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The Monster Hunter series has found massive success in recent years. The latest release from Capcom, Monster Hunter Rise, has become part of the company’s top 10 best-selling games. This feat is only more impressive when considering the game only released on one platform so far, the Nintendo Switch. With MH Rise set to release on PC by next year, the future of the series is all but guaranteed to be bright.
At least, that’s what the optimists would tell you. On the other hand, Monster Hunter Rise has garnered its fair share of criticisms from players, especially long-time fans of the series. The main problem, for them, isn’t that something is wrong with the game itself - it’s about how it compares to other Monster Hunter games.
As someone who’s been following and playing Monster Hunter Rise since its release, I’ve noted more than a few of these complaints. The most common ones I’ve seen involve the game lacking content or being too easy - these complaints even made their way into official reviews of the game, such as the one made by IGN France. They might not be the most popular opinions of the game, but they were widespread enough to reach major outlets; I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one person took those opinions to heart.
I consider myself a fan of the series, so I delved into Monster Hunter in order to see just how well-founded those complaints were. Rise’s very development is different from most other Monster Hunter games, and there’s definitely a fair share of differences between it and previous titles.
For the sake of this article, I’ll be focusing mainly on Rise, but I’ll mention previous titles in the series as I go along, such as Monster Hunter 4, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, and Monster Hunter: World.
To start with, I’ll be discussing Rise’s content, and whether it really is as lacking as some describe.
Image via official press release
As the name implies, the biggest focus of the Monster Hunter series is...well, the monsters. They provide the challenge of the games, and beating them down is the only way you can really progress. Having a wide variety of monsters can provide a lot of substantial time within these games, but the numbers might not be as impressive if you look closely enough.
Monster Hunter 4
Monster Hunter 4 has a roster of over 50 monsters. In comparison, Rise only has 46, including the special ‘Apex’ monsters featured in rampages. This seems to be a spot where 4 has Rise beat...at least, at first. Many of the different monsters in the older title are actually just alternate forms of existing monsters - a monster like a Yian Kut-Ku is considered different from a Blue Yian Kut-Ku, for example. If you cut down each game’s monster list to only include monsters that don’t share names, the roster is only one or two monsters away from being the same size.
Monster Hunter World
To add to this, Monster Hunter World, the most recent game before Rise, only has 36 monsters. It was the first game to redesign how Monster AI worked, but the roster pales in comparison to Rise - which carries over those changes and makes even more improvements. The Iceborne DLC available for Monster Hunter: World does bump up the roster considerably, increasing it to around 70, but that brings up an issue reflected in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
Being the only other Monster Hunter title available on the Switch, Generations Ultimate boasts an impressive amount of monsters. Almost 100 monsters make up the count in that game, and even when discounting similar monsters, it still has the largest roster of any game in the series. There’s a good reason for this, however; it’s not actually the base game. Generations Ultimate is the “expanded” version of Generations, a title released on the 3DS. Many mainline games get their own expanded versions, bumping up not just the amount of monsters but also how much there is to do in the game. This is also why Iceborne provides such a large increase of monsters; that acts as Monster Hunter: World’s expansion.
To put it simply, Monster Hunter Rise provides a number of unique monsters comparable to most normal games in the series. Following the recent pattern of releases, it seems likely that Rise will gain an expansion for itself - and that may very well increase its roster of monsters to heights greater than previous titles.
As a side note, Monster Hunter Generations was conceived as a celebration of the series up to that point. With that in mind, it’s no wonder it has so many monsters!
Image via unofficial Monster Hunter wiki
Of course, while monsters might be a major focus of Monster Hunter, there is more to the series than meets the eye. Each game provides its own unique quests and features, with some of them changing the games pretty heavily. Generations Ultimate provides the most of these features, as one might expect, with a massive amount of quests and fights that are either new or brought over from previous titles. Without even regarding expansion titles, however, Monster Hunter: World and Monster Hunter 4 do boast a fair share of their own special features.
In Monster Hunter 4, normal monsters could be ‘Frenzied’, a state they take on that increases their power and changes their behavior. This provided a further challenge to already existing monsters, as they were able to wield greater power and sometimes even different moves.
World had a similar feature for monsters, where they would reach ‘Tempered’ states. Fighting these monsters would lead to increased rewards and even rare materials you couldn’t find otherwise. Rise doesn’t have anything similar to that...but in the end, this may not actually matter.
Rise has its own special features, with one heavily-advertised feature being Rampage Quests. In these quests, you play through a defense mission, repelling monsters with weapons and installations before they can break into your village. At higher levels, this will give you rare materials and rewards needed to farm for charms, which provide some of the best gear in the game.
It can get repetitive after a while, and you’ll be facing a lot of the same monsters in order to obtain that gear...but that’s not very different from how it worked in World, where only high-level monsters gave players the best materials. In fact, it’s even more freeform in Rise, as players have the option of keeping those materials from the rampage; instead, they can use lower-value materials from regular monsters to create charms.
