When Monster Hunter World was released worldwide in early 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a lot of people saw the game as the consolidation of the monster-hunting formula. The structure created on the PlayStation 2, in Monster hunter, it took time to be assimilated by the public, but, over time, it became a subgenre and even served as a model for other good titles, such as God Eater, Dauntless and Soul Sacrifice – the latter a lost jewel of PS Vita.
Not only did the fans love him: the market also reacted positively to the welcome changes brought by World. Capcom, the series’ producer since the beginning, watched one of its niche games emerge from anonymity to absolute success, especially in the West, and watched the game break sales records, becoming the company’s most commercialized product.
My story with Monster Hunter started in 2014, shortly after Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate getting to Wii U. At the time, it was the pretext I needed to invest in Nintendo’s console table. Since then, I went through all the games in the series released later: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Monster Hunter Generations (base and Ultimate) and Monster Hunter World – having also invested hundreds of hours in Monster Hunter Stories, 3DS spin-off that will receive a sequel this July on Nintendo Switch and PC.
I like to talk about the relationship I have with the series because it makes me reflect how much it has changed since I ventured out as an inexperienced hunter in the expanded version of the third game. Monster Hunter World kicked off and took the franchise to a mature stage, but I didn’t imagine that Monster Hunter Rise, recently released title for Nintendo Switch, could go further in terms of evolution, even because it is smaller in scope. Rise born with the same foundation of World and it also corrects, in my view, its two main problems: pace and accessibility. Without further ado, let’s move on to the full analysis.Source: voxel
After all, what is Monster Hunter?
First of all, just as we did in the analysis of Monster Hunter World, it is always opportune to remember what is Monster hunter, conceptually speaking. In short, the game works in a vicious cycle of hunting monsters: you prepare your inventory with essential items, embark on tasks to eliminate specific monsters and return with rewards, with creatures’ body parts, to make better weapons and sets. The system is repetitive, yes, but it injects a dose of irremediable addiction into the vein.
If we needed to categorize Monster hunter, to relate it to a genre of games, I would say that it is closer to being an action RPG due to the combat, its complex systems and the progression based on equipment. As you progress through the missions, larger creatures come up with unique and valuable materials to encourage you to start over on the loop.
Reasons to hunt
Let’s be honest: Monster hunter always used history as a subterfuge to justify the hunt for gigantic creatures. As usual, you create a personalized hunter and set out on your journey, this time to defend the Kamura village from the frenzy, a natural phenomenon in which groups of monsters attack the city in order to decimate its people. However, the greatest threat of this catastrophic event is Magnamalo, a creature that appears in the midst of the frenzy to feed on the horde and the inhabitants of Kamura.
The narrative is presented through punctual cutscenes and brief dialogues with the elder Fugen, but it is competent enough to keep the player interested in knowing its outcome. During our testing period, the credits rolled on the screen in about 20 hours, but, as in previous games, this does not show that the game is over, on the contrary: the adventure continues with the entry of new elder dragons to fill the gap. narrative gap left by Magnamalo – we will not give details in this analysis to preserve the experience of those who intend to play.
I confess that I liked the story more than I thought I would like it, especially because of the way narrative and tutorials talk without the missions becoming exhausting. An important aspect to be mentioned is that the key storyline missions must be completed from the Aldeia mission desk with Hiona, the recruiter. There are six distinct levels of village missions, each with a specific number of objectives, except that they do not contribute to unlocking equipment and weapons of high rarity.
In practice, this means that higher-level equipment can only be unlocked in high-ranking missions offered by the lady from the Encounter Area, Minoto. The activities of this sector are considerably more difficult than the missions in history, as they were designed to be played in groups of up to four hunters. Even if the difficulty is adjusted according to the number of people in the game, doing them alone will give you more headache than usual, considering that the monsters are more aggressive and resistant. At first glance, the distribution of tasks seems a bit confusing, but the game does a good job of explaining and encouraging the player to do them on both sides; now with Hiona, now with Minoto.
The rhythm bar has been improved and there are LOTS of news
For me, rhythm is a very important factor in any entertainment medium and this is precisely the greatest asset of Monster Hunter Rise. Because rhythm is what keeps us committed to continue enjoying the experience, it is responsible for stimulating or taming our level of excitement, whether with a game, film or book. Rise takes everything that worked in World and cuts through many of the bureaucracies of the hunting process. I will list some facilitators here to further detail the main ones:
- Now you have Amicão, a canine companion that will help you in combat and get around quickly;
- The use of Amicão as a mount means that the character does not lose strength for nothing, that is, only with the act of walking;
- Cabinseto, a kind of grappling hook, offers mobility and unprecedented combinations of strikes;
- It is possible to ride on monsters to attack other creatures, which speeds the movement around the scene and streamlines the combat;
- Collecting items is more intuitive and requires a single action – with the exception of the final loot;
- There are no tracks; the owl Corumocho, one of the new mascots, reveals the position of the monsters on the minimap;
- The minimap highlights points of interest in collection activities, so you enter the mission already knowing the exact location to explore;
- Amazingly, there are very few loadings (and those that do take a few seconds to load);
- Getting in and out of the lobby is very fast, there is no need to reload everything from scratch;
- The customization system also allows you to change weapon skills;
- Permanent reinforcements exist and are amplified with Petalar, a new type of equipment;
- The kitchen does not offer complex recipes, only different types of dango (a traditional dumpling of Japanese cuisine);
- Hot and Cold drinks were finally extinguished (for those who don’t remember, they were used to balance the hunter’s body temperature on maps with extreme climates);
- Argosy and Botany are part of the same system.
