While Monster Hunter World was a huge success, becoming one of Capcom’s bestselling games in history and exposing far more people to a series that had only ever been truly popular in Japan, it came at a cost. The move to modern console hardware meant Monster Hunter looked and played better than ever before, but it also meant leaving the series’s portable roots behind.
Even in Japan, Monster Hunter only really took off when it came to the PSP, with people gathering in person to take down monsters together. It may not look like it, given its long, drawn-out combat system, but Monster Hunter is a perfect portable game. You can do simple grinding on a quick commute while listening to podcasts, then tackle the major challenges when you’re with friends or have the ability to devote your attention to a high-ranked online quest.
If that’s sparking an inevitable “this-should-be-on-the-Switch” response, well, here’s Monster Hunter Rise. This is an all-new entry in the series that takes much of what made World more accessible but puts it on even more flexible hardware. And very soon, you can check it out for yourself with a demo that should be going live on Nintendo’s eShop at some point today.
Capcom provided me with an early version of the demo, and I’m pretty impressed so far. The demo includes two quests and a couple of training stages, which isn’t nearly enough to get a sense of the game’s scope or progression, but the fundamentals look to be very solid.
The biggest question I had was how much of a technical compromise Rise would be over World, considering the Switch’s hardware limitations when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. Of course, I expected Rise to fall somewhere between World and Generations Ultimate, a Switch version of a 3DS game. And from what I’ve seen from the demo, the visuals are much closer to World, while the level complexity is more like the older games.
Rise lifts World’s UI and art direction wholesale, with characters and monsters looking reasonably comparable in quality, at least on my Switch Lite’s screen. The resolution is crisp, and the frame rate holds up well enough. But the environment in the demo is much simpler and less visually impressive than anything in World, even though it’s still a lot better-looking than Generations Ultimate. There are also no loading screens between the numbered sub-areas, which makes for a big upgrade on pre-World entries in the Monster Hunter series.
Otherwise, Rise appears to play pretty much like World, with the requisite new features that accompany every Monster Hunter release. There’s a new tool called the Wirebug that’s like a more advanced version of the “clutch claw” grappling hook from World’s Iceborne expansion. You can ride a dog companion across the levels or even commandeer unwitting monsters that wander into your arena, setting them against your ultimate target.
I’m looking forward to reviewing Monster Hunter Rise in full ahead of its release on March 26th because the early signs are promising. The Switch is the ideal platform for Monster Hunter in many ways, and Capcom seems to be going all-out in making Rise a first-class title in its own right rather than a compromised port. For anyone who’s been waiting for a new handheld Monster Hunter, the news is looking good.