Bottom line: Monster Hunter Rise brings in a slew of excellent new game mechanics that elevate the gameplay and even streamlines the overall experience. Veteran fans and newcomers alike will love the colorful and lush world around Kamura Village, and the variety of old and new monsters offers a ton of challenge and content.
Graphically impressive with super-fast load times, skippable cutscenes
Tons of content and replay value
New game mechanics are very streamlined and fun
Plenty of free content coming in the months ahead
Still can be very overwhelming
No voice chat
You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.
Monster Hunter has been around for a very long time. In fact, in our Monster Hunter retrospective, the first Monster Hunter game debuted in 2004 on the PlayStation 2. Since then, Monster Hunter has spanned five generations of mainline games spread out across various consoles and handheld systems, from PSP to the 3DS to PlayStation 4 and now back to the Nintendo Switch.
My first Monster Hunter game was not until Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the 3DS. However, due to the game's difficulty and some annoying game mechanics like underwater combat, I didn't get far and never reached endgame. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was different — I loved the introduction of the Insect Glaive (alongside the other new weapon, the Charge Blade), the aerial-based combat of the IG, and online play helped it become one of my favorite games of all time. I poured several hundred hours into MH4U, only stopping once I had the best endgame equipment on my hunter.
Then came Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, though for some reason, this one didn't click with me like MH4U did. But for many, including me, Monster Hunter World was hands-down the best Monster Hunter because it made the game so much more accessible for everyone, not just veterans.
Monster Hunter Rise is like a combination of Generations Ultimate and World, making it even more accessible for newcomers while giving veteran fans more of what they love. This is the best Monster Hunter game to date and is going on the list of best Nintendo Switch games of all time.
Monster Hunter Rise: Beautiful, fun, challenging, and super accessible
The new game mechanics refine the overall game experience
|Category||Monster Hunter Rise|
|Title||Monster Hunter Rise|
|Players||Up to 4 players each with their own game/Switch|
Before World, Monster Hunter was not the most intuitive game, to say the least. For example, you would have to search the entire map (with each sector requiring a loading screen) for a monster and then throw a paintball at it before engaging to make sure you can track it later. And if too much time passed since you threw a paintball, then you basically had no way of tracking it, which was a pain for monsters who could fly to any area on the map. Another painful part of older Monster Hunter games was the fact that if you use an item like a healing potion, you'd be unable to move around at all.
Monster Hunter World rectified all of this, and Monster Hunter Rise refines it even further. In World, you had Scoutflies that would help you track down a monster — all you needed to do was follow the trail. In Rise, you have Cohoots, which are essentially scouting owls. Thanks to these little guys, you can see giant monsters immediately on a map when starting a quest. If they're a monster you haven't identified yet, they'll appear as a "?" on the map. This is such a significant improvement to the game because the pre-World method was a pain, and World's Scoutflies were also kind of annoying. So far, Rise's Cohoot system is the way to go.
Another new addition to Rise are the Palamutes. Not only will these canine friends help your offense on the battlefield, but you can mount them for a faster way to travel around the map. I absolutely love this, and it makes it super easy to cover a large amount of ground in a small amount of time. And to further improve things, the Palamutes don't use your hunter's stamina; you can attack while mounted and even use items freely while riding. Plus, you can play with both the cat and the dog — GOTY material right there, folks.
Of course, while we're talking about new mechanics, the Wirebug is another substantial change. The Wirebug can also be used to help traverse the terrain, whether vertically or on the ground, but every weapon has its own set of unique Silkbind Wirebug moves as well. The final thing that the Wirebug can do is allow you access to Wyvern Riding. This is a move that restrains a large monster with Ironsilk from the Wirebugs, giving you a brief window of time to control the monster. Wyvern Riding is great for dealing damage to the monster by making it crash into walls or even making it engage with other large monsters in a turf war.
Endemic life also plays a big part in hunts. The endemic life can be found all over each area, and they grant useful stat boosts for your hunter, items, or you can pocket them and use them like an item during battle. I found it fun to see what each locale had to offer in terms of endemic life, and they all have a use. My favorites, though, are the Spiribirds because they grant a permanent boost (color determines stat) for the duration of a hunt, even if you cart (faint) in battle.
A new mission type has also been added in the form of Rampage quests and is kind of like a tower defense level. Rampage quests require that you help defend Kamura Village from hordes of large monsters by repelling them. To do this, you need to rely less on your weapon and use more of the stronghold's defense mechanisms, like ballistas, cannons, and the almighty Dragonator. These are a nice change of pace from your usual quest fare, which may be good or bad, depending on your preference.
Finally, I absolutely love the new open-world maps in Monster Hunter Rise. Previous handheld Monster Hunter games had separate areas on each map that you would have to load into, which had some pros and cons (safely being able to heal but coming back into a massive attack and carting). So having one giant map with no loading screens, just like in World, is fantastic — it feels way more immersive and seamless, like what you have in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Another thing worth noting in Monster Hunter Rise is how the game makes it easy to track what quests you need to do to progress the story and hunter rank. Each tier of quests has certain "key quests" that must be completed before you can unlock the Urgent Quest to move on to the next set of quests. In Rise, these key quests are highlighted, and you only need to do a certain threshold of them before the Urgent becomes available.
