Although Monster Hunter World was a huge success, becoming one of the best-selling Capcom games in history and exposing more people to a series that was only ever really popular in Japan, it comes at a cost. The move to modern console hardware means Monster Hunter looks and plays better than ever, but it also means abandoning the series’ portable roots.
Even in Japan, Monster Hunter only really takes off when it comes to PSP, with people getting together head-to-head to beat monsters together. It may not seem like it, given its long and drawn out combat system, but Monster Hunter is the perfect portable game. You can do a simple grind on a short trip while listening to a podcast, then tackle major challenges when you’re with friends or have the ability to devote your attention to the high-ranking online quest.
If that triggers the inevitable “this-should-be-on-the-Switch” response, this is Monster Hunter Rise. This is a new entry in the series that takes a lot of what made the World more accessible but places it on more flexible hardware. And soon, you can check it out for yourself with a demo that will go live on the Nintendo’s eShop today.
Capcom gave me an early demo version, and I’m pretty impressed so far. This demo includes two missions and several training stages, which are barely sufficient to understand the scope or progress of the game, but the fundamentals look very solid.
The biggest question I have is how big the technical compromise of Rise will be around the World, given the Switch’s hardware limitations when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. Of course, I wish Rise were between World and Generations Ultimate, the Switch version of the 3DS game. And from what I’ve seen from the demo, the visuals are much more like Worlds, while the level of complexity is more like the old game.
Rise lifts up the World’s UI and art direction wholesale, with the characters and monsters looking quite comparable in quality, at least on my Switch Lite screen. The resolution is sharp, and the frame rate is quite good. However, the environment in the demo is much simpler and less visually impressive than anything else in World, although it is still much better than Generations Ultimate. There are also no loading screens between numbered sub-areas, which makes for a big improvement to the pre-World entry in the Monster Hunter series.
Otherwise, Rise seems to play almost like World, with new features required accompanying every Monster Hunter release. There’s a new tool called Wirebug which is like a more advanced version of the “clutch claw” grappling hook from World’s Iceborne expansion. You can ride your companion dog across levels or even commandeer unwitting monsters that wander into your arena, setting them up against your ultimate target.
I’m looking forward to reviewing Monster Hunter Rise in full before its release on March 26 because the initial signs are quite promising. The Switch is the ideal platform for Monster Hunter in many ways, and Capcom looks to going all-out to make Rise the first-class title in its own way rather than a compromised port. For anyone who is waiting for a new handheld Monster Hunter, the news is looking good.