Monster Hunter Rise's new demo proves that this is no mere spin-off.
Monster Hunter: World had the potential to split this flagship Capcom series in two. World was a departure from the rest of the series in many ways - a game that took steps to be more approachable, accessible, and generally appealing to the Western market. As we all know, that was a huge success, going on to become Capcom’s best-selling game ever.
That puts Monster Hunter Rise in an interesting position. While unannounced, it’s not exactly a secret that there will inevitably be a direct sequel to World - which slots Rise in as an in-between game. Its placement on a portable Nintendo handheld makes its core mission obvious: it’ll continue on the slightly more obtuse Monster Hunter that was already massively successful in Japan.
After playing it, though, it becomes clear that this isn’t just a sequel to the pre-World Monster Hunter titles. It’s more of a balanced mix between the classic style of those games and the slicker, smoother experience of World - and it’s all the better for it. There’s a limited-time demo available on the Nintendo eShop right now, and we recommend you try it for yourself.
So, for instance, there’s a great, World-style degree of freedom of movement for the player, meaning you can gather and heal while on the move across the game’s seamless maps. Another returning quality-of-life change is the damage numbers that clue you in as to how much hurt you’re dishing out and how effective it is.
These are all improvements first delivered in World, in some cases to initial fan chagrin. The great triumph of World was that it proved the worth of these changes, however - and so now they feel as though they belong, ported back into this, a Monster Hunter that has more of the mood and feel of the pre-World titles.
That’s the point, really. This is a game about balance: it is as much a sequel to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate as it is to Monster Hunter World. It’s not a side story, but is absolutely a fully-featured continuation of the rest of the Monster Hunter series. Switch doesn’t get short-changed with some meagre offshoot here - it’s the real deal.
Inclusive of that sentiment is how the game looks and runs. It’s a Switch game, so it obviously isn’t going to look as good as MHW. But this is also running on Capcom’s powerful RE Engine, the very same that has powered recent Resident Evil titles. There’s a focus on smooth performance to tremendous effect, and that meshes with new gameplay additions such as the mobility-enhancing Wirebug gadget and the ability to actively ride some of the powerful beasts you’re hunting, therefore able to use them to attack other targets or simply to traverse the world.
While the demo’s focus is limited, using the Wirebug in particular demonstrates how keen this game is to evolve as well as iterate. It provides vastly different aerial maneuverability which seems like it’ll be especially good for chasing down monsters that can take to the skies themselves. Combined with abilities like wall-jumping and specific wirebug driven weapon combos and one can see enormous potential for depth.
When it was announced, I was in many ways surprised to see the Switch title, Rise, arriving before the inevitable next-gen MHW2. Seeing it now, however, everything clicks into place - this is a stepping stone that belongs after World, experimenting with new ideas and concepts in a bold way while also marrying to some older elements that Capcom knows fans love. I highly recommend you try the demo to experience its frantic combat for yourself - and can’t wait for March to arrive so I can get stuck into hunting full-on.