Monster Hunter Rise for the Nintendo Switch is the first Monster Hunter game for the console and the first time where I didn't feel lost while playing. This says a lot, considering I've dabbled in almost every game in the series since the original on the PlayStation 2.
Rise streamlines the more tedious aspects of previous games. There's no fluff, no needless chatter with non-playable characters or even much running around. Capcom has pared back the Monster Hunter experience to put the focus back on what the series is known for: killing big monsters.
Keeping it simple
Monster Hunter games usually set players tasks to complete before taking on big monsters. You might need to gather items in different environments or kill smaller creatures before fighting one of the giants.
Rise is different.
Once the training wheels are off, players can almost instantly take on massive monsters. In my time with the game, I did a handful of other "gathering" quests to get the lay of the land, but that was by choice. Almost every quest I had involved hunting monsters, which I greatly appreciated.
The entire Monster Hunter experience has been streamlined in Monster Hunter Rise. The NPCs that give quests, upgrade equipment, sell items and cook food are all in proximity to each other so there's no need to constantly run around. Once I got the hang of everything, my routine became simple: grab a quest, do any upgrades to my equipment, buy a few items and grab some food to buff up before heading out to hunt. Nice and neat without wasting time.
A high-Wirebug act
The Wirebug is a new addition to the series that changes up combat and movement. It acts like a grappling hook to get to higher areas but doesn't need to grab onto any ledges. You can also use it to dash out of the way of monster attacks. Some weapons also use the Wirebug to perform certain special moves.
Players are initially granted two Wirebugs with a short cooldown after use. So while you can't reach the highest peak or dash on a constant basis with the two bugs, it's still enough to be agile during a fight or explore every bit of the map. There are also Wirebugs out in the environment you can grab to give two more charges.
That said, I prefer its other use...
Let them fight
In each environment, there are two to three giant monsters roaming around aimlessly. After they take enough damage, they hightail it from that particular area to another designated place to fight. Because these monsters are always on the move, they will run into one other and you'll be quickly ignored as they fight among themselves.
Your target can lose health during these encounters, and both monsters can drop different items used to upgrade weapons and armor. Incredibly, you can even ride these monsters thanks to the Wirebug.
If one takes enough damage, it goes into a slumped state where you can jump on its back. At that point, it's under your control for a short period of time. You can attack the other monster using signature attacks or you can tie down the one you're riding on so it can be double-teamed.
Play by yourself but not alone
I wasn't able to jump into any multiplayer groups during the review period, but despite being offline, I still had plenty of help.
Palicoes and Palmutes are two in-game buddies who accompany you on every quest. Palicoes act as a support since they can deal damage while also healing you or curing status ailments. Palmutes can be ridden to get around faster while also jumping right into the fray once the fighting starts.
Endemic life, such as bugs and small animals, also helps. There are multiple beetles, for example, that act like items, doing damage on monsters. Some will improve your attack or defense. Others cause status effects.
So you have the buddies, endemic life and other monsters to help you out whenever you're hunting monsters by yourself.
Stopping the Rampage
Early on, nonplayable characters constantly mention a Kamura legend called the Rampage. After you complete enough quests, you'll unlock this special mission, which functions as a tower defense mini-game. The objective is to defend the village gates from multiple monsters. To fend them off, there are a dozen or so platforms that can be equipped with cannons, ballistae and machine guns. There are also special weapons unlocked during the Rampage. When worse comes to worst, you can also try to take down the monsters yourself.
While this wasn't the most compelling type of quest in the game, the Rampage provides some of the best weapons upgrades. After each successful Rampage, players receive tickets that increase attack power, improve certain stats, or in the case of bowguns, allow for more types of ammo to be used.
Get some proper controls
For the love of your hands, make sure you have abefore playing Rise. While Capcom streamlined the game, it sure didn't streamline the control scheme. There are far too many buttons required to press during a fight, and paying on your Switch is going to be rough.
Monster Hunter Rise comes out on the Nintendo Switch on March 26.