Back in 2018, I was introduced to what would quickly become one of my favorite games of all time, Monster Hunter World. It was an amazing action game that allowed the player to hunt large, terrifying monsters and perform awesome feats of strength I thought were only possible through cinematic cutscenes in other games.
Since then, I've been hooked on Capcom's Monster Hunter series whether I was hunting in the frozen tundras of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne or befriending monsters in the Pokémon-like RPG spin-off Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruins. I would always be there to see what new action-hunting adventure Capcom would come up with next. And today, I get to review the PC port of Monster Hunter Rise, courtesy of an early-access review code provided by Capcom.
A few months ago, I got the chance to preview Monster Hunter Rise's PC demo (provided via an early-access code from Capcom) and I was feeling optimistic by the end of my play session. The PC demo's updated visuals and frame rates improved the demo's gameplay immensely compared to the Nintendo Switch demo. So, I was looking forward to seeing whether these upgrades would help refine the gameplay of the full PC version. Does it succeed? Let's grab our hunting gear and find out.
Bottom line: Overall, the PC port of Monster Hunter Rise is superior to the Nintendo Switch version, thanks to the PC enhancements. It has some of the best combat mechanics in the Monster Hunter series, the new monsters are an absolute delight to hunt, and the improved frame rate and resolutions enrich the hunting experience. It does have a couple of flaws, but they are minor issues in the grand scheme of things.
- Fast-paced gameplay improved thanks to higher frame rates and resolution
- A large roster of awesome monsters to hunt
- The PC version comes packaged with all the post-launch content updates
- The Rampage missions are chaotic but fun arcade-like hunts once you formulate a sound strategy
- Creating specific builds for your character can be restrictive
- Hunting in multiplayer can be straining on the eyes at times when there are four players and four NPC partners fighting at once
- The story is too simple for those looking for a complex narrative
Monster Hunter Rise: Presentation and performance
|Category||Monster Hunter Rise|
|Title||Monster Hunter Rise|
|Minimum requirements||Windows 10 64-bit|
Intel Core i3-4130 3.20GHz / Core i5-3470 / AMD FX-6300
NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 (DDR4) / AMD Radeon RX 550
|Play time||50+ hours|
|Players||Single, 4-player co-op|
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch, PC|
One of the big selling points of the PC version of Monster Hunter Rise is the improvements it has made to the frame rate and resolution. The Nintendo Switch version was only able to achieve 30 FPS with a 780p resolution. Meanwhile, the PC version is able to achieve uncapped frame rates and 1080p or even 4K resolution. It also includes other graphical upgrades such as high-res textures, motion blur, depths of field, anti-aliasing, detailed shadows, and more.
My PC rig is equipped with an Intel Core i5-9400 CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, so I was able to run the game at 60 FPS with 1080p resolution with no issues. You won't have to worry about getting the latest, cutting-edge PC graphics card or GPU to experience this game's enhanced visuals and performance.
Going from 30 FPS to 60 FPS made a huge world of difference when it came to gameplay. Inputting commands on the original Nintendo Switch version felt stiff and caused my attacks not to execute half the time, and I had to resort to button-mashing to make sure they would register. Thanks to the higher frame rates, this flaw is fortunately not present in the PC version. My attacks came out exactly when I inputted the commands, making the combat system feel much smoother and more fun, especially during the turbulent Rampage Quests.
The improved resolution also heightens the monster-hunting experience. Seeing the monsters with more detailed scales and fur textures made their designs more visually appealing compared to how they looked on the Nintendo Switch. The special effects of attacks also received visual upgrades, with anti-aliasing smoothing out the edges so that they no longer look like pixelated smog. This makes fights against certain monsters much more enjoyable since it's easier to see what's going on on-screen and the visual spectacle of their attacks is now pleasing to the eye.
My favorite aspect of the presentation is that the graphics settings show you images of how the game will look when you tweak the settings. This is an amazing quality-of-life improvement I wish more PC games would have because it helps those not familiar with advanced graphic settings set them more easily without having to research online.
My only issue with Monster Hunter's presentation is when you hunt with other players in multiplayer. Monster Hunter Rise is the first Monster Hunter game where players can take an NPC partner with them in multiplayer — a Palico or a Palamute. While this sounds cool in theory, it can cause some hunts to become unnecessarily disorientating in execution. Having four players and four NPCs fighting a monster simultaneously can lead to dozens of explosions and special effects going off at once, making it hard to tell what's going on and straining the eyes.
