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Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak (PC) review — Combining the best of the old, and the new

More monsters, more gear, and more player freedom.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak review screenshot
(Image: © Windows Central)

Our Verdict

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is an incredible game that both new and veteran Monster Hunter fans will enjoy immensely. It builds upon what made Monster Hunter Rise great. New monsters to slay join various gameplay improvements that offer players more creative freedom to develop their character and look awesome in battle.

For

  • + An improved combat system with new special moves and more customization options
  • + A vast roster of giant monsters that feature brand-new creatures and old fan favorites
  • + Lots of quality-of-life improvements that smooth out the hunting experience

Against

  • — I wish the new Follower Quests weren’t singleplayer only
  • — While it does try to inject character development, the plot is still too basic for those desiring an intriguing story

My journey through the latest entry in Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise, Monster Hunter Rise, has been an interesting one, to say the least. I initially felt that despite being a fun action game, it was held back in various ways. Whether it was hardware limitations of the Nintendo Switch, character customization restrictions, or the lack of substantial post-game content when it first launched in 2021, I felt that it had some missed potential.

When Monster Hunter Rise was later ported onto PC, I noticed the game’s future started to look brighter. It featured HD visuals, a frame rate boost, and all the free, post-launch title updates the Nintendo Switch version had. Now, all that was left was Rise’s inherent gameplay faults that I hoped would get addressed in its DLC expansion, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.

The answers to my concerns would come sooner than expected, as Capcom has provided me with an early-access review code for Sunbreak. After sinking my teeth into this game for over 100 hours, I confidently say that not only has Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak fixed all my problems with the original base game, it is now one of my new favorite games in the whole Monster Hunter series. 

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak — Presentation

The PC port of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak contains performance and graphical improvements that make it superior to the Nintendo Switch version when it comes to visual fidelity and frame rates. This includes uncapped frame rates, 1080p or 4K resolution, high-res textures, motion blur controls, anti-aliasing, and more.

I ran this game using an Intel Core i5-9400 CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. While my lower-end PC rig is due for an upgrade, it can still run Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak at 60 FPS with 1080p resolution without any significant problems. This means that you won't have to go out of your way to acquire the best graphics cards on the market to experience this game at its best.

CategoryMonster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
DeveloperCapcom
PublisherCapcom
GenreAction
Minimum requirementsWindows 10 64-bit / Intel Core i3-4130 3.20GHz / Core i5-3470 / AMD FX-6100 / 8GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 (DDR4) / AMD Radeon RX 550
Game size36GB
Play time100+ hours
PlayersSingle, 4-player co-op
PlatformsNintendo Switch, PC
Launch price$40

One of the new graphical options added for Sunbreak is a feature that fixes one of my issues with the original game. When playing Monster Hunter Rise with people online, the overabundance of special effects produced when four players and their NPC partners attacked a monster made it unnecessarily harder to tell what was going on during combat and strained my eyes.

In Sunbreak, there is now a setting in the options menu to shrink the size of a player’s attack special effects (also known as “hit effects”). While it doesn’t get rid of them completely, the reduced size of the hit effects has given my eyes a much-needed relief, and I can now see what is happening in the fight much more clearly. This is just one of the many quality-of-life improvements Sunbreak brings that elevate Monster Hunter Rise to new heights.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak — Story

(Image credit: Windows Central)

After saving Kamura Village from the cataclysmic event known as “The Rampage,” a new catastrophe has reared its ugly head. New monsters not native to your home region have been spotted, and they're wreaking havoc by fighting with anything they see. After encountering one of these new beasts, Lunagaron, a Knight of the Royal Order named Fiorayne appears to help you fend it off.

Fiorayne explains that these new monsters originally hailed from her homeland, known simply as “The Kingdom.” The monsters there have become extremely violent as of late and have been invading nearby regions. Hearing tales of your heroic exploits in quelling “The Rampage,” Fiorayne has come to ask for your assistance. She tasks you to help her fellow knights investigate the cause of these attacks and defend her homeland from these terrifying beasties plaguing “The Kingdom” and beyond.

Like most Monster Hunter games, the story is pretty basic and doesn’t develop beyond your standard monster-of-the-week plot of protecting your home from giant creatures. However, Sunbreak does try to add some character development to the cast of hunters you will meet on your journey through the new singleplayer Follower Collab Quests. While the character interactions are cute, they're nothing to write home about. If you are in the mood for an action game with a dramatic story with world-shattering plot twists, temper your expectations as you won't get one here.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak — Gameplay

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak follows the same gameplay loop of the base experience. You accept missions to explore a large map and hunt your assigned quarry within a time limit. Along with your utility belt filled with traps, potions, and weapons, you will use your animal companions like the Palico, Palamute, and Wirebug to help you traverse the environment and defeat your target. Once you have taken down the monster, you use its parts to forge powerful weapons and armor that will let you hunt bigger game.

The major difference this time is that the quests of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak are Master Rank Quests, which represents a new tier of challenge. This new difficulty level adds new locales to visit like the Jungle and Citadel maps and a plethora of new monsters to hunt like the Garangolm, Gore Magala, Espinas, Malzeno, and many more. In addition, all the monsters you have beaten before in High Rank are back and are deadlier than ever with new abilities and tweaked move sets, making them feel fresh. 

