuff will give you some extra buffs for your hunt. You can choose any three combinations of flavours and they each give different bonusses. The combinations you can make are endless, so choosing the right ones for the job is another key to success!
Hunten and farming
Monster Hunter definitely isn’t a game for everyone. To successfully hunt you’ll have to improve your weapons and armor constantly. There are fourteen weapon types to choose from and each one has its own playstyle. Finding the right one for you is very important. I prefer using the Light Bowgun, a type of gun that can pack a punch, but also gives you plenty of mobility. The Hammer is another favorite of mine, allowing you to punch monsters really hard, which can be really satisfactory. I also love the Dual Blades, which give you a lot of mobility and fast hitting abilities. The choices are really broad!
Sometimes you’ll need to hunt a specific monster multiple times to get the right materials for your next upgrade. The armor and weapons can be placed on a wish list, allowing you to keep track of whether or not you’ve collected all materials in order to craft that item. This is where the repetitiveness comes in and might be why some people won’t like the game. Monster Hunter is basically doing boss fights over and over again and while there is a story, it’s not really deep. The fun comes from doing the hunts and succeeding in downing some of the biggest and nastiest monsters you’ll ever encounter in a game.
High Rank & Rampage Quests
Like many other RPGs, this game is all about the end-game. You start out being able to do Low Rank quests, but once you progress through the quests and story you’ll be able to unlock High Rank quests. There are two quest hubs, one outside in the Village and one inside the Hub. Village Quests are Low Rank and can only be played single player, while Hub Quests can be both Low and High Rank and can be completed with up to four hunters. Once you’ll go on your first High Rank hunt you’ll notice that the monsters are quite a bit tougher and have a few new tricks up their sleeve.
While hunting offline you can bring two buddies, your Palico and Palamute. The Palico is a cat-like creature who stands on its hindlegs and helps you fight, gather items and also heals you. I named mine after our late cat Mysty, who we still miss very much. The Palamutes are new to Monster Hunter and these canine helpers function as both fighting assistants and as mounts.
The best and most beautiful visuals available on Nintendo Switch
One thing I was anticipating was that this game wouldn’t look half as good as Monster Hunter World on PS4. The Switch isn’t exactly a powerhouse when it comes to graphical power. But Capcom really outdid themselves and the game is absolutely stunning to look at. Kamura Village and its surrounding areas don’t just look great, they look alive. There’s so much life in the game, not just the big monsters, but also the small monsters and all endemic life. Everywhere you look you can see some creature moving, or lush trees. If it were possible, I’d book a holiday to Kamura Village!
Like I said, Monster Hunter is not a game for everyone. Every hunt is like a boss fight and they get harder and harder. You’ll have to do many of them over and over again to get the materials and loot you need. The repetitiveness is something you have to enjoy, because that is probably the biggest deal breaker of this game. But once you’re hooked to the concept, it’s very hard to put the game down and even when you do, you’ll be thinking about your next hunt! Capcom has really set the bar high with this franchise and with a whole slew of free downloadable content, it’ll be a while before this game gets stale. The year may not be over yet, but this game definitely gets a vote for game of the year!