Monster Hunter Rise PC preview: A superior version in every single way
Smoother gameplay means Monster Hunter Rise might finally reach its true potential.
Ever since I played Monster Hunter World for the first time back in 2018, I've been obsessed with Capcom's action RPG hunting franchise. Whether they be the traditional entries like Monster Hunter World: Iceborne or the Pokémon-style side titles like Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, Capcom never fails to make it fun to hunt down every beastie.
However, I felt conflicted when I played Monster Hunter Rise on Nintendo Switch. On the one hand, I enjoyed the new gameplay mechanics and monsters, but on the other hand, the visuals and performance felt held back by the Nintendo Switch's limited hardware. So, when Capcom gave me early access to the Monster Hunter Rise PC demo, I was interested to see if the upcoming port would fix the game's feel.
Judging from my time with the preview build, I can safely say the future looks bright for the full PC version. How does it fare exactly? Read on for our Monster Hunter Rise PC demo preview and find out.
How does one hunt?
For those new to this game, this demo contains two tutorials and three hunting missions. The tutorials explain the basic controls and the Wyvern Riding mechanic, which lets you climb atop some of the game's beasties to stun them or even wield them in battle with another monster. The hunting missions have you tracking a Great Izuchi, a Mizutsune, or the flagship monster of Rise, Magnamalo.
A typical Monster Hunter Rise mission has you go out in the wild to slay assigned monsters. These missions take place in giant, open areas of various elevated heights that you will need to explore to find your prize within a time limit. Your character comes with a Wirebug, which is unique to Rise and can help you traverse the map thanks to its ironsilk, which lets you swing through the air and run up walls like Spider-Man. There is also your Palamute companion, a doglike creature that you can ride to help you cover ground faster and assist you in fighting monsters. Rounding out your squad of animal companions is the Palico, a humanoid cat that can attack enemies and lay down gadgets that can aid you in combat.
Along the way, you can pick up crafting items from the environment to make healing potions, traps, and items that can buff your stats. You can also pick up small critters, known as endemic life, that can inflict status effects, grant permanent buffs during a mission, or lure monsters into a specific area.
Once you have found your target, it's time to go to town on it with your chosen weapon. Monster Hunter Rise features 11 melee and three ranged weapon types to choose from, each with its unique move-set and mechanics. My personal favorites in the demo are the Hunting Horn, a musical instrument that buffs your party while beating monsters into submission with the power of music, and the Gunlance, a cannon with a spear attached that fires close-ranged explosions as you stab a monster into Swiss cheese.
The Wirebug can also assist you during combat, enabling aerial attacks and super moves called Silkbind Attacks. These are potent abilities that either deal a lot of damage or negate an incoming attack. Be careful when using them, though, because every action with the Wirebug costs Wirebug Charges to use. The more potent the move, the larger the cost. More powerful attacks will also induce a larger recharge timer. After dealing enough damage with Wirebug moves, the monster will become susceptible to the Wyvern Riding mechanic. This allows the Wirebug to forcibly take control of a monster with its ironsilk like a puppet and use it to beat up other monsters.
After slaying the monster, you will carve up their body parts and then use them to forge awesome weapons to hunt bigger monsters back home. Granted, you can't do that in the demo, but you will be able to in the full version.
The PC version is a huge visual and performance boost
For the most part, the PC demo has the same content as the Switch version, with two key differences. For starters, there is no limit to how many times you can play the PC demo, so you are free to hunt to your heart's content.
The second, and more obvious one, owes itself to the nature of gaming on a PC. The advanced graphics and performance upgrades provided in the PC version add a whole new dimension to Monster Hunter Rise, elevating it far above the limited scope of the Nintendo Switch. These enhancements include 4K resolution with a 60FPS framerate or higher, high res textures, anti-aliasing, depth of field, motion blur, detailed shadows, and various other enhancements and improvements.
I cannot stress enough how much of a boost PC hardware is to the flow of Monster Hunter Rise's gameplay. Going from 30FPS to 60FPS or higher (max 144FPS) feels like I'm playing a whole new game. In the original version, the 30FPS made the controls feel stiff, and the input window for attacks was so small that I found myself mashing buttons just to ensure my attacks were actually executed. I didn't have to worry about that at all here thanks to the more responsive play. All my attacks came out precisely when I actuated them.
Monster Hunter Rise on PC is also much prettier compared to its console counterpart. All the monsters and characters now have high resolution-textures to give them more detailed looks — with realistic fur and scales that look almost on par with Monster Hunter World. And thanks to the various graphical enhancements, special effects like fire no longer look like pixelated dust clouds. My rig includes an Intel Core i5-9400 CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, easily achieving 120FPS at 1080p, with high-resolution textures with plenty of overhead left. You won't need a cutting-edge PC set up to experience Rise at its best.
You can adjust all of these features in the advanced graphics settings menu to suit how much your PC rig can handle. I also want to highlight the graphics settings menu, which shows visual examples for each setting tweak, similarly to Gears Tactics. If you're someone who doesn't know off-by-heart what "TAA+FXAA" means, the menu explanations are a very welcome addition that I wish more PC games in general would include.
As for the general gameplay itself, it's still as fun as I remember. Learning how to use all the Wirebug moves to dodge and counter a monster's attacks is very satisfying. It always feels rewarding while exploring the environment, grabbing endemic life and crafting materials to prepare traps and potions to make the hunt easier. Even when I was getting my backside handed to me by the harder monsters like Magnamalo, I was still having fun knocking him out cold with my Hunting Horn. Forcing monsters into battle Godzilla-style using the Wyvern Riding mechanic never gets old.
Capcom's future on PC
Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Monster Hunter Rise PC demo considerably more than the Switch version. All the promised enhancements from PC have made this experience feel far more smooth than the original Switch demo. I can't wait to hunt with my friends again when the full version launches in early 2022 to join other great multiplayer games on PC.
The PC version of Monster Hunter Rise will launch on Jan 12, 2022, and the PC demo will be released publicly on Oct 13, 2022. A paid DLC expansion for Monster Hunter Rise, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak will be released sometime in the summer of 2022, although it's unknown if it will launch at the same time as the Switch version. Capcom has, however, recently stated that it intends to make PC its lead development platform. Hopefully, this could lead to launch parity for Sunbreak, and hopefully future Monster Hunter games too.
Even if you've maxed out Monster Hunter Rise on Switch, playing it again on PC has been like a breath of fresh air, allowing it to rise to its full potential.
Halt the Rampage
The hunt is on for the biggest monsters in Kamura.
Monster Hunter Rise is the latest mainline entry in Capcom's storied Monster Hunter franchise. This adventure will pit players against classic favorites like Rathalos, Diablos, Rajang, and brand-new monsters like Goss Harag and Magnamalo. Hunt these fearsome beats solo or with your buddies in four-player co-op.
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Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is!