If your armor set and skills aren’t up to snuff, the monsters in Master Rank will beat you to a bloodied pulp.

All the monsters you run into in Master Rank are not to be taken lightly. They are hyper-aggressive, hit like a ton of bricks, gained elaborate combo attacks, and are more durable than their High-Rank versions. If your armor set and skills aren’t up to snuff, these Master Rank monsters will beat you to a bloodied pulp and send you reeling back to your base camp in mere seconds.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Thankfully, players will learn new moves to help them deal with these baddies. Each of the 14 weapon types has been given new Switch Skills and Silkbind Attacks to use in battle. These new techniques offer defensive and offensive capabilities that, when mastered, will let you counter or dodge most enemy attacks and leave them in a world of hurt. All of these new moves are fun to experiment with and pack a serious punch when used correctly to tackle monsters.

To account for all the new special moves, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak introduces a new gameplay mechanic that fixes one of my biggest complaints from the base game — the Switch Skill Swap. Monster Hunter Rise allows players to customize their weapon’s moveset by switching regular moves and Silkbind Attacks. However, you could only swap only certain types of attacks with each other.

Having access to all my favorite attacks through the new Switch Skill Swap mechanics adds so much variety to the combat system.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak’s Switch Skill Swap addresses this issue by granting the player two Switch Skill loadouts they can swap to at any time at the cost of a small amount of stamina. Plus, after swapping skills, you can perform a Skill Swap Evade to dodge out of the way of incoming attacks or use it as a mobility tool to help the heavier weapons overcome their slow movement speed.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

I love the Skill Switch Swap mechanic because it grants the player more creative freedom when customizing their weapon’s moveset by letting them swap between two different playstyles on the fly. Having access to all my favorite Silkbind Attacks without needing to change them back at camp adds so much variety to the combat system. Learning all these new gameplay techniques to counter the most vigorous attacks from enemies and hit them back twice as hard is restlessly gratifying. 

New moves and gameplay mechanics aren’t the only improvements Sunbreak brings. This game incorporates several quality-of-life changes that polish the hunting experience. These include being able to run up walls without the need for Wirebug jumps, adjusting the controls for the Wyvern Riding mechanic so you can continue attacking a monster instead of being forced to ride it, as well as linking your item loadout to your radial menu loadout, among others.

Follower Collab Quests

(Image credit: Windows Central)

In Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, you won't be fighting monsters alone or with your friends. You will be fighting alongside the NPCs of the main story in the new Follower Collab Quests. These are singleplayer-only quests where one or sometimes two side characters tag along with you during a hunt. These quests also offer unique rewards you won't find anywhere else if you're willing to put in the time to complete them.

The AI-driven NPCs are surprisingly competent at doing their job most of the time. They'll dodge attacks at appropriate times, set traps, and bait monsters into falling into them. They're even smart enough to use Monster Hunter Rise's unique Wyvern Riding mechanic to take control of another beast and force it to beat up the primary target. And if they faint during battle, it doesn't count towards failing the quest, and they'll get back up on their own or if you slap them awake. This feature thankfully ensures that you don't feel like you're babysitting incompetent AI, escort mission-style, allowing you to focus on the fun. 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

That said, I wish these Follower Collab quests weren't singleplayer-only missions. These quests would've been more fun if I could play them with my friends and see them goof around with the NPCs, particularly since some later main quests actually include NPC hunters, without restricting co-op play. 

Overall, the Follower Collab Quests are an interesting idea, but I feel they could have been done better and do not hold a candle to playing with actual people. On the bright side, if you play Monster Hunter only for the multiplayer aspect, you can safely skip these quests as they are completely optional and are not needed to progress in the main campaign.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak — Final thoughts

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Despite minor gripes, I absolutely adored Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. This expansion's quality-of-life changes, expanded roster of monsters, and gameplay improvements have made this game truly "rise" from its humble beginnings. Not to mention, it is jam-packed with enough content to keep players busy for weeks on end long after the credits roll.

If you are a Monster Hunter fan, you’re going to love Sunbreak as it perfectly blends the over-the-top action of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate with the modern graphical and gameplay refinements of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

And if you're a fan of action games who's never played Monster Hunter before, I highly recommend this title as it is a great jumping-on point for newcomers. I am quite happy to call this one of the best PC multiplayer games in recent memory. 

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is out now after being released on June 30, 2022, for the Nintendo Switch and PC (via Steam). Do note that you will need to own Monster Hunter Rise first to install Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.

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Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is a fantastic expansion that doubles down on what made the original game great with new techniques to master and new monsters to hunt. A must-have for Monster Hunter fans and action game enthusiasts in general.

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Monster Hunter Rise

Gather your equipment and weapons; it's time to stop The Rampage in Monster Hunter Rise. Hunt down classic monsters like the Rathalos, Diablos, Tigrex, Nargacuga, and Zinogre and challenge brand-new monsters like the Magnamalo, Goss Harag, and the Crimson Glow Valstrax. You can take these mighty beasts solo or with your hunting buddies in 4-player co-op.

Buy from: Green Man Gaming (opens in new tab)

Alexander Cope is a writer for Windows Central and iMore that has been gaming since the 16-bit era.