To make matters worse, the option to reduce the special effects (or "hit effects" as the game calls them) in the graphics settings does little to mitigate the sensory overload. Thankfully, this problem mostly happens when you fight a monster in an enclosed space like caves or tight corridors. Still, this issue could be resolved if there were an option to turn off the hit effects of other party members and only leave your attacks with the hit effects on.
Monster Hunter Rise: Story
The impetus for why you're hunting monsters in Monster Hunter Rise is to arm yourself in preparation for a cataclysmic event known only as "The Rampage." Every 50 years, monsters that ordinarily would be fighting each other in turf wars, suddenly get this inexplicable urge to band together in hordes and go on a stampede, destroying everything in their sights.
Your home, Kamura Village, was almost destroyed by this unnatural phenomenon 50 years ago, and now signs are showing "The Rampage" will be happening again soon. As one of Kamura's newly appointed hunters, it is up to you to defend Kamura Village from "The Rampage" and find out what has been causing monsters to berserk in the hopes of ending this calamity once and for all.
The premise of Monster Hunter Rise is your typical Monster Hunter affair — a peaceful village gets threatened by monsters, and you are tasked with stopping them. It's a simple monster-of-the-week plot that's mainly concerned with setting the player off to hunt cool monsters based on Japanese mythology, and it doesn't change beyond that. So, if you're looking for an action game with a deep, complex narrative packed with novellas worth of character development, you won't find that here.
Monster Hunter Rise: Gameplay
Monster Hunter Rise follows a linear, mission-based structure where you are tasked with hunting a monster within a time limit. These missions take place in various diverse ecosystems with multiple heights of elevation that you must traverse if you're to find your prey. To help you accomplish your assignments, you can pick up crafting materials on the map to make potions and traps, and pick up small animals called endemic life to boost your stats.
Your character is also accompanied by a host of animal companions that aid you during the hunt. First is the Wirebug, a large insect that produces ironsilk, allowing you to swing through the air and help you climb up mountains. The second, the Palamute, is a large dog-like creature that you can ride to travel at great speeds to reach your destination. And finally, there's the Palico, a humanoid cat that can assist you in battle with traps and gadgets.
When you have located the monster, it's time to slay them with your chosen weapon. Monster Hunter Rise has 14 weapon types for you to use, each with their own movesets, strengths, and weaknesses. The Wirebug can also allow you to perform aerial attacks and use supermoves called "Silkbind Attacks" during combat. Once you have damaged the monster enough times with Wirebug attacks, you can use the Wyvern Riding mechanic to briefly take control of a monster using the Wirebug's ironsilk like a puppeteer to attack other monsters or crash it into a wall.
Upon slaying or capturing your quarry, you collect their body parts as a reward for your efforts. You then take the body parts back to Kamura Village's local smithy, and he'll use them to forge powerful weapons and armor so you can hunt more dangerous monsters higher up in the food chain.
This forms the core gameplay loop of Monster Hunter Rise, and it is just fun as it was on the Nintendo Switch. It is incredibly satisfying to read the monster's attack patterns and learn when to dodge and counter them with the new Silkbind Attacks. I was brimming with excitement at the new weapons and armor you get killing these beasts. The over-the-top designs remind me of the more fantastical weapons and armor from Monster Hunter 4 and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. This motivated me to hunt the monsters multiple times so I could use their parts to forge entire sets of gear and show off how cool they were to my friends.
One of the best additions of the PC version, aside from the graphical enhancements, is that it comes packaged with every free post-launch update the Nintendo Switch version had up until Ver. 3.6.1 (the November 2021 update). This includes the finale of the High-Rank quests' storyline, several new monsters to fight, and Event Quests, which reward new weapons, armor, poses, emotes, stickers, and more. This means that PC players won't have to wait several months for the PC port's content to catch up with the console version like they had to do with the PC port of Monster Hunter World.