In addition to the well-known friends, Rise introduces, as mentioned, a mascot to fight alongside the pet feline: Amicão. Along with Corumocho, an unprecedented pet that serves to identify the location of the monsters on the minimap, the doguinho is an inseparable companion that, in addition to being able to give support in battles, allows the hunter to use him as a mount, being useful to save force and streamline exploration.
When riding in Amicão, the time you spend to complete missions drops dramatically, since the character does not even need to descend from his four-legged companion to collect loot, sharpen weapons and consume items. As someone who pioneered the most niche titles, I never imagined that a mount could be such a substantial addition, to the point of solving many of the problems that sustained the disharmonious rhythm.
Another welcome change is the inclusion of a combat accessory, the Cabinseto (a great adaptation of English, by the way, translated from Wirebug), used by the hero to carry out combined attacks and move with agility around the world. The maps are considerably smaller compared to what we saw in World, although they offer a vertical exploration, along the lines of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. With the help of Cabinseto, you will be able to run through steep walls in order to reach hidden points, as well as use verticality in your favor to cut your way between different areas.
In addition, Cabinseto delivers a special attack for each of the 14 available weapons and grants freedom when dodging and moving through the air. You can even combine aerial attacks with common attacks, which translate into powerful juggling movements. For better or for worse, the accessory presents itself as a facilitator, an extra instrument whose purpose is to make the encounter between hunter and hunter more dynamic, something that perhaps displeases the Puritan fan who values the accentuated difficulty and slow pace.
Perhaps the main addition to the list of novelties, the Serpe Mount feature makes official what we always wanted to do, but never could: tame our target. In other words, Cabinseto provides the opportunity to domesticate, albeit temporarily, any colossal monster on the map to use it as an ally, as long as you leave it in a mountable state. The battles between monsters have a different dynamic than what we are used to in the games of the franchise, due to being cadenced and offering more time to study the enemy.
The big difference, however, is that you can move around your opponent using the aim lock, an option that is not available in the standard battle system. I can say that Capcom’s work in creating unique attack patterns for the dozens of creatures that exist in Rise is commendable, including Mounted Punishments, special, exclusive actions, released as soon as the Mount Bar in Serpe is full. Whether you like this new feature or not, the fact is that it opens up an immeasurable range of strategies to be used, contributing to the gameplay being deliciously unpredictable.
Whoever complained that the gameplay became somewhat repetitive after a while, Capcom knew how to polish the mechanics intelligently by allowing the hunter to exchange common and Sedaférre blows as it progresses through the story. Each of the 14 weapons has three types of switching ability, leaving it up to the player to establish the combination that best suits their style.
You and your friends can even use the same weapon, except that each person’s behavior will change according to the choices made in the vast repertoire of skills. I assume that it took me a while to adapt to the new actions, but that’s where the fun lies: relearning how to play to master the many layers that the game reveals is as cool as just repeating the known path of its predecessors.
There are big news and more, let’s say, modest, but they all contribute to improving the pace as a whole. In a nutshell, hunting is less bureaucratic – both before, during the preparations, and afterwards, with the mission already underway – and, therefore, I started to consider Rise the most inviting and accessible game in the franchise. If you intend to break through the complexity and better understand the vicious cycle that Monster Hunter proposes, this is your best gateway. For the seasoned fan, that generous post-game, packed with costly, high-level missions, awaits you for hundreds of hours of farming.
New missions, more interaction with the ecosystem and a flawless selection of monsters
To follow the balance of history, Rise opens the so-called Missions of the Frenzy, activities that involve defending the Kamura village, the stage of the campaign, from waves of monsters in the best tower defense style. The concept had already been introduced in Monster Hunter World, but it got its own way here. Basically, your goal is to fend off monsters using hunting facilities, whether playing alone or accompanied by three other players.
The monsters are presented in waves and change as you go, and there is a main threat, stronger and more resistant, to be repelled in the final stretch. There can be up to three threats in the same game, and hunters are free to add and remove weapons and hunting traps from the installation platforms (the map is free to do as you please). It’s really cool to be able to face different monsters at the same time, especially if you intend to farm different creatures at once.
However, there is no efficient way to manage all platforms, an interface where you might be able to manage the installations you have placed without having to go to them; in a way, the absence of a manager favors a shifting pace. That said, the best thing to do to take advantage of this mode is to play as a team. I have the impression that these missions were designed for the coop, although the game does not impose any kind of restriction in that sense.
