Monster Hunter: World marked a major paradigm shift for Capcom’s beloved franchise. The rapid difficulty ramp made progression comfortable for newbies, while countless endgame challenges ensured seasoned hunters kept coming back to achieve more. Monster Hunter Rise’s gameplay often tries to copy the world’s success, which isn’t always bad. Battles continue to be an exciting dance with death, equipment customization is satisfactory, and coordination of hunts with friends makes for incredible fun and unexpected results. Even with the introduction of new mechanics that expand these features, Monster Hunter Rise is struggling to establish its own creative identity.
Encountering huge and formidable beasts is at the heart of the experience and puts your skills to the test with the myriad of weapon types. Once victorious, spend your downtime sprinting around the main knot, upgrading or forging better equipment, receiving a number of pending quests from NPCs, and meticulously preparing for the next hunt. This captures the basics of the fantasy action series, but Monster Hunter Rise doesn’t venture far beyond that comfort zone.
During the opening hours, the people in the village of Kamura prepare for the “misfortune”, an army of wild monsters who want to devastate everything on their way. As the newly registered hunter of the village, you will have to kill or capture numerous creatures in the biomes beyond the steel gates of your hometown. Once you’re done marveling at the cherry blossom trees in bloom and enjoying the glorious score, grab your essential supplies from your ever-growing box, have a delicious meal at the local restaurant for exclusive bonuses, and venture into the unknown . There’s a pleasant monotony to this routine that Monster Hunter fans will likely appreciate, but the addition of the Buddy Plaza adds a new feature to your return journeys.
The Buddy Plaza is a base of operations for your Palicoes and Palamutes (cat or dog warriors). You can send your trusted pets on their own missions to source various crafting materials, spend money to train them to be more effective on future assignments, swap out their equipment or hire even more of them by speaking to the handler. Friends are extremely versatile, and Monster Hunter: Rise constantly rewards you for using the various facilities on the course. Still grinding for the rare beak or tail? Your palico “meowcenaries” might surprise you with one of a recent expedition. This kind of positive feedback adds a much-needed flavor to the breaks between combat and exploration.
You spend most of your playthrough to experience the classic loop: Fight against gigantic opponents like the wild Arzuros and Lagombi, collect worldly objects and bring heavy objects to the warehouse. Be sure to explore the nooks and crannies of each map as swimming, colorful birds known as “spiribirds” can be absorbed to improve your health, stamina, attack, or defense. These buffs make completing the above missions a lot easier. Don’t you want to do all of this on foot? Ride your palamute to speed up navigation or pull out your wire beetle to scale cliffs and mountain ranges in seconds.
Wirebug attacks, called silkbinds, add a new level of intensity to the action. With repeated use, silk ties force monsters into an assemblable state. These short combat sequences are all about using a monster’s power against them, ramming into nearby structures for staggering damage, or sprinting at other unsuspecting opponents to distribute the pain. Wyvern Riding is my favorite mechanic because it gives the franchise’s ancient combat system an exciting strategy boost.
Aside from the fact that monsters are mounted and the wire bug is used to run up the wall in a spectacular way, Monster Hunter Rise isn’t much different from the previous installments. It has enough endgame content to keep you busy long after the credits roll (if you don’t mind grinding a lot), and multiplayer is still the optimal way to play, but the excitement of my early hunts soon subsided. Monster Hunter Rise is far from being the next definitive chapter in the series. However, if you’re looking for a polished but conventional adventure with a few little nuances, Kamura Village is the place for you.