In between the standard hunting quests, the time will come when you must defend the village from "The Rampage" in the form of Rampage quests. Rampage Quests are tower-defense-like missions where you must fend off wave after wave of monsters coming to bash down Kamura's gates. In addition to your arsenal of weapons and traps, you can set up defense turrets (both manual and automatic), use environmental traps, and summon NPCs to help you halt the horde's advance. You also have access to gongs, which once rung, give yourself and your teammates a massive damage boost so you can dispatch monsters more quickly.
To complete Rampage Quests, you must keep the gates of Kamura Village safe until the timer runs out or you defeat the leader of a horde. The leader of a Rampage horde can be either a Major Threat (an enlarged version of a regular monster) or an Apex monster. Apex monsters are mutated variants that are utterly immune to traps and Wyvern Riding and feature new attacks that hit like a megaton bomb.
I will admit I didn't take kindly to the Rampage Quests at first, when playing solo. I would often get ganged up upon by monsters and get thrown off my turrets which led to a frustrating first impression. However, once I understood the intricacies of each defensive installation and put together a game plan, I started to enjoy the Rampage Quests. I went from being a monster's chew toy to a one-hunter army that annihilated every horde before they could even breach the first gate.
The Rampage Quests truly shine when you play them in multiplayer. Having multiple players control a pack of monsters to beat an Apex monster while another player blasts it to smithereens with cannons was an amazing arcade-like experience. Not to mention the rewards you get for conquering the Rampage Quests are worth the planning and effort.
Restrictions on character builds
Since the PC version's upgrades fixed my biggest issue with Monster Hunter Rise from the Nintendo Switch version (the overall looks and game feel), the only other criticisms I have are core gameplay flaws that lie in both versions.
My first criticism is the limitations of the Switch Skills system. Switch Skills is a gameplay system that lets you switch out attacks in your weapon's moveset with new ones. These Switch Skills can offer creative and exciting new ways to play your favorite weapon. However, there is a problem I have with this system. While you can switch a few regular attacks moves from your moveset, you can only switch out one of your two Silkbind Attacks.
This means that with some weapons, I'm stuck with one Silkbind Attack that I don't find appealing to my playstyle, and the Silkbind Attack I can switch out, it's a move I don't want to remove. I would much rather prefer it if I could switch any of my weapon's supermoves to diversify my gameplay, much like how you could with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate's Hunter Arts.
My second and biggest complaint about Monster Hunter Rise is the Melding Pot. Without getting into spoilery details, the Melding Pot is a system that allows you to use monster parts to create accessories for your character called Talismans. Talismans add passive or active buffs to your character's abilities (which are called "armor skills" in this game) or enhance ones already granted by your weapons or armor. However, the Talismans produced from the Melding Pot have randomized stats, i.e., they could possess any armor skill in the game and at any level. This means that you could spend weeks at the Melding Pot and never get the Talismans you want to help you build your character exactly how you want it.
However, this doesn't mean you can't defeat monsters without optimal Talismans. Every weapon and armor set you can craft through normal means is viable and will help you kill any monster so long as you are skilled enough to use them. Nonetheless, farming for Talismans is still a very tedious activity that could've been done better. I would prefer it if we could create Talismans with the exact abilities we want, much like how Charms, the accessories from Monster Hunter World were made.
Overall, I enjoyed the PC version of Monster Hunter Rise much more than I did the Nintendo Switch version. The PC version's improvements made the gameplay much smoother to play and has helped me appreciate aspects I didn't like initially, like the Rampage Quests. Plus, all the bundled free post-launch updates will keep players busy for weeks to come.
The flaws regarding the restrictive Switch Skills and Melding Pot may not seem like a big deal at first, but they become more noticeable as time goes on. It is my fondest hope that these issues are addressed in the upcoming paid DLC expansion, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, so this game can truly reach its full potential as one of the best games in the Monster Hunter series.
If you're looking for a fun game to play with your friends, then I highly recommend checking out Monster Hunter Rise when it launches on Jan. 12, 2022. It is one of the best multiplayer games on PC and the perfect way to start the new year.
Let's get ready to hunt!
Bottom line: Monster Hunter Rise is a solid action game that features a superb combat system and lots of extraordinary creatures to hunt with your friends. The PC port improves upon the original game's foundations with higher frame rates and resolution to give players a more polished hunting experience.
Alexander Cope is a writer for Windows Central and iMore that has been gaming since the 16-bit era.
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