There’s a lot of people out there that would call Metroid Dread the Nintendo Switch Game of the Year for 2021. In fact, many people would probably call it the Game of the Year, full stop. But I don’t even think it was the best Switch game of 2021: right back at the start of the year, Capcom surpassed all expectations with Monster Hunter Rise – a slightly more stripped-back, easy-to-play game than its undeniably more dense console sibling, Monster Hunter World.
On Switch, I put over 100 hours into Monster Hunter Rise in 2021 (thanks to some lockdowns and a light start to the year), so you’d think I’d have had my fill of chasing down packs of Rathalos on the back of a baying dog, shunting my sword into their heads and ripping off their skin so I can wear it like a coat. But, as the January 12, 2022 PC release date approaches, I can’t help but find myself getting excited to step back into Kamura Village all over again.
Why? Why would I want to make such a commitment when we’ve got the likes of Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West approaching rapidly? First up, I never got to experience all the DLC that got added to the game post-launch. It’s traditional for Monster Hunter titles to continue updating the games long after release, and in the months since it first hit the Switch, Rise has been updated with armor sets and weapons tied in with Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, Okami, Street Fighter, Mega Man 11, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection and the non-Capcom Sonic the Hedgehog.
I don’t really think I can say I’ve actually played the game until I’ve charged headfirst into the flagship monster Magnamalo, dressed as a rapid blue hedgehog whilst my dog – cosplaying as everyone’s favourite furry entrypoint, Tails – stabs it with the sword it's holding in his mouth. Brilliant.
If you did pick up the game on Switch but put it down once the credits rolled the first time, chances are you’re missing out on some cool new stuff, too: all of the new monsters and quests that were added to the game will be present in Monster Hunter Rise at release, basically cloning version 3.6.1 of the Switch game. This also means there’s a new ending for the game that wasn’t present when the title first launched in 2021 – if you’re eager to get caught up and ready to play the Sunbreak expansion that’s due to land this Summer, you may as well do it on a platform that has all the bells and whistles and that won’t slow down on you when you’re just about to body a Barioth.
And that brings me to the real reason I want to get back into Monster Hunter Rise on PC. Sweating out a Rampage on the Switch is all well and good, but when there’s over five or six monsters and four players on-screen at once, the hardware starts to struggle a bit. On PC, with 4K graphics, higher resolutions and framerates, and the option to mess around with advanced graphics settings… the whole thing is just going to be more fun.
Putting some time into the Monster Hunter Rise PC demo at the end of 2021 was eye-opening: unlimited frame rates show off how buttery and smooth this game can be when it’s not tied to 30FPS (like it is on Switch). Some of the best moments in Monster Hunter have always been the near-death misses and the just-in-time knockouts. Gliding under an Elder Dragon’s fireball with no health remaining, parrying a tail swipe and and then breaking a monster’s tail clean off, throwing yourself off a cliff and onto the back of a furious bear before riding it into the side of a mountain… these madcap, timing-sensitive and twitch-reflex baiting moments make so much more sense when everything is running at 60FPS plus.
Hitting the option to apply improved textures makes the world feel so much more alive and welcoming – sure, it’s never going to look like Monster Hunter World, but it doesn't need to. Not with that gorgeous, well-realised art direction. The increase in clarity from the 756p docked/540p undocked resolutions, too, is night and day on PC; from the demo alone, it’s allowed me to clock some extra details and nuances in monster design that were lost on me, squinting at my Switch in the dark at 4am.
Last, but not least, there’s in-built voice chat in the PC release. My monster-hunting senpai and I typically set up Xbox Live parties and chatted via another platform when we got our hunt on last year… not an ideal setup for many reasons. Monster Hunter, for many, is a social game, and so being able to effortlessly bray and bark as we get swatted by an angry Magnamalo is another surprisingly tempting charm the PC release has over the original.
If you're dubious about trying out Monster Hunter Rise on PC, all I can say is this: there's a reason it's shipped over 5 million copies on Switch alone. If you do bite on the game, and want some expert guidance about how all the crafting, hunting and fighting works, our in-depth Monster Hunter Rise guide is available at the link.
We’re a week out from Rise’s launch on PC, and it’s going to mark the start of a killer year for games. I guess I just need to get my 100+ hours in before the stacked Q1 of 2022 kicks off in earnest then.