Monster Hunter games deserve to be on the biggest screen possible, not consigned to handheld devices. That was my thinking after reviewing and loving Monster Hunter: World. I thought we’d seen the last of these games to release on smaller screens, but then Monster Hunter Rise was announced for the Nintendo Switch. I understand the vast majority of people play their Switch hooked up to their TV, but for those of us with a Nintendo Switch Lite, Rise could never hold a candle up to World.
Now though, Monster Hunter Rise has arrived on Xbox, and into Xbox Game Pass to boot. Has the baton been safely passed from World to Rise?
An event known as the Rampage occurs every fifty years or so in the surrounding areas of the village of Kamura. Just as you earn the right to be a fully-fledged hunter, rumours of the next Rampage start whispering around the village. But before you can even think of that, there are plenty of low-level hunts that need taking care of.
The basic cycle of hunting monsters, gaining loot, turning loot into better weapons to then hunt bigger and badder monsters is the framework for any Monster Hunter game, and in Rise it is no different. Once again expertly tailored for newcomers and old-hands alike, Rise does change-up the formula somewhat from World. Quests are split into two tranches: Village and Gathering Hub. Village quests are the more basic, designed for single player with no multiplayer interactions allowed. Gathering Hub quests can still be completed in solo play but are far harder on your own. These are meant to be played in multiplayer, and it is these that will provide the bulk of your time within Monster Hunter Rise.
Combat Palicoes also make a return, but this time canine-like Palamutes join in the fun. Both of these are on hand to assist you during Village quests. The Palicoes can be given specific roles to help you out, whether that be gathering items, setting traps or just working as an all-out offensive. Palamutes cannot be given roles, preferring to just help out dishing out the damage, but they can be mounted and rode around the five areas, saving your precious stamina. Not only that, but you can also refuel with potions, rations and even sharpen your weapon whilst on dog-back.
Another new animal – or insect at least – is the Wirebug. These act a lot like the clutch claw introduced in the Monster Hunter World: Iceborne DLC in that they give your hunter a lot more agility. The Wirebug can get your hunter in and out of sticky situations with ease by launching a bug in the desired direction and grabbing onto the wire to propel your hunter. They can be aimed more vertically or horizontally depending on the button you press and can also be used for easy traversal. Wirebugs feel like a natural addition to your hunter’s skillset and will be useful from the very moment you have access to them.
As with any new Monster Hunter game, new monsters are in order. And once again, these are fantastically designed, fearsome and awe-inspiring in equal measure. You don’t need to play through hours just to get to them either, the early-game quests introduce new monsters and familiar ones in equal measure. This offers something for returning fans to get excited about as you can quickly hunt down your favourite monster from previous entries.
When choosing a quest as well, you get some gorgeous hand-drawn looking interpretation of the monster in question. These look like drawings that would be found inside of caves thousands of years later and are wonderful to look at.
New gameplay additions for Monster Hunter Rise include Rampage Quests. These take the basic formula of Monster Hunter but add a tower-defence element to it. The fabled Rampage has begun and you will need to repel waves of monsters using turrets, ballistae and more with up to three other players. A much faster and more frenetic mode than some veteran players will be used to, they do offer a fun change of place, providing you have a team that knows what they are doing. And it is also fun to see three or four monsters lined up together; annoyingly though, defeat one and their carcass just fades out of existence before your eyes.
This feels like a limitation to Monster Hunter Rise as it is essentially a port from a Nintendo Switch game. But it isn’t the only issue. Gone once again are the loading screens in each of the game’s areas similar to World but, unlike that game, these areas feel much more sparse in comparison. Foliage and flora is lacking in areas that should be teeming with it, and the Lava Caverns area just feels a bit lifeless as well.
One area where there are loading screens is in the new hub area, Kamura Village. On the Xbox Series X|S transitioning between screens in the village is instantaneous but it begs the question of do they even need to be there in the first place? By comparison, Astera village from World was much larger, more interactive and on multiple levels. It felt alive, whereas Kamura feels a bit lifeless.
But that’s the biggest criticism; Monster Hunter Rise isn’t quite Monster Hunter: World. And that’s partly because Rise doesn’t offer too much in the way of new things, and what is here suffers graphically in comparison. The Rampage Quests are a fun distraction but they won’t be a game-changer for the series going forward.
But Monster Hunter Rise is still an excellent Monster Hunter game, full of those exact moments fans have come to expect. The first time you fight a Magnamalo – the monster featured on the main game cover art – is a standout in a game full of them. There is teamwork required for Hub quests as these ramp up in difficulty quickly, and the Village Quests can ease newer players in gently. Some limitations are visible as this was originally a Nintendo Switch game, and they prevent it from reaching the heights of Monster Hunter: World, but this is still a Monster Hunter game in its purest form. And any Monster Hunter game is always a special experience for newcomers and veterans alike.
Stop the Rampage in Monster Hunter Rise on the Xbox Store
- Once again catering for newcomer and returning players
- Some fantastic new designs for monsters
- Useful split between single player and multiplayer quests
- Graphically inferior to Monster Hunter: World
- Hub area is smaller and more lacking too
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - CAPCOM
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 20 January 2023
- Launch price from - £32.98