The reason why Rise seems to lack content is because of presentation. Instead of going after the same monsters in new states, hunters in Rise are encouraged to simply go after what they’ve fought before. This gives players a more ‘set your own goals’ mindset, rather than being tempted with special modifiers and unique materials that accomplish the same thing in the end. While others might find this to be a subjective opinion, I find that Rise’s content is perfectly comparable to - if not greater than - the content found in older games.
There is more to this, however. The amount of content and incentives to play is different than how many hours one might put into a game. To understand why some players find themselves putting less hours into Rise than previous titles, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. From that, a point can be made about the final complaint against Monster Hunter Rise - difficulty.
Image via GamesRadar
Monster Hunter Rise features the same overall formula as other games in the series. You hunt monsters, you make gear from those monsters, and you use that gear to fight stronger monsters. Rise happens to bring over some extra changes from Monster Hunter: World, such as the ability to use items while moving and the lack of loading screens. With these changes, Rise plays almost like an alternative version of World - with some alterations, that is.
Where Rise differs most is the addition of two features. The first is the Wirebug, which acts as an addition to the player’s normal moveset. Hunters are able to vault through the air and climb up walls using the Wirebug, and certain weapons use its abilities to perform counterattacks and powerful moves. The second addition is the Palamute, a dog-like companion you can ride to traverse areas with greater speed.
These additions are where the complaints regarding difficulty stem from, I believe. Wirebugs can allow players to more quickly recover and react to monster blows, and Palamutes provide players an extremely fast way to travel within each locale.
Much of the difficulty from older games came from how much slower players were; it could take a very long time to recover from attacks, use items, or even just walk across a map. Rise gives players strength and speed almost unheard of in the series at the time. As a result, monsters are beaten much sooner, danger is a lot less apparent, and the overall challenge simply isn’t as apparent.
That is a sentiment I disagree with, however. After all, it wasn’t just the players that have gotten stronger and faster.
Image via Reno Gazette Journal
Older Monster Hunter titles, especially those before Monster Hunter: World, did not have very great enemy AI.
Monsters would struggle to turn their bodies, different species would share animations and entire movesets, and even the toughest monsters were only really difficult due to some very strange hitboxes in their attacks. World completely redesigned how monsters acted during fights, but many of them still had very limited - and similar - movesets.
Monster Hunter Rise, on the other hand, takes this redesign even further. There are still obvious bits of similarity, but even the most familiar fights are taken in brand-new directions.
A good example of this can be found in the monsters Rathian and Rathalos - they’re almost the exact same species, and they’ve shared most of their moves with each other throughout the series.
Rise keeps the general moveset for Rathian the same, but Rathalos gains a whole plethora of attacks. It will use its flight to combine a plethora of attacks, from fireballs to claw swipes, in manners that previous Monster Hunter titles wouldn’t even dream of doing.
This is where Rise’s difficulty comes from - not just how players are meant to fight against monsters, but the monsters themselves. Instead of learning animation transitions and specific hitbox locations, players are meant to learn how a monster actually fights.
The actual challenge between each monster becomes more substantial, even if the game provides a lot of tools to make fights easier. You might not struggle as much as in the rest of the series, but if you do end up failing, it’s not because of any faulty mechanics or broken hitboxes; it’s because you simply need to improve your skills.
Image via Official Monster Hunter Twitter
My statements so far have been in defense of Rise, confronting each complaint against it and offering my own arguments as to why those complaints might be short-sighted. However, there is a strong case to be made in favor of those complaints when taking two things into account: time, and pricing.
Rise is still a very recent title in the Monster Hunter series, and it only reached its current state after numerous game updates. Upon release, the game featured fewer monsters and didn’t even allow players to increase their rank. Such an issue is irrelevant now, but it brings the game’s update cycle into consideration, especially when referencing other titles.
Older games feature Event Quests that were slowly added into each title across a manner of weeks or months. Rise features Event Quests, as well, but the number pales in comparison to those featured in World, Generations Ultimate, or even 4.
Because of these games being older, their price is much lower, as well. As of right now, without any sales, Monster Hunter: World can be purchased on the Steam store alongside its expansion for about the same price as Monster Hunter Rise. Because of the included expansion, a newcomer to the series would be getting way more out of the purchase of World and Iceborne, including much more content and much greater challenge.
Of course, this issue will eventually be resolved in the same way it was introduced - time. Rise continues to get new event quests every week, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the eventual release of an expansion for Rise would lower the base game’s price. Players who decide to wait for that time to come will get quite a lot of bang for their buck, and players who don’t wait still have some great things to look forward to.
Image via Official Monster Hunter Twitter
I would argue that Monster Hunter Rise is most definitely worth grabbing, even when considering older games in the series. Newcomers to the franchise will find a less frustrating experience with Rise overall, with the numerous tools at their disposal sure to keep them interested throughout the whole game.
And while the search for higher difficulty might not be completely answered for veterans, the new monsters - and alterations to existing ones - will provide a satisfying challenge for many long-time hunters.
But don’t think you should consider Rise in place of older games. Each title offers its own unique experience, after all. If you have similar complaints against Rise even after playing through it, you may very well find a lot of merit in games like World, Generations Ultimate, or 4. In the end, it’s all still Monster Hunter - as long as you enjoy that, there will be plenty of hunts for you!
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