It doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously. After watching a seemingly constant stream of disappointment across the board from the “AAA” game machine, CAPCOM has given us something we can finally sink our teeth into. Yes, it’s a monster pun and I’m proud of it.
Monster Hunter Rise puts every other AAA launch in the past 6 months to shame. Square Enix, take fucking note. MHR sold over 5 million copies in less than 2 weeks, to absolutely stellar reviews I might add, and it’s currently a Switch exclusive. After the laughable Avengers and OUTRIDERS launches, I’m playing a game that is just as co-op friendly, yet drenched in glorious attention to quality of life for the gamer.
I’m not even talking about how much better this game is than Monster Hunter: World (and it is), I’m talking about features that this game has that I wish other games had. Features like: instant fast travel. No annoying animations, no having to find a fast travel location. Just open the map, click the spot, poof you’re there.
Or how about: gear wishlist. If you visit a blacksmith and decide you want to craft a piece of gear, you can put it on you wishlist, and you will be notified the moment you have the required components to build it.
There are also presets for everything. You can save dozens of presets for gear and items separately. So you can set your armor and weapons with one preset, then you can pick another preset to decided how many of which items you want in your inventory before, or even during a mission if you stop off at the base camp.
There is so. Much. Quality.
Sure, the graphics are a bit of a downgrade from World, but World is meant to run on more powerful hardware than the Switch. The maps are more focused, however. In a way that actually feels more immersive and dense. You have a more clear path to your goal instead of just meandering around for an arbitrary amount of time. The world is just more interesting, too.
You can also freely play with friends and strangers. I always found it strange that World is often attached to the “MMO” genre, when it isn’t, really. Rise has just as much multiplayer potential, but no one would accuse it of being an MMO. Its online elements are present, but not required. Yet, I still see plenty of room for future content and cross-overs, just like World had. If CAPCOM is smart, they will definitely keep adding to this stellar title, because it is not only above and beyond previous MH titles, it raises the bar in terms of the expectations we should have of a game like this at launch. Especially when we’re paying AAA prices for legacy franchises from A list publishers.
Have I glowed enough about this game, yet? It’s already been about 500 words and I’ve barely talked about the actual gameplay. And believe me, I will use every chance I can to use this as a dig towards other AAA publishers who have literally launched 3 games in a row at AAA prices to “mixed” reviews and massive drops in player counts. LOOKING AT YOU SQUARE ENIX. I still think FF7 Remake is a scam, too. I know a lot of people would disagree with me on that one, but that’s a topic for another time.
In a lot of ways, Rise feels similar to World, but with a more streamlined approach. While some argue it takes a bit of the “hunt” away, recent editions of Monster Hunter’s hunting mechanics feel arbitrary, and just extend the gameplay for no reason other than to take more time to do the same thing: fight the monster. So we might as well just get to it then, shouldn’t we? You can still wander around the maps, picking up items, and fighting mobs that spawn at different intervals, just as World allowed. But now, missions take less time because there’s less puttering around and more getting to the action.
Action that is great. Action that not only includes all of the diverse array of weapons and play styles available in previous Monster Hunter games, but refines them. Mobility has become a joy, with such a variety of ways to get around, including a personal dog mount, (called a Palamute, of course) and the ability to ride and control wyverns. Yes, you can ride monsters.
They’ve also replaced the grapple hook and claw with a new mechanic called the Wirebug, which effectively gives you some lite Spider-Man abilities. You can grapple and swing in mid-air, while also being able to run along walls for several seconds. The Wirebug also has unique abilities with each weapon, and is what allows you to mount your prey–giving a new depth to combat yet seen in the series.
By the way, did I mention the cool quality of life features? Some of them even add to the immersion. You can actually choose your overworld theme. Themes, by the way, which appear to be sung by some of the main characters you interact with.
And sure, it’s not perfect. There are even some little annoyances which have persisted through a number of the MH games, like cinematic sequence that happens at the end of a hunt. While it looks cool, it can be disorienting and a bit long–especially if there are still other active monsters on the field, because they don’t stop attacking during the sequence. The UI could stand to be a bit more intuitive as well. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve never played another MH game before. That said, there are a lot of in-game resources, and tutorials you can flip through to help you make sense of everything going on.
The reason why I am glowing so much about the quality of life in this game is simply because a lot of modern “AAA” games especially, don’t feel as if they were made by people who play games. There are certain features which should never be missing at launch; graphics options we should always be able to control, like motion blur and screen shake… there are so many things which annoy gamers, which manage to always be present at the launch of modern games, with the promise they will fixed later. I’m. So. Tired. Of. This. It’s one of the things I constantly debate about the hotly contested OUTRIDERS (yeah, I’m back to bashing Square Enix again), because people tell me how much better it’s going to get after polish. I don’t care about or want that. I want a game that doesn’t lock cutscenes to 30fps on my 3080 at launch, or force motion blur or have pointless animation sequences every time you walk through a door. I don’t think my expectations are out of line when these are extraordinarily clear oversights that any modern gamer should have pointed out at extremely early stages in development, never mind after a game is launched. A game which costs over $100m to produce, and has as lauded a publisher as Square Enix shouldn’t have bullshit oversights at launch. And the same goes for everyone else.
This is why MWR is so important a launch for me. It’s both a great game, and it didn’t have the rocky launch we’ve come to expect from big publishers, while still having sales well into the millions. It all comes down to commitment to quality for the player. This is what absolutely shines about Monster Hunter Rise. Not only is it a solid evolution of the formula, but it sets the bar for what expectations of a AAA release should be. One has to wonder how much influence Nintendo had in this, since it is a Switch exclusive, and Nintendo certainly has a track record of maintaining a standard of quality for their own products–with MHR being no exception. Perhaps there was some collaborative effort?
Either way, it’s a well produced effort by CAPCOM for Nintendo, and I’m here for it. This is the level of quality we should be expecting across the board.