Native life, in turn, is more abundant and highlights how rich the Rise ecosystem is, even though the maps, as already mentioned, are smaller compared to the previous game. The new title takes advantage of verticality to strengthen its biome on land, sky and water, providing an exuberant natural environment. The creatures that inhabit the places grant benefits to the hunter, from temporary to permanent, you just need to find them in nature.
There is, for example, the Mostecido butterfly, an insect whose dust cloud temporarily raises the defense status of those who consume it. On the other hand, if you find a Espiripássaro wandering aimlessly, you will receive permanent reinforcements of attack, defense, life or vigor, which can be amplified depending on the type of Petalar equipped. The Petalar, by the way, is an equipable bracelet capable of strengthening the effects of native life. At the beginning of the journey, the ecosystem is so dense that you are a little lost, not knowing what each resource does, but it is only a matter of time before you become familiar (oh, and get into the habit of reading explanatory descriptions and conversations). Speaking of the texts, I will commend the localization work for Portuguese, even for having kept the sense of humor of the dialogues intact.
Among all the games in the franchise, I venture to say that Rise’s selection of monsters is one of the best I’ve seen. In fact, it has something for everyone (classic monsters, half-generation and new monsters), and that contributes so that weapons and equipment sets are very varied. Not only diverse in status, but also in the visual part. Weapons, for example, even of simpler items made of bones and iron, bring an aesthetic to the height of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, the most heterogeneous game in terms of design. We know that some players have questioned the little variety of World, but rest assured because Rise does the job.
Regarding the monsters themselves, get ready to revisit the origins of the franchise with Khezu, Diablos and Rathalos, go through modern generations with Mizutsune and Zamite and, of course, face new and unfriendly creatures like Bishaten, Tetranadon and Magnamalo. It is too early to draw comparisons, but I can anticipate myself by saying that the current generation is different in terms of originality. Bishaten, for example, is an impish tengu with monkey outlines, whose technique is to toss fruits that do elemental damage (and you can collect them during battle).
Visual, maps and photo mode: without reservations
Beside Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Astral Chain, Monster Hunter Rise puts the Switch’s hardware in a juicer to extract every last drop of graphics potential from Nintendo’s hybrid console. And the result could not be otherwise: it is one of the most beautiful games on the device and lives up to recent productions from other platforms (read PS4 and Xbox One). No wonder, Rise was designed on RE Engine, Capcom’s proprietary technology used in modern games, such as Resident Evil 7 and Devil May Cry 5. Therefore, the leap in quality, World to the Rise, it is considerable (for the fan who has played since the beginning, then, who spent part of his life living with the blurred look of the 3DS, it is eye candy).
With regard to maps, the existing five carry much of what we have already seen in World. However, the atmosphere was renewed thanks to the enriching references brought from Japanese folklore, both in the lobby and in the exploitable areas, from Buddhist temples to the traditional Kyoto bamboo forests. The Hojo Guildmaster, for example, refers us to the Buddha’s decorative statues, with his corpulent physique and earlobe touching his shoulders.
If the flood of news were not enough, there is still an extra incentive for the player to appreciate the density of the scenarios, since the game presents us with a very complete photo mode. In an a la scheme Pokémon Snap, there are missions in which you must register native life photos to unlock special items and new favors in the hub. By the way, it is common to keep unusual moments of animals, such as when they are sleeping or eating. A priori, it may seem trivial, but I had a lot of fun (really!) As a wildlife photographer.
As a simplified version of World, that is, with its edges trimmed, Rise is more accessible and welcoming to newbies, even though it has systems and complexity enough to satisfy hunters of yore. There is no radical change, nothing that reinvents the wheel, but precise adjustments that, when added together, shape a matured adventure and adapted to the current reality, in which we have less and less free time to play.
Monster Hunter Rise it is the culmination that was expected from the formula of hunting monsters and a major milestone in the history of this franchise, which is already millennial. Rise, as its name says, translates the rise of an ambitious subgenre that, even with a repetitive and very particular structure, has been able to give the series the global recognition it so deserves. With an uninterrupted rhythm and dynamism in the loop (now less bureaucratic), this is the Monster hunter who flirts most with perfection.
Monster Hunter Rise was kindly provided by Capcom to carry out this analysis.
Voxel note: 98
Monster Hunter Rise harmonizes rhythm and simplifies your systems, working as a great culmination of the series
- Simplified systems are invitations to the player who is not familiar with the formula;
- New mechanics are the great protagonists of the adventure;
- Facilitators improve pace and streamline gameplay that was already great;
- Dense and inviting ecosystem for exploration;
- Generous post-game (which is not new);
- Visual draws potential from the Nintendo Switch like no other game has done so far;
- References to Japanese folklore are welcome and add a special touch to the atmosphere.
- Frenzy missions have a disharmonious rhythm and can be frustrating if you are alone.