Monster Hunter Rise is the best Monster Hunter game to date. It maintains everything that’s fun about World, makes meaningful tweaks to the flow of combat, and adds plenty of its own flavour with Palamutes, new traversal mechanics, and gorgeous environments that are teeming with nods to Japanese folklore. And now it’s on PC (you can buy it here, coincidentally) we can enjoy it all with the benefit of faster frame rates and higher resolutions.
Rise kicks off in traditional Monster Hunter fashion: a dangerous phenomenon is making the local wildlife go berserk and it’s up to you to fix it. This time you’re up against ‘the Rampage’, which is causing enraged monsters to stampede in huge numbers, and it’s headed towards your home village of Kamura. Despite being a newly minted hunter, the village chief has charged you with investigating what’s causing the Rampage and stopping it before it threatens your home.
Kamura acts as your main hub, and it’s here where you’ll pick up new quests, trade goods, craft new weapons and armour, and chat with fellow villagers. So far, so Monster Hunter. However, your village also has an area called the Buddy Plaza that’s dedicated to your cadre of Palicoes, as well as the new Palamutes. While previous Monster Hunter games pair you with the cat-like Palicoes, Rise introduces us to Palamutes, faithful canine companions who double up as noble steeds and fierce warriors during hunts. Palamutes inject some much-needed pace into the more tedious parts of a hunt, reducing both the time it takes to chase monsters between areas and letting you sharpen tools while on the move.
Based on that, you may think that Palamutes are my favourite animal in Rise. Actually, my heart belongs to the Cahoots – owl friends that deliver messages for their hunters. I name mine Blathers.
Cahoots highlight my favourite thing about Rise: the fanatical attention to even the smallest detail. Like the other pets, Blathers will happily nibble food from my hand and receive little scratches behind its ears, but I can also send him out to pester a guard posted atop of a pagoda for a quick laugh. Capcom didn’t need to include this, and there are plenty more details like it. For example, every monster gets its own cinematic intro that’s presented like a trailer for an old horror movie, complete with scratches on the film and menacing koto string music. If you can, you should absolutely play Rise with Japanese voice acting as the narrator sings in an unsettling, kabuki-influenced style, ensuring even relatively unimposing beasts like the Izuchi feel suitably frightening.
Palamutes inject some much-needed pace into the more tedious parts of a hunt
Monster Hunter’s beasts have always borne a resemblance to creatures from Japanese myths and folklore, but never more so than with Rise’s additions, which rank among the best monsters in the series. Aknosom, a fire-breathing crane with a parasol-like head appears to be directly inspired by kasa-obake, while the Tetranadon is an amphibious wrestler based on the kappa.
Tetranadon is my favourite new monster. It will occasionally swallow up gallons of water to make itself as large as a sumo wrestler, powering up its attacks in the process – you can then focus your strikes at its belly until it spews out all of the water and collapses. Of course, Rise also mixes in plenty of old favourites and series staples, like the dragon Rathalos and the vulpine Mizutsune. All of these fights feel unique, relying on your ability to dodge attacks and learn when to go on the offensive.
Each zone is gigantic, like those found in Monster Hunter World, but in Rise you can explore almost every nook and cranny of these environments. This is thanks to Wirebugs, which are tendrilly bugs you can use to grapple around the world and reach new heights. The increased mobility adds a new challenge as you scale cliff-faces and swing through the treetops in pursuit of your target. Rise’s new-found sense of speed does come at a price: there’s no tracking mechanic here, which I do miss sometimes as being able to always see where a monster is removes some of the tension from hunts.
new Rampage missions introduce tower defence mechanics as you fight to repel waves of stampeding monsters
Wirebugs open up a ton of new opportunities in combat, especially if you’re using some of Rise’s slower weapon types. In World, I would exclusively use the long sword or dual blades, because I found myself missing my target too often with heavier weapons like the hammer. The addition of Wirebugs dramatically speeds up combat, letting you zoom in and out of range, easily gain a vertical advantage, and adding some special new attacks. All of this combines to make heavier weapons feel far more effective. Now, I’m almost exclusively wielding the hammer, landing crunchy, powerful slams to stun monsters or break tough body parts. Heavy weapons are so satisfying to use in Rise.
Wirebugs also enable my new favourite hunting tactic: directly taking control of monsters. Instead of mounting a beast and chipping away at its health like a pesky parasite, you can now use the Wirebugs as reins to take control of them for a short time. Of course, you can make monsters fight each other Godzilla style, but I prefer slapping my beast on its rump and making it repeatedly charge into walls until it falls over, exhausted and barely conscious. And before you start feeling sorry for the monster, just remember that they’ve been wiping out my entire health bar just by sitting on me.
The regular hunts are, at times, very challenging, but nothing prepared me for the new Rampage missions, which introduce tower defence mechanics as you fight to repel waves of stampeding monsters. You have a short time to set up defences before each wave arrives, at which point all hell breaks loose as you leap between defensive stations in a desperate battle against the ferocious pack.
It’s overwhelming at first, with so many different stations to jump between in order to effectively keep the horde at bay – this is exacerbated when a Tetranadon slips through and starts tearing down all of my defences. However, with time and practice I soon learn the optimal setup and find myself zipping around the fort placing traps, loading cannons, and preparing powerful Wyvernfire artillery barrages. Rampage hunts require a bit more strategy than standard monster fights, but the emphasis on indirect combat and a frenetic pace that’s reminiscent of Overcooked makes them just as thrilling.
Capcom’s PC release also comes with a few neat features that elevate this already great game. For example, one option lets you change the on-screen prompts to the controller icons of your choice rather than automatically detecting them. There’s also an excellent set of screen filters that let you make the game look like a Kurosawa movie. That said, this port has some peculiar flaws. Running at 1440p on my mid-range PC, Rise is buttery smooth at around 100fps, and that’s on high settings with high-quality textures enabled. However, sadly those brilliantly filmic cutscenes I mentioned earlier are capped at 30fps, which feels very jarring.
Unlike Monster Hunter World’s PC release, Rise arrives on PC with all of the Switch version’s post-launch content, including the Sonic the Hedgehog collaboration, new monsters and movesets, and a revamped ending. These additions are great, but it’s a little disappointing that I can’t import my progress from the Switch version to hunt these new beasties immediately.
Nitpicks aside, Monster Hunter Rise is still my favourite in the series and, to my surprise, it’s just as much fun playing through a second time on PC as it was the first time on Switch. It takes the tactical, challenging combat that made Monster Hunter World so exhilarating and trims the fat to make its first few hours more accessible. What makes Rise that little bit better, however, is its coherent rural Japan-inspired setting, which is brought to life through countless details. Even after several hundred hours, I’m still finding new references to Japanese folklore in monster designs or hidden details in ruins that make me smile.
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