For years, the Monster Hunter franchise has been very consistent at delivering a reliable multiplayer survival-action fantasy hunting sim. The formula was so popular that it spawned numerous imitators such as the Toukiden and God Eater games. Even Final Fantasy XV would ape the Monster Hunter style with the Comrades multiplayer expansion, which is seemingly modeled after Capcom’s opus.
Then Monster Hunter World happened and pushed the franchise into the mainstream eye. This entry streamlined the more complex aspects like combat styles, and made action more fluid. It also pushed the series forward in a big way by incorporating seamless map zones and vertical level designs. Tracking monsters became more fluid and and enjoyable.
After spending time with the limited trial of Monster Hunter Rise, it seems that the boys at Capcom are going to combine the best aspects of World and classic Monster Hunter gameplay. With a new version of the RE Engine that can run on Nintendo Switch specs, what can be expected in this new entry?
The most important innovation Monster Hunter World brought to the franchise was the seamless world design. Prior entries had areas divided up into chunks with load screens between them. Often this may lead to undesirable situations where players get into a scuffle with a dragon in between these loading zones.
Monster Hunter Rise successfully brings the seamlessness of World to a portable experience. Compounded with added mobility options like being able to hookshot around from insects, every hunter comes with a dog. More than man’s best friend, this pooch is also a mount and can expedite traversal in a new way.
This dog can not only help with general traversal, but can fight too; mounted or not. While mounted, hunters are able to still use items and even attack with a new move-set. This also evens the odds against a fleeing Great Izuchi, since it is much easier and faster to catch up with the beasts while mounted.
The combat should feel familiar to anyone who has played Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. The arts and styles for their respective weapons are back, giving the action a bit of Devil May Cry flair. Hunters strike poses and call out their attacks in English, adding delicious absurdity to the hunt.
The 14 weapons from World are usable in the demo. Their moves have been expanded a bit now that hunters can zip around the field, using bugs as anchors. Aerial combat is much more of an option now than ever now that all weapon styles have more fluid and reactive strikes.
Monster Hunter Rise still has all the classic tactics like setting traps and crafting different types of useful tools, but now hunters can ride other monsters and have them fight other monsters. The possibilities to engage quarry is vastly expanded, and opens up the option for much weaker or ill-equipped characters to hunt bigger game.
Sometimes these creatures fight each other without the player forcing them. There seems to be a lot of effort going into making the wildlife behave like authentic animals.
These creatures have distinctive behavioral patterns. They have certain tells and ticks that indicate what they may do next. They are also highly expressive, and are designed to be as real as possible.
This means that sometimes they get territorial and will go at each others throats. Sometimes when one of them is losing a fight, it will retreat and the victor will hold its ground. It is as if it’s defending its turf and its pack of betas will watch from the sidelines, only sometimes assisting.
The RE Engine was famously used for Resident Evil 7, the remakes, and Devil May Cry V. It made use of scanning technology to ensure a photo-realistic visual style. Monster Hunter Rise appears to use a new kind of RE Engine, but there does not seem to be any scanned assets.
Character designs are cut from the same cloth from the Generations Ultimate games. Faces have a 3D anime look to them like many previous Monster Hunter games prior to World. Armor designs have gotten much more fantastical than they were in World; gigantic shoulder pads and intricately gaudy motifs that are meant to evoke the creature they were made from.
These armors can look equally ridiculous and endearing. They almost look like something from a sentai show with how the characters over act with their expressive animations and gestures. This goes for the weapons as well, which look impractical or structurally weak.
If scanning had been used in this new iteration of the RE Engine, it might have been used on the very natural looking environment. It is not photorealistic like the way Resident Evil 7 is, but this is due to the Switch’s technical limitations.
The polygon count is kept a bit on the low side in order to make a large and seamless map feasible at a stable frame rate. If there ever was a Monster Hunter that was made for the Xbox 360, it is possible it might have looked a bit like this.
Monster Hunter Rise is shaping up to be a worthy successor to both World and Generations Ultimate. It has all of the best aspects of both, while also further refining the gameplay. It will be interesting to see how everything is balanced in the final game and for players from all over to team up to hunt new creatures.
Monster Hunter Rise was previewed on Nintendo Switch using a publicly available demo on Nintendo eShop. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.