Roughly two years after its initial launch, Monster Hunter Rise is finally coming out on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. The latest mainline installment in Capcom’s incredibly popular series was released on Switch back in 2021 and PC the following year, but now is finally making its way to PlayStation and Xbox Series consoles with a robust suite of graphics options that cater towards a variety of players. The result is a fantastic port that runs amazingly no matter what settings are turned on.
Much like other installments in the series, the plot of Monster Hunter Rise is fairly thin. Players take control of a hunter from Kamura Village and they hunt monsters. This is in service of the small settlement that has been besieged by monsters for years, and with each successful hunt, the Hunter inches closer to rising in rank, granting the ability to take on more powerful foes.
There isn’t much in the way of cutscenes, with many of them dedicated to setting up the monsters, but what is here is told well. Each new monster is set up with a short poem, like an old story that highlights threats lurking in the wilds. It’s an effective way of establishing the game’s tone and showcasing the challenges ahead. The same can be said of the overarching narrative because it does largely serve as a method to set up fighting the most powerful foes while at the same time giving more personality to characters the player regularly sees in Kamura Village. Monster Hunter has never attempted to have a deeply rich narrative with complicated characters, and Rise is much the same because the story does what it needs to lead players into the parts of the game that matter.
Hunting monsters is what lies at the core of Monster Hunter Rise, and it does a stellar job building upon the improvements made by Monster Hunter World. Many fundamental basics from previous games remain here, with players choosing between 14 weapon types to take on hunts while managing health, stamina, and the weapon’s sharpness/ammo. A Switch Axe was primarily used in this playthrough – a bladed weapon that swaps between an axe mode for more nimble movement and a sword mode that restricts movement but allows for a torrent of physical and elemental damage. Even so, all of Monster Hunter Rise‘s weapons show a fantastic balance between the power of the weapon and the movement influenced by its weight.
Experimenting is what ultimately leads to success in Rise because while brute force might be effective against many opponents, the game rewards proper usage of tactics and resources with smoother hunts or more items. Between traps to capture monsters, explosive barrels to do massive damage, and different loadouts to exploit enemy weaknesses, there are several different ways to approach any given hunt with the only goal being to bring the monster down. Previous games have had these choices before, but they feel most refined in Monster Hunter Rise.
What truly makes Rise stand out from its predecessors is the wirebug, an incredibly versatile tool that transforms the Monster Hunter experience. From overhauling how to mount enemies to swinging around the map, the wirebug speeds up combat and traversal in a way that makes it hard to imagine the franchise’s future without it. It might be a small thing, but for the number of uses it has, it is the best new addition to the series.
As with previous games in the series, Rise divides itself between low-rank hunts and high-rank hunts, with the latter unlocking after a certain amount of progress has been made in the story. They can all be tackled alone or with a party of up to 4 players, but when playing alone, players have access to two companions: a dog-like Palamute and a cat-like Palico. These two AI-controlled companions offer support via buffs to the player, debuffs to monsters, attacking monsters, and in the case of the Palamute, an extra means of traversal since they can transport the player around the map. The low-rank hunts give players a healthy number of hours to get accustomed to the controls and get used to the flow of combat while the high-rank hunts are the real tests of player skill. In high-rank, previously fought monsters do far greater damage and newly introduced ones have more advanced movesets that are not that difficult to memorize but are far trickier to avoid when players find themselves in a bind.
High-rank hunts are the point in the game that can cause genuine moments of frustration. Instances like losing half a health bar from being grazed by an attack or getting stunlocked due to unfortunate positioning can be deflated, but then a drive kicks in to go back and try again. This strangely isn’t a point against the game, because while those moments do happen, it adds to the addictive rush found in Monster Hunter and inspires one to stubbornly keep trying and rethinking approaches to find the one that works.
One thing players can never blame for failure is the game’s performance, because the game runs like an absolute dream on PS5 with targets that range from 1080p at 120 FPS to 4K at 60 FPS. Regardless of the settings chosen, the game runs incredibly smooth without noticeable performance drops in either display preset. If players want to tinker with the graphics settings to find their ideal spot, the game features a robust suite of graphics options to choose from. This includes giving them the option to adjust settings like image sharpness, texture quality, lighting, and shadows. While these settings are often found in PC releases, they are a welcome addition on console.
Where the game can be slightly criticized is in its graphics, which looked fine as a 2021 Switch game, but can lag behind other big-budget games as a PS5 and Xbox Series release in 2023. While the game’s art style is fantastic, some might be let down by the lower texture quality and lighting found throughout the game, especially since Rise does fall behind World even at its highest settings. While the graphics options help mitigate this, and the 120 FPS support is a big advantage, fans awaiting a graphical leap for the series on par with what World did will have to wait until at least the next mainline game.
Monster Hunter Rise is an absolute joy to play regardless of the platform chosen. Console players who do not have a Switch and have been eagerly awaiting this port can finally rejoice because they now have the opportunity to try out this wonderful game. The gameplay improvements found here can make it difficult to go back to World and while it does not have the same overall graphical quality as that game, this newest version is an absolute blast to play and was well worth the wait.
Monster Hunter: Rise is out now for PC and Switch with versions for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series consoles releasing on January 20th. Game Rant was provided a PS5 code for this review.
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