Over a decade ago, in a life before The edge, Monster hunter on the PSP was my travel game of choice. I would spend a few hours a day tackling solo quests as my train traveled through the Japanese countryside, then compare the loot with friends late at night as we teamed up to take on the monsters we couldn’t. beat alone.
2018 Monster Hunter World could not hope to replicate this experience. World sought to reinvent the series as a primarily online adventure that leveraged powerful material – and it was a huge success, bringing Monster hunter to a much larger Western audience than ever before. World was a great game, and Capcom has clearly moved Monster hunter in the right direction. But for me, something was missing.
It’s there that Monster Hunter Rise Between. It’s a Nintendo Switch exclusive game that builds on Worldprogress – but now you can take it on the go.
Monster Hunter Rise is not quite a new idea. Last time a new major Monster hunter game first arrived on a home console – 2009 Monster hunter 3 for the Wii – it came from the huge success of an earlier version of the PSP. Monster hunter 3 brought a lot of advancements to the series, but a direct port to the less powerful PSP wouldn’t have been practical for technical reasons, so Capcom has adapted much of its elements and content into a new PSP game called Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. It ended up being the best-selling game in the series, at least until World came, and this is the version that ate the most time for me on these train trips.
This is essentially what Capcom did with Monster Hunter Rise. This is not a Switch port of World – it’s better. Almost everything that made World a huge leap forward for the series is here, and ascend evolves the formula further while operating in a scope that makes more sense to the switch. The result is a whole new game that feels at home on its portable hardware instead of having been compromised to fit.
Monster Hunter Rise might be the most technically impressive Switch game I’ve seen to date; it is certainly the most impressive that is not made by Nintendo. Running on Capcom’s RE Engine, the character models and monsters are very similar to those of World – especially on the small Switch screen. Capcom did a great job of preserving Worldthe essence and style of less powerful material.
The biggest concessions are the surroundings. Scenes are more like old school Monster hunter games that they did in World, with less elaborate designs and less graphic flourishes like dense foliage. Unlike older games, however, the subsections aren’t separated by loading screens, which helps ascend play the same way as Worldis a more fluid style.
In fact, ascend goes even further in this regard. Moving through environments is faster than ever thanks to two new items: a companion dog called Palamute that joins you in battle and lets you climb on your back, and a tool called Wirebug that can be used to close walls and jump on it. . monsters, sometimes even controlling them in full-scale confrontations with other beasts. What ascendThe stages lack complexity, they add verticality, and while your targets are marked on the map early on this time around, you’ll often find yourself figuring out how to hit them at their level.
ascend feels even better suited for handheld gaming than previous games, as you’ll never find yourself wandering aimlessly in search of a monster. Other changes save seconds that add up to hundreds of hours – you now deplete the resource supply of a mine outcrop or pile of bones with a single button, for example.
Other, ascend is a typical Monster hunter Game. It’s a fairly complex action RPG in which you choose one of the many classes of weapons with which to hunt increasingly dangerous beasts, collecting them for materials that you can use to craft new ones. weapons and armor to face even more dangerous beasts. The game is certainly an acquired taste, and I’m not sure the constant barrage of pop-ups explaining obscure mechanics will be as useful for newcomers as Capcom seems to think.
What will help, however, is that Monster Hunter Rise is just not very difficult compared to other games in the series, even World. I have found the “village” quests that advance the story and get you to the end of the game in an unusually easy way – it’s like this is the real tutorial. I have experience with the series, but by no means an amazing player, but I sent out most of the new monsters much faster than usual on my first try. Village quests are never the real meat of any Monster hunter game, so I think it’s good for them to serve as a fun campaign that anyone can blow up.
There is also a series of more difficult ‘hub’ quests available from the start, and these should dispel the idea that ascend does not focus on existing fans. But it’s hard to review Monster hunter game before launch because I had very little time to test it online, let alone see how the playerbase takes on its most difficult content. ascendThe longevity of the latter will largely depend on its endgame design and how Capcom handles future updates, none of which can be known at this point.
At least for now, ascend looks like a more solid package in terms of content than World was at launch before his middle finger Iceborne expansion. There is certainly no shortage of monsters, and the variety is wider than what World offered, along with several old favorites and some imaginative new designs.
Monster Hunter Rise is the most accessible game in the series to date, and it just might turn out to be the best. I’m not ready to call this just yet, as a lot will depend on how its post-launch support turns out. But Capcom already has the bones of a classic here. Almost everything that was great World is also true of ascendunless you want to run it at 4K / 60fps. If you do (and so do I), there’s a PC version coming next year.
It’s like feeling Monster hunter is coming full circle with ascend. The series started on PS2, of course, but it only really became a cult phenomenon when it moved on to laptops, and that’s where it’s now returned afterwards. World brought it to an even larger global audience. You don’t have to travel a long way to appreciate how Monster hunter benefits from a portable format.
One of the joys of the Switch is that it lets you sign in for playtime when you couldn’t otherwise, even if it’s a situation as basic as your busy living room. Monster hunter has always had that more quest impulse for fans of the series, and with its new lightweight design and portable form factor, ascend should see a lot more converted to the cause.
Monster Hunter Rise is available on Nintendo Switch today.