Monster Hunter Rise review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Cartridge / Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Monster Hunter Rise marks the second entry in Capcom?s popular franchise, and the first significant follow-up to the series since Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. As such, it does a pretty good job of fine-tuning elements from World, while also coming up with new ideas to help make Rise stand out amongst its long list of predecessors. As a whole, it?s a really, really great Monster Hunter, something that long-time fans will easily pour another 100 hours into. 

That said, it won?t take you 100 hours to see end credits on Monster Hunter Rise. The story component here is certainly lighter than what Monster Hunter World featured. The basic gist is that you?re a new hunter in Kamura Village, which will serve as your hub throughout the game. Monster rampages are on the rise, and it?s up to you to fight back against a number of gigantic creatures to defend your village, while at the same time figuring out what has all the beasties so riled up. I won?t go into spoilers, but the story just sort of happens, with the end boss being introduced so quickly that the tail end of the story feels severely rushed. I know DLC will drop that will expand upon the story more, as is always the case with Monster Hunter games, but if you?re at all coming to this game for the story, just keep in mind that Monster Hunter Rise sort of skimps out on that category. 

That said, I know most people don?t necessarily come to Monster Hunter for the script. Instead, all the fun comes from hunting down ridiculous monsters, carving them up, and crafting new armor and weapons, which is something you?ll have plenty of in Monster Hunter Rise. There?s a whole host of returning fan-favorite monsters, like Anjanath, Rathian, Pukei Pukei, and lots more. The monster designs seem to be on par with what we saw in Monster Hunter World and the Nintendo Switch actually holds its own when it comes to the visual side of Monster Hunter Rise. It also runs really well on the platform, either docked or undocked and has some surprisingly swift load times to boot. 

As far as new additions go, one of the biggest has to be the new Wirebug tool. This is an evolution of the clutch claw mechanic from Monster Hunter World and gives hunters a grappling tool that works off of a cooldown meter, allowing you to typically use it twice before waiting for the meter to reset. Unlike the clutch claw, this Wirebug tool can be launched anywhere and at anything, but instead of just grappling to an object you?ll be propelling yourself forward (or up, down, etc) in order to enhance your mobility a whole lot. Along with that, each weapon has specific Wirebug skills that can even be swapped out with new skills learned along the way. If you land a Wirebug based attack, you?ll also gain the chance to pin down and catch a ride on monster, giving you a limited window of time to control their movements and attacks. Hands down this is the biggest and best new addition to the series in quite a while, and it?s my sincere hope that it sticks around for future Monster Hunter games. 

Monster Hunter Rise also introduces a couple of new animal buddies to pal around with while out hunting. The Palamute is a dog companion that will roll into battle with you much like the Palico (which is also in Rise). In addition to performing some limited attacks, you can ride around on your Palamute at any point, giving you a much faster option to explore maps. You can attack while on the Palamute too, or launch off of it into a leaping attack, which is often my preferred mode of initiating battle. 

In addition to the Palamute, Monster Hunter Rise also introduces the Cohoot, an owl friend that provides an in-game reason for a few items of convenience, namely showing the locations of monsters at all times on a map, and replacing the SOS Flare function from World so you can invite other players to join you on a mission. The ability to just see monsters on the map at any time is fantastic and evolves us past the need to track monsters, use paintballs, or randomly explore in the hopes that we stumble across the monster we?re wanting to hunt. It?s just another element that streamlines the core Monster Hunter experience so you can get down to the real reason most people come to Monster Hunter, namely, to hunt monsters. 

Another addition to gameplay in Monster Hunter Rise is the new tower defense-inspired Rampage mode. This mode pops up a couple of times during the story, and from there becomes its own separate mode with quests that are accessible via your Handler NPC whenever you feel like tackling them. In Rampage mode, you?ll be tasked with defending gates, as monsters try to advance into your village. In order to defend, you?ll have emplacements where you can lay down traps, set up automated turrets, summon special NPC?s to fight, and a few more bells and whistles. As you successfully fend off invaders, you?ll gain more options for emplacements, which will become necessary as each subsequent wave tends to be more challenging. 

On paper, tower defense Monster Hunter sounds fun, but the execution is sort of lacking. Battles often get pretty chaotic, and it?s hard to really see everything at once since you?re stuck with the standard third-person camera view you always have. It?s also hard to tell how effective your emplacements are, and how much damage they?ve taken unless you?re near their location. Overall the mode just does a poor job of communicating info to the player, and it feels like a slog to get through when you?re forced to engage with it, which thankfully isn?t often. As great as the addition of the Wirebug is to Rise, Rampage mode is hopefully a one and done addition going forward 

Online multiplayer still plays a big role with Monster Hunter Rise, which this time separates the multiplayer component out with its own hub location and set of quests that up to four players can tackle at once. So far the online multiplayer experience has been pretty solid for me, just a bit of lag here and there, but nothing that has made any of my match-ups feel unplayable. It?s easy to either start a quest or join one in process, and there?s been plenty of players available day or night if you?re looking to get a gang of random people together. 

If you?re a Switch owner who is still a little sore that Capcom never ported Monster Hunter World to the Nintendo console, then I?d argue that Monster Hunter Rise is a really great consolation prize. I?d even argue that Monster Hunter Rise might actually beat out World in a number of ways, and I?m glad to have a new Monster Hunter game to sink time into as we roll into Spring. It?s a really fantastic experience, and I?d highly recommend checking it out if you haven?t already. 

Note: Capcom provided us with a Monster Hunter Rise Nintendo Switch code for review purposes

Grade: A-