This game is one of the most beautiful games on the Nintendo Switch
Graphically, Monster Hunter Rise is one of the most beautiful games I have seen on the Switch that isn't from Nintendo. From what I have seen so far, the environments are lush and detailed for a Switch title. Though it falls more in line with previous handheld Monster Hunter games than World because the textures aren't the best. The map layouts are a little more simple as well, but with more verticality to each locale to encourage Wirebug usage. Monster models, especially the ones that originated in World, look amazing on the Switch's smaller screen due to Capcom's RE Engine.
I was also super impressed with the insanely fast load times. On average, load screens only appear for a few seconds tops, which is significantly improved compared to previous Monster Hunter games, including World. The only time I noticed slightly longer loading times was when joining a multiplayer quest that was already going on.
A vast improvement that I noticed immediately are the cutscenes in the game. Previously, you'd get a cutscene when you first find the monster that you are hunting, and these could not be skipped. Thankfully, Capcom listened and now has the cutscene play before the mission begins, and you can even skip them if you want. However, they're actually pretty cool to watch with the overall medieval Japanese theme style and haikus.
A smooth multiplayer experience
If you are coming from Monster Hunter World, then the quest system may be a little odd in Rise, but it will be familiar for older Monster Hunter fans. With Monster Hunter Rise, you have single-player village quests that progress the main story and the separate Gathering Hub quests. The Hub quests are designed for multiplayer with up to three other people, either locally or online, and the difficulty scales with the number of players. The Gathering Hub quests increase your Hunter Rank, though that won't affect what quests you get in the village since they're separate.
The multiplayer experience is much more enjoyable than it was in World. The Gathering Hub quests can be accessed by anyone who meets the hunter rank requirement, and there are no more cutscenes that you're forced to watch since they can be skipped. You also don't need to fire an SOS flare during a quest to have other people join — anyone who is searching for a hub quest can join if there is an open slot.
All players get credit for the Urgent quest as long as it's successful. Older games had a dumb requirement where only the one who posted the Urgent quest got credit for completing it, so you'd have to do the urgent multiple times if everyone in a group needed it.
And even if you play multiplayer with more than one other person, you can still bring a Palamute or Palico buddy with you. This means extra firepower during fights and even faster travel if you have a Palamute. However, things can get a little chaotic during battle, to say the least, when there are four players and four pets joining in on the fray.
Hunt, craft, rinse and repeat
The meat of Monster Hunter games is to hunt down large monsters and then take those carved parts and forge cool armor and weapons, take on even tougher monsters, and rinse and repeat. Yes, it's a grind, but it's entertaining and challenging because of the combat system.
There are 14 different weapons that you can access from the get-go, and each weapon has its own unique playstyle and moves. The weapon designs in Rise are also much better than the dull slap-on styles in World, as Rise harkens back to the flashier styles of older Monster Hunter games.
Additionally, there are also a ton of different armor sets with armor skills to boost various stats and give you additional perks during hunts. Customization is a huge part of the game, so you can choose how you want to play according to your own preferences. Heck, some people like to make armor sets because of how cool they look (fashion hunters), and not because they have the best skills, so you can also adapt to that too.
As of launch, there are about 33 large monsters in the game to hunt, as well as 35 different small creatures. A handful of them are brand new to Rise, while a lot of them are returning favorites from previous games, including World. However, Capcom already has a ton of free content coming, with April's 2.0 title update bringing us Chameleos, Apex Rathalos, and several other monsters.
Monster Hunter Rise: It can definitely still be overwhelming
One of the biggest things I dislike about Monster Hunter games, in general, is how slow the beginning can be, and Rise is no exception. You'll still have to do elementary tutorials and gathering quests in the beginning, and things can definitely feel slow to unlock. This is true for all Monster Hunter games. However, once you get things rolling, it is hard to put the game down. Plus, for a lot of folks, the actual game doesn't start until post-story, where you are grinding the elder dragons for endgame gear.
Another thing that may not sit well with some people is the fact that while the game is friendlier to newcomers, there are still a lot of things that the game doesn't tell you explicitly, and you'll need to figure them out on your own. It definitely helps if you already know someone who plays the game, as they can help you out, but I'd also recommend checking out some of our Monster Hunter Rise guides for tips and tricks.
Lastly, if you don't like games where you'll need to grind for gear and will think that the game is done because you beat the story part, Monster Hunter Rise may not be the best game for you. The story is similar to other Monster Hunter games where something is threatening the village, and you're one of the few that can help stop it — you know, very basic stuff. People don't play Monster Hunter for the story; they play for the grind of hunting and crafting better armor and weapons. As much as I love Monster Hunter, if that kind of gameplay doesn't sound appealing, then it's not a good fit.
Monster Hunter Rise: Should you play it?
Monster Hunter Rise takes the improvements of Monster Hunter World and makes them even better. The new gameplay mechanics add a breath of fresh air and even more fun to the classic Monster Hunter formula and make things much friendlier for newcomers and veterans alike. With 14 different weapons to choose from, you can find a play style that best suits your wants, or you can try to master them all with the different armor sets available to craft. Plus, Capcom has a ton of free content coming that will keep you busy for a very long time.
Of course, if you don't like complex games that require time to master and have a lot of grinding involved, then this game may not be for you, as great as it is. Plus, it's one of those games where the real fun begins after you see the credits roll.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.