Capcom finally released the demo for their upcoming Monster Hunter sequel, Rise, on the Switch–and after spending a decent amount of time with it, we’re happy to report that things are looking really solid. As not-hardcore fans of the series, but people who like and appreciate the games for what they are–we found the demo focused, polished, sleek and eager to deliver to its legion of fans. At the same time, it implements some smart new mechanical changes that work very well, and some subtle improvements over Monster Hunter: World that also shine in their own. (Note: We haven’t played Monster Hunter Generations: Ultimate, so won’t be using that as a point of comparison.)
To start with, we enjoyed the tutorial here. A lot. It is not drawn out across hours like Monster Hunter: World, nor is it totally obfuscated like previous games in the series. Sure, Monster Hunter will always be a ‘figure it out’ yourself type of game–but this one does a solid job of teaching you the basics, quickly and concisely. You’re in and out in a short, 5-minute tutorial level. By the times it’s over, even a newcomer will have a solid grasp of the core mechanics–and will feel just comfortable enough to go on a hunt and learn the game proper.
Speaking of which, Rise introduces a few new ones to the mix. You are now accompanied by either a canine or feline companions. You can also ride them to traverse long distances. In fact, the animals will help you in battle–and will attack the monsters you are focused on. Your hunter now also has increased verticality and upward mobility–due to the ‘wirebug’–which lets you perform Spiderman like mini-swings. Wirebugs also come into play in combat–with each weapon type having a specific attack that corresponds to it. You also no longer have to blow the famous ‘hunting horn’ during combat for buffing up your team. It happens automatically as you’re fighting with it. The overall areas (at least the one in the demo) also appear to be seamless. With no ‘loading’ time between ‘Zones’. This just makes for a sleeker, faster and more efficient game than ever before.
However, make no mistake. This isn’t some breezy casual, single-player package. It is still a co-op oriented game, with emphasis on co-ordination, patience, and adapting to a variety of tactics within the battle to defeat ginormous tough, unpredictable foes. The sense of movement is also measured and deliberate as per series standards. As in positioning is important. You may have increased mobility now, but this is still Monster Hunter, not Devil May Cry. Judging by the demo, the fights will be as drawn-out as per series standards (and seemingly quite a bit longer than World, in our experience). So, if you want to invest time in the full-game, know that you’re in for the long haul. Especially since the game is almost certain to feature a vide variety of monsters to slay–alongside the extensive amounts of flora to collect–and fauna to observe. While it is a tad accessible, it is not a game for people without time on their hands. In short, this is a true blue Monster hunter game.
The audio-visual front of the game also fares well. The soundtrack features a lot of oriental twinges that give flashbacks to games like Okami. All the Hunter ‘Archetypes’ in the demo were varied and expressive and the weapons and armors all looked cool. The game also looks solid on both docked and handheld. While maybe not on par with World in terms of pure pixel power, it makes Capcom’s RE Engine sing in its own unique way. With a clean, charming, appealing aesthetic that has its own appeal. Especially when it comes to anticipating all the various monsters that the RE engine can deliver, when the full game launches. The game also runs solid on both handheld and docked–with 540p and 720p resolutions respectively. In the former’s case, the visuals look much cleaner than most Switch games of its ilk and similar resolution (You will swear that it’s 720p, actually). The game is consistently stable–with 30fps being constant in both cases. Sure, you can argue that a game like this deserves 60 fps (and you’d be right)–but right now, it serves its purpose.
Monster Hunter: Rise overall makes a solid impression. It is looking like another great, high-quality entry in the venerable, consistent franchise; a treat for its fanbase–and more importantly, a great, cooperative, portable game. All in all, we’re excited for the full version when it launches.