When Monster Hunter Rise came to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, gamers lamented that only the base game was ported from the Nintendo Switch original. Where was the Sunbreak expansion? Was it going to come to other platforms too?
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is easily the definitive Monster Hunter experience. It was one of the most demanding visual showcases on the Nintendo Switch, featuring some of the most complex creature modeling and environmental detail that the console could render. Regretfully, it was limited by the hardware.
With Sunbreak finally being available on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Monster Hunter Rise can finally show off its true potential without compromising anything. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak was already awesome on Switch. How does the current generation of 4K consoles make it even better? Find out in this Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak review!
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One Xbox, Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: April 28, 2023 / June 30, 2022 (Nintendo Switch)
Price: $39.99 USD
After slaying Narwa the Allmother and defending Kamura village, new threats emerge just outside of the port of Elgado. The unusual monster activity can be attributed to three monsters known as the “Three Lords”; each of their designs is seemingly inspired by Universal Monsters such as the Wolfman, Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, and of course; Dracula.
With the old-time feudal Japanese setting of Kamura being traded out for Western European-style locales, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is a breath of fresh air. The Elgado port is a bustling place, with different cultures passing through and a high density of various accouterments to make the place feel alive. The breezy guitar twang of the background music is even more relaxing than the swelling Japanese folk music that made Kamura so inviting.
Being able to explore the jungle from Monster Hunter 2 in the RE Engine is especially enjoyable since the franchise moved away from segmented areas being separated by load times. Everything is seamless now and is one large, interconnected map. The area is littered with endemic life and rare creatures that beg to be photographed that only show up at specific times of the day.
The real headliner of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is the ruined castle stage that feels like something out of Castlevania. The entire area is lit with glowing moonlight and enshrouded in mist. The starry skies lit up like a Christmas tree and the scarred, torn gothic vista is crumbling due to the attacks from the three lords.
Garangolm has a massive jaw and flat top head to make him have Boris Karloff-like features. He’s a fanged beast who charges and has incredibly dense armored skin. Any monster movie fan would know that Frankenstein’s creature really hated fire and that is the case for Garangolm as well. Fire beetles are especially devastating to him.
Lunagaron represents the werewolf and seemingly has some design cues taken from Capcom’s Jon Talbain from Darkstalkers. While his design is wolf-like, he is actually a Wyvern and has some Zingore characteristics and behaviors. When he gets up on two feet, he gets insanely more powerful and he emphasizes ice elements. You can’t use silver bullets on him, but he hates thunder-based elements.
And then there is the headliner of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak: Malzeno. This terrible elder dragon is like the devil himself and has regal, Dracula-like qualities. He can unleash swarms of vampire bats that can inflict a new bad status effect called bloodblight which constantly drains HP and only can be restored by landing blows on enemies. This is the “vampirism” symbolism at play and it pushes aggressive play.
You won’t be staking Malzeno while he sleeps in a coffin; instead, players will contend with four phases to battling this abomination. Since hunters aren’t Belmonts, the holy weapon of choice to send this creature to hell is fire, or try riding a stray Lunagaron into battle to even the odds. If this was the final battle of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, it would have been satisfying, yet there is still one other new and more threatening elder dragon to battle after it.
On top of these battles, there are a bunch of returning monsters from prior games and they get remixed attacks. Just when you think you know them, be prepared to have to rug pulled from beneath you to keep you on your toes. To make these battles fairer, players will be able to acquire new techniques to better engage with these threats.
The new abilities further flesh out the range of combat prowess. Some weapons are more technical than others and mastering when to steady your hand or when to unleash hell becomes a major aspect of the mind games between hunter and prey.
These battles were thrilling on Switch but on PlayStation 5 or Series X|S, the fighting is so much more fluid and responsive thanks to the higher frame rate. The Sunbreak content especially pushed the Nintendo Switch to its absolute limit. The scale of the levels and monsters was so much for the hardware to handle that it was a huge drain on battery life and would make the internal fan go into overdrive.
The memory-saving tricks like creatures that animate at half or quarter-frame rates have been completely dropped. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is a game designed for Switch specs, so it won’t ever stress a PlayStation 5 and as expected, everything runs at a tight 60 frames per second, even in quality mode.
The graphics in Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak pushed art direction over the realistic style seen in Monster Hunter World. As a result, Rise ends up looking stylish and timeless. Capcom chose to leverage the extra horsepower of the current consoles by boosting the lighting and atmospheric effects. Shadows render very sharply with no jagged edges and they render at further distances too.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak may not look like a PlayStation 5 game, but gamers will not care since it is a very appealing-looking game. Every character and monster is lovingly modeled and has animations that are bursting with personality.
Weight has been painstakingly realized in how characters move. Every gesture and motion from every attack, dodge roll, or when getting hit has a hefty crunch. Player characters have hilariously over-the-top mocap performances in cutscenes and it is hard to not be charmed by the theatricality of some of the scenes. Having it all in 60 frames per second really does add a lot more punch to the animation.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak on Switch was an awesome addition that adds a substantial amount of story content. On top of an all-new location, the jungle from Monster Hunter 2 has been reimagined, and 17 additional monsters that range from previous classics to the four headliners.
Thankfully, there are no new rampages. Capcom definitely heard the criticisms levied at Monster Hunter Rise and Sunbreak addresses these complaints and aims to please. All the latest content updates are present and accounted for in Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak for the Xbox and PlayStation versions and after playing it at its peak performance and visual fidelity, there is no going back.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a review code provided by Capcom. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.