Monster Hunter is a famously difficult franchise to get into. Complex systems layered on complex systems that require significant time to wrap your head around makes for one steep learning curve.
Fans have always said it is worth it though so I have always wanted to dive in, but my experience with single player Monster Hunter ended with a 3DS game that lost me.
As with my experience with many series it is time to see if the Switch can get me into the series with Monster Hunter Rise.
Monster Hunter Rise kicks off with you creating your character, your palumute (Dog..ish thing) and your palicoe (cat that walks on hind legs). The palicoe is an iconic companion in the franchise but the use of it and a palumute that you can ride and helps attack which is new to the franchise.
After the reasonably deep character creators you get thrown into the village where you learn your way around and start picking up some missions. This is a routine you will soon be familiar with, go to the village, pick up some stuff, accept some missions, do some work on your gear, and head off to hunt monsters.
Then it basically throws you into the world. Monster Hunter Rise gives you a lot of dialogue boxes covering how to play which is helpful but those first few missions are still pretty overwhelming. Fumbling your way through your first map, trying to get used to the combat and traversal and then fighting monsters not quite remembering what your mission is was a lot to take in. Despite this, thanks to some significant advances in gameplay, it starts to click relatively quickly.
Once you get used to the map, and learn to run from some bigger monsters, it will quickly acclimate you to what you will be doing in Monster Hunter Rise. Getting a mission, then hunting monsters or gathering resources, running from the bigger beasties until you are much better, rinse and repeat.
One thing I knew about the series but did not appreciate until playing this game is that the monsters are designed brilliantly. Not just the aesthetics, which are pretty awesome too, but the way they interact in the world. When you attack monsters they will act differently, some will bail after being attacked for a bit, some will wander around certain areas or pace differently. It’s crazy when you get to learn their behaviours.
You might piss off a monster so it will chase you, and then you lead it to another monster so they go at each other for a while. You may then go back to where they normally retreat to so you can set a trap. This means it runs back injured, you then get your chance to finish it off. This is where the true depth of the game comes in and it is easy to see why the game has such a beloved fan base and is worth the hours to learn.
The story is light. Basically an ancient monster is going to flatten the village as well as the normal threats. The story has you doing normal missions followed by the new rampage missions. This winds up being a sort of combat and tower defense mashup where you build defenses and traps and need to repair them as monsters try to destroy the village. They are an OK mission but they can be a pretty long slog.
Monster Hunter Rise is a fun game.
It still has a bit of a steep learning curve, though much better than previous games, and it is well worth learning. Once you are in the groove it is so fun to cruise through missions and tackle enemies in different ways and the mission loop makes it perfect for playing on the Switch on the go or at home on the big screen.
Released: March 2021
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo Switch